ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Space Bandits,’ Issue #5 (of 5)

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Space Bandits #5

Space Bandits #5 is the final issue of Mark Millar’s punk science fiction adventure with art from Matteo Scalera, colors by Marcelo Maiolo, and letters by Clem Robins. A comic series filled with a hybrid of the 80s and cyberpunk fashion styling, Space Bandits has easily been one of my favorite comics of the year. If you’re only now catching up,  the limited series from Image Comics follows Thena Khole and Cody Blue, who two of the universe’s most wanted. Having landed themselves on a prison planet after each being betrayed by their partners, the pair take to the skies to get their revenge on the guys who did them wrong.

For Thena, who ended up betrayed by her boyfriend after a heist gone wrong, the love has waned and she’s just angry. For Cody, who was left to die after pulling off the biggest heist of her career, she’s ready to methodically hunt down each and every name on her list. Together, Thena and Cody represent two halves of a whole, where the former uses her body as a weapon, she’s the emotional brawn while the latter is a strategist, thinking smart and not hard as the two work their way through the galaxy killing her old partners.

Last issue saw Cody marking off the third person on her list after killing Drax and Old Man Skinner. Last issue, the pair took on Bowser Weex but with their revenge plot coming to an end,  the two women struggle to find the path to Kaiser who is keeping himself hidden. But, when Viggo showed up on the television they took off to get Thena’s revenge from the blue-conman thats now scamming a princess. But as the issue ends, we see that Viggo is working with Kaiser and things are about to come to a head.

Now, in Space Bandits #5 this tale of revenge is coming to an end, it’s time for the women to complete a heist, unknowingly being puppets for Viggo and Kaiser as they prepare to rip the two women off one last time. Thena is seemingly back in love with the guy who got her put in prison and although Cody is planning the heist in great detail, she seems to be less thorough in asking questions about the Princess of Most and how Viggo ended up there. This implicit trust and Thena’s ability to quickly ignore the pain Viggo put her through was initially frustrating. That said, Millar moves the agency back into the women’s hands when cunning Cody winds up on top after Kaiser shows up.

Space Bandits #5 is perfect ending and truthfully it’s the most immersive world I’ve entered in comics this year. The series is gorgeous, vibrant, and violent with a story that pulls you in and develops its main characters Thena and Cody in dynamic ways.

Cody is by far one of the best characters I’ve seen brought to life in comics. She’s strategic and calculated, making moves on her own for the greater good of her duo, moving them to victory. Cody is equal parts Johnny Ocean and Indiana Jones, choosing to use a gun in a sword fight and knowing her own limits, the latter of which allows her to tip the scales in her favor.

Thena is the brawn and she’s driven by her body, a stark difference to Cody by never done in a way that exploits her identity as a woman. Instead, Even when love-struck, Thena doesn’t hesitate to take back control, both of her sexuality and her strength. The pair are perfect together, even if only Cody is perfect alone – well, alone with Cosmo, her white lizard.

While Millar’s character crafting is what keeps the book cohesive and interesting across five issues, its Scalera’s art that creates a cyberpunk world that brings the best of glam rock aesthetic that adds character, humor, horror, and action in a way that works perfectly. The creative team has been in sync since issue number one and Space Bandits #5 is no different. The magical artwork from Scalera is enhanced with the balance between monochromatic panels that add tension to vibrant backdrops from Maiolo’s colors.

It’s Scalera and Maiolo’s work on the Princess of Most, bathed in blood, that is one of the most horrific and beautiful panels that works without breaking the cyrberpunk aesthetic of the book. I’m in love with every page. Space Bandits #5, while ending its story in a complete way also opens the door for a sequel series. I for one, can’t wait to ride with Thena and Cody again, my new favorite sci-fi comic team.

Space Bandits #5 is available wherever comics are sold on Nov. 6, 2019.

Space Bandits #5 
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TL;DR

Space Bandits #5, while ending its story in a complete way also opens the door for a sequel series. I for one, can’t wait to ride with Thena and Cody again, my new favorite sci-fi comic team.