Saturday, July 17, 2010

Strikeforce Morituri: We Who Are About to Die

Strikeforce Morituri: We Who Are About to Die

Let me segue a little from the regular fare of this blog to write about a great piece of visual literature (definition:comics!) that I grew up with in the late eighties. And this great piece of literature that got me typing on the keyboard to sing praises to it was Strikeforce Morituri.

Strikeforce Morituri was created by Phillip B. Gillis and Brent Anderson for Marvel Comics. Gillis was the writer while Anderson was the illustrator. Gillis wrote the first 20 issues while Anderson drew majority of the first 20 issues. Eventually they stepped down and the series ran for 31 issues before being retired.

In my part of the woods I had no access to comic book shops because of the required distance of travel that I had no means to traverse. So I had to get it through more non-traditional means. Which was by subscription, and due to the reliability of our postal system, meant that they usually got "lost" in the mail.

Strikeforce Morituri: We Who Are About to Die
Growing up as a kid in the eighties, I only had 3 comic books that I actively subscribed to. These were, G.I. Joe, The Punisher and the last was StrikeForce Morituri. I was initially sold on the advertisement for StrikeForce Morituri because of its catch phrase: "We who are about to die" A friend decided to give me two issues for my birthday and I was immediately hooked on it. The first issues I've read were #8 and #9. I was able to grab a copy of #6 and #7 and from there asked my mother if I could subscribe to the comic. All in all I had about 16 sporadic issues of the comic book series that ran for 31 issues.

Recently I had the chance to read the entire series run and like my experience with having finally seen how the original Macross ended, finally found a little bit of closure in my life. Call it weird, but that's how I feel whenever I get the opportunity to fill up what I felt was a hollowed up or unfinished portion of my childhood.

Strikeforce Morituri was unique from the other comic books of its day because it ensured that there would always be a constant stream of fresh characters in its storyline. That's because the heroes always end up dead. The basic plot is that the earth has been invaded by aliens who are out to plunder and loot the planet. In order to defeat them some human volunteers undergo the Morituri process developed by Dr. Kimmo Tuolema that enhance them and give them super powers. The drawback is that eventually the Morituri process gets rejected by their bodies so they die within the span of a year.

Aside from the plot, what really made it great was the beauty of Anderson's illustrations which to me didn't look hurried. But most of all, it was the eloquence of Gillis' prose. He breathe life into the characters that made them unique and while reading them you'd feel that they were really alive. Its natural for people to feel sad whenever somebody dies. I guess this was what the creators were banking on to get people to admire the story. And it did work, because as a fan, you die a little whenever one of the characters passes away.

Death might have been the common theme, but other topic touched on were a corrupt government, war profiteering, the constant political jostling in the leadership caste of both aliens and humans. This affected greatly the members of Strikeforce Morituri because they knew that they only had one year to live with which to strike back at the aliens and didn't appreciate how they felt their life was being wasted by all the internal squabbling.

If ever you have the chance to read this great comic, I'd suggest that you go read it. For me however, the series ended already at issue 20, despite it being prolonged to 31 episodes. Gillis and Anderson leaving after issue 20 gave the succeeding issues a different feel to it already. I can't help think that had this been a Japanese anime, there would have already been a re-telling *snicker*

As for my favorite character. I never had one until I read the entire series. This time I chose Vyking, or Harold Everson. First generation Morituri and the leader of the group. He only lasted 6 issues before succumbing to the Morituri Process. But his character was greatly penned by Gillis that its impossible for me to not choose him as my most favorite character.

Issue covers found in this post were taken from here.