Reviewer: Chris Delloiacono
Story Title: Sanctuary
Written and Drawn by: Jim Starlin
Colored by: June Chung
Lettered by: Rich Wenzke
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment > Devil’s Due Publishing
Lately, I’ve been on a kick picking up debut issues and generally testing the offerings of publishers other than Marvel and DC. I still love a great many of the Big Two’s titles, but I’ve found myself left wanting by a lot of their stuff recently. Plus, if people don’t give these “other” books a look, they’re going to go away. The industry needs many strong publishers, so I’ve gone out of my way to get into some different stuff lately.
Cosmic Guard is one of the books that I went back and forth on. It looked cool from the first time I saw it. One of the big selling points was that the legendary Jim Starlin was getting the chance to create a world from scratch. Finally, I grabbed the first four issues on a whim, and the story was enjoyable enough to grab this one when it shipped. While it’s a straight-forward, rather-traditional comic story, its fun, and I like that. There aren’t enough comics that are an old-fashioned sci-fi/superhero romp anymore.
The thing that sold me on the series was the lead character, Ray Torres. Starlin has created a wonderfully engaging teenager that we’ve seen genuinely advance as a character. Torres starts the series living in an orphanage. The problems he faced at the outset were grounded in reality, and seemed like those that a real youth would face in the situation. His life was so awful that he reached the point of giving up. As these things go in comics, when you’ve hit rock bottom, you get superpowers. The series has followed Ray’s training and first steps as the space secto’s new Cosmic Guard.
The concept rings similar to many comic stories that have come before. The Cosmic Guard must prevent the evil Genociders from destroying everything in their path. Torres has been aided by the previous Cosmic Guard, Dark Paladin, who, although dead, works with Ray in his dreams. Last month Ray met up with some of those he’s supposed to protect and this mont’s tale begins with Ray in their Sanctuary.
Sanctuary is the one place that the people he’s protecting are free of tyranny. This is where the people that escape the Genociders go; it’s very similar to the idea of Zion in The Matrix, and other sci-fi staples. Ray was brought to this place because he’s not ready to battle the Genociders Z-10 Killbot, which has come to Earth to destroy the new Cosmic Guard.
In issue #5 Jim Starlin affords the reader a brief respite from the darker aspects of the story. We learn more about the Cosmic Guard and what Ray can become. The elements Starlin has at work within the series are tried and true, and they work quite well here. Yet, the series is brought above being a clone of previous material by its very real protagonist. Ray’s way of dealing with the situation is quite original. Starlin doesn’t quite have the voice of a twelve year old, but he’s definitely given Ray a distinct, youthful voice and made his life fun to follow.
The whole package is pulled together by Jim Starlin’s beautiful art. The man that created some of the finest space-bound comic stories ever (i.e. Captain Marvel and the myriad Infinity _______ titles) has crafted another exciting world that’s full of razzle and dazzle. I’m certainly glad I jumped on board.