A Review Of
The Black Order #4 of 5
Writer: Derek Landy
Penciler: Philip Tan
Inker: Marc Deering with Scott Hanna, Guillermo Ortego & Le Beau Underwood
Colorist: Jay David Ramos
Cover Artist: Inhyuk Lee
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed herein are purely the opinions of the author of this article and do not necessarily reflect the official opinions of CosmicBookNews. Timelord regularly reviewed the 2007 “Nova” and 2008 “Guardians of the Galaxy” series with his reviews directly sent to the books’ editors and creators. Timelord’s reviews have been quoted by Marvel in cover blurbs, press reviews, and solicits.
The Black Order were Thanos’ Generals. They are on a mission to bring Thanos back to life. This mini-series is the story of the beginning of their mission – essentially a prequel to the events unfolding in The Guardians of the Galaxy concurrently running series.
Landy is clearly what Marvel Cosmic has been lacking since Marvel unwisely terminated DnA – a writer who is also a Cosmic fan. He weaves an exciting, fast-paced, action-oriented story that will delight most true Cosmic fans. I was very pleased to see that he takes the story and characters seriously and completely avoids the goofball take on Cosmic started by James Gunn in the MCU and carried on by Bendis, Loeb, et al in the comic book universe once DnA departed. It is quite simply refreshing to see the Cosmic characters treated with the same degree of seriousness and respect that the street-level Earthbound characters in the MU regularly enjoy.
It is often challenging for writers to weave a story where the villains are the main characters. After all, The Black Order’s mission is to essentially bring back into the universe one of the universe’s apex villains, Thanos. It’s nearly impossible to root for their success or to in any way like or sympathize with them. That’s why villains are so often written so one-dimensionally. Landy manages to really flesh out each character. He brings uniqueness and nuance to each – showing us different personalities by exploring a character’s inner dialog and/or back story rather than the lazy writing approach of simply differentiating one villain from another according to what super-power they wield. That really held my interest and made me want to learn more about each of these villains – deplorable as they and their mission are.
In an interesting twist, my favorite hero (as some of you know – lol), Nova, guest stars in this issue as a villain – having been enslaved and turned to villainous purposes by the events of the prior issue of this mini-series. Again, Landy manages to capture Rich Rider’s personality or swagger better than anyone since DnA. He is clearly aware of Rich’s history – with Rich making oblique reference to the events of Annihilation: Conquest as he struggles to remain as heroic as possible despite being under mind control of another. Impressive. I hope Landy is also a Rich Rider Nova fan, because if this is representative of his take on the character, I’d like to see more. We need writers who are true Cosmic fans to save the Cosmic characters from this stupid notion that all Cosmic should be written as farce simply because the stories are set in space.
Lee’s cover art is amazing! I prefer the more photo-realistic-oriented comic book art and Lee has produced one of the best fight scenes featuring Nova that I’ve seen since the DnA years when Granov was producing his incredible cover art. The story art and coloring by Tan, Deering, and Ramos were also very well done.
I once told Tom Brevoort that I looked forward to the day when Alonso’s, Bendis’, and Loeb’s tenure on Marvel Cosmic would just be a bad memory. Of course, he didn’t like that comment and told me so. But now, with the passage of time, Alonso, Bendis, and Loeb are just bad memories. As long as no one comes along to repeat what they did, maybe Marvel Cosmic will have a bright future. If Landy’s work is representative of a new era in Marvel Cosmic, I’m cautiously optimistic.
-Article Author: Timelord