Guardians of the Galaxy & Comic Book Reviews for 4/14

Comics this week were good. Between a landmark issue for Guardians of the Galaxy, a new Batman series by Tom Taylor, plus more good ole X-Men, times are good.

Not saying that every comic I picked up this week landed, but more often than not, they did.

Guardians of the Galaxy #13, written by Al Ewing and art by Juan Frigeri

Guardians of the Galaxy #13 is the best comic of this week.

With the #175 legacy issue of Guardians of the Galaxy, the team is expanding. Now they’re got a huge sprawling roster of diverse characters well-known and unknown. Honestly, I’ve been meaning to get into the more cosmic parts of Marvel. I’ve never been a big fan of the Guardians, in fact this it the first run from them I’ve ever bought. 

The classic Guardians and the MCU Guardians never struck my interest. The new heroes this team’s gotten, the redesigns old characters have received, and the new status quo altogether, has forced me to give Guardians of the Galaxy a chance. I regret nothing.

Issue #13 is the start of a three-part saga to set up things going forward. I can’t say if they’ve ever done this before, but treating the Guardians of the Galaxy like a regular superhero team, rather than a bunch of vigilantes and mercenaries, works for me. 

From what I understand, the Guardians of the Galaxy never had anyone helping them find where the problems are. People came to them, making them feel like mercenaries who worked for free. Now they’ve replaced the Nova Corp, and they’re kicking ass.

Plus with two teams, the amount of characters on display are truly inspiring. Despite it feeling like everyone in the cosmic space is a Guardian, the variety makes the cosmos feel big.

This series is the first time I’ve gotten to read Phyla-Vell and Moondragon, and Ewing sold me on them. Now, I’m excited to see him sell me on Quasar too. They’re these characters with awesome powers over light, who have to take turns with their shared body. Wendell looks kind of boring, but Avril Kincaid’s design has me sold.

This is the start of something new and big that will put a lot of characters on the map. Whether it be because they’ve been missing or have never had their chance to shine, this comic will introduce you to your new favorite heroes. I promise you will find at least one.

Also, minor spoilers, the villain of the arc comes a bit out of leftfield, but he’s great so I expect great things. You’ll know who it is if you’ve seen the covers for future issues.

Daredevil #29, written by Chip Zdarsky and art by Marco Checchetto

Daredevil #29 from this week.

Chip Zdarsky continues what he’s been doing, keeping Daredevil great. I talked about this series in my Best Comics of 2020 video on YouTube, so it isn’t news that I love it. The plot doesn’t move along a whole lot in this issue, with Matt Murdock dealing with being jumped in prison and Elektra possibly taking on a sidekick. 

Here, we get a better look at the kind of Daredevil Elektra wants to be. This includes taking care of the small people, but she doesn’t look at normal people like Murdock does. She has decided whole-heartedly to care for the people of Hell’s Kitchen, but she doesn’t view them as equals. They are weak in her mind, and they need someone strong to protect them, so she will.

This thinking makes her firmly detached from the average civilian, leaving her less likely to care for their opinions. Zdarsky is already setting up this conflict for her as Daredevil. He might be leaving room for why someone like Murdock is still needed, or he’s setting up how Elektra may change as a character. I hope its the latter, not because while I love Matt Murdock, Elektra is an equally entertaining Daredevil. 

Daredevil’s bout in prison is thematically satisfying, showing Daredevil prove he can outmatch any physical obstacle. It’s almost a little much, even Batman-like with how he survives the situation. Thankfully, its told believably enough with real stakes so it comes across much better than it would from another writer. 

Daredevil is the gift that keeps on giving, and it’s not stopping any time soon.

Children of the Atom #2, written by Vita Ayala and drawn Bernard Chang

Children of the Atom #2, out this week.

I’m not gonna lie, this book is really weird. The idea of human kids making equipment to replicate the powers of famous mutants, and the X-Men not figuring it out? It’s hard to buy that, but that doesn’t stop this book from connecting.

There’s a bit of genius to this concept, and Gabriel Braitwaite, a.k.a. Cherub, a.k.a. knockoff Angel, displays it perfectly. These kids are us, they’re exact stand-ins for readers who relate to mutants. 

The X-Men and the mutants have always been an allegory for racism, sexuality, and equality. Anyone who tries to say different, is a liar or an idiot. Having the X-Men and mutants be alienated and hated alongside the beloved Avengers is a good allegory for how racism works. There’s no real difference between two kinds/races of people, but one has a different label and appearance so people hate them. This is what makes the mutant metaphor so powerful.

At the same time, we who relate to mutants, are not actually physically powerful like Storm or Colossus. In truth, we would not be one of the X-Men if we lived in the Marvel universe. This book is what it would be like if fans did, if the best of us were trying to follow our heroes’ examples.

Gabriel see the X-Men being hated, attacked, and prejudiced against for being different, and how they save the world anyway. He finds few things more inspiring than that. That’s all I need to know to explain the actions of the main characters in this book. 

This may be the X-title with the most relatable characters and premise because of this. The dialogue can be cheesy and on the nose, but to be honest it’s not bad.

Ayala never misses on the emotional beats here. The action can drag, and Chang’s art isn’t much more than fine, but the important stuff is here. Even if you think it isn’t your thing, or the first issue didn’t sell you, try this one. 

If you don’t like this one, or don’t understand its appealing after reading it, I’ll find you pretty sus.

Wolverine #11, written by Benjamin Percy and drawn by Scot Eaton

Wolverine #11, out this week.

Okay, I know people think that a conflict between mutants and vampires is really stupid. I get that people think vampires are really stupid too, so Wolverine fighting vampires is stupid. 

Well I disagree because I think vampires are cool. I think the idea of another superhuman nation competing with mutants is cool. I think Wolverine slicing and dicing the undead is good. Most importantly, I think this book is cool.

I really don’t have much to say about this. The conflict between mutants and vampires makes a strange amount of sense to me. The idea of vampires wanting their own nation and power similar to that of the mutants makes sense. The way they are doing it through Wolverine makes a little less sense since Wolverine can’t possibly help every vampire walk in the sun. 

But its still fun reading about Wolverine hunting monsters, being the best he is at what he does. 

The vampire hunter Louise also makes a welcome return. Now she’s even a vampire who gives Wolverine a reason to be sympathetic to the rival race of monsters. I still love her design, and patiently wait for more characterization. The only disappointment is how she’s colored as a white woman rather than than a darker one like back when Andy Kubert was drawing the book. I don’t know if that’s Eaton’s fault or the colorist, but it is just disappointing.

This is a book for me, I… I can only recommend it if you like Wolverine and/or you like vampires. Just… let me like this, I like it a lot.

Batman: The Detective #1, written by Tom Taylor and art by Andy Kubert

Batman: The Detective #1, out this week.

I realize that when people heard that Tom Taylor was writing another Batman book, they were angry. We have a boatload of Batman books right now, I picked up two today. We didn’t need another Batman book, and Tom Taylor feels a bit wasted when looking at this project from the outside. 

That being said, all that doesn’t stop this book from being as good as Tom Taylor’s past work. Right off the bat, this old and curmudgeon Batman sounds just like Frank Miller’s from The Dark Knight Returns. Hold your pitchforks and your groans. I don’t mean to say he’s edgy and dark, or that he’s not a sociopath with fascist tendencies. I mean that he sounds like Miller’s old Batman by the way he talks and monologues. 

He’s to the point, and not entirely hopeful, but not downright depressing or arrogant. This Batman feels like a realist, someone who sees exactly how he has and hasn’t helped the world. It doesn’t break him, but it pushes him to change. 

The way I can best explain it, is that this Batman sounds like Miller’s Batman if he wasn’t so grimdark. He says things that are made to sound cool, but the book is self-aware enough to recognize the absurdity of superheroes. Not everything is taken absolutely seriously, Batman just thinks clinically and honestly.

The tone and the story itself doesn’t give me TDKR vibes at all. It’s colorful, continuing off a loose end from Grant Morrison’s Batman: Incorporated series. Yup, Taylor’s bringing back Beryl’s Knight and giving her a new Squire. As a big fan of theirs, I’m very excited by this.

Batman fighting the Gentleman Ghost is both the most Miller-like thing in this book, and not. Batman pulls out a gadget for an enemy he shouldn’t be able to touch, and just trounces the villain. In the next page, Batman has fun acknowledging the absurdity of punching a ghost.

Andy Kubert’s art, while one of my favorite styles, is very much reminiscent of Miller’s in TDKR. It’s the reason I made the connection between these two stories. At the same time, Kubert’s art is detailed, emotive, and consistent in the way Miller’s art tends to not be. Don’t expect any monstrosities to leap off the page, Kubert brought his A-game. 

So Tom Taylor strikes magic again with this first issue. He’s bringing back and adding some new characters from a part of the world we haven’t seen in a while. To say I don’t recommend this, even to the fans tired of Batman, would be dishonest.

Wonder Woman #771, written by Becky Cloonan and Michael Conrad, with art by Travis Moore

Wonder Woman 771, out this week.

The main Wonder Woman book has somehow become the most insular solo book of the DC line. Everywhere I look side characters are fighting to be the one that breaks out.

All except in Wonder Woman.

It’s strange how much of a solo story this is. Wonder Woman quite literally has no one she knows at her side. The story introduces characters from Norse mythology like Thor and Odin, and even brings in one of her villains, Dr. Psycho. Yet, it still leaves Diana alone with nothing more than a squirrel as a companion. The poster art for this book had the whole Wonder-family, where are they?

If you’re going to have Diana do little more than play hopscotch around important Norse gods, why not bring in some of her side characters? If Dr. Psycho can somehow find his way into Asgard, why can’t a Wonder Girl?

It doesn’t help that Diana doesn’t say much of worth to these gods anyway. Thor was likely her deepest interaction, but it only scratches up against the theme his character is trying to convey. The others were very exposition-y, yet didn’t actually tell us anything about what’s going on. It was okay for this to happen in this arc’s first issue but two issues? I’m not so high on this book as I was before. 

Travis Moore’s beautiful characters can only carry a book so far before it becomes clear its going nowhere. Wonder Woman is in the Asgard, Valhalla specifically, yet throughout this book the world feels so small. That’s a problem with DC as of late, it’d be nice if it wasn’t a problem for the Wonder Woman book too.

And the fact that this book’s backup is just a story of young Diana on Paradise Island, feels like little more than a waste of time. Bring out the Wonder Girls already, some way, some how DC. You have three of them, and they’re all doing nothing.

Superman #30, written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and drawn by Scott Godlewski

Superman #30, out this week.

Okay, I hate to be a defender of teenage Jon Kent here, but he’s works the most in this story. Phillip Kennedy Johnson is diving deep into what Clark Kent has lost because his son is suddenly a teenager. 

Clark is dealing with it in a more mature way than before, but also more believably. He’s trying to recreate and chase after the memories he should have had with his son. In the previous issue he failed, and with a game of putt-putt with the family, he succeeds.

If Johnson wants to make teenage Jon work, I think we should give him that chance.

The sci-fi story that seems to be leading to Superman’s death or exile isn’t all that interesting though. The aliens aren’t familiar to me as an avid DC reader, if they aren’t brand new. Because of this, this new alien race doesn’t seem particularly interesting on any level, even visually. 

I do wish that since we’re seeing the Death of Superman again, that it be based on Earth. There could be real drama from the people Superman protects leading to his downfall. It could make Jon taking up the mantle mean that much more if its in spite of Earth’s failure. Setting the book on an alien planet rips away so much ethos for Superman’s death. I can’t see it meaning too much at all with the way its going.

Or maybe he doesn’t die and gets exiled, but my point stands the same.

Rorschach #7, written by Tom King and drawn by Jorge Fornes

Rorschach #7, out this week.

I have admitted before that I love Tom King, he’s one of my favorite comic book writers. I love his Mister Miracle book, and a lot of his Batman stories are among my favorite Batman arcs. Most importantly, I like what he’s done with his Rorschach series.

Then we get to this issue.

What the f**k is this issue?

Tom King doesn’t write like Grant Morrison based on every series of his I’ve read. He doesn’t write stories about stories, he doesn’t get meta and he doesn’t talk about comics as a medium. He dissects characters, treats them like people, and gets to their root. King makes sure that we know what makes our favorite characters weak and what makes them strong.

So it makes no sense for him to literally put Frank Miller, writer of TDKR into this story. I don’t mean like he just used his name as an omage, I mean the character looks like Frank Miller. The character is even a comic book writer whose famous for a story called the Dark Fife Returns. Guess what, it has the same basic plot as TDKR if that’s surprising. 

It’s ridiculous, it’s annoying, it’s tone-breaking. It’s as if Tom King is rewriting history and trying tell us what Frank Miller thinks of his own story, like how would he know what another person thinks? Rather than continue his tale about Rorschach, he does what he’s never done before. He talks about comics through comics. In the aftermath he has completely derailed the tone of the book for an entire issue.

King, if you wanted a character to make that point for to you deconstruct, don’t use a real person.

The art is amazing, that’s just about the nicest thing I can say about this issue. Jorge Fornes captures the Watchmen universe better than Gary Franks has in my opinion. He’s probably the closet to Dave Gibbons’s original magic without Dave Gibbons himself.

Yeah, that’s about it.

Concluding thoughts

Comics this week were good on average. DC dropped the ball on a few books, some star writers disappointed me and others gave me what I needed. I would recommend most of the books I picked up this week. Though, Guardians of the Galaxy and Daredevil are definitely the best of the bunch. They’re doing things other comics are not, and we could use more of it.

Batman: The Detective is giving us more of the same, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Never let someone make you feel bad for enjoying the comic equivalent of comfort food. Batman: The Detective is the best DC book I read this week, and the only one I recommend whole-heartedly. Superman is good, but not great, and the other DC books are trying my patience.

X-Men is more of the same, and that’s not a bad thing at all. It just feels more like I don’t have to keep saying it anymore. Read X-Men, read more comics.

Check out the last week’s standout comic, Magic #1, and my thoughts on Infinite Frontier. Thanks for reading, oh, and again, you should definitely be reading Guardians of the Galaxy.

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