Oct 26, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 609: Gammarauders 1, January 1989


Back when TSR were super-successful and not owned by Wizards of the Coast, they published a whole bunch of different genres of role-playing game, though for the most part they boiled down to "Dungeons & Dragons in [insert genre here]." Boot Hill, for example, was D&D in the old West. Star Frontiers was D&D in space. And Gamma World was D&D in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Boot Hill faded away, and Star Frontiers enjoyed modest success. Gamma World lingered for a bit, went through an edition or two, but was never as successful as D&D or SF. And at some point in the late 80s, someone at TSR must have suggested taking the setting and meshing it with strange, retro-flavoured nostalgia (actually, it's a lovely commentary on the way nostalgia works), put giant mutated animals in it, and turn it into a board game. And thus Gammarauders was born. It slightly reminds me of what little I know about the Fallout series of video games - the post-apocalypse future of Gammarauders reveres all things 50s, from zoot-suits to fins on cars.

In the wake of the board game, and in conjunction with the partnership formed between DC and TSR, a Gammarauders comic was produced, and further in conjunction with the burgeoning popularity of manga at the time, it was drawn in a slightly-manga, slightly-superhero style. All of which is to say that this is a really, really odd comic. And really great (though I'm biased because I love the setting and story of Gammarauders. I may be one of the few people I know to have ever bought the single expansion for the game back when it came out).

The series only lasts 10 issues, sadly, and does not get the chance to tell the story it wants to. Though the setting is slightly goofy, Gillis and crew manage to start crafting an intriguing story while still maintaining the inherent silliness of the setting. In today's issue, protagonist Jok Tadsworth is told of a prophecy of doom, but is distracted by the possible death of the woman he loves (who loathes him), and he races off, only to drawn into the danger and conspiracy anyway.

More Gammarauders tomorrow, for sure. Onward!

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