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Voltron: Defender of the Universe is a 2003 comic series produced by Devil's Due Publishing and the first revamp of the original 1984 Voltron: Defender of the Universe TV series. The series was primarily written by Dan Jolley along with co-writers Marie Croall and Mark Waid.

Premise

1200 years ago, a group of priests and scientists constructed a powerful robotic knight to fight against the First Empire that was set out to rule what is now known as "known space". Proving to be a formidable opponent, Empress Jain IX sent her trusted sorceress Sarga to destroy the machine. However, the robot was proven to be too powerful to be completely destroyed as its fragments reformed into the shape of lions to slumber on a nearby planet.[2]

While dismissed as a rumor, Colonel Hawkins sets out to find a group of misfits with formidable skills to find the legendary robot in hopes of using it to fight against the Drule Empire once again. After crashing on Planet Arus, the five earthlings unknowingly fulfill Allura's prophetic dream and began unfolding the truth behind the myth.

Characters

  • Keith Akira Kogane: Keith is depicted as a 26-year-old anti-social character in the beginning. Born to a Japanese father and a Chinese mother, his father trained him in kung fu until Keith's parents died tragically in an accident. Keith continued to practice many other forms of martial arts until he turned 18 and enrolled in the United States Marine Corps. When he was 24, he met and proposed to Beverly Hagel, who died seven weeks before their wedding date in a plane accident. During the course of the series, he begins to form a comradeship with his teammates, and begins to develop feelings for Princess Allura and vice-versa.
  • Lance Charles McClain: Lance is a 24-year-old with a criminal record. For most of his life, Lance grew up as an adolescent daredevil and drag-racer. His life changed forever when he won a gift certificate for ten free flying lessons in a radio contest. These lessons displayed that he had a natural talent for flying. At age 18, he joined the navy, and flying became his obsession, but his hot-headedness landed him in deep water when his jetstar buzzed the penthouse of a vindictive senator.
  • Tsuyoshi "Hunk" Garrett: A 24-year-old Japanese/American mechanic. His nickname "Hunk" comes from his 4 brothers, of whom he's ironically the smallest, despite his own great size. He was not very social, though, and would spend most of his time tinkering in garage workshops. Later he put himself through college on the G.I. bill, and after gaining a Master's in engineering, he discovered the equipment that fascinated him most was military in nature. However, he remained rather anti-social, establishing himself as someone who it was unwise to harass.
  • Darrell "Pidge" Stoker: A growth-stunted 16-year-old, and as an Earthling (as opposed to his cartoon counterpart hailing from the planet Balto). He's also depicted as an orphan abandoned outside a convent when he was six weeks old (however, he may yet have a family because later he talks with Vehicle team member Chip about the similarities that exist between the two of them, he remarks that '[they]'re one DNA test short of discovering [they]'re brothers' which is a nod to the cartoon establishment of Pidge and Chip as twins). During his years at the orphanage, his scores on a state-mandated IQ test caught the eye of the New West Point military academy, who promptly enrolled him to put his awe-inspiring understanding of computer systems to good use. However, his life at NWP turned out to be worse than at the orphanage, and was the subject of regular beatings by his intellectually-threatened peers, until he was approached by Colonel Hawkins to join a team of outcasts to search for the legendary robot Voltron on the distant planet Arus. Pidge didn't have to be asked twice, and promptly agreed.
  • Sven Holgersson: The comic book version of Sven depicts him as 27, the oldest member on the team. Much of Sven's past remains unknown, except that he was a former member of an elite Navy squad similar to the SEALS. During an insurrection in a small South American country, a serious miscommunication caused a foreign national Sven was supposed to extract to believe Sven was an assassin and opened fire. Sven was left with no choice but to fire back, protecting himself and eliminating the extraction target. He was then placed on "administrative leave" until he was approached by Colonel Hawkins to join a team of outcasts to search for the legendary robot Voltron on the distant planet Arus. Sven was possibly the most anti-social of the group, but this is possibly due to being the oldest and most mature. Unlike in the cartoon, Sven never got a chance to properly form Voltron, or even get to wear his classic black uniform (the only comic book image of Sven in his uniform is in a promotional picture in the back of Issue #0, although Allura did offer to find him a uniform, possibly in black, when the team plus Allura finally attained their own familiar uniforms). This is due to him having a brain defect that caused the magic of Voltron to somehow reject him. This brain defect caused him to fall under the influence of Queen Merla and Haggar, under which he betrayed his friends and Arus by stealing files from the Castle of Lions' control room. He was then placed on a mission alongside Prince Lotor, during which the two found themselves having to survive together and try to trust each other. During a conflict that erupted later, Sven apparently crash-landed on planet Pollux, where he was discovered by Princess Romelle. Due to the comic's hiatus, what path Sven's tale would have taken from that point remains a mystery.
  • Princess Allura: The comic book version of Allura places her at age 19, and depicts her with a much stronger backbone than her cartoon counterpart. When her home planet Arus was ravaged by the forces of Zarkon and her parents murdered by Zarkon's own hand, she was taken in and raised by Coran, a retired combat instructor in the royal army, and was forced to grow up much too fast. Years later, she would renounce her title of "princess," answering only to "Allura," until her people are liberated from Zarkon's tyranny. Visions while she slept showed the spirit of her father King Alfor promising that five young men would come to Arus in search of the legendary robot Voltron. When Keith, Lance, Hunk, Pidge, and Sven arrive on Arus and speak of the mighty robot, Allura instantly knows that they are the ones spoken of in her visions, and helps them to find the five hidden lions that will unite to form Voltron. When Voltron fails to combine properly due to a brain defect within Sven, Allura mans his Blue Lion, and with her royal Arusian blood, the unification of Voltron is finally a success, and she becomes a member of the Voltron Force. During the course of the comic, she begins to develop feelings towards Keith and vice-versa.

Release

Volume 1: Revelations

Issue. # Date Title Writers Artists
0 May 2003 Prologue Dan Jolley Mark Brooks
1 May 2003 Space Explorers Dan Jolley Mike Norton
Clint Hilinski
2 Jun 2003 Unearthing the Past Dan Jolley Mike Norton
Clint Hilinski
3 Jul 2003 Lions in Flight Dan Jolley Mike Norton
Clint Hilinski
4 Aug 2003 Unholy Terror Dan Jolley Mike Norton
Clint Hilinski
Tim Seeley
5 Sep 2003 A Titan Reborn Dan Jolley Mike Norton
Clint Hilinski
Tim Seeley

Volume 2

Paradise Lost

Issue. # Date Title Writers Artists
1 Jan 2004 Treachery Dan Jolley
Marie Croall
EJ Su
Clint Hilinski
Tim Seeley
2 Feb 2004 Recovery Dan Jolley
Marie Croall
EJ Su
Clint Hilinski
3 Mar 2004 Pursuit Dan Jolley
Marie Croall
EJ Su
Clint Hilinski
4 Apr 2004 Convergence Dan Jolley
Marie Croall
EJ Su
Clint Hilinski
5 May 2004 Frenzy Dan Jolley
Marie Croall
EJ Su
Clint Hilinski

Warpath

Issue. # Date Title Writers Artists
6 Jun 2004 Warpath part one Dan Jolley
Marie Croall
EJ Su
Clint Hilinski
Tim Seeley
7 Jul 2004 Warpath part two Dan Jolley
Marie Croall
EJ Su
Clint Hilinski
8 Aug 2004 Warpath part three Dan Jolley EJ Su
Clint Hilinski
9 Sep 2004 Warpath part four Dan Jolley Clint Hilinski
Alitha Martinez
10 Oct 2004 Warpath part five Dan Jolley
Mark Waid
Clint Hilinski
Alitha Martinez
11 Dec 2004 Warpath part six Dan Jolley
Mark Waid
Clint Hilinski
Alitha Martinez

Omnibus

Date Title Writers Artists
Mar 2008 Voltron Omnibus Dan Jolley
Marie Croall
Mike O'Sullivan
Mark Waid
Mark Brooks
Ryan Brown
Clint Hilinski
Alitha Martinez
Mike Norton
Clement Sauve
E.J. Su

Development

Dan Jolley, the head writer of the comic series, worked for Devil's Due Publishing and was assigned to write the story after they have acquired the license to create Voltron comics. Image Comics would be the publisher of the first volume of the series with DDP publishing the second volume and the Omnibus.

Jolley wanted to retell the original 1984 television series and update it. Realizing that the 1984 cartoon was adapted from two different anime series, Jolly expressed that he had greater freedom making a more cohesive story without those limits while maintaining vital elements from the original source material.[3] Changes include new backstories for the characters and the explanation of Vehicle Voltron.

Due to low sales, the series was cancelled before the final arc, Warpath, was properly ended. The 13th issue of Volume 2 was finally released in the Voltron Omnibus. Jolley expressed interest in continuing the story that would also touch up on Keith and Allura's relationship.

Other Media

Voltron animation test01:52

Voltron animation test.

Animation test by Kickstart Productions

Volume 1 and the first five issues of Volume 2 were made into motion comics by Eagle One media and released separately on two DVDs in 2008. They were aired on the Syfy channel in 2008 dividing the 11 total chapters into five episodes.

The comics were also used as a basis for Kickstart Productions' animation test when they were originally going to produce a 2005 animation series. However, few elements of it were retained in the 2011 Voltron Force series.

Impact

Despite cancellation leading to rushed story lines, the 2003 comic iteration of the franchise proved to be influential for future entries in the series. The next major license holder for the Voltron comics, Dynamite, drew from many elements introduced in Jolley's work such as the names and background given to the cast.

Elements of the comic series would also be put into the next major animated series, Voltron Force. The robotic mice would return and replace the regular mice in the series, while Keith would be the only major character who would retain his surname introduced in Jolley's comics albeit mispronounced.

Notes

  • Marie Croall was the one who originally suggested that the mice should be robotic[3]

References

  1. Final unreleased chapter included in Omnibus
  2. Revelations part 1
  3. 3.0 3.1 Voltron DDP Comics Author Dan Jolley

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