And there came a day, a day unlike any other, where the powers that be at Marvel decided they needed to get more new books that focused on space adventuring……which seemed to coincide with the release of a certain film that broke the box office record for a movie released in August. Funny how that works.
So this past Wednesday marked the release of two new titles from the House of Ideas that take place in outer space. Now only one of these is an Avengers Now title but I’m going to review them both here because lets face it, when it comes to Marvel, you’re either an Avenger or an X-Man. And since these guys don’t really fit into the mutant category, they’re honorary Avengers from the future. If you look at your Guardians of the Galaxy history, that’s pretty much what they are. They even teamed up with Earth’s Mightiest back in the day to take down Korvac. So yeah, even though there’s no emblem on the cover, it’s an Avengers Now title in my book.
So let’s jump into these cosmic titles and see if they’re out of this world! (I know it’s a lame joke but it works.)
Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier #1
Written by: Ales Kot
Art by: Marco Rudy
If you missed the Original Sin miniseries, you might not know that Nick Fury used to have a job as “The Man on the Wall”. The Man on the Wall’s job is to protect the earth from any shady alien stuff that could hurt it, like scouts from other planets or intergalactic serial killers or anal probes…..okay, maybe not that last one. Nick Fury had this job. Now good ol’Bucky Barnes has taken up the mantle. This job keeps Buck out in space on a satellite that orbits Earth. He’s got missions that take him across the stars and all for the safety of humankind. So when the book begins, we’re dropped right in the thick of it. The Winter Soldier has been taken captive by an alien race that plans to assimilate him into their culture. Little do they know that that’s where Bucky wants to be as he’s there to assassinate the planet’s ruler. He completes the mission with a little bit of help from Nick Fury’s prize pupil, Daisy Johnson, aka Quake. After the job is done, Barnes offers Daisy a chance to be his partner in stopping the many space undesirables from ever getting to our world. We then jump back to Earth, under the sea in fact, to see The Winter Soldier and Namor teaming up to take down some Atlantian drug dealers. It’s near the end of this caper that we find out that there’s a mysterious foe on Bucky’s tail that’s here to take him out…..and almost does. The foe might be someone we, and Bucky, already know.
I gotta admit, this title worried me when it was first announced. Why the hell would you send The Winter Soldier, arguably the world’s greatest spy/assassin, into space to act as the Earth’s protector? I didn’t think it would work. If you were to tell me a month ago that when I reached the end of the first issue, not only would I be sold on the concept, I would be counting the days til the next issue’s release, I woulda called you crazy. Well, here I am, counting down the days. This book delivered on all possible fronts. The art by Marco Rudy was astounding. I’ve seen Rudy’s work before but this issue really shows all he can do with a comic page. He doesn’t confine himself to the rigid panels that we’re all accustomed to. He breaks out, treating the entire page as one big, interactive image, a tapestry of bad-assery as as it were. He also plays with the mood of the piece by varying the clarity of a moment. At times, the images are crisp and bright and it’s very straight forward what we’re seeing. Other pages reveal a much darker, muddier look that plays with the shadows and depth of field, giving us a warped view of the events taking place. This change in look and pace does a great job of reminding the reader that in space, the rules are different and in some cases, there are no rules.
Much like Rudy’s artwork captures the mood of the story, The tale weaved by Ales Kot captures the character of Bucky Barnes to a tee. The appearances by both Daisy Johnson and Namor are handled well and each gets a moment to show off their distinct personality traits. The reveal at the end was played perfectly and was a great first issue cliff hanger. Kot has been writing some amazing stuff over on Secret Avengers that really pushes the boundaries of what you can do with an Avengers‘ title. I feel that he’ll most likely go even further with The Winter Soldier. This book also marks the second time this week where a writer attempts to capture a bit of that Matt Fraction Hawkeye magic (the first being Remender’s try at humour in Cap #25). When Bucky invites Daisy Johnson to be his partner in crime, it harkens back to the first issue of Hawkeye where Clint gives that same invite to Kate Bishop. While the scene is played completely different from the other book, it’s still feels almost like a tribute to it in some way.
This issue delivered much more than I expected it to and recommend it to anybody that enjoys what Marvel’s doing right now with their new titles. The art is heavenly. The plotting is smart and tight. The dialogue and characters are true to form. It’s my favourite read of the week, hands down.
Guardians 3000 #1
Written by: Dan Abnett
Art by: Gerardo Sandoval and Edgar Delgado
You ever get stuck in a moment that you can’t get out of? That’s pretty much what’s happening for the original Guardians of the Galaxy in their new title, Guardians 3000. Vance Astro, Martinex, Yondu, Charlie 27 and Starhawk have rescued a young woman who was being held captive by the Badoon, the worst alien race you can mess with in the year 3014. This woman, Geena, plays a key role in fixing the currently broken timeline. The only problem is she and the Guardians haven’t figured out what that role is exactly. The Badoon attack the group and things don’t go well. Suddenly, it’s hours before and Guardians have taken Geena to a secret meeting of delegates from the remaining alien kingdoms. The Guardians seek help from this collective in their fight against the Badoon. It’s right around this point that the Badoon end up attacking….again. This is when Geena knows what’s going on: They’re stuck in a moment. But is knowing half the battle?
So Dan Abnett is back on a Guardians book, eh? Well this time, things are a bit different as he’s dealing with the OG Guardians and not the team that’s been ripping up the box office. From what I can tell so far, this team is a good fit for him. He’s been able to find the right voices for most of the characters and has set up a pretty interesting premise. This is obviously an idea that links back to stuff he set up with Andy Lanning in the 2008 Guardians of the Galaxy series. The breakage of time, the repeating of events and the changes in dimensions (and gender of Starhawk) were all touched upon in that series, so it’s pretty cool to see him reintroduce it all here. He’s set the table for what might be a grand adventure.
The artwork by Sandoval reminds me very much of Chris Bachalo’s style and pacing but also falls into a bit of the same problems with proportion. There are moments when the illustrations are dynamic and engaging. Then the next few panels will look awkward and the anatomy almost painful to look at. The art took me out of the story at times but not so much that it ruined the whole experience of the issue.
I am interested to see where this title goes but I’m not sure how committed I am to seeing this story through. I’d recommend this book to die hard Abnett fans and long time Guardians groupies. For everyone else, it might be best to wait for the trade on this one.
That’s all for NOW. There’s no new Avengers Now titles for next week, so I will be jumping over to DC to take a look at their Batgirl revamp. See you then.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!