Judge Maurice Cobbs died with his boots on. But he got better.
"We have assembled a team of unique individuals to protect Earth and our allies, courageous pioneers committed to the highest ideals of justice and dedicated to preserving law and order across the new frontier…"
Koch Entertainment hits us with a double dose of The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers; released alongside Volume One is this collection, The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers: Supertroopers. Like the first volume, Tortuna, this one offers four episodes of the series shown somewhat out of continuity, but the selection here is a bit more considerate to viewers who are unfamiliar with the show.
Galaxy Rangers was a show that was a bit ahead of its time—don't confuse it with shows of lesser caliber, like the toy-inspired BraveStarr or the Japanese import Sei Jushi Bismark, better known here in the states as Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs. Galaxy Rangers, though only on the air for a relatively short period of time, set a standard for excellence in storytelling that wouldn't really be matched by American animation until the early '90s. Created by Robert Mandell as a sort of outer space Magnificent Seven, it follows the Series 5 Galaxy Rangers—Commander Zachary Foxx (voiced by Jerry Orbach, Law and Order), Shane "Goose" Gooseman (Doug Preis), Niko (Laura Dean), and Walter "Doc" Hartford (Hubert Kelly)—an elite team of lawmen established in 2086 to defend justice across the stars, even as the threat of the despotic Crown Empire menaces the newly formed League of Planets. The show stood out from other animated fare on TV because of the involving storylines and interesting characters, written by established science-fiction writers like Brian Daley (writer of the Han Solo Trilogy of novels), Tom DeHaven (Sunburn Lake and Walker of Worlds), and Christopher Rowley (the Bazil Broketail series).
Though shown out of order, the episodes selected for this release are actually a pretty good introduction to the series. The first episode, "Supertroopers," fills in some of the backstory for the enigmatic maverick Shane "Goose" Gooseman. We learn about the time Goose spent training as one of the Supertroopers, a battalion of genetically enhanced super-soldiers being groomed to defend Earth against extraterrestrial threats. When the Supertroopers are betrayed by an incompetent politician (yeah, they've still got 'em, even in the far future), they go rogue—and more than a little insane. Years later, Goose must stop the renegade Troopers from unleashing a deadly supervirus called Batch 22 on the galaxy, while coming to terms with a lost love.
Goose is also the focus of the second episode, "Galaxy Stranger," which starts out in true Sergio Leone style with a mysterious stranger, a man in black, riding into town on the frontier planet Nebraska. It seems that two of the rogue Supertroopers have sold their services to a ruthless cattle baron who is bent on driving the local farmers off their land. Goose has come to town to bring them to justice—but do his loyalties lie with the Rangers, or with the Supertroopers? You may be surprised by the answer.
"Shoot-Out" finds the Rangers matching wits with their arch-nemesis, the tyrannical Queen of the Crown Empire. The Queen has devised a cunning plot to capture the Galaxy Rangers: She holds a gunslinging contest on the outlaw planet Tortuna, dangling a prize in front of the Rangers that she knows that they will not be able to resist. When the Rangers are captured by the Queen's agents, it's up to a lone stranger to win their freedom. The last episode on the disc, "Battle of the Bandits," follows the rise of a new band—the Slaver Lords—who catch the attention of not only the Galaxy Rangers but the Queen of the Crown as well. She devises a plan to capture the entire audience of a concert as fodder for her psychocrypt, but the Rangers, undercover as a band themselves, are on the scene to stop her. Complicating the situation is the involvement of Rangers villain Nimrod the Cat…but whose side is he on?
In the midst of a sea of toy-based animated series, Galaxy Rangers didn't stand much of a chance; the draw of advertising dollars made other shows of lesser quality more attractive to networks and distributors, and high toy sales kept many a crappy cartoon on the air. So it's nice to see the Rangers ride again, even in this abbreviated fashion. I've heard rumors whispered in dark alleys of a comprehensive boxed set of all 65 episodes planned from Koch Entertainment in the near future, as well as a direct-to-video movie, but if you can't wait, these collections aren't too bad a way for the veteran fan to while away the hours. They're wonderfully remastered and presented with your choice of 2.0 or 5.1 surround audio, and the show has never looked so good. While it would have been nice to have had a bit more background information, the included character biographies are somewhat helpful.
The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers is a gem of animation. The strong stories, great characterizations, and creative plots still hold up today, even in the wake of some of the excellent series of the last decade. So it's well worth a look for fans of animation, and if you're curious about the show, this disc is a good jumping-off point.
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