"Secret Wars" is providing readers with some interesting couplings, match-ups and revisited stories. Such is the case with "Korvac Saga," which brings forward some characters from the original Avengers-based epic of the 1970s. Writer Dan Abnett establishes the neighboring domains of the Forest Hills and the Holy Wood and quickly introduces readers to the Guardians of the Forest Hills (although they are simply dubbed "Guardians"), who actually hail from the "Guardians 3000" comic Abnett recently penned.
Drawn by Otto Schmidt, "Korvac Saga" #1 includes an appearance by Emil Blonksy, as the barons of the neighboring domains come together to discuss accords. The meeting is hosted by the Forest Hills, whose baron is Michael Korvac. The retinue from the Holy Wood is a cast of Avengers from the 1970s at the beck and call of Baron Simon Williams. Blonsky provides the conflict for the issue, while Abnett fills the pages with introductions, both in the story and to the readers.
Schmidt's art is sketchy, with lines indicating shape and definition, rather than shading or cross-hatching describing the contours. The end result is a set of drawings that is very stylistic and works well for the Guardians and the Avengers, but isn't crisp enough to propel the storytelling beyond shadowy, shallow shape work. The artist uses plenty of lines to intimate detail, also working in last dark patches to provide semblance of form, but the overall appearance is not the most prolific means for depicting organic beings in active adventures. Some pieces work, like the assembling of Williams' squad, but other pieces are hindered by excessive lines, like Charlie-27 charging at Blonsky.
Schmidt has some instances of inconsistency, such as the story mentioning Major Victory's shield, which Schmidt draws on the Major's left forearm in the panels prior to and after the mention, but -- during that discussion -- the shield is nowhere to be seen. There's a small, fraction of a sliver that the absence might be story driven but, as it happens early in the issue, it is a story speed bump, distracting the reader and disrupting the flow.
Cris Peter's colors are bright and bold, as is proper for the Guardians and the Avengers, but -- like Schmidt's art -- they occasionally overdo it. The skies become too candy-colored and the lighting is off enough to make some of the color choices seem mismatched, with Nicholette Gold (formerly known as Nikki) both changing uniform color and blending into the surroundings midstream. Clayton Cowles' letters are fine, on target and smoothly work with the story flow. The declaration of "ASSEMBLE!" is the lettering highlight of the issue. Cowles uses a nice range of size and weight throughout, as fits the drama of the story.
"Korvac Saga" #1 serves up a wonderful array of fun characters and concepts, using the "Secret Wars" formula to take a familiar concept and cast a new spin on them. The story clearly has more to offer veteran readers who remember the original "Korvac Saga" tale but has plenty to hold most readers' interests. Schmidt's art is a bit rough for the story, but his characters are distinct and his storytelling mostly clear. Some bumps in this first issue might feel their way out before subsequent issues, and there is certainly enough potential in the plot and participants of "Korvac Saga" #1 to warrant a check-in with the second issue.