I’ve been quiet of the comics front for a bit, don’t expect posts regularly but if something fantastic catches my eye I’ll throw it up here. For now I may stick to #1’s, it’s hard to review an ongoing book without major spoilers.
Guardians of the Galaxy #1 (Marvel, Abnett/Landing): Marvel needs to lock these two writers down ASAP. My favorite title of the Annihilation: Conquest miniseries was the Starlord series; it kind of like the Dirty Dozen on LSD with aliens and robots. You had some great 3rd String (or worse) characters given life and turned into something completely fun. Needless to say I was a little disappointed when I learned Guardians of the Galaxy would replace a number of those characters with the cosmic "A-listers": Drax, Adam Warlock, Gamora and Quasar (plus the returning Rocket Racoon and Starlord himself). I shouldn’t have been worried though, I should have just trusted in the Abnett/Landing magic.
The dialogue rocks here, especially in the action scenes, as characters banter and snipe at one another. Groot makes an appearance, essentially as a twig in a pot, and despite having speech balloons too small to read, manages some great imagined lines (likely proclaiming himself Groot). Mantis makes a return, which made me happy, as the quirky pyrokinetic celestial madonna was one of my favorites from Starlord and Conquest. Here, as usual, she is equal parts cute and creepy.
Paul Pelletair’s art gives things a nice, dynamic flair and his subtle management of the background, in particular the exterior of the Universal Church of Truth ship (Battlefleet Gothic anyone? Given Abnett’s ties to Games Workshop, I wouldn’t be surprised if that was deliberate), are worth taking note of. The team doesn’t have a uniform per se but each costume notably employs the same shade of red as a highlight color (except for Quasar where it is dominant) that actual gives the team a nice bit of cohesion. Pelletair’s action scenes are top notch, never muddled and never static. His art complements the writing duo to a T.
Great action, great dialog, talking dogs, hot alien babes, and Lovecraftian horrors from Beyond! It’s like they reached into my head and pulled out the perfect comic! Recommended times 10.
Captain Britain and MI: 13 #1 (Marvel, Cornell): This is what a tie-in should be! Focusing on Great Britain just after Secret Invasion #1 it focuses mainly on the titular character and some former members of Excalibur/Avengers Pete Wisdom and Black Knight. Oh and a skull in the shape of John Lennon. Called John most often he is, perhaps, a surprisingly interesting character defecting from the "fundamentalist" Skrull invaders to assist Wisdom and Captain Britain in protecting the Siege Perilous (apparently Marvel’s gateway to faerie and all things magic). Wisdom and Black Knight get their chances to shine as well. Black Knight is busy throwing quips like a leather clad Spidey which he explains are a means to stave off the murderous urges of his magic sword. Wisdom, a character I don’t know too well, is brutal, quiet and badass as hell with his flaming knife things. That brings us to the titular Captain Britain. I was never a big Excalibur fan so I don’t know too much about the hero, though I get the impression he has as convoluted a back story as anyone in the 616. In the book he actually acknowledges his own second-string status, and his comment about wanting to be more like a certain other Captain was a nice touch.
The book is most interesting in terms of plot. Rather than use the Secret Invasion as a means to push the book down our throats it seems Cornell decided to use it as a backdrop to tell a completely different story. It’s too early to say for sure but given the branding of the invading Skrulls as fundamentalists (not to mention a skrull as John Lennon), the presence of magic, Captain Britain’s musing on being a better hero, and the usually smarmy Wisdom receiving some kind of vision I expect Cornell will be telling a tale that strays a little from the normal superhero fare. While Cornell is weaving the deliberately mythical element into his story, one might think this would come off as a bit pretentious, but Cornell manages to balance the mythic with a restrained humor that never veer too much towards the silly.
Kirk’s pencils really enhance the action scenes and he has a sense of action that is extremely reminiscent of Japanese manga and anime; in particular with his use of speed lines to depict motion. Black Night’s introduction could have come off as static but Kirk’s deft use of speed lines plus the subtle blurring of the background creating a startling sense of dynamicism. I’m not sure how Brian Reber’s colors will play out in the long run but their rather sombers tones here give the book a dark air that could drag as the series rolls on. Regardless the book featured strong art all-around and the choice of Hitch as a cover artists isn’t a far stretch from Kirk’s own style.
All in all this was a great read that surpassed Secret Invasion #1 as a first issue. I look forward to seeing where this book goes in the future and am happy to add it to my pull list.