In the first scene of “Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde” #1, Sam Humphries and Alti Firmansyah make it clear that this “Secret Wars” title is going to be light-hearted. The first two scenes are the funniest, best parts of the issue. Star-Lord’s opening line, “If I tell you about my new job, will you promise not to laugh?” delivers amply on its promise. Humphries and Firmansyah’s version of Drax for this universe is hilarious, and so is the joke about Disney movie songs. The Disney reference is apt, too. Firmansyah’s clean style and big-eyed faces make the whole cast look like Disney characters, and Jessica Kholinne’s bright palette reinforces that impression. The plotline is like a romantic comedy: boy loses girl, but then she walks back into his life and doesn’t remember him. Of course, he must win her back.
Very little actually happens in the first issue, beyond establishing the basics of who and where. Some of Firmansyah’s reaction shots don’t fit the pacing and feel unnecessary, like the close-up of Kitty’s eyes after Gambit’s accusation of a setup. The action also feels decompressed and insubstantial because, after the opening scenes, it’s much more predictable. Gambit’s inclusion in the plot is purely functional. He’s there to give Kitty a reason for being there too. Unfortunately, Black Market Gambit is upstaged by Big Hair Drax, and Kitty’s actions are bland and predictably on-mission. She’s less likable here than in the regular Marvel universe, because she’s a resistant sweetheart rather than an earnest point-of-view character. Gambit and Kitty’s conversations also feel mechanical and transparently expository. Despite Gambit’s antics and flirtation and the appearance of an imaginatively grisly prize artifact, much of the action in the middle of the issue feels like filler.
Although Kitty Pryde shares star billing in the title, this is really Peter Quill’s show. The plot follows him, and it is his thoughts and emotional state that the reader shares. Although it’s cliched, the nightclub setting is crucial to the opening scene and quickly establishes Peter’s outsized personality. Humphries’ characterization of Peter is more likable than his personality during the recent “Black Vortex” event. Here, he is goofy, excitable and sincere — much more like his “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie portrayal. Much credit goes to Firmansyah, too. She brings back his boyishness, giving his face open demeanor that highlights his eager heart. The exaggerated facial expressions and flaily body language are all delightful to follow and add a lot to the humor.
The big concept of “Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde” is their romance. So far, Peter’s emotions are convincing, but he doesn’t have a willing dance partner. Peter and Kitty don’t have obvious chemistry on the page yet. The cliffhanger ending has a neat twist, but it’s also an obvious contrivance to keep the leads in the same room for the next issue.
“Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde” #1 is a charming beginning with strong humor, but future issues will need much more in the way of Kitty’s characterization for the central romance to (re)ignite.