When I was a little kid in 1985 I had a hard time liking the cartoon genre I call "bitchy Japanese space princess superspaceship war stories". These were sci-fi cartoons from Japan that usually took place in highly advanced civilizations where robotic war technology was light years beyond what we had in the 1980s. The most common of these settings were a) outer space future, b) post-apocalyptic earth future, or c) Japan 1999. The stories focused on heroes with crazy hair that flew around in superspaceships and other fantastic fighting vehicles (that may or may not have been robots) while they fought some sort of alien menace. Those might sound like the makings of a mega awesome sci-fi franchise, but even all of that awesomeness would get negated by the presence of every show's bitchy space princess character! They all had one! If she wasn't actually a spoiled space princess she'd act like one and ruin everything! The last thing I wanted to watch when I was a kid was some icky space girl crying a lot and kissing people (which is what they did when they weren't being bitchy). Battle of the Planets, Star Blazers, Robotech and even Voltron are all bitchy Japanese space princess superspaceship war stories. Voltron was probably the most unbearable of all because of that bratty Princess Allura and all her drama and crying and cutesy pet mice, but the lesson here is that if you put a giant robot made of space lions in it I'll put up with anything.
THE ONLY CRYING I WANNA SEE IS BECAUSE THE LASER BEAMS HURT SO BAD
Pre-adolescent me just couldn't appreciate the added dimensions of intrigue and romance that are unique to a bitchy space princess story and it killed my enjoyment of what were otherwise great sci-fi cartoons. Star Blazers I loved but I found Robotech boring, Voltron barely watchable and didn't even give Battle of the Planets a try. I always thought it would be awesome if someone would do a bitchy Japanese space princess superspaceship war story but just cut out the bitchy Japanese space princess and concentrate on the superspaceship and the war and the fantastic vehicles (that may or may not have been robots). Then in 1993 a cartoon came out that did just that-ExoSquad. ExoSquad had all the elements that I loved in an outer space alien war cartoon but without the bitchy space princesses. It was the superspaceship war story done exactly as I always wanted. I loved it immediately, which of course is the kiss of death and it got canceled after the second season. Suddenly I knew for whom the bitchy space princess cries.
IT'S 2119 A.D. DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR TEENAGE YEARS ARE?
In 1993 I was 19 and at the end of my comic book collecting phase but I still have a lot of comics catalogs and order forms from that time. What's weird about me when I was a comics fan was how the amount of comic book related material I accumulated outweighs the amounts of comics I collected. I guess I have always liked marketing hype more than product. This is fortunate because it was in late '93 that there was supposed to have been an ExoSquad comic book mini series released by Topps comics. They made an issue 0 but nothing else and sifting through my collected rubble of comic catalogs that chronicled ExoSquad's demise and digging on the internet revealed no real answers as to why the book got canceled. This is on my mind because this weekend at WizardWorld Miami I'll have a chance to meet Renee Witterstaeter, who was the ExoSquad comic's editor. Just for fun I dug out my old issues of Previews and I found the solicitations for ExoSquad #0 through 3 so hopefully I can have a somewhat informed conversation with her about the comic and ask her some questions. Because when it comes to this book there are quite a few questions to ask.
Everything kind of came full circle near the end of ExoSquad when the toyline began releasing old Matchbox Robotech toys under the ExoSquad banner. It was these rereleases that got me interested in those old Japanamations I used to cringe at when I was a kid. I will always remember ExoSquad fondly because it was the last new sci-fi series I liked before I went back in my twenties and gave those bitchy Japanese space princess superspaceship war stories a try. Being older I was a little more mature and better able to survive cartoons about going on dates with Lynn Minmei that filled the lonely minutes between the robotical action I was really interested in. But just barely. I always kind of wished somebody would make another ExoSquad. Or just go ahead and do Robotech again but please, hold off on all the icky kissing!