Best Shots Review: YONDU #1 (8/10)

Credit: John McCrea (Marvel Comics)
Credit: Cully Hamner (Marvel Comics)

Yondu #1
Written by Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler
Art by John McCrea and Mike Spicer
Lettering by Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

Credit: John McCrea (Marvel Comics)

Arguably, no character has had his image overhauled due to the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as drastically as Yondu Udonta. Michael Rooker’s take on the seedy space pirate soon seeped into the comics as well, but it was somewhat at odds with Yondu’s original, far-future incarnation as a member of the 1970s-era Guardians of the Galaxy. With Yondu, Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler and John McCrea look to make sense of these radically different takes, and they succeed more often than not. While the plotting itself isn’t revolutionary, Thompson and Nadler place their focus on Yondu’s lineage and legacy, while McCrea’s art allows the book to take on grittier texture than your average space-faring adventure story.

It’s McCrea and colorist Mike Spicer who do the most to elevate this book, which I assure you isn’t as much of an indictment of Thompson and Nadler’s writing as it sounds. Yondu’s world feels lived-in and fully alive around him, an element of sci-fi stories that can sometimes be hard to achieve. McCrea’s panels can be crowded and busy, but that’s a feature rather than a bug. If you look closely, you can appreciate the small details throughout like a tabloid wondering if Darkhawk is “back on the sauce” or Yondu’s framed certificate for “Most Valued Member of the GOTG.” McCrea doesn’t skimp on the crowd scenes, either - we get some varied alien designs, and the artist does a good job of setting apart the two different Yond’s with great expression work and body language. And I love how McCrea varies his inking throughout the book. Sometimes we get hatching and crosshatching, but other times, McCrea opts for a Zip-a-Tone-like effect that communicates a different sort of energy to the book.

Credit: John McCrea (Marvel Comics)

Thompson and Nadler are no slouches in their own right. They bring additional depth to both versions of Yondu by leaning into different aspects of Centauri culture and sets them up as diametrically opposed forces in both outlook and approach. The newer Yondu does share quite a bit in common with DC’s Lobo, but it’s never to the point where they feel like the same character. That said, the plotting does feel a bit thin - modern Yondu is his typical sleazeball self, stealing things and flipping them for a profit when an encounter with the Herald’s Urn sets him on a crash course with his distant ancestor. It’s the kind of Macguffin one might expect from a story like this, especially as the series cares about exploring the Odd Couple-esque pairing of its leads more than what it is they’re actually doing. But thankfully, Thompson and Nadler have a great handle on the characters individual voices, and that comes through almost immediately.

Thompson and Nadler aren’t doing the heady exploration into superhero psyche that we’ve seen some of their contemporaries do, but that’s because Yondu isn’t a superhero - at the end of the day, he’s a man just trying to survive in a universe that he probably cares about more than he lets on. McCrea is an artist who can incorporate great humor and worldbuilding into his work and the scripting has that in mind. Yondu surely doesn’t feel like essential reading yet, but it has the potential to be an interesting character study if done right.

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