Written by: Chip Zdarsky
Art by: Kris Anaka
Published by: Marvel
I’m pretty conflicted in regards to this book; on the one hand it’s gorgeously drawn and very quick witted as I’d expect from the creative team (Zdarsky being one of my favorite comedy writers, seriously go read his Jughead run). On the other, I can’t help but feel the book is being pushed in a direction I just don’t particularly care about, which I feel may limit how good this could be. That’s pretty speculative stuff though, so let’s just talk about the book for now.
The book picks up after Civil War II, with Star-Lord stranded on Earth without a team or a way off planet. Without any means of escape or even any real friends to speak to, he’s left trying to pick up the pieces of his life, until a run in with Old Man Logan pulls him into some trouble. The story here is full of lots of fast wit and good humour, and even at times some nicely genuine moments of emotion, however there are quite a few story beats that feel editorially handed down that I can’t really overlook. The entire Grounded premise for example feels super hard to buy into. It’s unbelievable to me that in the Marvel Universe, a place full of tons of future tech and magical things that the Guardians don’t have a way off planet. The tone, then, of the super down to earth “relateable” fish out of water story feels both too forced, and too close to Zdarsky’s last Marvel book Howard the Duck (something this debut issue even makes fun of) and as if it’s pigeon holing this talent into a certain story rather than letting them build their own. This even goes down to Star-Lord’s character, which while very familiar to movie fans, is sure not to please any fans of the DnA run. So it’s pretty business as usual in terms of Marvel’s synergy between movie and films, so if this is something that bothers you then it’s probably best to part ways now. If you’re still here though, there’s still a good bit of stuff I like.
So as stated, this is a very well put together book with a very beautiful art style and nice sense of humor. Zdarsky has a great talent for writing loveable losers in a way that doesn’t make them feel like a lovable loser cliche. There’s quite a few moments in this book I really enjoyed, such as a scene in an art gallery (since I’m a sucker for Van Gough) that both show the strength of the writing and the power of the art. There’s a great sense of style and charm to the book that I feel is definitely worth checking out, though the book is definitely catered to a certain target audience of either movie fans or those who are new to the character. If the book ends up sticking to its more grounded, street level tone then it’ll take a lot to get me to stick with it. The book is enjoyable, but I can think of a ton of other Marvel books going for this street level, indie tone that make me sick of it, especially with a character built for bending bending imagination (with creators dripping with imaginative genius too). I’d just like the book to take chances, this debut issue is very fun and all, but feels like it’s playing things very safe and light so far. I’m interested enough to come back for more, but i really would like to see things step up in later issues.
Overall, while it’s easier to focus on what I didn’t like about this book, I still did end up enjoying this debut a good bit. Marvel’s hipster indie chic is starting to wear itself thin with me, especially when it seems to be limiting its highly talented creators, but I can’t deny this book’s immediate charm. If Zdarsky and Anka get to do their own thing and take things up a step after this arc, then this book could be something truly special. If it continues to wade around in tried and tested formula though, then I can’t see myself sticking around for long.