Who Are the Star Rovers?

Who's This? The rocket age trio on page 8 of Who's Who vol.XXII.
The facts: The Star Rovers, created by Gardner Fox and Sid Greene were featured in a recurring strip between 1961 and 1964, starting in Mystery in Space #66 with no actual group name. They returned in #69, and then, fully christened, in #74. They would appear four more times in Mystery in Space (through #86) before moving to Strange Adventures with #159 (1963), appearing in just one more issue, #163, the following year before being discontinued. Despite having so few appearances to their collective name, the Rovers' stories were reprinted several times in the 70s, in Strange Adventures #232-236, for example, From Beyond the Unknown #18-22, and DC Super-Stars #8. Each story pretty much used the same formula, with each of the three members working on the same problem individually, then coming together to share notes and perhaps a final solution.
How you could have heard of them: Twisted versions of the Rovers were main characters in Howard Chaykin's Twilight mini-series and subsequent Iron Wolf graphic novel (1990-1992). They also appeared in that catch-all of space opera obscura, Starman #55 (1999), which in fact, mirrored the triple-POV structure of their original stories. More recently, they were introduced as space smugglers in the New52's Green Lantern: New Guardians Annual #1 (2013), and are later hired by Larfleeze in a Threshold back-up. Same names, one extra member, no real relation.
Example story: Mystery in Space #80 (1962) by Gardner Fox and Sid Greene, reprinted in From Beyond the Unknown #18 (1972) and DC Super-Stars #8 (1976)
The Star Rovers aren't really a team. Think of them as fiercely competitive friends. "Who Saved the Earth?" (most of their stories are titled with a question) actually shows how team work can be used by individuals, and is sort of sweet. Our story begins when all three Rovers individually receive notice that they've been awarded medals for each saving Earth, which they haven't even been to in a while. The newsfeed gives them a partial clue.
When they meet up online to brag and ponder the mystery, they realize they're all in the same situation, so they stay in Skype until they can solve the puzzle. If anything about this space opera is prescient, it's that. Playboy/athlete Rick Purvis tells the others about how he recently won the solar sailboat race.
What does that have to do with anything? Well, when a meteor punctures his sail, he's forced to set down on a planet. There he finds a metal object that would fit perfectly over the hole, but armed aliens attack him. He doesn't have any long-range fighting ability, but maybe something his friend Karel once told him about marksmanship...
And so with her "help", he defeats the bad guys (of course, he might as well have remembered a game of dominoes, so my theory is that he has the hots for her), patches the hole, and still wins the race. Just then, a mysterious voice breaks in on their communication revealing that the patch was really a secret weapon designed to hurl Earth into a "no-time continuum" by a "clever manipulation of magnetic flux". Taking out of the equation saved Earth! But what about glamor girl/expert marksman Karel Sorensen? Well, she was just minding her own business practicing her marksmanship on exploding flowers, as you do...
...when she was attacked by Shen aliens firing bubbles at her. Her big epiphany also involves a "team mate":
Blinding then with explosions! Of course! It's so simple, I can't believe she needed a flashback to work it out! (My theory is that she has a massive crush on Homer.) The mystery voice now tells us Karel saved Earth too, because those weird upward-floating tear drops were, in fact, a Shenn process that would have been carried on cosmic rays to draw the Earth out of it orbit. Well, we narrowly escaped that one! As for novelist/sportsman/ecology destroyer Homer Gint, he's about to steal a radioactive Tigerog egg from a nest on a volcanic planet when...
...he too is attacked by aliens - Kartivians to be exact - but it's all lava and noxious smoke up in here! The solution? Do like Roving friend (and man-crush) Rick Purvis and... jump!
They really should have left the flashback to later, when still inspired by Rick, Homer throws the egg over a lava stream and pole-vaults into position to catch it again. So how does this save Earth, mysterious voice that is maddeningly never explained?! Voice says the egg was on a timing device powered by the egg's radioactivity, which was counting down to Earth's explosion, somehow. We sure do have a lot of enemies in the future. Also, completely mad science. Also, crazy good luck. And people whose job it is to call up with exposition. And of course, no privacy if these events were all somehow witnessed. Sweet resolution? Okay:
Aww, they each gave their secret crush their medal. Cute!

Who else?
The next character will have a metal-based code name. Which doesn't actually narrow it down much.

3 comments:

Randal said...

Rick sure is faaaaabulous in the Who's Who spread.

SallyP said...

At first I thought it was Reed Richards, Sue Storm and Errol Flynn.

Siskoid said...

I think the Rovers beat the FF out by a couple months. I guess jumpsuits were a thing in the early 60s.

 

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