Pullbox Reviews Space Ghost #1- The Cosmic Vigilante flies again, compliments of Dynamite Comics & David Pepose!

Cover A, by Francesco Mattina

Greed and corruption flourish in the darkness between stars. With the territories of the Galactic Federation spread far and wide across the vastness of space, pirates and hijackers ransack the distant colonies with cruel disregard for the innocent scientists living within them.

Yet there is a cosmic vigilante who metes out justice throughout the galaxy, bringing vengeance to those who prey upon the defenseless.

Some say he is a policeman who has abandoned the strictures of the law. Others say he is a phantom, the sole survivor of a war-torn planet. And those who have survived his wrath claim he is more a force of nature, able to bend the very elements of Creation to decimate his enemies.

They call him the SPACE GHOST – and his adventures begin here!

Boy, it really is a good time to be a comic/cartoon geek of a certain age. I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but the gates are open and everything old is new again. Dick Tracy, Flash Gordon, & Gatchaman from Mad Cave. Deathstalker from Vault. Savage Sword of Conan from Titan. And this week Dynamite is releasing a new Space Ghost, building on this old guy’s childhood, and creating new stories!

Who could possibly be willing to take on the monumental task of crafting a story around a guy who was the quintessential Hanna Barbera superhero, whose entirety is wrapped up in 42 original, one-and-done in seven to ten minutes episodes? Dynamite has tapped the talents of David “the Trope Killer” Pepose, creator of such indie favorites as Spencer & Locke, and Scout’s Honor. He’s since moved on to higher profile titles for Marvel with runs on Savage Avengers, The Punisher, and Moon Knight: City of the Dead. And now he’s taking on the cosmic vigilante, star of Saturday morning cartoons going back to 1966!

I’m not gonna lie, I was just a little sad when Pepose moved on to work for one of the Big 2. Nothing against anyone shooting for bigger things, but I though the man’s real talent was in comics where he had a free hand, where he could twist, spin, and occasionally crush expectations. And that’s where I think he might’ve found his happy place with Space Ghost. As mentioned, there isn’t much backstory to the character or the universe he lives in, just a series of shorts loosely tied together in the most barebones narrative I can imagine. As far as playing in someone else’s sandbox, this is as close to Pepose’s wheelhouse as it’s likely to get because there is so little about the character that’s known. My favorite element so far, where Pepose goes a little left of the center line? I’m loving that these epic space opera style characters all talk like cops and robbers from 60s & 70s movies.

Of course, for a title like this if the art doesn’t hold up, the house of cards could easily fall apart like that time Tiger ran into Peter, who fell into the table and ruined everyone’s day (kids, ask your parents what that means). Rest assured, in the hands of Jonathan Lau (artist) & Andrew Dalhouse (colorist), this series is going to look amazing. Some panels were a little too blended together, especially on the first page where a little more separation couldn’t have hurt(see below), but that’s a quibble I only bumped against once. Lau brings all of Space Ghost’s classic elements together, capturing his iconic imagery and dialing the badassery up to 11. The action is outstanding and has me hungry for more.

Sadly, Taylor Esposito likely won’t get the credit he deserves for his work, in this or any other comic. That’s because he’s embraced the Way of the Dragon and mastered the art of “Lettering Without Lettering”. Jack Kirby said it best when he pointed out that the top letterers will fade into the background, not calling attention to their work or doing anything to pull a reader out of the story. It’s like watching a foreign language movie with captions… at some point, if the movie is good enough, you forget that you’re reading and just slip into the story.

I can’t lie. Space Ghost was always going to be an easy sell for me. I watched the cartoons as a kid (although I passed on Coast to Coast… I never caught the appeal) & I’m very happy that his story will be given some depth. Fans old and new should have a lot to look forward to in the months ahead.

Final Score: 11/13

Cover B, by Jae Lee & June Chung
Cover C, Bjorn Barends
Cover D, by Michael Cho (my personal favorite)
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