Marvel has been churning out new number one issues over the course of the past few months, rather than doing the massive company-wide reboot that DC did. So far it has been a fairly mixed bag, with some pretty good stuff inside. Here is another wave of number one issue reviews.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1 (and #0.1)
This is actually a review of 2 issues. The first is issue 0.1. First let me say that I am actually annoyed at the novelty numbering system. I was never a fan of having an issue #0, #-1, #1,000,000, or whatever. Having said that, the story in the comic is actually very good.
Brian Michael Bendis tells the origin of the leader of the Guardians, Star Lord. His alien father crash lands in a remote Colorado forest and meets a human woman. I do not want to give the story away, but what I liked about it was that it was a very human, romantic, familial story surrounded by science fiction.
Issue #1 re-introduces the Guardians to readers. This is a reboot of a series that came out a few years ago during the Annihilation crossover. I am more familiar with the original Guardians of the Galaxy, a group of aliens and humans having adventures in the 31st century of the Marvel Universe. These Guardians are of this time. Some are veterans of other cosmic comics like Warlock and the Infinity watch: you have Gamora, the green-skinned lady assassin, and Drax the Destroyer, also green and looking like a cosmic Conan. Also in the group is a Ent-ish creature named Groot, who can apparently say only one sentence: "I am Groot." And there is fan favorite Rocket Raccoon, a wise-cracking, hard-nosed fighter who looks like a raccoon. This is also in addition to adding Iron Man to their roster.
The story brings the heroes together because the great alien races in the Marvel Universe have decided that Earth is now off limits. This, however, only invites aggression to the planet and the Guardians must, well, guard it.
Bendis' writing is solid in tone and pacing. Steve McNiven's art is outstanding. It is reminiscent of some great Gary Frank. He lets his characters be very expressive while keeping the action big. I am going to keep picking up this book.
4 out of 5 stars
THE FEARLESS DEFENDERS #1
The original Defenders were like a poor man's Avengers, despite their impressive line-up. The Defenders here refer to C-list heroes like Valkyrie and Misty Knight. The book is meant to be a fun, slightly silly jaunt into adventure.
I found it tedious and lame. Perhaps I am being overly harsh, but it did not grab my attention at all. Towards the end they try to shock you with some gratuitous girl-on-girl kissing, but it felt much more like a ploy for attention rather than an insight into story or character.
I would give you an basic plot description, but it was literally THAT forgettable. I won't be picking up Issue #2
1 out of 5 stars
I loved the original Nova, Richard Rider. I never picked up his most recent series, but this story is Rider-free. In the Marvel Universe, the Nova Corps is like DC's Green Lantern Corps: a cosmic police force made up of sentient beings from all over the universe and given special powers to fight the forces of darkness.
The story centers around a human Nova named Sam Alexander who returned to Earth to be with his wife, but has never been recalled by the Nova Corps. He has not taken it well and is a drunk who works at his son Sam's high school as a janitor. Sam does not believe any of his father's adventure stories and thinks that the old man is a crazy drunk. Sam cannot wait to get away from his family, his town, his life.
But suddenly things change and his father disappears. And then aliens appear to Sam and ask for the whereabouts of his father.
Jeff Loeb and Ed McGuiness reteam for this book and it is a welcome experience. Loeb's writing has been off, understandably so, since the death of his son. Sam Loeb's battle with bone cancer ended with his death at the age of 17. Sam Alexander bears a striking physcial resemblance to Loeb's son and is a fitting tribute to him. Geoff Johns did much the same thing with Stargirl (aka Courtney Whitmore) who he based on his sister Courtney who died on TWA flight 800. Rather than being maudlin, both Stargirl and Nova feel like celebrations of lives of those who are gone.
And Loeb's writing is sharp, bold, and fun. This first issue is the best thing he has written in years. McGuiness's cartoonish art (that is not a pejorative) is a big plus to the tone and feel of the book. I don't know where the story is going, but I would like to find out.
4 out of 5 stars