This week in Heroes and Villains our selection of new Marvel Comics are all number one issues, so one would hope, fresh starts all around… we’ll see… Meet me after the jump for my reviews of All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #1, Jean Grey #1, Black Bolt #1, and the already infamous Secret Empire #1… be warned, there will be spoilers…
Guardians of the Galaxy
Just in time for the American debut of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in just two short days, Marvel Comics has once again restarted the numbering of the group’s title with All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #1. Let’s be honest here, Marvel’s been renumbering comics for quite a few years now, there’s nothing really new here, and a first issue looks good on the shelf when someone wanders into a comic shop after seeing the new movie. Money makes the world go round.
After being stranded on Earth for some time because of Civil War II, the Guardians return to space finally. Keeping in line with the humorous heist style of the movies, and the animated series (the latter reviewed by yours truly right here), this series opens with the Guardians robbing a supposedly impenetrable city with a ship shaped like Galactus. Yeah, that’s how they’re rolling in this new series, and I love it.
There’s a lot of reference to the Guardians in other media like Baby Groot, Quill’s beard in acknowledgement to whoever is his father this week, getting caught between the Grandmaster and the Collector, and also pop music. That said, this was a fun book, as good as the movie(s), recommended.
I have always thought it a shame that more folks know Jean Grey by her given name than her superheroic names Marvel Girl and Phoenix, but there you go. And seeing as this is the teenaged Jean ripped from the past, she could have easily been called Marvel Girl. One might think with the way Marvel Comics was so pernicious in keeping DC Comics from using the name Captain Marvel for the original hero to have that name, they would be all over having a comic called Marvel Girl, but no.
The Dennis Hopeless script jumps back and forth between Jean insisting she’s not the older original Jean Grey, which is actually rather engaging, and a boring battle against Marvel’s typical cipher villains, the Wrecking Crew. I actually liked the crisp Victor Ibanez art, but wish the comic had more substance and less mindless fighting. I know that’s a switch for me, wanting less superhero action, but here, the cerebral stuff was more enticing.
The over-saturation of the Inhumans continues with Black Bolt #1. This is really kinda the opposite of what is going on with the Guardians of the Galaxy. I really wonder if anyone will care about these characters when that TV show finally debuts, or will we all be sick of them? Black Bolt has always held a place in my heart, so whatever the circumstances, I’m glad to see him finally get a first issue of his own title.
Now, a lot has happened in the Inhumans universe in the last few years. Marvel has given the characters quite a workout in their momentary quest to replace the mutants. Writer Saladin Ahmed wisely skips over all the difficult parts and starts Black Bolt from a simple place – imprisoned with no memory of how he got there – and he builds from there. Artist Christian Ward has a very simple yet vibrant style, and along with Ahmed, he helped mesmerize me with this book. I am hooked, recommended. Also, the Absorbing Man – in an Inhumans book, that’s just cool.
The world as it exists in Secret Empire #1 is not foreign to me. It’s the world I have dreaded since last July when Captain America first uttered the words, “Hail Hydra,” and the world as seen in The Framework on the last few episodes of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. This is a bleak world where the real superheroes are either stranded or dying in space or imprisoned in the artificial darkness of a villain-ravaged New York City. This world is ruled by Hydra, led by Captain America, hailed as a savior, or a fascist, who has revealed that we have been clouded by lies since World War II, a war we did not win.
Take that in for a second. Captain America is the villain of this story, and we lost World War II. Would I be saying too much if I compared this to a world where our President rants on Twitter, calls the previous administration liars and criminals, and would be honored to meet a killer and madman in the White House? World gone mad. And now Captain America, the hero among heroes is the villain. How should I feel about this comic really?
Heroes and Inhumans are hunted, young heroes are on the run, and while Captain America leads the world with a committee of Hydra villains, a team of ‘Avengers’ does his bidding. The real Avengers, who aren’t trapped or stranded, are in hiding, and afraid. A feeling of desperation shadowed my reading of this comic. It truly made me wonder why I even read comics any more. Is this what we have come to? I have to give Nick Spencer props I suppose. He has evoked real and true emotion from me. I feel for Sharon Carter and Rick Jones as they try to get through to Steve Rogers, and then the worst blow hits me. Rick is executed. By order of Captain America. The kid who formed the Avengers is murdered by the man he idolized. It doesn’t get darker than that.
We are informed in print, in the voice of Tony Stark, what editor Tom Brevoort has been telling us for nearly a year. This is the real Captain America, not a clone, no mind control, the real Captain America. I feel sick. This comic has made me physically sick. Take that recommendation any way you want to.