I’ve written features about a number of comic titles published in the 1990s by independent British comics publisher Phoenix Press. Saban’s VR Troopers – Official 3D Comic, a tie-in to the short-lived but popular TV series of the mid-1990s, which ran for just eight issues, is perhaps their best-known publication.
In the absence of some copies of the British edition, the gallery includes some German reprint editions, also released by Phoenix Press there, a few months after the title hit newsagents in Britain.
If you can help fill the gaps in the UK covers, please drop me a line via my Boys Adventure Comics blog, where I’ve also featured items on the Phoenix Press titles Iznogoud and Phantom 2040. Thanks!
The Phoenix Press title is definitely much harder to find than the version that Marvel also published as a flipbook five issues mini-series in 1995, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Ninja Rangers/VR Troopers, which featured the Power Rangers on one side and the VR Troopers on the other.
Marvel UK released a VR Troopers tie-in magazine, which appears to be a one shot, and the show also featured on the cover of at least one issue of Disney Adventures.
The art (and writing) in the Phoenix Press VR Troopers comics is uncredited, but includes strips drawn by Sam Hart, who went on to draw “Judge Dredd” and much more.
He tells us it was a fun time, ages ago. “I worked on Issues Three or Four onwards, if I remember correctly,” he tells us, and also did some Disney illustrations and a Power Rangers story for the same company.
Today, he’s an advertising and film storyboard artist who has created storyboards for Brazilian agency Africa and studio Quanta, Fabrica de Quadrinhos, Pier Ponto, Gullane and clients Mitsubishi, Itau, Vivo, Brahma, P&G, Budweiser and Vale. He teaches storyboarding at AXIS//GNOMON.
Currently screening on Netflix in the UK, VR Troopers (Virtual Reality Troopers) was a syndicated live action superhero-adventure television series produced and distributed by Saban Entertainment from 1994 to 1996.
The show, which ran for only two seasons, tried to profit from the fascination with virtual reality in the mid-1990s, as well as the success of Saban’s other property, Power Rangers. The first official “sister series” to Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, the show was an Americanization of a Japanese tokusatsu children’s program series by Toei Company and was a co-production of Toei and Cyberprod.
While the series was almost as successful as Power Rangers, spawning a Kenner action figure range, a spin-off board game produced by Milton Bradley, a Sega Genesis cassette-based computer game, and an album of music released in Germany, too. But it was cancelled after only two seasons, primarily because the available Japanese footage was quickly exhausted. In a number of extreme cases, the show’s Wikipedia entry notes multiple tokusatsu scenes were put together in one episode, forcing stock footage to be reused multiple times throughout the series.
(Additional material by John Freeman)
Richard Sheaf is a longtime contributor to downthetubes and has written for numerous magazines about British comics.