GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #0.1 (Marvel, April 2013) Writer: Brian Michael Bendis. Penciler: Steve McNiven.
When I heard the initial announcement that GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY would be the next Marvel property to be adapted to movies, I thought it a very odd choice. Surely, there were plenty of other (and more popular) Marvel comics titles that could be adapted for movies before this? I thought Ant-Man could be cool, even a Hawkeye movie or re-boot the Fantastic Four or Daredevil again - but the Guardians? (And the Rocket Raccoon version, to boot! Never really felt warm about this character. Hate to think how bad and cartoony a movie version of this critter may be.) I just could not conceive of a way that this property could be adapted into a film that would hold an audience’s attention the same way that The Avengers movie did and get filmgoers excited enough to produce another box-office success. Now I think I see an answer. It’s going to come down to the writing and scripting, with a healthy dose of well-developed characterization And Brian Michael Bendis has just laid down the template in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #0.1.
This prequel issue certainly reads like a movie script with storyboards. Regular readers know how skilled Bendis is at realistic and engaging dialogue in the Marvel titles he writes. He is certainly putting on a show here. Heck, this could be his audition to get a bigger role in the actual film script So far, the official press releases just say that he is trying to stay closer to the tone (“thematically similar”) of the film in this new comic series. I know that director James Gunn often has a large role in scripting his films but we’ll see. I also read that former GUARDIANS scripters Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning were consulted during the early stages of movie production. That’s also a real good sign. If the movie is anything like the comic I just finished reading - - I will be in line to buy a ticket.
Issue #0.1, written by Brian Michael Bendis and visually realized in dynamic fashion by artist Steve McNiven, tells the origin and beginnings of the Guardians’ team leader Peter Quill a.k.a. Starlord. It’s a love story, family story, and character building drama. You will feel warm towards Peter Quill in the same way that everybody has compassion for Steve Rogers a.k.a Captain America. I never expected to enjoy this so much. Just get a copy for yourself and see! As an extra bonus for Shellhead fans, it appears that Iron Man is going to become a member of this team. Wow. Imagine the possibilities.
STAR WARS: DARK TIMES - FIRE CARRIER #1 of 5 (Dark Horse, February 2013) Story: Randy Stradley. Art: Gabriel Guzman.
Sometimes I unintentionally contradict myself. How? Well, just last review I commented that I may have read too many Dark Horse STAR WARS comics some decades back and lost my appreciation for them. Yet, here I am picking up another one. However, considering that Disney (who owns Marvel) just acquired Lucas properties (including comics and books), how much longer will it be before they take the rights away from Dark Horse? Sure, I understand that Dark Horse has done a better than marvelous (pun) job with the STAR WARS titles, so why not leave well enough alone? Well, I can recall BOOM! Studios doing an equally marvelous (touché!) job on Disney properties some years back and sometime later Disney took the rights away and gave them to Marvel. So, I’m just getting a refresher before it’s too late. Yeah, Dark Horse really does know how to do STAR WARS right!
This latest title is Part 1 of five-part story and occurs a few months after the events in Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge Of The Sith. Dark Horse has always included a contents page that features background material as well as a timeline so readers can jump in and still follow the story. Otherwise, I know I’d be completely lost without a map! (This is Number 23 in the Dark Times Saga, just so you know.)
Just after the clone troopers turn against their Jedi generals and the Dark Empire begins to gain more control over Imperial forces, a massive Jedi manages to gather a group of younglings (all with Jedi potential) together and escapes before crash-landing on planet Arkinnea. Long-haired and long-toothed with a large protruding horse-like snout and a lion-like brow and gaze, the Jedi Master K’Kruhk is an imposing and intimidating figure with a gentle disposition and a rational manner. They are rounded up by a group of planetary militants who have a strong resentment for newly-landed refugees, especially if they suspect they have separatist sympathies. It seems that the Imperial troops have more compassion for outsiders than the local forces, and their intercession prevents K’Krunk’s group from getting entangled in serious trouble.
Most of the issue revolves around the orphans settling into a holding camp, trying to avoid drawing attention to themselves and hoping to get transferred to the open lands in the North. They are joined up with K’Krunk’s mentor/master Zao, another long-toothed but shorter (and horned) alien Jedi. We are introduced to some of the orphans, (but not all yet) and get a feel for these characters. Writer Randy Stradley does a fine job of juggling all the information that needs to be conveyed to the reader while still moving the story along pleasantly.
Meanwhile, Darth Vader is gaining in reputation as Emperor Palpatine’s second-in-command just after putting down a coup attempt by General Gentis In between trying to wear down the resolve of a Rebel prisoner, Lord Vader gets new marching orders to locate a certain ship which may be connected to our friends on Arkinnea.
Just like most of the Dark Horse -produced STAR WARS tales that I read so long ago, DARK TIMES – FIRE CARRIER continues the trend of high quality story and art that thoroughly immerses the reader in this rich world of George Lucas’ founding. The art in this issue by Gabriel Guzman is up to the task of enhancing the sense of wonder and is creative and engaging. I suggest you grab some Dark Horse STAR WARS titles while you still can.