GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1 (Marvel, May 2013) Writer Brian Michael Bendis. Penciler Steve McNiven.
Trying to decide which Marvel NOW team book to follow has been extremely difficult. There are more Avengers and X-Men team books than ever before. Many of them blend together former Avengers and X-Men team members as in UNCANNY AVENGERS, which only makes it more confusing. There are bound to be several very good team books in the bunch, but how to determine that without sampling every single one? (Groan!). I’ve decided to sit back and let things develop, read some reviews, listen to friends and then later pick up Volume 1 of the eventual trade paperback. In the meantime, there is one team book at Marvel that I actually do want to try picking up every month. It’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, and it only took two issues to convince me.
Artist Steve McNiven quickly and easily establishes the scope of the universe that the Guardians will operate in. He opens Issue #1 with short wide-screen panels that span across two pages, beginning with a galaxy view in the first panel and then zooming down to a bar/cantina on an unidentified planet. As Peter Quill / Starlord is apparently trying to seduce a beautiful Kree woman, the sedate mix in the bar is stirred up and agitated by the bold and brash entrance of Peter’s father, the king of the Spartax planetary system, along with his company of soldiers.
He wants to “save” Peter and protect him from harm by persuading him to stay away from planet Earth. Peter is only interested in baiting and confronting his father, reminding him in subtle and not-so-subtle ways of his abandonment of Peter and his mother during those critical formative years. He continues to try and one-up or embarrass his father, or at the least make him jealous. It’s fun to observe. (It bothers me a little that throughout the entire issue Bendis never refers to Father Quill by his full name, forcing me to look up my copy of Issue #0.1. His full name is J’Son of Spartax. )
It seems that the council of the Galactic Empires has declared Earth off-limits to extraterrestrial interaction. The planet just needs to be left alone to develop without interference. Peter argues that the effect will be to allow other empires, such as the Badoon, to declare open season on Earth. Sure enough, Tony Stark/ Space Iron Man gets attacked while on an outer space patrol just outside the Earth’s atmosphere by the Badoon. The Guardians rescue him and disable the Badoon ship, and it free-falls into the Earth’s atmosphere. Guess where everybody will end up next issue? On Planet Earth. Seems like Pete’s dad set him up.
The marketing campaign for the late 2014 movie is already underway, and judging by the 16 different covers being offered for this first issue, Marvel must be hoping movie anticipation drives some people into the comics stores to find something Guardian-related to help satisfy their new appetite. (Which is a smart marketing approach, and leaves me wondering why DC didn’t try to build-up this year’s Superman movie the same way.) So far the story has been fun to follow. I’m in for the first adventure for sure.
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