Multifaceted and multi-award-winning comic book writer Mark Millar is no stranger to wildly successful comic books and Hollywood film adaptations. His notable resume highlights being a creative force behind X-Men, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Old Man Logan, Kick-Ass, Wanted, Kingsman, Swamp Thing, Superman, and the wildly popular Marvel’s Civil War.
Space Bandits, Millar’s newest sci-fi venture (in collaboration with Image Comics and Netflix) with artist Matteo Scalera, follows two female “super felons” in a space pirate type adventure, leading to deception and clearly foreshadows a revenge factor — always a good recipe when cooking up science fiction.
The cover and first few pages deliver an ’80s trip back to Miami Vice vibe. And “Hello,” we have a spaceship named ‘The Lionel Richie’. With a tropical color palette accenting creative splashes of bright pinks, purples, magentas, oranges. blues, and teals, the colorful pages scream to life and guarantee wild escapades ahead.
Characterizing the Bandits
We’re introduced to Cody Blue, a witty, badass lady with an equally badass pet lizard that has, let’s say, special abilities. Blue is the mastermind of a crew known as the “four biggest outlaws in the galaxy.” Although she’s known as the brains of the operation, she can handle herself in the physicality department also.
The aforementioned Lionel Richie is a space haven for mostly newlywed couples with deep pockets who are blinded by love. Cody and her outlaw crew attempt a grand caper, but an unfortunate turn toward backstabbing and betrayal leads the feisty Blue on a collision course towards retribution.
Skip ahead to a galactic ghetto setting: This is a densely populated area, ridden with crime and corruption, known as the ‘Molly Ringwald District.’ Here, we meet the green-haired Thena Khole (maybe she is pretty in pink, who knows). Thena is a mischievous soul, as her ne’er-do-well partner, Viggo Lust (also, owner of a great name).
These two have been at the scam game for quite some time, hopping from place-to-place in space, pulling off countless schemes of crime. Something was different about the last time though. It led to betrayal and another reason for vengeance.
The pages look ripped right from the storyboards of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. To make things even more interesting, throw in some space speeders circa Return of the Jedi, and enter a promise of a grand space drama unfolding before our eyes.
Mysterious characters with a deep story to tell. Tales of woe and chaos, with a touch of humanity. A journey that would make a roller coaster enthusiast dizzy. And art clearly comes from the pen of a master.
The careful attention to the world being built, along with the plot development and characterization of the space pirates, action of these cool speeders, the captivating prison and underworld settings–everything is laced with dynamic line-work and beautiful color variations on the secondary scheme (purple, orange, green). Marcelo Maiolo is a genius of color placement and illustration.
This comic was born for the big screen (or maybe better, the small screen, as a Netflix series) and it will likely spawn a new comic book franchise with grander visions in its future!
What’s the Picture on Image?
These days, most of us are familiar with two main comic franchises, and a couple of indies working hard to garner your attention (e.g., Dark Horse, Aftershock, IDW Entertainment). Among the top of that “secondary” heap is Image Comics.
Maybe you have heard of Marc Silvestri? Jim Lee? Erik Larsen? Well, I know you know Todd McFarlane. Well, Image is them. Space Bandits is them also. It’s like a song that “catches on.” Or, a video that “goes viral.” Just because you have never heard of something, doesn’t mean it wasn’t something before you heard of it.
Follow any one of the people mentioned in this review and they will all bring you to Space Bandits. There is a ton of talent in comics today, and they are all being challenged to push the envelope because of the cash grab Marvel–and to a lesser extent, DC–has been able to create in this genre.
If we want these “indie” brands to succeed, we need to give them a chance by looking at a fantastic story, seeing admirable art, and striving for a little bit of the mainstream public’s attention. With work like Space Bandits, it’s clear to see what Mark Millar sees–not all the cosmic growth comes from Stan Lee’s brain. Check the galaxy. You’ll see some of us there waiting for some streaming giant to pick up a comic, enjoy it, and make it into something extraordinary.
Again, that’s Space Bandits.
IMAGE COMICS INC.
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DESIGN AND PRODUC TION
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VARIANT COVER ARTISTS:
HOWARD CHAYKIN WITH WIL QUINTANA
BRYAN HITCH WITH MIKE SPICER