On this day, 7 October 1978: Starlord
On this day, 7 October 1978 … What a day. ‘All Troopers are awarded a day’s leave to celebrate this momentous occasion!’ announced Starlord, whose tour of duty protecting Earth from the Int. Stell. Fed. ended just 22 weeks after it had begun. ‘Thanks to my warning, and your magnificent work in setting up a global defence system (despite the refusal of the world’s leaders to recognise the danger), they realise it would be suicide to provoke us!’ revealed the star-quiffed one. ‘Now that your future is assured, I must return to the spaceways, for the Gronks are calling [eh?] and I cannot let them down. As you can see from the cover, my space craft is bobbing on the water, already prepared for my journey.’
The cover of this final issue of Starlord does indeed show some sort of extra-terrestrial vehicle adrift on the waves, approached by an aircraft which I guess we assume is Starlord’s mate giving him a ride. There’s no explanation of why he parked his space-motor in the middle of the ocean, and to be honest it doesn’t look particularly flight-worthy. I suspect this was a pre-commissioned cover painting that originally had nothing to do with Starlord’s sudden departure. Or perhaps he never was from the stars, after all. Far be it from me to start a scurrilous rumour, but Shakin’ Stevens scored his first UK chart hit a little over a year after Starlord ‘returned’ to his Gronks.
So ended what was a unique and truly excellent comic. Starlord never became the serious, adult sci-fi comic that it was originally conceived to be, but it gave thousands of lucky readers in 1978 a summer rich in fantastic artwork and imaginative storylines, and is fondly remembered today. Of course, it also gave 2000AD two terrific serials – Strontium Dog and Ro-busters – which continue in much the same spirit in the Galaxy’s Greatest Comics. That double-page advert announcing the merger is rather zarjaz, I must say – despite the disappointment loyal Starlord readers must have been feeling, I’m sure plenty of appetites were whetted by the sight of what was to come in next week’s 2000AD. In his final Stargram to loyal Star-troopers, Starlord hinted that he may one day return. Let us never stop believing.