Space Bandits, published by Image Comics in partnership with Netflix, is the latest science fiction addition to Mark Millar’s Millarworld titles and has entered its second issue. Written by Millar, this cyberpunk limited series has wonderfully punky art from Mattero Scalera, colors by Marvelo Maiolo, and letters by Clem Robbins. Soon to be a live action Netflix show, Space Bandits blew me away with its inaugural issue last month. Here, readers were introduced to Thena Khloe and Cody Blue, being shown their competency in robbery and conning, and ultimately, we see them betrayed.
In the last issue, Thena was abandoned by her boyfriend. She had completed many heists that resulted in her being captured and later be saved by him crashing the prison ship. But this time he didn’t come, leaving her to face the consequences as he ran off with the loot.
Then there is Cody. The leader of a crew made up of the strongest gang members from across the galaxy, Cody was in charge of one of the largest heists, until her people betrayed her, leaving her for dead. Issue one served as the perfect set-up, and now in Space Bandits #2, the women have met each other, and now its all about picking the right fights as the two make their way towards escaping the fantastical Crustacean Penal Colony – a prison colony on an actual giant crustacean in space.
In Space Bandits #2 we see the women begin their partnership and learn more about each other. Millar’s dialogue effortlessly utilizes exposition in their conversations that answer some questions that I had after the first issue. Namely, how did Cody survive? How much time has passed? And ultimately, why would two strangers choose to work together?
This issue spans over a month of time, a jump that can be difficult to pull off, especially after just two issues. That being said, it’s pulled off without a hitch. Regardless of the time jump, the information given on the characters and their situation is more than enough to buy into their escape plan and their need for revenge. At only five issues, the pacing is set. With most mini-series, I’m always worried about getting a complete story. With only five issues, building out a new science fiction world is a tall order, but Millar accomplishes it. We learn about our leads, Cosmo, the adorable endangered white lizard, and the giant crustacean the women are held on.
Scalera shows an amazing understanding of fight choreography in his panels. Impact, movement, and the bodies of the characters all flow in a dynamic way that simulates movement perfectly. The perfect example is in the opening of the issue. We get to see Thena training, throwing a powerful punch into a bag. This image flows as Scalera illustrates her followthrough. The way her body is drawn shows her legs propelling her, powering her arms. It’s details like this that make Scalera’s art sing.
Beyond the movement of Scalera’s character design, the fashion of this issue must be applauded. The clothing the women wear are extensions of their personality. Thena, the brawler, wears loose clothes that prioritize movement, and a little bit of a Tankgirl for good measure. Cody is the leader, the strategist, buttoned-up refined, unbothered. The two complement each other and as we move towards their path of revenge. Scalera’s art is the hero of the story.
Maiolo’s colors are phenomenal. They’re a hyper-saturated neon dream that works so well with the genre of the book. Some panels are full color while others pick two and stick to them for impact. The colors of the impacts add weight to the fight scenes, making the punches powerful and whimsical at the same time.
The creative team behind Space Bandits is perfection. The series shows an understanding of cyberpunk aesthetics and science fiction tropes in a way that empowers the narrative. And let’s be honest, Thena and Cody are just badass. If you haven’t picked it up yet, Space Bandits #2 is a must-read for science fiction fans.
Space Bandits #2 is available everywhere on August 7, 2019.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.