Gatchaman – Battle of the Planets

by Blaise Tassone

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After their work with Marvel Studios, the Russo brothers have proven that they can craft some fine super-hero movies. While speaking at the San Diego Comic Con the other day (see here), the brothers announced that they would now be developing a new property for AGBO Studios called ‘Gatchaman: Battle of the Planets’. Prices on the old Battle of the Planets comic books by Gold key immediately shot upwards.

Will this trend continue?

For those who have never seen it or read the comic book adaptations, Battle of the Planets was the American version of a Japanese anime series from the early 1970s called ‘Science Ninja Team Gatchaman’ (1972). Before there was G.I. Joe, Transformers or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon series, we had ‘Battle of the Planets’ which combined elements of all the above programs combined with a sci-fi twist.

I have to admit to having a great deal of nostalgia for this program. You see, I was the perfect age (all of seven years old) when the Sandy Frank Entertainment produced adaptation began to air in North America.

I remember watching these cartoons and then discussing the episodes with my friends at school.

Mostly we would just play ‘Battle of the Planets’, or ‘G-Force’ as we called it, at recess, by shouting out the name of one of the characters and running through the school yard.
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Sandy Frank had originally licensed the Japanese series to capitalize on the success of Star Wars at the box office. They had good instincts since all my friends who loved Star Wars (me included) took immediately to their adaptation of Gatchaman.

Fast forward to the twenty-first century and Battle of the Planets is finally going to see a big screen live action adaptation. This has been brewing for a few years actually. Warner Brothers was the first to tackle the project. In 2011, after many delays in production, they announced that their CGI heavy adaptation was being scrapped. In June of 2013, Sentai Filmworks licensed the ‘Gatchaman’ franchise. A live-action ‘Gatchaman’ feature film was subsequently produced for release in the Japanese market. This appeared in August of 2013. Now it’s AGBO’s turn and they’ve shown they’re serious by hiring the Russos.

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Battle of the Planets #1 [Gold Key] (June 1979) – First Issue to the Gold Key Series

The Gold Key comic book adaptation was based on the American cartoon show and released in 1979. The Battle of the Planets team consists of five orphans with super-powers: Mark (the leader), Jason (second in command), Princess, Keyop (pilot of their ship, the Phoenix), and Tiny (the smallest member). Collectively known as ‘G-Force’, they are formed to protect our planet from alien invaders from the planet Spectra. The Spectran forces, led by Zoltar (a malicious cross-dressing vampire- looking alien), were commanded by an spectral floating-head known as the ‘Luminous One’. Basically this is a good versus evil story with G-Force standing as the Earth’s best line of defense against the evil Spectrans and other aliens ‘from beyond space’.

Back in 2017 you could get high grade certified copies of this book for around $30.00 on eBay (an 8.0 sold on 05/24/2017 for $20.50 and an 8.5 sold on 06/01/2017 for $36.99). Those days are definitely over. Even a mid-grade raw copy will cost much more than that if you search eBay today. For example, my Comic Shop is selling a raw 8.0 for $190.00. In a lot of ways this comic is similar to the ‘Robotech’ (Macross) comic by Comico. It had relatively high prices already, due to the persistent news and rumors that a Hollywood film version was in the works. In the case of ‘Gatchaman’, however, the rumors have officially materialized into a big screen project.

Is Battle of the Planets a good investment? The film has the Russo Brothers behind it! This is the directing team behind what is now the highest grossing film of all time: ‘Avengers: Endgame’. Given that returns were already strong before the news was announced (positive +12% as of the beginning of June, after two 9.8 eBay sales: $500.00 on 05/04/2018 and $560.00 after that 05/06/2019), I expect this comic to rise like the fiery Phoenix.

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