By: Greg Rucka (story), Russel Dauterman (art), Chris Sotomayor (colors)

The Story: A chocolate milkshake. For this Scott had to travel halfway across the galaxy?

The Review: With comics these days determined to stay as dark as possible, it’s rare that a given issue makes you feel just purely happy, no strings attached. Even the most lighthearted, comedy-driven titles feel this need to have some kind of edge, like they’re not fully confident that readers are capable of enduring cheerfulness without a little cynicism or irony. Sugar, it seems, can’t be consumed without a spoonful of medicine anymore.

If for nothing else, Rucka merits praise for allowing one of the most star-crossed characters of the Marvel U to just have a grand old time, forgetting past and future tragedies. For personal reasons, the vignettes of Scott and Chris enthusiastically exploring the galaxy and enjoying father-son time touched me deeply, but I doubt anyone else can read them unmoved. If you know anything about what Scott’s grim history, your heart may very well melt watching him laugh with pure joy as he learns how to land a spaceship, his dad tousling his hair.

It can’t last; nothing so good ever does. Rucka’s not so upbeat a writer that he’s not willing to flavor the sweetness of the issue with a little bitterness. I was ignorant of Chris’ death and thus inexplicable resurrection last issue, so I took his medical needs rather lightly at the time. This issue makes it clear that Chris’ condition is not something to be ignored, always in the back of his mind even as he forces himself to live up to his adventurous, daredevil bravado for Scott’s sake.

And Scott is definitely picking that attitude up, even if he can’t help an embarrassed “Dad!” at Chris’ more outrageous conduct, such as inquiring as to the highest bidder on his head while surrounded by bounty hunters. In addition to piloting spaceships and swordplay, Scott is learning from his dad to hone his natural leadership ability with a little cockiness. Outnumbered, with Chris down for the count, Scott declares, “You’re not taking me. And you’re not taking my dad.”

Pointing out Scott’s ineptitude with a sword, the hunter insists, “You’ve lost.”

“No. I’m tired of losing.” Scott follows up with a perfectly ricocheted optic blast, taking out all three opponents at once, from behind, no less. Already, this Scott is a way more confident lad than he originally was pre-time travel. Imagine the kind of X-Man he’ll grow up to be if any of this sticks.

If there’s one disappointment to the issue, it’s that things are getting real a little faster than you might’ve hoped. No doubt there’s plenty of fun ahead for the father-son duo, but couldn’t Rucka have kept it unadulterated for a couple issues before bringing us down with Chris’ increasingly apparent illness and these bounty hunters. Expanding the opening montage of Scott and Chris’ galactic adventures into a series of issues would’ve been ideal, for example. But this is just nitpicky wishful thinking on the part of a hopeless optimist; Rucka really doesn’t do much wrong here.

As for Dauterman, his contributions are practically flawless. He possesses a quality of the truly great artists in that every panel is lovingly crafted. Nothing looks mindlessly manufactured, just to keep the story moving. Each panel is its own entity, making radical changes in POV and perspective to not only give momentum to the story, but to make its logical flow clear. And good Lord, those alien designs! Not content to stick to humanoid forms, Dauterman throws anatomical caution to the wind, drawing hovering amoebas, three-faced (and one-eyed) creatures, culminating in Chris’ old black-market pal Baroque, whose many eyes surround a nose that seems to simultaneously rise sharply above his brown and twist downward into a fleshy beard.

Conclusion: A happy breath of fresh air that seems on the verge of dissipating all too soon, inviting you to enjoy it for as long as it lasts.

Grade: A-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – And the award for Best Extraterrestrial Burn in Translation goes to Baroque for his exclamation upon meeting Scott: “Offspring? Impossible! That would require Corsair found a consenting female!”

– The first thing Scott’s doing when he gets back to Earth is figure out how to update the Danger Room to replicate the taste of a chocolate (“choc-lat”) milkshake.