Saturday, July 7, 2012

DC Comics' STAR HUNTERS (1977-78)

"Exiled from Earth by the all-powerful corporation now ruling that planet, they scour the galaxy for the one secret that will enable them to return-- the origin of man in the universe! Led by the roguish soldier of fortune, Donovan Flint, they sail the fabulous starship Sunrider on a cosmic quest of danger, discovery, and unparalleled adventure." 

Cover Art by Don Newton & Bob Layton
I was looking through a stack of old comics recently, and came across a couple lone issues of DC Comics 1977-78 space opera series, Star Hunters. The book was the company's attempt to ride the Star Wars comet, premiering in the Fall of 1977. Written by David Micheline, it chronicled the adventures of an Errol Flynn-inspired space rogue named Donovan Flint and his crew of renegades as they battled an oppressive regime.

Like the Ron Goulart/Gil Kane/Archie Goodwin newspaper strip of the same era, Star Hawks, DC's Star Hunters tried to emulate the high adventure and cosmic scope of George Lucas' blockbuster film, hoping that Star Wars fans would find Donovan Flint's adventures a worthy substitute while waiting for the big screen sequels. Apparently those fans just bought the licensed Star Wars adventures from Marvel Comics instead, because Hunters lasted a mere 7 issues before cancellation.

 The characters were first seen in issue #16 of the company's catch-all title, DC Super Stars, which alternated as a reprint book and a showcase vehicle. That first appearance benefited from the classically-styled adventure art of Don Newton, who also drew the first issue of the subsequent bi-monthly series. Other issues were illustrated by a variety of pencilers, including Larry Hama, Mike Netzer, and Rich Buckler, who penciled four of the seven issues - and all of the regular series covers.  I liked Rich Buckler's art on the series okay, but it lacked the gracefulness of Newton's work. Bob Layton was the regular inker on the series, and maintained artistic continuity throughout the title's short run.

DC's "Who's Who" Entry - Click to Enlarge
As far as I know, the story material hasn't ever been reprinted/collected... and I don't even think that the characters ever showed up again in the DC "universe" (though I could be wrong - I may have missed it. A lot of DC comics have been published since '78). As a Star Kid with a voracious appetite for space adventure - in any medium - I was a big fan of this book back in the day, and would like to someday re-assemble the run.


  1. Oddly enough, David Michelinie would go on to write what was arguably the best run in the history of Marvel's Star Wars comic (along with a pre-Thor Walt Simonson) in the 1980s. So he wrote the knock-off, then got to tackle the real thing!

  2. For reasons I still can't explain to this day, I always enjoyed this series. I thought it started with great potential, but wandered off course after a couple of issues. I always thought Donovan Flint's wrist blaster guns were the coolest thing (hey, I was a kid at the time).

  3. I am SHOCKED that they go out of the way to point out (at the end of the WHo's WHo entry) that the series was in no way connected to regular DC continuity. Over the past couple years, with all the retconning going on under Geoff Johns at DC, that they didn't find SOME WAY to shoehorn this back into continuity SOMEWHERE.

  4. Christopher, have you ever thought of writing a 70's themed space comic?

  5. Jim - Thought about it? Sure I have! I've even tried several times to put such a project together, but it's not easy to find a simpatico artist/publisher. But who knows? Maybe someday.

    Right now, though, I'm thinking if I ever write such a story, it'll have to be in novel form...

  6. OMG--I have completely forgot that I had illustrated this page for DC Comic's Who's Who book.
    I think I was asked to do the pencil art for this because Don Newton had died recently and I was a big fan of him and StarHunters before I became a comic pro.
    I was very thrilled and honored to have done so in Don's stead.
    Thank you, Christopher, for bringing back some fond memories for me.
    Love your blog--its one of my favorite that I stop by to visit occaisionally.

  7. Although posted anonymously, I'm assuming that last comment was from artist Chuck Patton. To which I reply: cool!

    The Star Hunters piece for Who's Who is terrific. Also, I'm a big fan; loved your work on JLA! Thanks for stopping by the site!

  8. Christopher - yeah, I hear you loud and clear. I have a couple of artists I've worked with on projects I'm very happy with but your point about publishers totally echoes mine. I've thought about going the kickstarter route.

    I think my real concern is how _well_ would the aesthetics of a 70's scifi show tranfer to a comic? And who outside of us would be the audience for such a thing? ;)

  9. Jim - Kickstarter would certainly be a possibility, but I'd need to find an artist willing to put up with me. :)

    I do have a sci-fi comic that has some 70s flavor, Perils On Planet X, but it's taking a while to finish...

  10. I just finished re-reading the series on my bus ride to work. There were some neat ideas in the series, but ultimately it lacked a strong direction. Many ideas were introduced and then promptly forgotten, or never explored.

    For example - we learn that the "Corporation" that rules the Earth is really up to no good, but there's no indication if the Earth is in any bad way because of it. As far as the characters go, there's nothing bad about Earth life at all. Then later we see that an alien bad guy is actually in charge of the Corporation, but there's no hint how much "badder" he is.

    The Star Hunters were brought together to find a secret artifact, something they do in just a couple issues (and it seemed to be the easiest challenge ever - anyone could have walked into the cave to get it). Their first ship is blown up, but then they magically get a second one, but there was no reason for this switch. One of the characters has a secret tracking device in her skull, so she's put into a sleep chamber for the remaining issues (and wouldn't the Corporation have seen that their device was discovered?).

    Although I'm glad DC experimented like this, it was too choppy and under-developed to have continued much further.