Marvel has opened up the Pandora’s box of the Wastelands with a series of one-shots called Wastelanders. So far, Hawkeye and Wolverine have gotten the focus, which has turned out to be good check-ins for the characters. This week, Star-Lord takes center stage, but it’s far more X-Men-focused than you might think. Rich Douek and Brent Peeples are joining forces in a spiritual journey for the hero that ends up satisfying in surprising ways.
This issue opens with Star-Lord on his way to Westchester, New York. Avid Marvel readers will remember Star-Lord was once in a romantic relationship with Kate Pryde, which Douek explores well here. We also get a reminder that Star-Lord saved many the day the heroes died. His emotional story is what gets the strongest arc in this issue, which ends up moving forward his perspective a bit.
If you’re a fan of the X-Men, be aware many of the most popular mutants show up in this story. I’ll say no more to avoid spoilers, but Peeples draws a hell of a core team with great colors by Cris Peter. This is a darker story in tone and there are some twisted visages of these characters.
The big hook of the story ends up being satisfying, too. It connects with the X-Men as well as Star-Lord, which ends up making sense for the story. The Wastelanders stories have leaned into the alternate reality aspect and the fun of not knowing who or what might show up. This issue delivers on that. The resolution comes a bit too easily, but the story is more about Star-Lord enduring a trial of familiar but very dead faces, which works.
Similar to the other Wastelanders stories, it’s difficult to understand why this book was made. It’s hard to believe there are fans who want more stories from this universe, so the buy-in isn’t clear. If you like Marvel’s What If…? or Elseworlds tales it’s a fun side adventure, but unless there are big plans for this corner of the Marvel universe it’s a story that’s well told, but not necessary.
Aside from this, the story could have taken bigger swings. What is on the page is good, but it could have used a splashier moment or a development that sent Star-Lord elsewhere in the Xavier Mansion.
It’s almost too bad Wastelanders: Star-Lord didn’t come out before Christmas since it has a Ghost of Christmas Past vibe to it. Star-Lord must encounter some old but familiar faces and must reflect on what happened. The self-discovery he goes through is a nice reminder as we close out 2021 with heavy hearts we must carry on with our lives.
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