If you were a wee sci-fi fan coming of age in the 1980s, there’s a chance you might recall a Saturday-morning series called Captain Power and the Soldiers of The Future. If you think that sounds like just a thinly veiled vehicle to sell toys, you would be right — but only half right. See, while the show was indeed shilling for a toy line, the creative forces behind the show, including a young up-and-coming writer named J. Michael Straczynski, had something more ambitious in mind, creating a show that was surprisingly dark and well ahead of its time. Well, now Captain Power may be staging a comeback, and legendary comic artist Neal Adams could be along for the ride.
We first reported on the Captain Power reboot series way back in October 2012. Dubbed Phoenix Rising, this new Cap project was looking to resurrect the cult-classic kids’ program that ran for a single syndicated season in 1987 and 1988. Phoenix Rising is the brainchild of Captain Power power co-creator Gary Goddard and executive producer Roger Lay Jr., and at the time the story was first reported, he had already enlisted the talents of veteran writers Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, who have worked on tons of shows including Batman: The Animated Series and Star Trek: Enterprise. Word of Adams involvement comes via a Comicbook.com interview from last November, which reveals that Adams was “on board” to work on a Captain Power comics or graphic novels tied to the overall reboot.
This actually wouldn’t be Adams’ first involvement with Captain Power. He provided the art for the short-lived tie-in comic-book which ran from 1988 – 1989. Penned by J. Michael Straczynski, the comic fared even worse than the show, lasting only two issues before getting shitcanned. Neither Goddard nor Lay go into much detail about the Captain Power comic plans, but one possibility laid on the table is turning the existing scripts for Cap’s aborted second season into graphic novels with Adams handling the art duties. Lay compares the idea to Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire comics, which continued the story from the show via in-canon new stories, a success that has spawned similar projects for other wrapped shows such as Firefly and The X-Files.
Set in the 22nd century, in the aftermath of “the Metal Wars,” Captain Power followed the titular hero and his team of resistance fighters as they waged battle against intelligent machines, Terminator style. The gimmick that made it more memorable than a lot of other ’80s kids shows is the fact that it was interactive: each episode included a segment where you could fire the toys’ light guns at the screen and rack up points — the more accurate you were, the more points you got.
But the show’s most lasting legacy was its creative team. The writing staff included the aforementioned Straczynski alongside several other folks who went on to pen Babylon 5 episodes, including Lawrence G. DiTillio, Marc Scott Zicree, and Christy Marx. When you factor in that the show also included producers John Copeland and Doug Netter, there’s a very real possibility that Babylon 5 might never have happened — or at least not happened in the same way — with Captain Power as its forebear. (In fact, Captain Power even name checks B5 in the 1987 episode “Final Stand” — some six years before B5’s pilot airs. Joe’s wheels were already turning.)
You can keep track of the Captain Power reboot via the official Facebook page, but we will of course also keep you posted. In the meantime, check out this unused Neal Adams art from the canceled fourth and fifth issues of the Captain Power comic.