We Who Are About To Die.

Remember when you were a kid still young enough to play with toys, but also old enough to make sure that your super heroes and GI Joes died whenever you created an adventure for them?

Strikeforce: Morituri was basically the sci-fi comic book version of that. Only much cooler, and with actual thought behind it (unlike say, the time a certain little kid version of myself cut off a M.U.S.C.L.E.’s head with scissors because I arbitrarily decided he had been decapitated by that one M.U.S.C.L.E. with the pliers for hands… I was a weird kid).

S:M’s concept was that, in the future, Earth is at war with a vicious alien race called the Horde. In order to stand a chance, the Earth’s government starts using a super power producing treatment called the Morituri Process to create superhuman soldiers to fight the technologically advanced invaders. The only catch is, if you survive the process, you explode within a year.

I just want to repeat that.

You explode. Within a year.
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WHAT A GREAT FREAKING CONCEPT!!!

Alien fighting superheroes who EXPLODE IN A YEAR. That’s seriously genius.

See those guys on the cover? They didn’t even live through the issue.

You’d think with such a high turn over rate, it would be hard for the book to avoid dwelling in morbidity, or to create any decent characterization. But S:M cleared both those hurdles with air to spare. That was one of the things that made it so great.

And it helped that, in addition to it’s co-creator and regular artist for the majority of it’s run being the awesome Brent Anderson (of Astro City fame), that it also featured early work from Whilce Portacio and Mark Bagley. That’s three all star artists right there.

Sadly, unlike the majority of it’s titular characters, S:M ended with a whimper rather than a bang. The Morituri Effect was cancelled out by an alien virus, and in a depressingly obvious deus ex machina, a DIFFERENT alien race showed up at the end of the series, wiped out the Horde, and vanished.

Obviously, this isn’t the ending Morituri fans were probably looking for, and there were still some loose ends to tie up, so a few months later Marvel put out a 5 issue bookshelf style mini series that took place 10 years after the end of the original series.

This wrapped things up a little more neatly, as the surviving Morituri dodge what appear to be a new generation of killer Morituri, and deal with what exactly had happened to the aliens that defeated the Horde.

Sadly, Strikeforce: Morituri has never been collected; most likely due to conflicts between Marvel and series co-creator and writer Peter B Gillis over ownership of the series, conflicts which scuttled a proposed tv series based on the comic back in 2003.

Fortunately, back issues are cheap and plentiful…


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