Mar 27, 2019

Quarter Bin - Battle of the Planets

Battle of the Planets will always be one of my favorite cartoons. It was my first real intro to Japanese animation and was one of the shows in rotation that my friends and I would use for inspiration when playing out our own adventures. I remember making our own wristbands and sonic boomerangs out of cardboard.

The arrival of Battle of the Planets in the US was due to the popularity of Star Wars at the time. It's right there in the name! Star Wars. Battle of the Planets. The original show, Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, was edited (read: sanitized) for American audiences and incorporated new footage featuring an R2-D2 inspired robot called 7-Zark-7. Until the internet age, I had no idea BotP was anything other than what I saw on afternoon TV. The original Gatchaman is a bit more violent and has some adult themes, including transgenderism.

Here's the show's intro

Just hearing that music and voice-over makes me feel like a kid again! The basic premise of the show followed this group of super teens battling the evil Zoltar and the forces of Spectra. Like any good hero, each one has a signature weapon and vehicle. Being Japanimation, the vehicles combine but not in a Voltron like way. This is a quick clip showing how all the vehicles combine into the command ship, The Phoenix.

I don't know how popular the show was when it aired but I feel like they missed out by not marketing it in the US with a toy line. I know I kid me would have been all over it!

The show ran in syndication from September 1978 - May 1980 while the comic produced 10 issues from June 1979 - February 1981. The first few issues featured the Gold Key logo and then switched to Whitman. Oddly, issue 4 can be found with either company logo on it.

The art in the comic is about on par with what you'd expect for a comic adaptation of a 70s cartoon. It's not going to knock your socks off but it gets the job done. Like the series, the comics for the most part are self contained stories. I didn't fully look into it but I think they're all original stories.

In 2002, Image/Top Cow Comics brought the super teen team back into print with a 12 issue mini-series featuring alternate covers by Alex Ross. They went on over the next couple years with a manga adaptation, one shots featuring Mark and Jason, and a 6 issue Princess mini-series. There were also a pair of crossovers.

I know next to nothing about Witchblade so that book wasn't nearly as exciting to me as the Thundercats crossover. Definitely a fun read for fans of either!

Collecting the Gold Key issues will put a small dent in your wallet. Ebay shows issues ranging from $10-$40 each and going upwards of $100 for pro graded copies. The more recent Top Cow books are generally under $5 each.

If you've never seen the show, it's worth checking out. There are plenty of episodes to be found on YouTube. While the original Gatchaman might appeal more to us now as adults, Battle of the Planets is still good if you need a dose of Saturday morning cartoons.

And just the next day, Toy Galaxy posted this awesome video.


  1. I don’t think I knew what BotP was until Alex Ross came along. Just missed my childhood.

  2. Man I loved this show, sadly never really read any of the comic's.

    1. You're not missing much with the 70s comics but the newer ones were pretty good.