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Jim Starlin's Cosmic Guard #1/Army of Darkness: Ashes 2 Ashes #1
Wizard World Preview

By Jim Starlin, Andy Hartnell, et al
Published by Devil's Due/Dynamite Comics

ADD: I really dislike flipbooks, I should get that out of the way immediately. On the other hand, given that this is a preview book designed to promote two upcoming comics, I suppose I can forgive the format.

CA: And I really dislike Flip Wilson, but I guess he's well gotten out of the way, so let's talk about this here flipbook. Actually, I don't have any bias against flipbooks, but I do have a problem with preview books that aren't complete stories. For one thing, they're hard to review, so it generally leads to a lot of jokes about Flip Wilson.

ADD: The big draw here for most comics readers, I'd guess, is Jim Starlin. My greatest appreciation of Starlin was as a teenager, specifically the two-part crossover he wrote and illustrated that featured the original death of Adam Warlock and featured a slew of characters, from Spider-Man and the Thing to the Avengers, and of course the cast of Warlock's own title. Those two issues really blew my teenaged mind with their cosmic scope and their downbeat tenor.

CA: Cosmic scope -- downbeat tenor! Me and little sister would join right in (to the tune of "Daddy Sang Bass" by Johnny Cash). What? Oh, I never read that. In fact, I really missed most of Starlin's '70s heyday and only got into him a little with the Dreadstar & Company reprint series from Marvel's Epic imprint. What I've read of his since then has been hit and miss, and even stuff I liked at the time, like his Silver Surfer run, I haven't gone back and reread.

ADD: I lost interest in Starlin's stuff somewhere during the whole Dreadstar saga(s) -- from The Death of Captain Marvel to The Metamorphosis Odyssey I really grew fatigued of that same downbeat tenor. Starlin does depressing, death-obsessed stories very well, but they all seem to be variations on a single theme, and it's not a theme that I find resonated with me once I was out of my teens.

CA: Yeah, I find I can't relate to the death obsession, either, because unlike, say, Thanos, I truly am happy being immortal. Death? Feh, I say. It might also be said, though, that Starlin always tries to inject some really goofy humor into that stentorian gloom, often to distracting effect. I'm not sure I know what stentorian means, but I was damned if I was going to use "downbeat tenor" again.

ADD: Despite my reservations about Starlin's downbeat tenor style of storytelling, Cosmic Guard looks like it will be an epic tale. The preview story spans the galaxy, from a troubled young boy on Earth to a massive spacefleet facing imminent destruction (depicted in an impressive two-page spread). The art is above-average for Starlin, with an impressive cityscape and outer space scenes. Unfortunately, drawing people is his biggest weakness, with a uniform stiffness evident and his usual lack of imagination in designing alien physiologies. Giant Forehead Alien Guy, frankly, is pretty much a deal-breaker as far as keeping me interested in the title.

CA: This Spreading Beergut Allen Guy can't argue with that, but I kind of find his designs fun in a retro way, especially the '50s style robots.

ADD: The cover and the focus on the young boy suggest that perhaps this will be an Earth-based character not that far removed from Captain Marvel. While I'm not that excited by the prospect of Starlin mining old territory for a new series, I would definitely be more interested in this series if it focuses on human characters rather than the aliens that dominate the preview. It's difficult to guess where the series will ultimately go from this short story, but I would definitely check out the first couple of issues to see if Starlin can reach a little beyond his usual grasp and do something new with his old toolbox.

CA: I agree. I had zero interest in this title when it was announced, figuring it was just the same-ol' from Starlin...and it is...but it turns out it was still pretty interesting, and I would also give it a few issues to get somewhere. I was a bit annoyed at the verbosity of it, though.

ADD: The other side of this flipbook preview is Army of Darkness: Ashes 2 Ashes, a more typical Devil's Due offering, a licensed adaptation of the Ash character from the Evil Dead movies. J. Scott Campbell contributes his usual grotesque anatomy on the cover, while the inside provides a tongue-in-cheek primer to All Things Ash. It's a little too breezy and insubstantial for me. Army of Darkness is my least favourite of the Ash movies, and the wacky quotient seems amped up even higher in the comic previewed here. I'm tempted to say "If this is the sort of thing you'll like, you'll like it," but Army of Darkness: Ashes 2 Ashes is definitely not something I have any interest in reading.

CA: Army of Darkness was the only one of the films I saw in the theater, and yes, it's not as good as the others. That said, while I'm not a Campbell fan, I thought his style was effective on the cover, because Bruce Campbell has a very angular, large-chinned face, anyway, so the caricature was appropriate and recognizable. The artist on the interiors is even more exaggerated, but I liked it just fine for an over-the-top story like this, or at least like this looks to become. As you say, writer Andy Hartnell really doesn't do much here but hit the highlights of Army of Darkness, so it's hard to judge at this point.



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