As regular Scoop readers know, during the disruption caused by the COVID-19 virus, we’ve featured reviews of individual back issues, runs, collected editions, and original graphic novels that captured and held our attention over the long haul. Now that “new comics Wednesday” has returned in some form for many around the country, we’ve decided to continue including great older comics among our features. Remember, once your store is open, checking out their back issue bins is a great way to #BackTheComeback..

Warriors of Plasm: The Collected Edition
DEFIANT; $9.95

There’s a grand history of science fiction-themed comic books, but in truth there’s a lot more bad science fiction comic books than there are good ones. When former Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter was at Valiant, he wrote Solar, Man of the Atom, on which he demonstrated that he could hang with the best of them when it came to his science fiction chops. His Solar #1-10 was a mesmerizing run, but the real gem was Solar #0, which was serialized in those 10 issues. Combined with the art of Barry Windsor-Smith, his story for it is probably the best science fiction ever to appear in a superhero comic.

Sidestepping into the quantum realm and visualizing life a substantially different way, Shooter unleashed his imagination again in DEFIANT’s Warriors of Plasm. Illustrated by David Lapham – now well known for Stray Bullets, but then known as a Shooter discovery on Harbinger – the story is set on a living planet, the Org of Plasm. Life there is very organic – everything from clothing to spaceships is grown. It’s also eventually recycled whether it wants to be or not, and that definitely goes for anyone who believes in individuality. The demand for new material to be “mulched” has caused the creation of a vast armada to seek out and conquer worlds to use as raw material for the Org.

Into this world are transported thousands of people from Earth. Of those thousands, though, only five survived, but they gained incredible powers. Their presence and their powers prove to be a tipping point for the central events of Warriors of Plasm #0-4, the issues collected in this edition.

As is typical for a Shooter story, the characters are not all standard issue superheroes. They are diverse and distinct (no one had to tell him to do this and he didn’t have to wait for a trend; he’s been doing this since he was 13).

Lapham’s art, which had been good from the beginning on Harbinger at Valiant, shifted into overdrive from the first pages of this series. The nature of the creatures and even the machines on the Org gave him an excuse to go crazy, and he did so. The detail packed onto each of the pages is simply stunning.

Not to be overlooked are the beautiful colors painted by JayJay Jackson and her team. They really added to the otherworldly feel of things on the Org.

Like many of the comics companies that came and went during the boom and bust of the 1990s, DEFIANT deserves another look from fans who are searching for good comics. Nowhere is that truer than with this collection.

– J.C. Vaughn