“A 1980’s fever dream” that’s how creators Jason Lenox, Dennis Fallon, and Jason Palmatier describes their work Lords of the Cosmos. And boy howdy is that accurate. Lords of the Cosmos is a blend of fantasy, science fiction, pulp stories, mattel toys, Saturday morning cartoons, horror, and action. But by some miracle the hodge podge of childhood memories works.
To be honest I tried to pass this off to another reviewer and by circumstance got stuck with it. I am honestly glad I did. Once I accepted the oddity of the story I loved. it There are really strong influences of He-Man in the beginning which had turned me off. But with undercurrents of The Dark Crystal and Heavy Metal comics Lords… does some interesting things. At first I wasn’t sure if the intended audience was for kids or adults. Once I gave up trying to figure it out and went along with the ride, I really enjoyed everything (I’m still not sure btw.)
Lords of the Cosmos issue #1 is told through small vignettes that take place on the planet Aiden. Aiden is a home to magic and technology that is both alien and familiar. The vignettes are diverse but feel connected.
This approach works wonders for the story. It has a very Heavy Metal, EC Comics kind of vibe. One minute it’s an almost Lovecraftian tale of ocean creatures, the next it’s cat and mouse game with bounty hunters and assassins. There are recurring characters and an overarching mythology, but we are exposed to it all gradually. Admittedly the first story is very exposition heavy, but given the strangeness of the story, it’s understandable if not totally forgivable.
The art work is simply great. It is pure space pulp fantasy and it looks gorgeous. The various genre elements are really each given panels or even whole pages to shine through. The only time the art falters is sadly in the covers. They simply do not convey the depth and skill contained in the first issue.
Character designs are frankly cool as hell. There is an innate silliness given the He-Man influence, but there are some genuinely interesting concepts. There is some great subverting of classic tropes. My favorite being the last unicorn. Instead of a symbol of beauty, innocence, and wholesome magic – the last unicorn is biomechanical monstrosity that betrayed his people for power.
The writing is kind of odd. One moment it is simplistic and seemingly kid oriented, then the next it is complex and slightly layered. The stories themselves follow a similar pattern flowing from Saturday morning cartoons to relatively violent overtones in span of a page.
Recommend reading if you like The Dark Tower, He-Man, Weird Fiction, 80’s cartoons, Liquid Television, The Dark Crystal, and Heavy Metal