Deadshirt is Reading… is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt’s staff, contributing writers, and friends-of-the-site offer their thoughts on Big Two cape titles, creator-owned books, webcomics and more.
David Uzumeri is reading…
Guardians of the Galaxy #19
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Valerio Schiti, Phil Noto, Andrea Sorrentino, Ed McGuinness & Mark Morales, Arthur Adams, Kevin Maguire, Mark Bagley & Andrew Hennessy, Sara Pichelli and Filipe Andrade
Colored by Richard Isanove and Andrea Sorrentino
Lettered by Cory Petit
“Annihilus the Annihilator, tell our guest why we have asked him here…”
Guardians of the Galaxy—which Bendis now has been writing since late 2012, with Valerio Schiti as his most consistent artistic collaborator—is a really bizarrely structured four-year run on a major superhero comic. It has far more in common with the post-Siege era of his Avengers run than the overarching Skrull/Osborn narrative of what came before; a series of loosely disconnected one-off arcs, largely without a whole lot of payoff or connective tissue. Ideas were explored for very brief periods of time (remember when Star-Lord was President of Spartax for like, six issues?) and seemingly discarded, and nowhere is this more evident than in this finale issue, which wraps up all zero of the remaining dangling plot threads.
A blowout finale is hard when you’re not leading up to it, when there’s no real momentum. The premise of this issue is simple: Thanos is back on Earth, and the Guardians stop him while showing off their friendship. That’s literally it, it’s practically spoiler-proof, and it’s hard not to look at these characters, compare them to who they were at the beginning of Bendis’s run, and go: “so what the fuck was the point of all this, anyway?”
Sure, the run—and the issue—had some gorgeous art, including heavyweights like Ed McGuinness, Kevin Maguire, and Arthur Adams and (at-the-time) newcomers like Schiti (who’s destined for amazing things; if nothing else, I can’t wait to see where he lands up) and Sara Pichelli. Sure, it’s got a knock-down drag-out between the Guardians and Thanos and a big character moment where Gamora realizes she doesn’t want to murder Thanos anymore for…some reason, and hands him over to the cops. But it doesn’t tell me much about these characters or their evolved relationships or what they’ve learned. Rocket, Groot, and Drax are, especially, exactly the same characters they were when this run began, with little added nuance.
The whole run just felt like a weird fit, and while I know Bendis tried to bring his A-game (and Marvel gave him a murderer’s row of artists to work with) it never quite turned into narrative momentum, and this last issue feels like a weird microcosm of the run as a whole, a bunch of individually exciting parts that nevertheless add up to a disappointing whole. Other than this book, Bendis is putting out his best work in years in titles like Spider-Man and Infamous Iron Man; the franchise now goes to Gerry Duggan and Aaron Kuder, both of whom are really good with action and humor and who have me excited for where these characters are going to go. But despite the best efforts of everyone involved, I’m sad to say I thought this issue—and this run—were just kind of a dud.
Andrew Niemann is reading…
Black Panther and the Crew #1
Written by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Penciled by Butch Guice
Inked by Scott Hanna
Colored by Dan Brown
Lettered by Joe Sabino
Published by DC Comics
“We live such wondrous lives with bizarre and amazing things. It is easy to forget the streets.”
While reading this absolutely stunning book, my brain started asking two questions. First, why don’t we put Ta-Nehisi Coates on a Captain America: Sam Wilson book? The second question was, how can Marvel put out such a well-written and politically sound book at the same time as their ill-advised carnival of Nazified heroes this summer?
Black Panther & the Crew‘s inaugural issue has zero Black Panther in it, but that’s okay since it is a Misty Knight story, and a GREAT one at that. The comic begins with a flashback to the 60s, where a crew of black heroes are defending Harlem from the mafia. In the present, Misty is investigating the mysterious death of the leader of the crew after he was imprisoned in his old age. Misty has her doubts about there being any foul play, being a former cop herself, but her friend Ororo Munroe shows up to convince her otherwise. The pair are attacked by some Americops (curbed from CA:SW‘s first arc) and realize something’s awry on the streets of Harlem.
This book is incredible in part due to its explicit references to the Black Lives Matter movement. Throughout the first issue, Misty encounters multiple black issues such as police brutality/fatality and gentrification. The book even states the hyper-militarization of police as being a reason why people are being killed. All of this is incredibly organic and fits perfectly within the Marvel universe as a mirror to our own world.
The art in this book is absolutely fantastic. I especially love the panel of Storm crackling with electricity as she shorts out dozens of Americops. The scope of this book is huge and I’m anticipating further adventures with the rest of the titular crew. This book is a clear argument for why we need more comic book stories from not just the same old white men.
Thanks for reading about what we’re reading! We’ll be back next week with a slew of suggestions from across the comics spectrum. In the meantime, what are you reading? Tell us in the comments section, on Twitter or on our Facebook Page!