Space Bandits #1 Review - These Ladies Will Steal Your Hearts and Your Wallets
Updated: May 14, 2020
• Image Comics (Publisher) • Get It now (Why haven't You Pre-ordered)
I was lucky enough to score an advance copy of Space Bandits. The new comic from the brilliant minds of Mark Millar and Matteo Scalera. The book managed to subvert my expectations twice in the same issue. Unlike the Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the subversion's worked to enhance the narrative as opposed to leaving me a confused mess after reading.
There are a lot of storytelling tropes and callbacks presented in the issue. In each instance what I thought was going to happen turned out to be completely wrong. I won't spoil any of the plot points within the issue during this review. What I will say is that the comic is very clever throughout and unless you've read up on the series in advance, you won't see any of the twists coming.
At the heart of the story are two women that seem to have fallen on the wrong side of the tracks Neither come off as necessarily being evil. Cody Blue runs with a gang of Bandits but goes out of her way to avoid senseless violence and bloodshed.
Thena Khole on the other hand is noted one of the most infamous criminals in the setting. She and her boyfriend Viggo Lust run a long con of visiting a backwater area of the galaxy, faking capture, escaping with the reward money and then repeating the scam somewhere else.
Millar is really efficient with his storytelling. He gives the reader working knowledge of both characters before totally pulling the rug up from underneath them. A lessor writer would have split the story into two issues.
I appreciate that the issue was kept at an entertaining pace while ensuring that the reader has enough information to understand whats going on. There are elements of humor, danger, and general fun throughout the comic which add up to an amazing debut.
Matteo Scalera is on art and it shows, this a beautiful comic. I've shared his art on my Facebook and Twitter pages in the past. Its pretty cool to see him on interiors here. Matteo has a very dynamic and energetic style that comes across in the action beats. He also conveys menace very well. There are some action sequences in the issue that had me wincing as I was reading the carnage.
There aren't many scenes where the pace slows but even when things slow down the panels look awesome. There's something interesting to look at on every page and the pencils are further enhanced by Marcelo Maiolo who provides the colors. I'm not sure the issue would have come across as well without him.
As a #1 issue I can't find much to complain about. The comic falls under the Nexflix banner. I can totally see a big budget movie using this setting and characters. The visuals are stunning, imaginative, and take advantage of comics as a visual medium. If James Gunn or Taika Waititi are directing Space Bandits the motion picture in a few years I wouldn't be surprised at all.
The only thing that doesn't quite land for me is the 80's motif. I recognize the names and some of the styles from the 80's, but I'm not sure why they are there to begin with. It's a cool visual reference point but I'm not sure that its necessary. I won't mark the issue down for it, but I just didn't get it. Hopefully as the series goes on we'll get a better explanation for the 80's influences. At the very least when the movie is eventually made we know what the soundtrack will pull from.
As a comic its a nice change of pace from my normal pull list. I don't review a lot of science fiction comics. I think the last comic I read that covered the genre was Jeff Lemire's Descender. This is a complete 180 degrees from that series, but If you're a fan of comics like Descender, Guardians of the Galaxy or Thor Ragnarok. I can't recommend the series enough.
For everyone else you're in for a wild ride. Masterclass is in session.