Guardians of the Galaxy #1 (2013)
The highly anticipated return of the galaxy’s last line of defence arrives with an epic opening. Does it live up to the hype?
It’s clear that the Guardians of the Galaxy are here to form the backbone of Marvel’s plans for 2013. Already getting a significant intro in Marvel NOW! Point One and a series of vignettes in Marvel’s digital-only Infinite Comics, this debut issue launches with all of the force of a blockbuster. For many, who have been sorely missing these characters since their last cliffhanger appearance in 2010’s Thanos Imperative miniseries, this attention is entirely justified. After all, with their big-screen debut next year in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they are soon to be more than just fan favourites. So as this first chapter of a new series begins, we are left with more questions than answers.
When Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s (“DnA”) phenomenal run concluded, Star Lord Peter Quill and Nova Corp hero Richard Rider were left trapped in the Cancerverse on a suicide mission to take down Thanos. Drax the Destroyer had previously been killed after a run-in with the same big bad, only for the entire party to reappear without editorial explanation in the pages of Bendis’s own Avengers Assemble. How exactly did our heroes manage to literally crawl their way back from Death’s clutches?
Set some time after those fateful events, a returned and re-uniformed Peter Quill is warned by his father, a member of alien royalty, that the Earth is now off-limits to all. Fearing that this is red rag to a bull of a galaxy, Quill’s assembled team of self-proclaimed guardians fly to Earth. Gamora – the deadliest women in the galaxy, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon and anthropomorphic tree Groot join forces with a wandering Iron Man to head off some invading Badoon. However, they immediately suspect that Quill’s father has orchestrated Peter’s presence at the invasion, keeping the team off-kilter from the beginning.
Guardians of the Galaxy #1, like Bendis’s recent Age of Ultron #1, wastes little time on preludes and lengthy exposition. We are almost immediately thrown into one action scene after the next, barely pausing to introduce the characters to the audience. This might suit fans just fine, as we have been chomping at the bit to see these guys side-by-side once more. However, new readers barely get a chance to know the crew, as only Drax and Rocket Raccoon the recipients of preludes in the separate Infinite Comics line over the last few weeks. Also immediately noticeable is the absence of the more obvious humour from the DnA run, with far more furrowed brows than we are used to. Of course, these ain’t the same Guardians we left a few years ago, and we suspect that filling in the gaps will prove to be one of the more intriguing elements of this book. Iron Man will also bring in new readers to the book, although his presence here seems somewhat arbitrary, even if it is explained in other books.
McNiven, best known for his work on the epic Civil War, brings us a classy redesign of these characters. While we immediately miss the uniforms of the DnA run, and their retro futuristic appeal, the new outfits are a slick affair. The design is far more industrial than we have previously seen, as if the entire galaxy had been outfitted by Stark Industries. Yet this ultra-detailed depiction of the Marvel Cosmic Universe doesn’t simply make them outcasts fighting the good fight: the Guardians of the Galaxy arrive as fully formed heroes.
The collaboration between Bendis and McNiven is a strong one, and something that we hope will last for a while on this title. This is still the Bendis we’ve come to enjoy from Alias to Age of Ultron. While the book doesn’t have the immediate youthful fun factor of stablemate Nova, or the previous Guardians of the Galaxy run for that matter, this takes the hard sci-fi of the previous incarnation and filters it through a mixture of Star Trek hanging out at the Star Wars cantina, ready to tell us a few stories over a glass or four. It’s a big galaxy out there, and we can’t wait to see what is on the other side.
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