Writers: CM Punk, Cullen Bunn
Artist: Scott Hepburn
Colorist: Matt Milla
- Drax and Terrax walk into a space cantina. Are they gonna brawl or go on a bender? Either way, it’ll be epic!
- Drax needs to get his starship–the Space Sucker–repaired. Only problem? He has no money.
- But a mysterious crime spree may be the answer to his prayers… or at least a violent distraction.
(There is also a video version of this review, which you can see at the bottom of this page or by clicking here)
Out of all the new series that Marvel announced following the Secret Wars quasi-reboot I think Drax is the one that surprised me the most. Granted he is a character who is riding an all time high in terms of popularity thanks to the amazing performance given by Dave Bautista on the screen in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy movie, but still he does not seem to lend himself to solo adventures. But, if Groot can hold down a book for a full story arc then surely Drax should be given his chance. Stranger books have certainly succeeded in spite of common sense.
We are now two issues into his new series, and while I found the first one to be a bit lacking in key points, the second issue is a big step in the right direction. For me, at least, a large part of what has turned the book around is the addition of a born-again Terrax, who has gone slightly nutty since his most recent death and resurrection. There are few characters in comicdom who can claim to have had so few appearances (around two hundred total, more or less) and yet died and been resurrected as many times (at least three that I can recall offhand, counting this one) as Terrax. These frequent deaths and returns have left Terrax a bit bored, and more than a bit loopy. He doesn’t want to fight anymore, unless it is for a cause (note he doesn’t say a “good” cause, just a cause). Which means he doesn’t want to fight Drax, since he doesn’t have a reason to, and instead wants to get drunk. This annoys Drax since he desperately wants to punch something to vent his frustrations, but that will have to wait until after some drinks. It is amusing to me to see that artist Scott Hepburn has drawn Terrax similar to how I would expect an insane version of Avatar’s Uncle Iroh to look — though I don’t think that was likely intentional. Regardless, it makes me smile.
Aside from the meeting of these two not-so-titanic brains the story remains a bit light on plot until the final pages, when a kidnapping ring turns up to give Terrax the worthy fight he was looking for, and also it gives a thief the chance to steal Terrax’s beloved axe (the two plots may or may not be interconnected). We are two issues in and the plot still really has not taken form, which is a bit distressing at this point. Granted part of the plot is Drax’s apparent lack of direction at the moment, but that can only get you so far. My real hope here is that the kidnapping/thievery plot will develop into something a little more deeper than that before the close of this arc. Since it does seem like the main remit of this story is to get Terrax and Drax into as many fights as possible I will not hold my breath on much in the way of depth, but who knows?
So, with the plot not really amounting to much the main draw of the series has to come from the characterization, and that it has in spades. As I alluded to previously this Looney Tunes version of Terrax is highly entertaining, and although it may not match any of his previous appearances for tone or attitude I do think it is at least an improvement for a character whose entire personality can be summed up as “he was the herald of Galactus who had an axe… no, the other one with an axe”. A character who has been around in the Marvel universe for more than thirty-five years probably deserves a personality more expressive than the rock he was carved out of.
Of course, Terrax is not our main character… Drax is. And he certainly gets plenty of screen time in this issue, but I cannot help but feel that our writers really wish they could be writing a Terrax story instead. And that’s fair enough, really, since Drax as a solo character is just not interesting. He needs a foil like Rocket or Star-Lord to play-off of to be entertaining, and even though I do like this version of Terrax he does not quite fit that role. So until we get someone to fill in that spot on this book’s supporting cast, I say bring on the zany Terrax antics. It also does not help that our writers, CM Punk and Cullen Bunn, do not seem to entirely have a grasp on Drax’s speech patterns. For some reason I do not see him casually calling random women “babe” to their face (as in “surprise me, babe”). It may be a minor detail, but it is out-of-character enough to have taken me out of the comic for a bit. He also seems to have a bit of horn-dog in him beyond just odd phrases like that, which I do not recall being a part of his characterization.
Just so we are clear, I do see the apparent hypocrisy in praising the comic for breaking the mold with Terrax while equally condemning it for doing the same with Drax. The difference here is that this is an improvement on Terrax’s personality (in that he actually has one now), whereas turning Drax into a misogynistic wanna-be player is a definite step backwards for our lovable brute. It makes him less interesting and sympathetic as a character, and makes me wish that Terrax would smack him in the face (or groin…) with his axe a few times. Which is not something I ever expected to say about either character.
Drax is a comic that I feel is still searching for its own voice, but it is at least heading in the right direction. It has a voice in the form of Terrax, but that is a hard selling point on a book that is supposed to be about Drax. There is enough going on here at this point to recommend it to people who want a casual read, but perhaps not at cover price. I enjoyed it for what it was, but do not really expect it to stick around long after the first arc runs its course.
Simply put, if you think you will like the absurdist fun of Drax then you are probably right, and if you think you will hate the lack of any meaningful plot or storytelling then you are still probably right. Follow the examples of Drax and Terrax and do not think too hard on it, just follow your gut.
There is also a video version of this review you can watch here