The last year has been a strange one for the Guardians of the Galaxy. The movie franchise is currently in limbo after all of the drama surrounding James Gunn last year and in 2018 there was a grand total of one issue with their name in the title. Granted, they were a major part of the Infinity Countdown and Infinity Wars events written by Gerry Duggan, the same man who’d revitalized the title just the year before, but both of those events wound up being rather bizarre and lackluster. Despite all that, I was interested to see how Marvel would handle rebooting the Guardians, especially given that Donny Cates would be taking over as writer. His past work on Thanos and Cosmic Ghost Rider have proven that he’s not afraid to go down some strange but imaginative paths and the Marvel cosmos seems the perfect area for him to explore.
As exciting as all that is, however, not much of that is really at play in this first issue as this issue focuses on giving us a team to call the Guardians of the Galaxy, given the state of disrepair the the team was in post-Infinity Wars. There’s enough exposition here to hit the big points of IW for those who may not have read it as well. Those descriptions may make it seem like this issue is all exposition, but all that exposition and putting the team together is well done and complete after this first issue.
The way it’s all set up is also reminiscent of the buildup leading to the 2008 GotG series, where an urgent cosmic crisis has brought together a disparate group from throughout the cosmos with different agendas for a common mission. Geoff Shaw‘s art is excellent and the vibrant colors add a lot to it as well, especially in one scene displaying all the major cosmic heroes. All in all, this was a great start to what I hope will be an exciting new Guardians series that could hopefully begin to put the team, and the franchise as a whole, back on track. 4.25/5 Celestial Heads.
Naomi, created by Eisner winner Brian Michael Bendis (Ultimate Spider-Man) and writer/filmmaker David F. Walker (Luke Cage) with art by newcomer Jamal Campbell for D.C.’s Wonder Comics imprint jumps into our new era of diversity and inclusion with both feet. The eponymous character is a young, Black woman with braids who dresses for comfort rather than eye candy, and happens to be adopted. She had a ton of female friends with different styles, shapes, sizes and actual speaking parts. They all live in an unremarkable town of perhaps anywhere USA until Superman drops through for a battle with Mongul.
Everyone sees this, except for our poor protagonist who just happens to be obsessed with the heroic Kryptonian. Naomi finds out perhaps this isn’t the first superpowered event in their small town and her adoption may have something to do with it. Spoilers suggest this will end up being a major DC Universe event, but honestly this introduction felt a little flat. The heroine is interesting enough but the sense of the community wasn’t firmly established enough for the out of place feeling this story seems to be aiming for. A great mystery seems to be forming, but there is a necessary intensity missing amongst the beautiful images and surprisingly bland dialogue. There isn’t enough here to captivate readers for another issue, a game changer needs to be more compelling from the jump. 3/5 Bibles.
While the title of the comic is a throwback to the 1970’s, Crypt of Shadows is all new. Is it really horror? Is it really scary?
The Answers Lie Within
So, the comic is broken into two stories but are interconnected by a patient talking to his psychiatrist. This patient goes by the name Mr. Radley, who suffers from Cynophobia (fear of Dogs). He tells a tale of John Something and this is how he became fearful of dogs, but in the end the psychiatrist deduces it was a fairy tale/made up in his mind. The second story is that of his life. This time, he says he is a small business owner who is helping in medical research. His wife adopts a dog and you can just imagine how neurological research and revenge factor in. Right? Um. Right!
No, this is not current horror with jump scare techniques. This is psychological; almost a psycho-thriller really. The way they lead up to the ending makes the reader think about how we got to this point and how this whole time … the answer was staring at us in the face. It almost makes you question everything. But because the ending is so believable, I sat back and went “wow”.
Suspensfully Drawn, Suspensfully Written
The art work just works. Look, I haven’t read a comic since Batman RIP. The last time I followed a comic series (as in, went to the comic store weekly) was the Grant Morrison X-Men run. The details fit the narrative and you could feel the emotions on the comic page. The writing, on the other hand, was outstanding. This felt more like a short film storyboard than a comic book. I will certainly be opening up this Crypt once (or thrice) again. 4.25/5 Bibles.