Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Funny Pages

It's an all cosmic comic review this week. With Jedi, Aliens, Space Babies, and Space Raccoons. Yeah. You read that right. Rocket Raccoon, bitches.

Star Wars Legacy 1

The temptation to start this review with "A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away..." was really tempting, but my better judgement prevailed. The second series to carry the "Legacy" title, I found this new series an easier read than the first volume. Gabriel Hardman and Corrina Bechko take us 140 years after the battle of Yavin. It's a period of peace and rebuilding after years of war. A new Imperial Triumvirate rules the galaxy in hopes of preventing the mistakes of the Republic and the Empire from repeating. The Jedi are no longer the galactic peace keepers they once were. The Sith are all but gone. A new order of Imperial Knights sits as a balance between the light and the dark. Anya Solo (Han and Leia’s great great granddaughter) is a junk salvager on a planet near the galactic rim. A less than glamorous life for an ancestor of the the heroes of the Rebellion. Anya needs a ticket off the rock she's on, and may have found it when she stumbles across a lightsaber with no Jedi or Knight to claim it. But this simple Lightsaber may have pulled Anya into a galactic conspiracy beyond her reckoning. As with most bad things in the Star Wars universe there's Sith behind it. What the dark side’s motives and goals are aren't entirely clear yet but with Hardman and Bechko at the helm you know it's going to be good. Hardman (a Hollywood storyboard artist who has worked on such films as Dark Knight Rises, and Inception) and Bechko (Hardman’s wife) are also currently working on a series of Planet of the Apes books for IDW, and if Star Wars Legacy is half as good as what they've delivered for the Chimpanzees, we’re in for on hell of a ride.
One issue in and the book feels way more accessible than Legacy volume 1. You can tell Anya is a Solo. Shooting first. Not wanting to know the odds. And having a plucky alien sidekick. She's a much more like able character than the drug addled, angst ridden Cade Skywalker, in Ostrander’s Legacy run.
While this isn't the Luke, Leia, Han era it still feels like Star Wars and is definitely worth checking out.


Saga 11

Saga is always good. That isn't an exaggeration. That isn't fanboy hyperbole. 11 issues in and it's never faltered one bit. Saga is a hard book to categorize cause its a space opera, with aliens, people with tv’s for heads, space babies. It's a fantasy, with magic, ghosts, and sword fighting. But most of all it's a story about family. A family that is trying to make it in a universe that is very literally trying to kill them. Alana and Marko are aliens from two very different species who have a newborn daughter Hazel. Their races have been at war for longer than either races can remember. So long in fact that neither side can remember why they went to war in the first place. All either side knows is that they hate each other. So much so that they're willing to kill a halfbreed baby simply for the reason that it exists.
In the short time Hazel has been alive (over the course of 11 issues) she has got a  nanny who just happens to be a ghost, traveled through space in a rocket ship made out of a tree, and escaped from a space baby who hatched out of a planet.
Brian K. Vaughan pulls a bait and switch this issue. Last issue readers freaked out (I mean FREAKED) out over the supposed death of Lying Cat, but readers can breath easy, he didn't die in the vacuum of space. No instead we see the tragic death of Marko’s father, Hazel’s grandfather, Barr.
The issue starts with a fairly graphic (well graphic to most comics) sex scene, that really sums up Marko and Alana's relationship really well. Plus we see Hazel’s conception. How often can you say that? But from there the book goes to a very different place. When Barr dies the issue takes a drastic tonal shift. Diagnosed with a terminal disease Barr sacrifices the remaining time he has to save his family and newborn grandchild. A grandchild he really should hate. A warrior of some great renown on his home planet, Barr should despise the half-breed Hazel the way all the others hunting her should. But he doesn't. He loves her. Loves her like a grandfather should.
Few comics are written so well. Few comics can pull of such a heart wrenchingly good issue. To see Marko’s pain at the loss of his father is one of the saddest things I've read in a comic. His flashback to a childhood memory of his father teaching him how to ride a giant grass hopper (that doesn't take away from the moment at all) encapsulates the relationship between this father and son. Whether there will be repercussion from Marko pushing Alana away at the time of Barr’s death remains to be seen. Knowing Vaughan there will be consequences to Marko’s dismissal of his wife. But for now we leave the family one member short as they drift through space, their pursuers far behind them. For now.


Nova 2

To say that Nova writer Jeph Loeb is a polarizing creator in the world of comics would be a bit of an understatement. The man has had a prolific career in the medium. Having written such timeless stories as Batman Long Halloween, and Superman For All Seasons, but he has also been responsible for such abominations as Ultimates 3, Ultimatum, and let us not forget (as much as we'd love to try) making Wolverine and Sabertooth evolved from a species of cat people. Now Nova is certainly not classic like Spider-Man Blue, but it definitely isn't the abortion that was Ultimates 3 (incestuous Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver in particular). Nova falls somewhere in the middle. It's fun. Really really fun. It's a kid who gets super powers and gets to fly into space. Who hasn't wanted to be that kid? Loeb is able to give this newest Nova, Sam Alexander (previous Nova Richard Ryder still AWOL in the Cancerverse) a sense of wonder and delight as he learns to fly, blast off like a "human rocket" and see the universe. There is more to the story but not a lot more to be honest. Loeb is building to something, but we’re kind of in the same boat as Sam in we’re not really sure what. Sam’s drunk father was a former member of a special group of Nova Corp officers who were on a secret mission. Something went wrong and now it's up to young Sam to  It's a similar story in a way to what Loeb did with Teen Wolf (yes Jeph Loeb wrote THAT Teen Wolf. Although I'm not sure about Teen Wolf Too), and if you don't know what I'm talking about, watch it for sheer 80's goodness.
Ed McGuinness has been Loeb's artist of choice on his last few projects and they work incredibly well. McGuinness’ (as much as I'd hate to say) cartoonier style fits this type of story more so than on  the other Loeb/McGuinness projects, like Hulk, or Avengers X-Sanction (still a terrible title).
If the book is able to stay light and fun as it has these first two issues, and it continues to have cameos from my favorite Guardian of the Galaxy, Rocket Raccoon, I will be sticking around on this book. Well as long as the new Nova doesn't end up punching the Watcher in the face (yeah that happened in Loeb's Red Hulk run).


~Nick Ardill

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