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This Week's Pig (Part 1): Darkstar and the Winter Guard #1

Written by Lee Newman on Tuesday, June 01 2010 and posted in Reviews

The pigrace ended in a tie , so in part one of this week's pig reviews, Lee takes a look at the Russian Avengers and takes a little come uppance from the writer...

Comic Review Cover

Credits & Solicit Info:

Darkstar and the Winter Guard #1
Written by David Gallaher
Pencils by Steve Ellis
Inks by Scott Hanna
Colors by Val Staples
Letters by Scott O. Brown
Cover by Clayton Henry
Published by Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99
Release Date: 6/3/2010

THE WINTER GUARD IS BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND! The Harvey Award-winning team of David Gallaher and Steve Ellis reunite to bring you the harrowing adventures of Russia's elite strikeforce! Atlantean warlord Krang has brutally invaded the coast of Russia and only the Winter Guard has what it take to stop his diabolical plan…but their actions just might have dire consequences for Russia and the rest of the world. Guest-starring the Agents of Atlas! Rated T


The problem with a comic book about characters that haven’t shown up a whole lot is that no one knows who they are. Well, let me rephrase that. The problem with a comic book about characters that haven’t shown up a whole lot is that only the most diehard fans know them; the rest of us will be somewhat lost. There is an attempt about half way through this issue to explain who these characters are and it is sufficient in that purpose. This is all well and good until you realize that the majority of the comic to this point is designed to show you why they matter.  Then after they are properly introduced to the reader, they are thrust into some cosmic mess that is muddled in both the art and the script.

The Winter Guard is a simple enough concept. They are the Russian Superheroes, kind of like the Avengers. In the past, they have worked to maintain their borders during the Civil War and maybe even during Secret Invasion. All I know is they have appeared here and there throughout the past seven years.

Let’s fast forward to now; the team is made up a of a rookie Crimson Dynamo, a rookie Darkstar, Ursa Major, and a cyborg Red Guardian, who is very much like Reed Richards. By the time the book gets around to doing any character work with them, they have been portrayed pretty much the same with different power sets. Maybe that’s the idea with a “Red” super hero team, but it seems a little cliché and a little 1950ish to me, but whatever.

The characterization isn’t even the problem here. It is the sheer amount of stuff thrown at you. I am all for not decompressing comics needlessly and making them worth whatever price tag the company slaps arbitrarily on the cover. Problem is, there is no natural flow here. It all feels hurky jerky like a poorly edited movie. Maybe even an amateurish one at that. There is a team up with the Agents of Atlas, the Guard’s home life, a mysterious narrator talking all doom and gloom at some future celebration, some political intrigue about the team, and then cosmic stuff, old allies and alternate realities. It feels like it should be a giant sized full of short stories instead of a 26 pager with ONE story.

The art is nothing spectacular. Other than the big cosmic scene towards the end, when the team appears to be fighting the asteroid from Armageddon, it is fairly serviceable. It will appeal to those of you who dig the look of X-Men Forever or Spider-Girl.

Unfortunately, this book feels unimportant and when that happens you need to make up for it with great storytelling or phenomenal art. In the end, this one has neither. It is further saddled down by a back up reprint story that seems like it promises to give insight into the main attraction but is being serialized as well and as such ends before any of its own questions are answered, much less any from the main story.


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