Old Man Quill #1
Written by Ethan Sacks
Art by Robert Gill and Andres Mossa
Lettering by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 5 out of 10
Star-Lord gets his own private apocalypse in the debut of Old Man Quill. Written by Old Man Hawkeye scribe Ethan Sacks and given a muted, rough-hewn look by artist Robert Gill and colorist Andres Mossa, this debut issue attempts to deliver both tragedy and space opera. Unfortunately, it only really succeeds at the latter, building up an interesting ideological conflict in space only to instantly take Peter Quill out of that setting in favor of the now-canon Wasteland that birthed Marvel’s other two “Old Man” titles. Though the idea of a “lone spaceman stranded on a violent planet” certainly has some legs, Old Man Quill #1 does a poor job of selling it.
Opening on a portentous “Then,” Sacks starts this issue off pretty strong. His opening script posits a reality in which Quill has taken over as King of Spartax and has comfortably ruled for decades. That is, until the Universal Church of Truth returns from the fringes and starts subjugating planets, calling Quill back to the fray to protect his home. Of course, this being an “Old Man” book, Quill’s failure is epic, and the way that the former Star-Lord drowns his sorrows in booze and hypersleep feels true to the character. Despite any other faults this issue possesses, Sacks really nails the character of Quill, so that is a great thing going for the miniseries overall.
But it is when we get to the “Now” scenes that the the faults of Old Man Quill start to become apparent. Pulled into “one last job” to save the universe by the aged Guardians of the Galaxy, they plan to go to Earth, recruit the heroes, and bring the fight back to the Church. But as anyone who’s read the solicit copy knows, things go south and the Guardians’ ship is shot down, leaving Peter literally grounded on the scorched Earth we’ve seen time and time again.
Unfortunately, Sacks setting the majority of his debut issue in space leaves this final twist feeling hollow, a lengthy setup to a punchline that we all knew was going to be the case from the jump. The idea of Quill being stranded on Earth while the Church ravages the stars is a good one, and gives Sacks main narrative a clear goal for Peter. But then why start us in space, especially if the ruined Earth was always going to be the setting? Most of the exposition dumped in the flashback scenes could have easily been disseminated throughout smaller flashbacks of Quill post-crash, similar to how Mark Millar only doled out small details about what really broke the Wolverine in Old Man Logan. It makes the whole opening sequence feel like such let-down, especially since the world and problems of space seem so much more compelling than another dour trip through the Wasteland. A Wasteland we have now explored several times now in different books.
Fault lines also extend to the artwork as well. Again, the work starts out really strong - Robert Gill and Andres Mossa open up with a really tight battle scene, showcasing Peter’s detailed Starlin-esque costume, vast space battles, and the weirdness afforded them with the intergalactic setting. Even in the present-day scenes, they get to display their eye for action in a Dutch-angled panel layout of Gamora taking down a Brood drone single handedly, the frames splattered with vicious gushes of green amid the sketchy linework and dull grey interior hallways. But in the more quieter, establishing scenes, Gill’s work comes across as sketchy, but still oddly vacant as if there is no real spark behind the character’s eyes. There is also an attention to detail that is missed with this art team this issue. For instance, as the Guardians make their approach to Earth, an Earth we know and has been established has been dark for some time now, it is still lit as if the human populace is still thriving. That may have just been something missed in editorial or production, but it still is jarring to see.
“Something good, something bad, or a bit of both?” Old Man Quill #1 winds up being the latter option. Though writer Ethan Sacks gets the tragedy of the line and the character of Quill, the plot of his first issue leaves something to be desired, though the potential could reveal itself in the next issue. Couple that with the dynamic, but distant artwork of Robert Gill and Andres Mossa and, unfortunately, things don’t really pull up too well especially for a first issue. As it stands, Old Man Quill #1 is an “Old Man” tale for completists only.