Sunday, March 21, 2010

Cosmic Odyssey

Writer: Jim Starlin, Pencils: Mike Mignola, Inks: Carlos Garzon
Published by DC 1992, re-issued 2009

Originally published as four issues in 1988 Cosmic Odyssey lives up to its name, taking readers across the galaxy and into other dimensions as Batman, Superman, J’onn J’onzz, Starfire, John Stewart, and Jason Blood team up with New Gods, good and bad, to save the universe from the Anti-Life Equation. The story begins with an Apokoliptian attack on Gotham, quickly foiled by Superman and Lightray, and Darkseid’s recovery of a catatonic Metron. Metron has discovered the truth of the Anti-Life Equation and it has almost destroyed him. Darkseid initially hopes that he can take that information and use it to his own advantage, but he quickly realizes that the Equation isn’t a tool he can wield. Worse, it is a threat to the universe and to his own designs of conquest. He calls a truce with the Highfather and together they recruit the five Earth - or Earth-based - heroes mentioned above to save the galaxy. Evidently the Milky Way is a finely tuned thing and the destruction of any two of four specific star systems will be enough to destroy it altogether. Our heroes are teamed up with New Gods and sent to save those planets.

This book offers two big draws. A cosmic adventure by Jim Starlin and an early example of Mike Mignola - and drawing superheroes, no less. Nowadays to second point is probably the bigger draw. Starlin gives us a straight ahead, heavily plotted adventure story. Its well paced and that’s a good thing, because it never slows down. I particularly like his exposition on the origin and nature of the Equation (much more than the more recent attempts by Morrison). I’ve heard interviews in which Mignola said that when he started he adapted his own style to a more traditional superhero standard, but this is clearly Mignola’s own. His men enjoy a blocky solidity. Their musculature isn’t overly defined, but they look very strong. The only two characters he didn’t have a handle on were J’onn J’onzz and Starfire. J’onn looks like a green Uatu. It just doesn’t work. And Starfire is one of DC’s more overtly sexy characterized, even if she isn’t over sexualized, but Mignola doesn’t seem able to carry that off. Worse, and strangely, he is constantly drawing the top half of her face in shadows. It’s almost as if he wanted to draw a mask on her. But those are minor complaints - even if I did find them constantly annoying. Mignola does a great job on the whole and its only strengthened by Garzon and vibrant colours of Steve Oliff.

DC was smart to re-issue this book.

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