For Star-Lord, some tunes are worth traveling “Across the Universe.”
More than just a Peter Quill one-and-done story (even though it is a Peter Quill one-and-done story), writer Gerry Duggan and artist Chris Samnee deftly structure issue #5 to set up possibilities for the next story arc and provide more connective tissue between the comics and the Guardians of the Galaxy films, even as they remain separate continuities. The good news is that Marvel has provided a continuity worth following.
Peter’s exchange with a Nova Corps agent establishes several future plot points, including the Corps’ efforts to recruit new officers, the fact that no one in the universe is fond of Earthlings, the Corps is in immediate trouble, and the current status of Thanos. Duggan reinforces the notion that Earthlings are reviled throughout the universe via a humorous exchange with two Benvarians later in the issue.
Duggan’s smart script also gives us an interesting technological tidbit about Peter’s use of cassette tapes. Downloading the entire catalog of Earth’s music history would be an easy task given the technology available to him, but Peter enjoys the impermanence of the physical media: “I like analog. It degrades over time. Like we do.” Despite his mixed feelings regarding Earth, Peter’s fondness for its music and the format of his mother’s final gifts have made a permanent impression on his personality that Duggan uses to propel this fun adventure.
A worn-out cassette tape leads Peter on a merry chase to replace the song he lost, establishing the second half of the issue as one of a personal quest. The issue is titled, “Across the Universe,” a reference to the Beatles tune of the same name that was recorded in 1968. Duggan structures Peter’s path through space (and time) literally in pursuit of the song he lost to echo the song’s lyrics:
“Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes / They call me on and on across the universe”
Samnee’s understated artistic style is a welcome addition to this title. His straightforward panel construction sets a pace for each scene that effortlessly moves from frantic to reflective.
Matthew Wilson’s vibrant colors mark a dramatic change from Samnee’s recent (and awesome) run on Black Widow where thick inks and dark shading reflected the covert nature of the character. With this title, Star-Lord is in his element and enjoying life, hence the use of finer lines and allowing Wilson to stretch a bit and use a bright color palette (much the way they did with the run on Daredevil).
As with all of Samnee’s work, attention to the small details in his panels reveal story elements that you’ll miss on the first reading. For example, Peter says the box he’s carrying contains a gyroscope Rocket needs to build a mech. But the Nova agent is surprised when he reads the box label. It’s a subtle, small detail in one panel, but it’s enough to make you wonder what’s really in that box.
Duggan’s entertaining script pairs beautifully with Samnee’s captivating visuals in an issue that proves the quality of the journey is the destination.