Review by Frank Plowright
Cosmic Guard saw almost suicidal twelve year old human orphan Ray Torres given a chance in a billion, and selected to be trained for the galaxy’s protectors the Cosmic Guard. Although a novice, he’s already distinguished himself, and during his sleep he can communicate with the spirits of his predecessors.
Despite the background elements, this is lighter science-fiction than the work Jim Starlin’s known for, aimed at the young adult market with a relatable young hero, and while there are threats and danger, they’re countered by Ray’s sparkly personality. The intention is that he present himself to the American President and introduce the idea of being a planetary protector, but as seen on the sample art, the US secret services view anything and everything as a threat. They’re not the only danger to Ray. It’s already been noted the Cosmic Guard have an ongoing conflict with the Genociders, and there’s a third party, an immensely powerful individual with their own agenda, which isn’t always apparent.
Starlin doesn’t only add villains to the cast, but more of Ray’s super-powered predecessors, all aliens and all manifesting as voices in his head during sleep. They’re used well when Ray’s awake also, commenting on the mistakes he’s making, particularly when Ray underestimates a threat that could grow well beyond his power scale. Artistically when not Kid Kosmos, Ray still sometimes looks as if he’s been transferred from a different story, not meshing very well with his surroundings or the assorted aliens, but everything else is solid. Starlin’s assorted aliens are nicely designed and have personalities, while scale has been a constant in his art.
The stories, and there are several connected in Kidnapped, are equally creative in presenting threats, and feature Ray out of his depth, but resourceful enough to find solutions others haven’t considered. With the adventure taken care of, Starlin adds humanity via Ray’s new friends and a search to locate his birth parents. Presumably intended as a continuing series but curtailed due to lack of sales, Kidnapped ends on a downbeat note with much of the bigger picture never resolved. It’s a shame, but there’s enough fun and creativity on show to make Kidnapped worth reading anyway, especially if you’ve enjoyed Starlin’s other work.