By: Greg Rucka (story), Russel Dauterman (art), Chris Sotomayor (colors)
I have a real soft spot in my heart for Cyclops. Growing up and watching the X-Men cartoons on Fox Kids—is that even a thing anymore?—for some reason, I resonated with the visored hero more than any other mutant. Maybe because we were both four-eyes, I don’t know. As I got older and learned more of his complicated, often tragic history, I couldn’t help feeling that somewhere along the way, he became the X-Men’s official punching bag and sad sack, all in one.
Not being an avid X-Men follower, I have no idea how or why a teenaged Scott Summers got himself into the present, but I’m happy to see him nonetheless—happy and worried. Happy to see he still has the capacity to be happy, considering the dark, unstable crusader of a man he is now. Worried that seeing his unbelievably grim future (“…I grow up to be a maybe not very nice guy…Jean and I get married and then get miserable…”) will depress him before his time. So good on Rucka to have Scott keep his eye on the positive: “My dad is alive.”
And how great is it to have an ongoing father-son series? Parental relationships don’t get much exploration in comics, mainly because it’s all the rage to orphan protagonists these days, and also because family interactions take time away from the main business of superheroing. Christopher Summers is an ideal father figure in this regard; as the confident, adventurous Corsair and leader of the Starjammers, he’s pretty much a superhero himself, one with years of experience on his adolescent son. That gives him a rare opportunity here to mentor Scott in a way he never got to when his son was this age the first time around.
There’s something inherently, wishfully sweet about this idea, of an absent father getting a second chance to be there for his son during a critical age, and of a lonely son finding and spending time with his long-lost father. Clearly, this space road trip Chris and Scott are embarking on is going to be a wild, crazy ride: “I’m programming a random set of thrilling galactic destinations. Six wonders of the universe for us to behold. You pick.” But beneath the fun and games, there’s a certain poignancy in knowing this may all end up as nothing more than a cherished memory of a what-might-have-been.
Glad as you are to see Chris committed to spending some quality time alone with his son, it’s a pity that this leaves the Starjammers out of the picture for some time, because they haven’t looked or sounded this good in a long time. This being the year of the Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s nice to see their spiritual forefathers still going strong. Other than the bighearted, foxy (literally?) Hepzibah, you only get tiny glimpses of the other Starjammers, but what you do see is very much a charming, diverse set of characters, like the robot-dragonfly Sikorsky, with his grammatical liberties (“Your medication prescribed, you must take!”) or Ch’od, a burly lagoon creature with a soft-spoken, almost grave manner of speaking.
This is all sounding like classic space opera material, which is another major part of this series’ appeal. There’s talk of shifting power to the shields, and pseudo-scientific terms like “inertials,” and dogfights between starships. These aren’t your modern, civilized spacefarers, neither are they roughneck gangsters in a cosmic setting. This is sci-fi pulp, pure thrillseekers with style and class, who enjoy themselves with a purpose: “For glory.” “And girls.” “And boys.”
Dauterman is sort of glorious himself, a stunning combination of Aaron Kuder’s bombastic figures with the sleekness of Jim Cheung and traces of Frank Quitely’s moldable faces. Not only is his storytelling top-notch, with radical yet logical changes in perspective, distance, and size from panel to panel, there’s a powerful energy that flows rather than jolts through the issue, as if everything is being played upon by the weightless gravity of space. Scott’s optic blasts thus turn from hard angles into sweeping, flickering curves, and the Starjammers’ jetpacks sputter and bubble instead of blast across the page. Sotomayor’s colors are much like Wil Quintana’s on Action Comics: bright, soft and shimmering by turns, with dazzling combinations of colors: sharp yellow, black, and purple; coral-reds sparkling amidst peridot-greens and goldenrods. No detail is too small for Sotomayor to give some color to, the red scorches still lingering in the hole of the Badoon ship from Scott’s optic blast; the soft orange lights in the Starjammers’ space helmets.
Conclusion: Now this is how you start off a big sci-fi series. Superb, seamless blends of high-octane action and quiet moments of real emotion; clearly defined, interesting characters; a premise that’s at once familiar and fresh; and art that loses none of its smartness by aiming for the spectacular.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – I am looking forward to the moment when Chris has to deal with Scott’s weird, funny, slightly creepy crush on his girlfriend.
– It’s really endearing that Scott is still in the habit of handwriting letters, but where exactly is he going to find replacements for his ballpoint when it finally dries out?