This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on December 22, 2016.
Taking a look at the new comics Marvel released this week, it’s clear there’s a major shift occurring within their lineup. Throughout the publisher’s history, different groupings of heroes have led the charge in terms of popularity. In the 90s it was the X-Men and leading up to Secret Wars it was the Avengers. It currently seems like their superhero universe is in something of a transitional phase, but the next great lineup of heroes looks to be those that come from space.
This week saw two new series debut in Star-Lord and Gamora, and they were accompanied by a bundle of other new issues all focused on Marvel’s cosmic heroes. It’s a major cross-section of this week’s launches and each book is stacked with top notch talent. Part of this goes back to the massive success of Guardians of the Galaxy and its upcoming second installment in May. That only represents a portion of the entire equation. The characters and creators involved in this section of the Marvel universe present a lot of untapped potential. As the publisher looks for their next big thing, it only makes sense to focus on outer space as the heroes of Earth crawl away from another Civil War.
So if you’re looking for the next big thing in superhero or Marvel comics, look no further than their cosmic characters. Here are six reasons to keep your eyes on these new stars.
Star-Lord is Back and Looking Better Than Ever
The launch of the new Star-Lord series provides the character with a creative team so potent together, it’s shocking they’ve never collaborated before. Writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Kris Anka are detailing Star-Lord’s time stranded on Earth in the wake of Civil War II, and offering everything fans of the character might want. He’s a good hearted, roguish, screw up placed into a fish-out-of-water narrative with a bundle of guest stars in the first issue alone. It’s packed with jokes and barroom brawling (that actually utilizes his element guns).
Perhaps the best reason to pick up this new series though is Anka’s art. The manner in which he depicts Star-Lord’s abs could compete with those of Chris Pratt. Star-Lord is a beast whether he’s sipping beer shirtless or saving a damsel in distress. The new Star-Lord series is really something to behold, and we can’t wait to see the main character return to space with Anka depicting everything along the way.
A Whole New Spin on Gamora
Gamora has been the least well served character in the wake of the Guardians of the Galaxy film, with limited opportunities to show off without a team surrounding her. That changes this week as screenwriter Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy) and artist Marco Checchetto take over. Perlman captured Gamora’s dry sense of humor and the perfect balance of vulnerability and knife-y defensiveness in the first film. It should be a thrill to see that brought to comics.
What will be just as exciting is seeing Checchetto blend the present and the past in dual narratives. Gamora’s current standing as a superhero is widely accepted, but her past as an assassin shouldn’t be forgotten. Checchetto’s rich landscapes will show off this bloody past and all the planets it was spread across in stunning detail.
Silver Surfer Continually Sets the Standard
If winning the Eisner for “Best Single Issue” this year didn’t make it clear, Silver Surfer is a very impressive comic book. Writer Dan Slott and artist Mike Allred have merged the history of the Marvel Universe with the episodic structure of Doctor Who to create one of the most consistently compelling superhero comics on the stands. Each issue delves into the Surfer’s unique place in the cosmos and explores themes of diversity, trauma, and empathy.
On top of all that, it’s simply a beautiful comic book. The variety of aliens and planets is constantly shifting, often showing off a dozen new ideas in a single issue. It’s a triumph of design and one that reminds readers just how much potential exists beyond Earth at Marvel Comics. Silver Surfer is a book that sets a high standard for superhero comics in general, and is specifically creating a path for other cosmic adventures to follow.
Rocket Raccoon is Blasting Off
Rocket Raccoon has held down a variety of series in the past few years, often with his best buddy Groot. None of these have been strictly tied to the Marvel Universe though with artists like Skottie Young and Michael Walsh offering madcap, cartoonish adventures instead. That changes next week when writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Jorge Coelho take over, and start Rocket on the mean streets of New York City.
Rosenberg has proven he can do “mean streets” like nobody’s business in series like We Can Never Go Home and 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank. Coelho’s preview of the issue show off that this is a Rocket whose fangs are fully bared. As much fun as it is to see him in a wacky mood, it’s even more thrilling to see this “trash panda” with his back against the wall. Wherever this series leads, it’s sure to be unlike anything we’ve seen so far.
The Ultimates Keep Upping the Ante
From its very first issue the newest iteration of The Ultimates have made it clear they only plan to tackle the biggest problems, truly universal problems. It’s a promise they haven’t welched on either, transforming Galactus from the “Destroyer of Worlds” into “Life-Bringer” in their very first adventure. While the team may have been dissolved by the events of Civil War II, they’re now back and better than ever.
This crew of Marvel superheroes are capable of incredible feats and keeping their eyes fixed on those that don’t merely threaten Earth, but all of reality. They also have a grudge against one of Marvel’s biggest cosmic baddies (coming up next). Whatever happens in space, they’re bound to be involved and that means the stakes simply couldn’t be any higher. Writer Al Ewing and new series artist Travel Foreman are already delivering on that in the pages of The Ultimates 2, as well.
Thanos is Coming
The current lineup of cosmic Marvel superheroes is as impressive as it gets, but what are heroes without great villains? After being killed in Secret Wars and banished beyond reality in the pages of The Ultimates, Thanos has finally returned. Given some shocking news, he has set his eyes on achieving all of his goals as quickly as possible in writer Jeff Lemire and artist Mike Deodato’s new series. In the first issue alone he leaves a massive trail of death and destruction, and at least one big villain dead in his wake.
Marvel has not announced what its next big summer event will be, but you can put money down today that it will center on Thanos and his machinations. He’s a being that has killed off half of all existing life before and been central to most cosmic Marvel stories. Whatever he’s planning to do next, you can bet that it will rock the entire universe.