In the midst of blood and battle, a moment unfolds, a human moment – in words, lines and colors.
Guardians of Knowhere #3Publisher: Marvel
Length: 19 pages
Author: Brian Michael Bendis, Mike Deodato, Frank Martin
Publication Date: 2015-10
There is one page in Guardians of Knowhere #3, one page and eight panels. Nothing else matters. One page. Eight panels.
Gamora is all in green against a background of pure white. Angela, Asgard's Assassin, is red like fury against a starry field the color of fire.
They are talking about faith, about Gamora's lack.
Bendis, Deodato and Martin—they all deserve credit here. A moment unfolds, a human moment—in words, lines and colors. In Gamora's doubt, we see shame and uncertainty—then courage. In Angela's faith, we see judgment and anger—then dismay.
A stalwart defender of the faith confronts disbelief and blasphemy in another, another whom she respects and admires. Faith meets unbelief. Certainty meets skepticism. Judging by the look on her face, we know that Angela's faith may never again be the same.
It is the contagion of unbelief that she faces, the threat of skepticism. It is the promise of reformation, the dawning birth of enlightenment.
All in one page. Eight panels.
In Guardians of Knowhere #3, Bendis and Deodato give us plenty of blood and broken bones. It begins as Yotat the Destroyer of the Destroyer drags the bloodied and scarred body of Drax through the dirt. Then it is all lightning strikes and hammer blows, then fists and bloody bodies in the dirt.
The Nova Corps arrive to clean up the mess and, for a moment, testosterone and ego portend a new and bloodier battle.
Then it is back to hammer against sword, lightning and fury, blood and blood and more blood.
Bendis fills the story with action and humor and personality that pauses only briefly to mourn the dead. These heroes, these Guardians of Knowhere, protect the innocent on the moon of Battleworld, the head of a giant celestial being that was slain by God Doom in the ancient of days. The moon of Knowhere hangs in the sky as a constant reminder of the power of his might, of the strength of his glory.
Praise Doom from whom all blessings flow.
The Guardians protect the people from the crime and murder that Yotat represents, evil that is a sure challenge to Doom's omnipotence, evil that lies curled like a snake in the heart of Knowhere.
Gamora, she just wants to escape. She just wants to see the world for what it is. She doesn't believe in Doom, doesn't believe in the stories of old, doesn't believe that he is God.
Deodato's artwork is exceptionally fine. His page layouts are vibrant but solid, challenging but sure. His battle scenes are electrifying and fluid. And, most importantly of all, his human interactions are telling and true. I am reminded on nearly every page of the legendary Gene Colan (a legend for a reason). Reminded in the movement and shadows of Deodato's lines. Reminded in the balance that Deodato finds between the immateriality of forms in motion and the reality and strength of bodies standing face to face and speaking heart to heart.
Then there is that one page, those eight panels; that look on Gamora's face in that moment when she dares to raise her eyes to meet Angela's accusing stare; the face of Angela when the reality of Gamora's sin dawns on her, the look that betrays her own sudden anger and fear, her own sudden unbelief.
"If Doom is not our Lord and you are not living off his generosity and power," Angela asks, "then what is there…?"
Then Gamora, with a single emerald tear: "I don’t know."
Then it is sword against hammer, lightning's fire against hardened fists.
"You don't even know why you fight!!!" Gamora shouts. "Think for yourself! Decide for yourself!"
Then Angela, the believer, is the one demanding proof: "Show me one small bit of proof that you have not been driven mad by your own power!"
I thought it pretty brave when Hickman and company decided to tell a story with Doctor Doom in the role of God. It seems even gutsier to play that out to its logical end and to tell stories of faith and of doubt. If they are going to do it, I have thought from the very beginning, then they had better do it well. They had better show the depths of faith's comforts and challenges as well as the thrill and terror that both reside at the heart of doubt's promise.
I never would have guessed that could be done in just one page. One page. Eight panels.