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‘Black Order: The Warmasters of Thanos’ review

Pushing the characters forward, whether the MCU likes it or not.

I hate all the new Black Order toys and statues.

You know why? Because they’ve been in the comics for such a short period of time, all we’re getting are the movie versions everyone on Earth knows, and those will now become the definitive “looks” for the characters everywhere. I mean, I wasn’t even the biggest fan of Jonathan Hickman’s Infinity, but still, it’s kind of sad to see brand new creations changed by other media before they even get started.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those people who whines about film interpretations affecting comic canon. And it’s not like the Cull Obsidian were all that well-developed to begin with; they were kind of a blank slate. Maybe I just miss Proxima Midnight’s headgear.

Black Order: The Warmasters of Thanos respects the comics continuity and keeps the helmet intact, while drawing all kinds of new, crazy interpretations on that blank slate, Infinity War depictions be damned.

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Writer Derek Landy opens the five-issue volume spotlighting the group’s leader (in the comics), Corvus Glaive, who happens to be a … secret jokester? Blank slate or not, that seems to be playing a little fast and loose with believability. The whole issue itself is fairly funny, making you wonder why the usual-novelist doesn’t do more comics work.

Each subsequent issue tackles a different member of the Black Order (including newish addition Black Swan), with fewer surprises, more often than not. Fans of the Ebony Maw’s manipulation, in particular, will not be disappointed. Black Dwarf is another curveball, though, for actually speaking, for one, and for showing some heretofore unseen ambition and … amorous tendencies?

Weirdly, though, Landy’s greatest victory may be his ancillary characters and the lore-building he’s done, adding some new weapons and races to the Marvel Universe. The rebels the Black Order assist (for their own gains, of course) are wonderfully cheesy, and the evil, lecherous dictator who can’t remember that his assistant’s brother died may be the breakout. Not to mention the brainwashed Nova corpsman, who isn’t sure if he likes being bad or not.

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The art by Phillip Tan, Harvey Tolibao and Carlos Magno is … mixed. The figures are often beautifully rendered, but the action jumps between the starts and ends, making it hard to discern the juicy stuff. Jay David Ramos, Rachelle Rosenberg, Israel Silva and Dono Sánchez-Almara color by committee, and the result is almost unavoidable inconsistency. The warm colors of the dictator bring a telltale tone, but the blues on the Black Order themselves don’t elicit much of a reaction.

Black Order: The Warmasters of Thanos is a fun, sometimes-compelling story of kinda familiar characters with a lot of room for growth. Will later creators adhere to anything Landy’s laid down here, or utilize his new creations? Who’s to say, but taken on its own (as it should be), this unique volume is enjoyable, as long as you’re okay with someone shaking the Etch A Sketch a bit.

And leaving Supergiant out, yet again.

Black Order: The Warmasters of Thanos
Is it good?
It's an interesting take on characters without a lot of development, but who knows if it'll go anywhere. The plot itself is interesting, too, helped in no small part by the creative team's original creations.
Spotlights on each member
Hewing to comics continuity while moving things forward
Cool original characters and world-building
Nicely-drawn figures
You may not like these new characterizations, and who knows if they'll go anywhere
Some tonal shifts can feel sudden
Action scenes skip a lot of the real action
Colors are inconsistent
7
Good
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