Stories about the fractured perspective through which we view historical figures are persistently fascinating, even if they come from fictional histories. Exploring how great cultural changes and scientific developments don’t exactly happen overnight allow audiences to marvel at the humble beginnings of what would eventually cascade into a revolution in humanity. To a certain degree, Yondu #1 operates under a similar premise while also managing to bring the comic book Marvel Universe a smidgen closer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Yondu #1 starts off like many of the unusually large number of space pirate comics that have been filling the shelves the last few years. We find a grizzled version of a character we know in some capacity, some massive lifestyle change occurs, and then our hero is sent on an adventure involving a MacGuffin. As well-trod as that territory might seem, it doesn't make this issue bad by any means.
In fact, Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler's script is leaps and bound more entertaining than something with a similar tone like Image Comics' miniseries Sharkey the Bounty Hunter, and it is certainly on par with some of the recent Firefly comics from BOOM! Studios, if not a tad better.
Thompson and Nadler take their time establishing the turmoil in the titular Guardian's life. All the hallmarks of a burned out warrior hero are present: excessive drinking, eating junk food and somehow having a little too much weight and washboard abs. However, things get thrown out of whack when Yondu discovers a powerful artifact, one that could be of great galactic importance... or at least fetch him a few bucks for drinking money.
Things get even weirder when one of his descendant from a far-flung future travels back in time to help Yondu become the great man the time-traveler's history recalls. The version of Yondu on the page is basically a cross between Michael Rooker's brilliant on screen portrayal of the character in the MCU and James Cromwell's take on the deeply flaws Zefram Cochrane , as opposed to the icon of spaceflight he's remembered as, in Star Trek: First Contact.
The reason this may all sound like a bunch of familiar science fiction scenarios and tossed into a big blue blender and slowly poured out over the spread of 22 pages, is because that is exactly what Yondu #1 happens to be. It's a hodgepodge of tried and true storytelling devices repackaged in a well-written first issue that stars an inherently compelling protagonist who has cemented his place in the pop culture zeitgeist with all of those "I'm Mary Poppins, y'all" memes from a few years ago. This issue feels tailored to readers who are mostly familiar with the character from his onscreen presence and wish to expand their horizons, and for that purpose, Yondu #1 is pretty much perfect.
As long as you know who this blue jerk with a head fin is, then you're ready to go, which can't be said for the vast majority of superhero comics that are billed as a perfect jumping on point.
The biggest draw of this book for many might be John McCrea on art duties. The Hitman artist has been an industry staple for decades and he has given us some outstanding contributions to the graphic medium. As usual, McCrea is doing fantastic work in Yondu #1. There are very few artists who handle drawing space junk with such gravitas. His character designs are angular and dynamic. They feel almost elastic despite their sharp angles and bold inks, and the pacing of each page is also very well done. McCrea makes the most out of the few splash pages or big half-page reveal panels and does so with the grace of a truly seasoned veteran.
Yondu #1 is a fun read and the start of what could be a great miniseries. John McCrea's artwork is stellar, and Thompson and Nadler's script is tight and some of the best work they've done in recent memory. While some readers my be irked by the familiarity of the issue, the execution is too spot-on to see it as a negatively derivative. It's a flarkin' good time.