The short-lived comic series They Were Chosen to Be the Survivors, or Survivors for short, was published by the equally short-lived Spectrum Comic Books from 1983 to 1984. The series mixed science fiction with superheroes (not unlike Marvel’s Starjammers) and starred six heroes: Starlight, Darkthought, Leech, Ariel, Hunter, and Drone – each with their own special abilities.
We start the issue with all six Survivors lying unconscious in the rain. A helpful textbox reveals they are “stranded on an alien world after their ship is stolen by one of their own.”
An android-looking bounty hunter shows up and pops each of the Survivors in tubes full of water. Starlight is the first to awaken as the bounty hunter thinks aloud about how much money he’ll make for bringing in the Survivors.
In a ship in orbit of the planet, some shadowy, masked figure – Dreadlord – is apparently in search of the Survivors. Based on his name, you can tell he doesn’t want to give them hugs and kisses.
Back in the bounty hunter’s ship, Starlight uses her telepathy to awaken Darkthought, and they see the bounty hunter slicing open fellow Survivor Ariel with an instrument of some sort. Starlight gets angry and uses her superpowered abilities to break the glass, then subsequently zaps the bounty hunter and frees the rest of her comrades. Hypothermia has forced Ariel into a coma.
We move back to Darklord’s ship; his men have landed on the planet’s surface in spider-legged machines (Stalkers) and get riled up about finding Anics – the Survivors.
Fight with the Stalkers
The Survivors find the bounty hunter’s spaceship in a cave and try to see if they can get it to fly. Darkthought attempts to interrogate the android bounty hunter but is interrupted by the arrival of Dreadlord’s Stalkers; Starlight and Darkthought fly out of the cave to fight them off. Things start off well, and the two Survivors inflict a lot of damage. However, they are eventually caught by a Stalker’s tentacle-like restraints (graspors), which proceed to grab the rest of the Survivors in the cave.
With all the Survivors now captured, the front section of the surviving Stalker separates from its body and flies up into space, straight to Dreadlord’s ship…
I really wanted to like this, but it was a little too confusing to follow. It took me some time to figure out that Darklord’s ship was in orbit of the same planet the Survivors were on and that the Survivors were the Anics he and his men were always talking about.
The art and inking was the best part, notably in the scene where a supercharged Starlight breaks out of the glass tube in the beginning. One complaint I did have about the art, though, was that the designs of the male Survivors (particularly Leech and Drone) were too similar and I couldn’t tell them apart. Maybe they’re twins.
The dialogue seems pretty standard for this kind of story. I did like some of the snark coming from Starlight when she talked to Leech/Drone about getting the bounty hunter’s ship to work. What I didn’t like was her earlier line, when she calls the person responsible for stealing the Survivors’ ship a “jerk” – she certainly could have used a stronger word! “Jerk” is reserved for people who bump into you and don’t apologize or throw frisbees at you to get your attention…not people who steal your spaceship and leave you to die at the hands of an android bounty hunter!
Dreadlord seems like a typical villain. The action scenes were decent but unspectacular. Nothing new here.
Overall, the writing is the weakness of Survivors #1. Not only was it hard to get into, but it was hard to care. Since Starlight and Darkthought had a lot to do in this issue, they were the standouts – especially Starlight.
Despite this being the first issue, it isn’t very reader friendly. The characters’ first introduction was actually in Spectrum Comics Preview #1 which undoubtedly serves as a better introduction.