Three comic book reviews: Pull List #11 ('Guardians of the Galaxy,' 'MLP:FiM' and 'TMNT')
For this edition of Pull List, we’ve got a brand new Marvel series featuring the spacefaring adventures of a raccoon and his friend the tree (they have other friends, but they aren’t important), the beginning of a new arc with a new creative team for IDW’s My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, and the final issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Secret History of the Foot Clan.
I really, really liked the Guardians of the Galaxy series by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. It finished way too soon. If I had my wish, those two would be back writing this volume, but I guess I’ll just have to settle for Brian Michael Bendis. Not that that’s terrible; I’ve been reading his Avengers series for a while, so I know he can put out a decent issue.
So far, so okay. The character roster was very reduced for this new series; you have Star Lord, the heroic human everyman, Gamora and Drax, two green alien types there for the types that like space marines in their interstellar space operas, Iron Man, for the Avengers crossover, and Rocket Raccoon and Groot, who are their mostly to satisfy the Abnett and Lanning series fans. Yeah, Gamora and Drax were a part of that team from the get go, but you stuck around for the quirky characters like Rocket and Groot.
Speaking of Rocket, I’m not quite sure about Bendis’ characterization here; he seems a bit too trigger-happy. However, Bendis nails the odd friendship that exists between these two characters; when an enemy ship self-destructs with Groot on board, Rocket panics. His rescue of his friend from the wreckage is both touching and darkly funny, given that Groot has been reduced to basically a twig.
Artist Steve McNiven is better at the more human, more power-armor-covered characters than Rocket and Groot. However, since this is a #1, we get a lot of alternative covers. Skottie Young’s cover is freaking adorable!
Oh, boy. Here we go again. Last arc, by a completely different team, began with a story that explicitly made reference to a horror movie franchise (if you can call the various Invasion of the Body Snatchers movies a franchise, admittedly), and before the arc was over we were in territory way too dark for a series featuring ice skating pink ponies on the cover. Now we’re explicitly making reference to Nightmare on Elm Street horror franchise. Oh, boy.
Well, this time we’ve got Heather Nuhfer on writing duty with Amy Mebberson on art. Mebberson’s ponies are remarkably similar to Andy Price’s ponies, so much so that I get the feeling that they’re supposed to be. I mentioned earlier that Price’s ponies, while obviously the same basic characters, are, at the same time, markedly different from the show ponies. It seems the comic is trying to differentiate itself from the show; how long before they are separate continuities? Not that that’s really a criticism, mind; the world’s big enough for two simultaneous My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic continuities. I’m looking forward to the comics being their own thing.
Though Mebberson’s art is apparently drawn to look like Price’s, her backgrounds are a lot less cluttered; Price seemed to like to fill the page up with little gags. The cleaner background helps with the storytelling as a tradeoff. In a final note, Mebberson’s Pinkie Pie is very well done. Very animated.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secret History of the Foot Clan #4
Well, it’s the final issue of this mini-series, and I finally get to not worry about ruining the surprise of the first issue’s last panel. It’s essentially spoiled by the cover. Now that I can talk about the fact that the Shredder is an immortal evil samurai thanks not to ancient Japanese magic, but due to ancient contact with the series’ Utrom aliens, I can say that this is a great twist that made an already great mini-series even greater.
Remember, this series was shipped concurrently with the “Krang Wars” storyline; that twist kept this very different take on the Turtles mythology from feeling completely divorced from the goofier (but still good, in a goofy kind of way) take in the main series. On one hand, we have pseudo-supernatural fantasy, full of witches and demons. On the other, we have pseudo-science fiction, full of mutants and aliens. Usually, I’m not a big fan of “ancient alien” type stories (Erich Von Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods? ruined many a science fiction franchise, including the Alien franchise twice, and, yes, I’m still complaining about Prometheus), but in this case, it’s used to tie together the disparate elements of the Turtle’s world into a wonderful whole.
This isn’t as action-packed as past issues, but it still manages to answer a couple of questions; we now know, for instance, Karai’s familial origins a bit better. We also get to see Shredder as a human and a monster; he is both, and we see he is doing the things he does for more understandable reasons, if still not acceptable ones.