Thursday, July 23, 2009

Blackstar whips a llama's ass

John Blackstar, astronaut, is swept through a black hole, into an ancient alien universe. Trapped on the planet Sagar, Blackstar is rescued by the tiny Trobbit people. In turn he joins their fight for freedom against the cruel Overlord who rules by the might of the Powerstar. The Powerstar is split into the Powersword and the Starsword. And so with Starsword in hand, Blackstar together with his allies, sets out to save the planet Sagar. This is his destiny. "I am John Blackstar."
This 1981 Filmation series is probably the best sword & planet/science fantasy adventure cartoon ever broadcast on American network television. 80's Buck Rogers falls into a blackhole, ends up with a Conan outfit and one-half of He-Man's sword. He teams up with a sexy alien sorceress, some Seven Dwarvish tree halflings and Meteor Man from the Galaxy Trio. These good guys adventure across a weird world, battling the forces of the local Darth Vader knockoff. So much is stolen from so many places that it all somehow works together. Did I mention dude rides an awesome dragon? Sweet.

That this show only got one season is a crime, but at least you can get it on DVD now, unlike Thundarr the Barbarian.

I read once somewhere that John Blackstar was originally going to be African-American, which would have been both cheesy (Black astronaut named Blackstar falls into a black hole? That's Stan Lee level nominative destiny.) and totally awesome. Apparently the dude at the network felt my fellow youths and I weren't ready for a sword-swinging space brother as the lead in a series. Boo hiss.


  1. " least you can get it on DVD now, unlike Thundarr the Barbarian."

    This is such a travesty. I've been whining about it for months. So many great Saturday Morning cartoons have made it to DVD, why not Thundarr?

    Galtar is another one, though it was even cheesier.

  2. Few cartoons evoke such vivid memories of Saturday mornings for me than "Blackstar".

    And that dragon does look pretty awesome. I love the design of its head - sleek and menacing.

  3. I actually just nabbed the Blackstar DVD series at this past Motor City Comic Con. I've passed on it a couple times prior, and finally said WTF and grabbed it.

    I picked up a volume of Defenders of the Earth, too. Forget which one, ATM. I had one vol of that series already.

    Still kickin' myself for *not* picking up Thundarr at a ComicCon years ago. I've passed on a few goodies before, but that one stings the most.

  4. Actually you CAN get Thundarr on DVD!

    Costly but well worth it

  5. You had me at, "That's Stan Lee level nominative destiny."

    I was in grade school in when this series was on the air, and I remember really enjoying it, even if at the tender age of nine I already recognized about half the sources from which Blackstar was ripped-off (The Hobbit, Star Wars, & John Carter of Mars/Barsoom, inter alia.)

    Slightly off topic: As a grade-school gamer, it always seemed to me like Thundarr's milieu was mash-up between D&D and Gamma World. It would be two decades before the internet would introduce me to Jack Kirby's "Kamandi, boy of the future."

    Verification Word: nateculum - derived from the Latin, a small object accidentally brought from one's homeworld, kept for memory's sake, especially if one arrived on one new planet suddenly via black hole, tornado, magical wardrobe., etc. cf. "Ghanima" (Atriedes)

  6. I've been watching this now and then since picking it up some months ago ($10 used at FYE, iirc), and its actually great for mining ideas from - most of the episodes would make for interesting adventures.

    Incidentally (from the extras), though the black Blackstar never happened, he is Native American, though nothing is made of it in the shows themselves.

  7. @Randolph, sorry, but won't buy the pirated stuff. For one thing, I want extras and nice (if not restored) visuals. Sorry, not directed at you--it's just that I've seen it at least a dozen/so times at local comic expos here in the Twin Cities and I won't support those bozos.

    L.Beau, you're dead on about the references for both. I would venture to go further about Thundarr and put him squarely into the "Dying Earth" genre.

  8. Awesome as Blackstar is, I find that I can't really stomach the, Trobbits anymore. If for nothing else, Thundarr deserves undying praise for avoiding cute little sidekicks.

  9. What, you don't think Ookla is cute?

  10. Well, he's not little anyway.

  11. Anonymous4:11 PM

    There was a pretty sweet line of tie-in action figures, too. Really solid, quality toys. I really wish I still had mine... they were about two inches bigger than the Masters of the Universe, and each figure came with 1) a small arsenal of glow-in-the-dark weapons, and 2) a minature trobbit figurine(good guy figures) or a kick-ass snarling little goblin (bad guy figures). They were made out of a different plastic than other boy's toys of the time, too... it was lighter, had a kind of soapy feel, and a weird smell. I remember my brother and I sniffing them in a stupid, half-hearted attempt to get high.

    Good times, good times.

  12. @anon: I had a couple of those toys. Never saw the cartoon here in the UK, so I always thought that they were just a European "He-Man" knock-off.

    The 'laser light' was nothing more than a sparker, like the one from a Zippo lighter. Dangerous, but I suppose it was cheaper than an LED...

    *Heh* Kids today don't know what they're missing.

  13. Anonymous5:12 PM

    I don't remember this, but I remember the SWORD.

  14. Did anybody else buy the Blackstar dvd in a boxed set with Mighty Isis, Freedom Force, and Space Sentinels? It's crazy to watch the progression of themes, and digression of quality in the three series.

  15. Blackstar kicked ass, and he was a lot smarter than Thundarr (a rocket pilot if not a rocket scientist I guess).

    I always though He-Man was a knock-off of Blackstar…I remember when I first heard about He-Man and his split sword “oh, just like Blackstar.” The fact that HM has a dark tan, but is blonde and a TOTAL WUSS, as well as a rip-off always made me hate him.

    Blackstar should have made a side trip to Eternia to finish him off…he could have fed that damn sniveling “battle cat” to the dragon.

  16. @Jay, No offense taken. Considering that it is very unlikely Thundarr or our other Sci Fantasy favorite cartoons will be "legally" released any time soon I'll deal with the "pirated" versions to enjoy what would be otherwise inaccessable. Seeing as the owners of the "rights" for what I purchased have not pursued damages against the producer I'll enjoy my fairly decent copies for as long as I'll be around........I might even order more DVDs

  17. On a realted sidenote.... does anyone know if they ever released THE HERCULOIDS on DVD? Of the GODZILLA HOUR OF POWER (although I have no desire to relive memories of Godzookey).

  18. Chawunky10:53 AM

    Loved this show as a kid. Second only to Thundarr.

    I particularly liked the elvish shapeshifter, who, now that I think about it, bears a resemblance to the elf on the cover of Isle of Dread.

  19. Ahhhh, yes. My beloved Blackstar! I loved this cartoon as a kid, second to Thundarr, of course. I remember getting a bunch of the Blackstar action figures for Christmas and none of my friends knowing who he was. My friends were idiots.

    I picked up the DVD set this past winter at a discount bookstore for $6 new! During a nasty three-day bout of the flu, I watched the whole thing in bed on the portable DVD player and was transported back to being 11 years old again.

    Yes, I was always aware of what a rip-off he was, but he also had that certain fantastic something that I was immensely attracted to.

  20. @The Badger King:

    Some Herculoids is on the somewhat recently released Saturday Morning Cartoons series of DVDs. They are on the '60s set, vol 1.

    I'm just not sure how much is on there. It looks like in the track listing, maybe just 2 Eps, but I don't have the DVD. Thought about grabbing them, but held off.