Silverhawks, from the cover of the Marvel comic book.


Original medium: TV animation
Produced by: Rankin/Bass Studios
First Appeared: 1986
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Your basic, average superhero, both in comics and, later, in animation, was just a guy in an ordinary setting, who wore a costume and sallied forth, when necessary, to battle crime and/or evil — Superman, who sparked the trend in comic books, was that kind of hero, …

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… as were most of his followers, from The Human Torch to The Blue Falcon, and points beyond. Then there were the ones who had a specialized setting, outside the here-and-now, which usually involved a complicated back-story and often a continuing storyline. An early example, also from Superman's publisher, was Gary Concord, the Ultra-Man. An example from animation is found in the 1986 Rankin/Bass production, Silverhawks.

Rankin/Bass is the studio that's probably best known for Christmas specials starring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman, but it's also done a few superhero series such as the earlier Thundercats and the later Tigersharks (a minor segment on its 1987 show The Comic Strip, and no relation). Silverhawks was first broadcast in syndication on September 8, 1986.

The back-story included humans from Earth spreading out through the cosmos to the point where travel and communication between galaxies (i.e., involving distances that would take light itself millions of years to traverse) were commonplace by the 29th century, when the series took place. A super villain named Mon-Star (who drew his awesome power from a celestial object named Moon-Star) escaped from a maximum security prison in The Limbo Galaxy and recruited a super-powered gang by taking a bunch of other criminals with him. This prompted Commander Stargazer, who had originally captured him, to send all the way back to Earth for back-up to bring him back in. There, a bunch of stalwarts were recruited, converted to cyborgs to withstand the rigors of space, and sent to help out so quickly, they arrived while still young enough to do some good.

The heroes (partly metal, partly real, as the theme song went, implying the metal was imaginary) included Quicksilver (no relation, the leader, formerly Jonathan Quick), Bluegrass (also a country singer, whose guitar doubled as a sonic blaster, who piloted their ship, The Mirage), The Copper Kid (from The Mime Planet, where they used musical tones instead of words), Steelhart and Steelwill (brother and sister, formerly Emily and Will Hart, who had their hearts replaced when they were converted to cyborgs). The villains included Yessman (snake-like, always agreed with Mon-Star), Melodia (whose music was so awful it qualified as a weapon), Mo-Lec-U-Lar (as good at disguise as Chameleon Boy of The Legion of Super Heroes) and a bunch of other weirdos.

Stargazer's voice was done by Bob McFadden (Cool McCool, Milton the Monster) and Mon-Star's by Earl Hammond (Santa Claus in a 1985 Rankin/Bass production, commander in Galaxy Rangers). Other voices in the large cast included (but were far from limited to) Larry Kenney, Peter Newman, Maggie Wheeler and Adolph Caesar, all of whom have more extensive credits as face actors than for their voice work. Most of the cast also worked on the previous year's Thundercats.

The show was broadcast daily, but only for one season of 65 episodes. There was also a comic book, published by Marvel's "Star Comics" imprint for six issues (the last as part of the company's regular line, after "Star" had been dropped). Reruns have been scarce, but the show still retains many loyal fans.


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Text ©2006-09 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Rankin/Bass.