This week, Marvel is following up their stellar Black Panther #1 launch with some special one-shots and series kick-offs! First up author James Robinson (Fantastic Four) and illustrator Tony Harris (Ex Machina), who last collaborated on the lauded series Starman, return to comics for a special C-3PO story that explains the strange red arm viewers saw him with during Star Wars: the Force Awakens.
Next is writer Jeff Lemire‘s (Justice League: United) and artist Greg Smallwood’s (Dream Thief) brand new take on Moon Knight. The last incarnation of the series stalled after Warren Ellis‘s (The Authority) and Declan Shalvey‘s (Deadpool) acclaimed run, but has proven to be a successful showcase for comic greats to put their own spin on the postmodern superhero.
Before I forget, The Unbelievable Gwenpool also debuts this week. It is written by Christopher Hastings (Longshot Saves the Marvel Universe) and drawn by Gurihuru, who is a studio.
Finally, author Dan Slott (The Amazing Spider-Man) and Michael Allred (Madman) have been relentlessly teasing a status quo change in Silver Surfer, and this week we finally found out what that tease was. We’re not going to spoil anything, so don’t worry. We’re just here to tell you if these Marvel books are worth your hard-earned time and money. It’s the Marvel Rundown!
Star Wars Special: C-3PO #1
Writer: James Robinson Artist: Tony Harris
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
In C-3PO #1, James Robinson and Tony Harris share a story that truly befits the prestige of the character and the book’s creative team. C-3PO has an extraordinarily distinctive voice in the Star Wars films and Robinson perfectly captures his speech patterns and mannerisms. Last week’s Poe Dameron similarly delivered, but the story left the character wanting. Fortunately, Robinson doesn’t repeat that problem, introducing some great new characters and a giving readers a plot that moves.
Harris shows off his skills throughout C-3PO #1 with some insane layouts. The artists creates a variety of interesting robotic character designs and intricate locales, putting the creative team’s lead hero into a variety of captivating scenarios. In addition, the colors add a lot to the story. The shine of some robots’ paint pops off the page and actually becomes a key story point later on in the issue.
While this comic is only a one-off, getting the Starman creative team to sign off on a Star Wars ongoing series would be a blessing from the publisher after reading this comic.
Verdict: Recommended to all who are interested in the story behind C-3PO’s arm. Be forewarned that the story is filled with some dark elements.
Moon Knight #1
Writer: Jeff Lemire Artist: Greg Smallwood
Color Artist: Jordie Bellaire Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Readers have been looking forward to the relaunch of Marvel’s Moon Knight for quite some time now – but after the delays and the fomidable task of living up to Warren Ellis‘s and artist Declan Shalvey’s (Deadpool) run on the title, will Lemire and Smallwood be able to escape their predecessors’ shadows?
The short is answer is…yes.
Lemire and Smallwood have an incredibly unique take on Moon Knight that differentiates itself from many of the past few issues of the series. Unlike Ellis and Shalvey, who mostly eschewed Moon Knight’s past, Lemire heavily mines from previous takes on the hero. His Moon Knight is directly inspired from all that has came before, even though it does seem to service Ellis’ take on the character most directly.
Moon Knight #1 does a lot of things right, especially in how the comic characterizes the lead hero while asking some interesting new questions about him. The comic takes the impeccable sense of style and presentation that went into the last run and weaves a new story thread out of it. This comic book does not seem like a brand new take on the character that avoids all previous continuity, but it does shake things up within the context of what came before.
You’ll be thankful for nearly everything Smallwood does here. The artist beautiful pushes the boundary of style paved by Shalvey in the original series. This story also expands on some of the work he was doing with Brian Wood in the last volume as well. This tale should expand Smallwood’s notoriety, as his pencils are as daring and audacious as those who came before him on the series– perhaps even more so.
Verdict: Passion + Creativity = Buy
The Unbelievable Gwenpool #1
Writer: Christopher Hastings Artists: Gurihiru + Danilo Beyruth
Colors: Tamra Bonvillain Letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Enough is enough with the $4.99 price point Marvel, you are turning these fans away from the fine work that you are doing!
Hastings, Gurihuru and Beyruth spin a fun yarn throughout the two stories included in The Unbelievable Gwenpool #1, making it a brisk read. The art is great in both stories and surprisingly(?), some of the jokes even land! Unfortunately, everything about this comic just feels tired to me. Deadpool is already on the market with multiple titles readily available for purchase. Gwen Stacy, the Spider-hero herself is already the star of another ongoing series where she comes from an alternate reality. On the other side of the comics rack, DC is publishing multiple series centered around Harley Quinn, who is not the exact same character as Gwenpool but is cut from a very similar cloth.
If this comic book is for you, chances are you will probably know it. If the Harley Quinn and Deadpool ongoings excite you, Hastings, Beyruth and Bonvillain have a narrative that will likely appeal. The real question is whether that subset has any more money left to spend!
Verdict: Marvel’s new Gwenpool ongoing is derivative, but perfectly viable for current Deadpool readers looking for an additional fix.
Silver Surfer #3
Writer: Dan Slott Artist: Michael Allred
Colors: Laura Allred Letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles
This is a big moment for Silver Surfer, but I don’t think that this will be the Marvel comic that creates new fans of the character. This issue is built upon a storyline that was thrust upon the readers with little explanation and has been paced atrociously. By the time readers figure out what’s actually happening in this muddled and confusing comic, Slott has already shifted the narrative towards a surprise ending that makes the whole arc even more frustrating to me. I can’t really even comment on the supposed status quo shift because it’s impossible to figure out if the comic will stick with it or not.
Michael and Laura Allred are still wonderful, so the comic is worth the price of admission in that regard.
Verdict: Flip through it for the pretty pictures.
This week at Marvel started high but had some nasty low points. There are no new #1’s next week, so we’ll check back in with some old favorites!
Fruit snack aficionado. @AlexandComics