Recently we took a look at Churro, the flying chihuahua with guns from the Final Faction toyline. In case you missed it, Final Faction is a toyline exclusive to Dollar Tree stores in the US and Poundland in the UK. Inspired by the 1980s version of G.I. Joe and similar action figures, the line’s gimmick is a series of accessory packs used by the heroic Final Faction and the evil invading alien Karn for control of Earth’s resources. Churro is a chihuahua with a canine mech suit, the FD-O, that you can attach various weapons to, but the human and alien figures have those as well. There are also a set of vehicles and robots for the heroes while the villains’ troop builders come in the form of synthoid robots.

On my last shopping trip I went to see if there were any more accessory packs that might work for the FD-O in case I wanted to alter Churro’s load out now and then for display, since it’s the only thing in the line that interest me. I saw some that I want to look into online to make sure they’re compatible (I saw one that was actually reviewed on the FD-O and I may end up getting it, giving it VTOL engine wings and machine guns) but what surprised me was a comic book based on the toyline. I mean, that’s nothing new. Over at my other site I review comics on the daily, sometimes twice a day, and between regular and pack-in minicomics I’m certainly used to it. I just wasn’t expecting it for the $1.50 toyline. So I figured I’d check out the first issue at least and see if it’s any good. Plus it’s the origin so we get to see how best doggy got his robot. And I have a review format that I use on my other website for the deeper reviews (you’ve seen it here during filler posts), but there will be spoilers for this comic. I mean, it’s for your kids. Were you going to read it? If you’re like me, probably.

I wonder what the first faction was?

Final Faction #1

Dollar Tree (2022)

“First Impact”

WRITER: Toby Osborne

ARTIST: Chris Rarrinan

INK ASSIST: Luis Rivera

COLORIST: Mimi Simon

LETTERERS: John Heebink & Mike Manley

SPOOF AD PAGE ARTIST: Pete McDonnell

It’s the year 2050, which as of this writing gives us roughly 28 years to be disappointed. Or relieved given we’re talking about alien invasion. We open on Sgt. John Steadfast making a barbecue meal for himself and Churo when a large object hits the moon. Like you can see the impact from the backyard. In the mountains of East Asia a woman sits in mediation when she senses something coming. In Africa an air squadron flies out to attack…something. Debris from the moon, maybe? They don’t know about the Karn because they’re just waking up.

Among the debris is the Karn mothership, as Diabol, the military commander, awakens. He asks his leader, Queen Malara if it’s time. We don’t really see her as she’s in shadow but it’s more of her than we’ve seen in the online cartoons thus far. A series of beams shoot out from the exposed portion of the ship, including outside Steadfast’s house. Churro, being a dog, has to go bark at the strange thing, one of the Karn synthoids appearing in the beam. It tosses Steadfast like a ragdoll into a car before more show up. Steadfast does not win this fight and ends up with a damaged arm. As much as you’d like to see him be a badass, the Karn need to show up as a serious threat, which is why Earth needs the Final Faction. Shift, the martial arts psychic girl from earlier, a woman named Amari, a sharpshooter names Scope, the bad joke slinging Ruck, a fisherman named Riptide, and a pilot named Steel (the only survivor of that African air force) barely score a victory and they have guns. Steadfast had a cooking fork and very small dog.

“My shifty sense is tingling.”

Steadfast wakes up in the hospital with a robotic arm and with Shift, quickly establishing they know each other. One problem I do have with the book is how fast it goes through things. Let me get slightly technical here. Comics off use a “nine panel grid”, which is more a general layout than an official thing. Some images use two panel or more panels as one panel for example, not counting the full-size “splash page”. This comic seems to be using more of a six panel grid, one on each side. This kind of limits how much you can have on one page. Now for a minicomic I could see it but this is a full-size comic book. Maybe there was a last-minute change or the creative thought they were doing something more like the pack-in minicomics that came with Masters Of The Universe or MASK or something back in the 1980s, which would have been cool, especially with the Churro figure because it’s the one I bought. However, it just leaves less room for story so more time is used to establish personalities. Little things like showing Steadfast’s dog tag to tell us he’s a military man (not sure what branch), Ruck using bad puns to ease the tension before and during a battle, or that Swift is a martial arts psychic are nice to see.

On the other hand Swift’s abilities somehow know everything about the Karn when apparently nobody knew they were on the moon…or rather the ship IS the moon. Guess we needed more trips up there. The Karn are intergalactic travelers, plundering planets as they go by. However, a solar storm stuck the ship in orbit and it somehow got covered in rock and dust, becoming the moon. I mean, there are worse origins. Now the government is to form a line of defense since the Karn are awake again and they want Steadfast to recruit this final faction. Swift is his first choice, but she wants her brother Scope in, which Steadfast isn’t happy with because the kid’s a braggart. Swift assures him her brother can back it up. We get a look at a nearby table with Steel and Amari’s dossiers, showing they’ll be part of the team as well as a dossier for a man named Torn. Again, I like how they’re at least trying to make up for the limited space as best they can to introduce everyone.

Annoyed that they couldn’t detect some critical element but seeing other resources to plunder, Diabol sends his harvesters down, and it’s quickly established they’re dumb as brick and just like splatting people. If you’ve seen the cartoon shorts you know they’re the comic relief henchmen typical of the 1980s.

The reason we’re all here. It’s still not opening like the toy does.

Steadfast meets with Doctor Cassandra Taylor, who designed his new arm, and meets her paralyzed teenage son, Boyd. She also built his hoverchair because when you can’t move your legs a chair that can become immobile if the battery dies is exactly what you want to have. Maybe wheels are sometimes a good thing? Even electric wheelchairs have them, doc. She also shows off her computer, Echo (which has her voice) and the Augmented Combat Rescue Mech (or ACRM…an acronym that is almost the word acronym…I caught it…as I wrote it), which Boyd operates remotely through a telepresence system, which she shows off by taking out a captured synthoid. Apparently reverse-engineering it is what led to the arm and the ACRM. She also have the FD-O, a robot dog shaped like a great dane that has a cockpit so a chikuwa can operate it. Why did she have such a thing when she only just met Churro, you may ask?

Later at the Final Faction headquarters, we get our last chance to see everybody’s personalities before the alarm sounds for their first official battle with the Karn as a team. Arriving at Death Valley (fitting choice for a battle) the heroes attack the villains with their gear and their vehicle. By the way, Amara just attacks with a bat (I’m trying to decide if she’s that awesome or that dumb) and apparently Steel isn’t the only one to have lost a team to the Karn. We do get to see everyone’s fighting style, including the FD-O’s “sonic bark”, which makes a “wooof-boooom!!!!” sound. This is my flavor of silly.

Steadfast confronts Diabol, who recognizes the metal Steadfast’s arm is made of. It’s synthosium, which is the “rarest, strongest metal in existence” and the Karn use it to create their synthetic soldiers and weapons. Now he really wants this planet, but given that the tech comes from downed synthoids, is that where the metal came from as well? Remember, he scanned the planet and didn’t see any. Our heroes send them running, but the Final Faction will be ready when the return.

Churro provides the music, Boyd’s ACRM provides the entertainment. They both provide the pounding.

So what do I think of this comic? I mean…you get what you paid for, right? It’s cheaper than a regular comic. That doesn’t mean it’s bad. The art is decent enough. I’ve seen worse art at higher price points. The story itself moves a bit fast at times and we don’t really get to see much of the team before the group is joined, but I guess that’s what flashbacks and later issues are for. (The back cover teases a second issue.) As a cheap promo comic to make little Bobby happy while your shopping it works, much like the toys it’s based on. And for the retro toy collecting adults there’s a nod to those obvious to us now scam ads that used to be in comics, like x-ray specs, or in this case a book on “unleashing your inner guru”, a can of laughter, and an invisibility potion. Plus there’s an ad for Sarge’s Cookie Company, a nod to Steadfast loving to make cookies and Churro loving to eat them. While I’m not sure I’d pick up the next issue unless I hear that’s darn good (again, for the price–$1.50 versus three or four dollars for ones in the comic store, and with similar but admittedly lower quality paper, though I still have questions for the industry). It’s okay but I’m only in it for the robot dog run by a smaller dog.

Oh right, there are humans in this comic besides the sexy martial arts psychic.