Writer: Sam Humphries
Artist: Alti Firmansyah
Colorist: Jessica Kholinne
For the most part I have done my best to ignore the whole Secret Wars event that Marvel has been running for the past few months. With the exception of the core series, since it is essentially the ending to Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers run, and A-Force, which looks like it will become a regular book in the post-Secret Wars Marvel Universe (as well it should) I have been spending my comics money in other areas (mostly in trying DC books now that their latest reboot event is winding down, too). Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde gets a pass on the Marvel temporary ban for the moment, though, if only for the simple reason that Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde (aka Shadowcat) happen to be two of my favorite characters at Marvel, and writer Sam Humphries has shown he can craft a good story around them.
Since this is a Secret Wars tie-in series (under the “Battleworlds” banner) there is a little bit of side-story that you need to know. The Marvel Universe (MU), as a whole, is gone, and all that remains are a bunch of smaller worlds (the Battleworlds) which exist as a sequence of pocket dimensions that represent various alternate realities or major events from past years. All of which is ruled (and said to be created by) God Emperor Doom, master of everything. Anything that exists that was not created by Doom is, by definition, heresy. There’s more to it than that, but for the purposes of this book that is what you need to know about Secret Wars. One thing that is not Secret Wars related that is need-to-know, however, is that in the regular MU Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde were quickly becoming one of the power couples in Marvel comics. This is odd given Marvel’s reluctance to give the X-characters any prominence at the moment, and Kitty Pryde’s movie alter-ego is tied up pretty tightly in the X-movies (played by Ellen Page), but we’ll have to assume that they do legitimately want to keep the characters hooked up for a while yet (probably thanks in large part to writer Brian Bendis, who is writing Guardians of the Galaxy, and is an acknowledged fan of Kitty Pryde).
The hook here is that Star-Lord is one of the very few characters who actually remembers the proper MU, since he is a stranded refugee from it (as seen in Secret Wars #1). He is thus a walking piece of heresy, and has to lay low lest Doom have him erased. His version of laying low is to become a singer, using the pseudonym “Stevie Rogers”, for a nightclub run by Drax (sporting a truly spectacular hair-style). Bonus points are awarded for having his band consist of Wolfsbane, Strong Guy and Polaris from Peter David’s X-Factor. Being the man-child that he is, Star-Lord has decided that his songs will consist exclusively of Disney animation classics, which turns out to be a brilliant plan since Disney never existed in this reality, and thus everyone thinks he is a musical genius. Frankly, I could probably read a three issue mini-series of Star-Lord singing Disney melodies and be perfectly content.
With the basic premise setup the story gets moving halfway in as Kitty Pryde finally shows up to complete the titular duo. The trick here is that this Kitty Pryde is not the one that Peter knew in the original MU, and is actually working for Doom as someone who tracks down heretical objects and tries to learn their origin (and presumably destroy them). To that end she is meeting up with Gambit, who has found some items for her to check out. This particular version of Gambit seems to have dropped straight out of an anime, complete with floating hearts and exaggerated, girlish glee (at the prospect of owning hand-crafted knives made from Longshot’s bones… ewww). Even though he is not listed as a major cast member I hope he sticks around, because this is the most amusing take on Gambit that I have read in quite some time.
As noted above, in the regular MU Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde were quite the item, but this isn’t the regular MU anymore, and this isn’t the same Kitty Pryde. Peter, however, is so overwhelmed that his common sense (what little there is of it) is overridden and he sweeps Kitty off her feet (literally), much to her consternation. This leads to a fight, which in turn leads to Kitty learning, in rather contrived fashion, that Peter is not a Battleworld native. And that’s where we leave off.
This comic is absolutely bonkers from start to finish, and it is glorious. From Drax’s insane hairstyle, to Star-Lord’s renditions of classic Disney, to the cartoon antics of Gambit this book has absolutely no shame in doing whatever it wants in the name of fun. The plot, such as it is, really is just a framework for whatever wildness Sam Humphries feels like throwing at us. Heck, there’s an entire sequence between Drax and Gambit which may as well have come straight out of Merry Melodies (with Drax as Donald Duck, naturally). I’m pretty sure I was grinning like an idiot for the entire duration of this comic.
Even the art style has a Disney animated movie quality to it, which only adds to the fun. Alti Firmansyah is not a name I am familiar with, but judging by this work I am going to have keep an eye out for more of her work in the future. Her past credits seem to only include “Tomorrowland” from Titan Comics, which doesn’t appear to have any connection the Disney movie of the same name, but is probably still worth checking out (if I find a copy, I will). She is perfectly complimented by Jessica Kholinne on colors, who sticks with the Disney aesthetic as well. I especially love her design for Kitty’s dress, which looks rather cosmic. Between the three of them I could almost wish that this was a pitch for a future Disney hand-animated film.
For the most part all the key facts are laid out and the main players are introduced appropriately. Not much actually happens this issue since most of it is devoted to laying out the plot and setting, but there’s plenty of action to keep things entertaining. I am not really expecting much in the way of story here throughout the series, but there doesn’t need to be so long as the characters themselves continue to be so amusing. I would like to learn a bit more about this version of Kitty Pryde, who I presume is based on her Age of Apocalypse incarnation judging by the claws and hopefully that will be coming up next month in issue two.
This is a story that is blatantly not meant to be taken seriously, but rather enjoyed on its own merit as near-comedy, and in that respect it is a complete success. It won’t win prizes for deep plot or being an essential tie-in to Secret Wars, but it is probably among the most entertaining books to come out of the event. If you are looking for something light-hearted and fun, you could certainly do a lot worse than Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde.