Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Ethan Sacks
Artwork: Robert Gill (issues 1-3 and issue 5), Ibraim Roberson (issues 4 and 6)
Colours: Andres Mossa
Lettering: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Release Date: 7th August 2019
Going into the first volume of Marvel’s Old Man Quill, I’ll be honest, I had some pretty serious preconceptions. Firstly, I don’t really like the whole “Old Man…” gimmick. It always felt a little played-out to me, like a lazy attempt to cash in on what was a pretty damn cool idea by Millar and McNiven. Secondly, I’m not much of a Star Lord fan. While Chris Pratt is likeable enough on the big screen, the comic book version always struck me as kind of a tool, without much in the way of redeeming qualities. Finally – and without meaning any disrespect to what is clearly a very talented unit – I hadn’t really seem much of the creative team’s prior work beforehand. So yeah, it’s safe to say that things weren’t exactly looking great in terms of my excitement levels for this one.
Boy was I wrong.
Simply put, this first volume is a crazy amount of fun from start to finish, and while a lot of its appeal admittedly comes from seeing familiar Marvel characters in this post-apocalyptic setting, there isn’t not really anything wrong with that so long as the pages keep turning. And turn they most certainly do as this six issue collection takes us into the alternate future of the Marvel Universe where the villains won and Earth has been reduced to a barren wasteland to be fought over by whatever bad guys and fallen heroes are still alive.
In the distant reaches of space, an aging Peter Quill is living in drunken isolation, crippled by the guilt caused by his actions that led to the death of his wife and children, and the decimation of the planet Spartax. But when his old (in every sense of the word) teammates show up with a new mission – a mission which may bring him face to face with the “Universal Church of Truth”, the group responsible for the aforementioned decimation – he finds himself returning to Earth to confront his demons head-on.
As set-ups go, Ethan Sacks delivers a good one here, fleshing out the “Old Man” world of Hawkeye and Logan with the introduction of the cosmic side of the Marvel universe. Little touches like Taskmaster running a gladiatorial arena or Doom and Madame Masque ruling with an iron fist give Quill and the Guardians some great obstacles to overcome, and add an impressive amount of world-building to what could otherwise have felt like a one-dimensional backdrop.
On a personal note, I’ve always had a bit of a villain soft spot for the Wrecking Crew ever since the original Secret Wars (the first Superhero comic I ever picked up), so it’s great to seem up to their old tricks here, terrorising the wastelands in their trademark ‘dumb bruiser’ style. The skirmish between the Crew and the Guardians provides my personal highlight of the book, with the visuals reaching a crescendo during this surprisingly un-Marvel showdown.
The artwork from Gill and Roberson is striking, bombastic when it needs to be, and untidy and scratchy enough to really sell this war-ravaged, Mad Max-esque version of the Marvel Universe. It’s also shockingly violent in places, particularly during the aforementioned throwdown between the aging Guardians and the Wrecking Crew. Seriously, Bulldozer has never been more bad-ass.
The whole thing whips along at a fair old pace, packed with entertaining cameos, eye-catching visuals and cool, over-the-top moments (Fin Fang Foom, anyone?), and while any kind of real storytelling nuance is limited to Quill feeling bad for getting his family killed, this is still an incredibly entertaining read from start to finish.
Oh, and if that’s not enough, there’s also a genuinely unexpected final page reveal that makes me want to start picking up the single issues of the second volume right away. What more could you ask for? Old Man Quill is a brilliantly executed series that delivers way more entertainment than its one-note title suggests.