This week, Groot headlines our main spoiler review in the aptly-named Groot #1! Next, we’ve got a backup review of Carnage Reigns: Alpha #1, which kicks off the new symbiote crossover event. Then, feast your eye-tongues on a pair of Wars-related blurbs in the Rapid Rundown: Demon Wars: Scarlet Sin #1 and Star Wars #34!
What did you think of this week’s fresh Marvel Comics issues? The Beat’s handing you the mic! Let us know, right here in the comment section or over on social media @comicsbeat.
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Damian Couceiro
Artist: Matt Milla
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Cover artist: Lee Garbett
Groot #1 was an action-packed adventure that fills in the gaps in the backstory of some of Marvel Comics’ fan-favorite characters: Groot and Mar-Vell.
With his Kree blue skin, a comb-over, a green and white super suit decorated with a planet, and a new environmentalist mission, at first glance, Captain So-Lar appears to be no more than Marvel’s Captain Planet. He’s investigating a group of disruptors – known only as “spoilers” in this issue – stripping planets of their assets, plundering natural resources, and basically, leaving a trail of burned out planets. But as I kept reading, it slowly clicked in that Captain So-Lar was wearing the original Captain Mar-Vall outfit and a much bigger story was brewing surrounding the rich history of Mar-Vell, who first appeared in 1967’s Marvel Super-Heroes #12 by Stan Lee, Gene Colan, Frank Giacoia, and Artie Simek.
In fact, in Groot #1, we meet a young, impulsive Private Mar-Vell. At this point in his military career, he is just out of basic training, still making rookie mistakes, and absolutely not operating by the book. But that leads to a fight (followed by a team-up, of course) that I’m not sure anyone was asking for but I’m 100% glad we got to see: Mar-Vell versus/and Groot and two more of his kind, Tweeg and Gleef.
The group of characters is also tied to the early history of Planet X, a minor reference from previous Marvel stories that I am excited to see play out.
Room for Growth
But the most interesting thing about this issue wasn’t its rich Marvel history but its strong environmental message. When Mar-Vell was introduced into Marvel comics, it was because he was sent to spy on Earth’s inhabitants. He takes the human identity of Walter Lawson, but when he needs to protect the people that he is spying on he dons the green-and-white uniform of Captain So-Lar (not very friendly if you ask me). The OG story has strong militaristic undertones concerning the duty to the Kree.
In Groot #1, the military is still a central feature (they are Kree, after all), but environmentalism takes on a central role, as well. To me, the Captain Planet comparison goes beyond the blue skin and logo on the suit. Captain So-Lar is tracking a group of spoilers, a literal name meaning they spoil and plunder planets and then run. Like real-world spoilers, such as the Musk family emerald mine, the blood diamond mines of Africa, and Cargill’s history of deforestation, the spoilers also use illegal chainsaurs (expertly drawn, inked, and colored by Milla and Couceirio), which are terror weapons designed to raze planets that were banned by galactic proclamation.
I am Groot
As a big fan of Groot for more than half a decade, I had specific expectations for this issue. While Groot #1 was nothing like what I expected, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and am looking forward to issue #2. I particularly appreciated the integration of the environmental elements and thought they worked especially well with the potential of Groot’s character.
I am eager to see where the team-up with Pvt. Mar-Vell goes. If you want more Groot in the meantime, check out “The Black Vortex” episodes of the Guardians of the Galaxy animated series, which is available for streaming on Disney+!
Verdict: I am Groot!*
*(Translation: “Pick this one up for your seed bank!” – ed.)
Carnage Reigns: Alpha #1
Back-up review by: Cy Beltran
This first issue of Carnage Reigns takes a slight beat, establishing that Cletus Kasady has taken a building of people hostage… then the action goes wild, with little room for a breather.
I’m not sure who wrote what, but the horror elements and character work from Alex Paknadel and Cody Ziglar are incredibly strong here. Though this is a gruesome issue, the comic never swings too far away from Miles and his family and the problems they’ve been facing. Julius Ohta and Erick Arciniega create this terrifying environment for Miles to fight through, with disorienting layouts and these disgusting-looking walls of symbiotic goo; the perfect way to tell this story. The Extremebiote isn’t something I’ve ever understood, but it’s been incredibly interesting to watch Cletus evolve into his own twisted symbiote, separate from the nigh-unstoppable Carnage.
There are also three backup stories here, as well as some supplemental material to set up the upcoming ‘Summer of Symbiotes.’ The first piece is by Ziglar, Travel Foreman, and Deen Cunniffe, and, along with the third by Cheryl Lynn Eaton, Will Robson, and Chris Sotomayor, establishes the role of the Scorpion and NYPD Agent Gao, a symbiote specialist, prior to the start of the event. It’s some interesting scene-setting that establishes how and why these characters are here, along with bringing new characters into the story that I’m sure we’ll see down the line.
The second backup is from David Pepose, Paris Alleyne, and Andrew Dalhouse, and it’s a touching story showing how much Jeff, Miles’ Dad, cares for him and his sister, and how far he’s willing to go to protect his family from danger. It does a good job of speaking to the pain that can come from waiting on someone who constantly puts their life on the line, and it’s a nice look at Jeff’s personality. Cory Petit is on letters for the entire book, keeping the issue consistent and clear from start to finish.
Overall, this is a pretty solid read, setting up a horrific crossover that’ll be fun to follow going forward.
- Demon Wars: Scarlet Sin #1
- In Demon Wars: Scarlet Sin #1, with story & art by Peach Momoko, co-script by Zack Davisson, design by Jaw Bowen and lettering by Ariana Maher, Mariko is caught in a Civil War between Bake-yoroi and Yamato. As usual, this mesmerizing series delivers breathtaking artwork and an enthralling story about some of the most interesting Variants in the Marvel multiverse. As part four of “Into the Spirit World,” the issue seems to bring the story to a conclusion; however it remains clear that there’s still more material to be explored from this singular corner of continuity. Once again, the back matter known as the Yokai Files (with art by Momoko and text by Davisson) offers an illuminating new perspective on the preceding issue. The lettering craft in this issue is especially strong, with both the balloons and the sound effects going above and beyond to add even more texture to this groundbreaking tale. Hopefully “Into the Spirit World” will get a nice oversize printing. — AJK
- Star Wars #34
- If you haven’t been following Star Wars, this title’s main goal is to answer the questions that most fans have about the events our favorite Rebels have between the movies of the original trilogy. If writer Charles Soule were a Jedi, he’d sit on the High Council, that’s how expanse his knowledge and understanding of the Force is, and this issue is a perfect primer for fans looking for a deeper understanding of the craft of Lightsaber building is. There have been some great episodes of The Clone Wars and Rebels, as well as the now classic I, Jedi by Michael A. Stackpole that go into lightsaber construction, but in 5 pages Soule is able to educate readers with a more than cursory idea of the philosophy between a Force user and their saber. Artist Madibek Musabekov does a great job of storytelling as this book is very dialog heavy for most of the issue, it’s no easy feat keeping readers engaged when there is a gang of exposition. Being a fan of the more mystical aspects of the Force, this issue is a great transition in the story as our hero levels up on his way to Jedi. — GC3
Next week brings Captain Marvel #49, Cosmic Ghost Rider #3, and Silk #1! Catch up with past entries in the Marvel Rundown archive.
The Marvel Rundown is edited by Avery Kaplan.