Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Goran Parlov
Publisher: Image Comics
So here’s Mark Millar’s latest creator-owned comic. I haven’t tried anything of his since SUPERIOR, but I found this concept intriguing. This is the story of Duke McQueen, a former Air Force pilot. Decades ago, Duke was somehow sucked through a wormhole in space (we don’t get all the details yet) and ended up on a planet called Tantalus, where he defeated a brutal dictator named Typhon and became an intergalactic hero. Through flashbacks we get glimpses of his various battles, plus see him receiving a medal from a beautiful alien princess named Attala, who asks him to stay to rule by her side. But Duke returned to Earth, to be with his wife Joanne. As the story opens it’s the modern day, and Duke and his two grown sons are attending Joanne’s funeral.
Through narration, we see how difficult it is for Duke to go on about his daily life, it’s clear that he and Joanna were blissfully happy (after all, Duke gave up the chance to rule an alien civilization just to be back with her), and now he just isn’t sure what to do with himself. We flash-forward a year, it’s the anniversary of Joanna’s death, and Duke is planning a nice dinner with his sons and grandchildren, but both of them forget, and so he’s left alone. It’s like the whole world has just moved on without him. There’s one particularly effective scene, as Duke stairs at a wall full of newspaper clippings, while we also see his old space uniform hanging in the closet, and you can see how in the first panel the headlines are all about his claims of meeting aliens, then the next wall features headlines about how no one believed him, and his was forced to resign from the Air Force due to public ridicule. Although you do have to wonder why would he save THOSE articles? Then, as Duke stands alone, drinking, a spaceship lands in his front yard…
A most excellent first issue. Millar managed to restrain his baser impulses, and therefor there is no cursing, sex, or extreme violence in this issue (the worst it gets is a kick to the groin). He very effectively shows us how the melancholy of Duke’s mundane life, contrasted nicely with the exciting space adventures of his youth. Parlov’s artwork is fantastic, it fits the tone of the story perfectly, and I also have single-out colorist Ive Svorcina for his work. It’s very subtle, not too overwhelming but definitely noticeable, how whenever we get a flashback to Duke on Tantulas the colors are slightly brighter, compared to the pages set on Earth in the present, where it’s more muted. It’s a nice tough. All in all, this series is off to a great start.