Guardians of the Galaxy #4

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by Bendis and Pichelli

Last issue, the Guardians, taken captive by the king of Spartax, were rescued by Groot, who had spent the whole last issue regenerating from being blown to bits in issue #1. Before taking off in the commandeered Spartax ship, Star-Lord announced to the entire Spartax fleet the hypocrisy of the king’s plans.

This issue starts with our heroes partaking in some much needed R&R at a space bar, toasting to their most recent savior, Groot. During a casual conversation, Tony Stark manages to get the attention of the most dangerous woman in the universe.

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Cut to…

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Meanwhile, back at the bar, some members of the Spartax royal guard have found our heroes.

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Well, here we go. As Drax and the others engage the Spartax guards inside the bar, Gamora has discovered that she’s got a bounty on her head.

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During all the mayhem, Tony Stark makes a cross-stellar phone call back to Earth.

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Back in the alley, Gamora faces death.

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Okay, even though every issue, so far, has been pretty entertaining, I have to say this one was still a bit of a disappointment. It’s clearly just killing some time before issue #5 and the return of Angela, but that’s not even what bothers me the most. I didn’t particularly enjoy the depiction of Gamora in this issue. She’s the most dangerous woman in the universe, and the daughter of Thanos. Historically, she’s always been a tough-as-nails assassin, without much of a sense of humor, or a feminine side. Sure, she’s been romantically involved before, but here, she sort of acts like an 18-year-old girl. The only thing she doesn’t do is twirl her hair talking to Tony Stark. I don’t believe for one minute that she’s the most dangerous woman in the universe. If she wasn’t a principal character of the book, I would’ve expected her to die. The only thing that did make sense was the post-coital awkwardness between her and Tony Stark.

Aside from that, there were some fun to be had watching everyone else just relax for a little bit. After the non-stop crises in the last three issues, they deserved a breather. We even got to see Groot drunk (which, come to think of it, doesn’t sound like such a good idea, considering how little space there is for a big guy like him inside the bar). And Tony Stark and Peter Quill got to be their smarmy selves (and one of them was successful!).

At the end of the day, though, this issue didn’t really move the story forward, so it’s hard to justify it. On the bright side, we get Neil Gaiman and Angela next issue, and that’s more than enough to look forward to.

Guardians of the Galaxy #3

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by Bendis, and McNiven & Pichelli

Last issue, the Guardians were taken captive by the Spartax because of their involvement in a battle against the Badoon in London, England, disobeying J’son’s (king of Spartax and Star-Lord’s dad) orders to stay away from Earth.

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The Guardians are quickly put into stasis chambers, but not before Tony Stark can get a message out to the Avengers, urging them to assemble. Meanwhile, J’son’s men seize all the weapons they can from the Guardians’ ship.

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J’son meets with the rest of the galactic leaders in the Negative Zone, and chastises the Badoon leader for deliberately disobeying his orders. The rest, however, are getting just a little fed up with him bossing everyone around.

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Back on the Spartax ship holding the Guardians, the Spartax soldiers seem to remember seeing another Guardian, who they don’t have in captivity…

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Once again, the Guardians are saved, in typical Groot fashion. With all of their weapons conveniently stashed in the same room they were being held, they quickly arm themselves and prepare to take over the ship. Gamora, for one, is pretty jazzed about that.

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After they completely annihilate the Spartax crew, the Guardians make their way to the bridge, where Star-Lord sends out a transmission to all ships in the Spartax fleet.

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Holy cow! What another great, exciting issue from Brian Michael Bendis! If there’s one thing I enjoy about this book, it’s the pacing. Boy, does it move. In three issues, we’ve been introduced to these characters, they’ve gotten into exciting battles, been captured, escaped and that’s only the half of it.

King J’son’s still got some cards up his sleeve. I don’t believe for a second that the Badoon attacked Earth on their own volition. He’s playing some kind of long game I haven’t figured out yet, though I’m sure Peter Quill and his “band of pirates” just screwed that up.

And we got to see the return of Groot! Sure, he was only gone for an issue, but even one issue without some Groot feels too long. He’s not afraid to wreak a little havoc or sacrifice himself for the good of the team. And look at those adorable eyes.

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I hope Bendis can keep this up. He’s really doing an excellent job of keeping the Guardians busy with plenty of action set pieces without losing focus of the big picture. And it’s never not fun. I can tell this story’s going to some big places and I can’t wait to get there.

Guardians of the Galaxy #1 Variant Cover by Adi Granov!

Friday, Guardians of the Galaxy scribe Brian Michael Bendis tweeted a variant cover for Guardians of the Galaxy #1:

It’s more or less the same as what we’ve been seeing from the current artists behind the new series, but I like it. Glad to see Rocket Raccoon front and center. It’s still weird to me that Iron Man is a Guardian.

Sneak Peak: Guardians of the Galaxy #5

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July can’t get here soon enough. I just found out that Guardians of the Galaxy #5 is being co-written by none other than Neil Gaiman (!!!). The issue will also feature Angela, a character Gaiman (and Todd McFarlane) originally introduced to the Marvel Universe via Spawn.

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Both Gaiman and Angela will be returning to Marvel for the conclusion of the Age of Ultron crossover event, and will segue into Guardians of the Galaxy. Friday, Marvel tweeted a preview of the cover of the Guardians of the Galaxy #5:

So very cool. As a fan of Gaiman’s, I (obviously) can’t wait for him to join forces with Bendis and Pichelli for GotG. It’s going to be like a Megazord of awesomeness.

Guardians of the Galaxy #2

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by Bendis, and McNiven & Pichelli

When last we saw our heroes, they had just been attacked by a fleet of Badoon warships, who then proceeded to launch an attack on Earth. We pick up immediately after, in London. Communications have been shut off, making it impossible for the Guardians to reach out to the Avengers, Fantastic Four, the Defenders or anyone else for help. With Groot nothing more than a sliver of wood (see issue #1), the remaining Guardians (plus Iron Man) decide to split up and take out the Badoon ships.

We flash back to the Negative Zone, six weeks ago. J-son of Spartax, has called a meeting of ambassadors for each of the galactic empires.

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Flash forward to London. The Guardians have each taken a ship and are doing their best to stop the Badoon attack.

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Rocket manages to fight his way to the cockpit of his ship. He sets the ships self-destruct sequence going and aims the ship at another of the Badoon ships. Unfortunately, Drax is onboard that one, and is a little worse for wear. Gamora makes an attempt to grab him before the collision, but Tony Stark manages to swoop in at the last second and save both of them.

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Flash back to the Negative Zone. Freyja of Asgard, the All-Mother of the Nine Realms, isn’t too happy about J-son’s suggestion to destroy the Earth, as it belongs to her kingdom.

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Back on Earth, the Guardians have defeated the Badoon. They are still unsure as to whether or not more will be coming, since communication is still down. Suddenly, they are greeted by some Spartax space cops…

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Well, no good deed goes unpunished. I must say this issue was a really great, well-balanced issue. The Guardians were more or less there for the big action set pieces, fighting, explosions, etc. which is where they thrive, so no complaints there. How ’bout that attitude from Rocket, though? (“Blam! Murdered you!”). If there’s one thing I thought was unnecessary, it’s the constant shots of Groot, still a little sliver in a pot of dirt. I mean, I thought after the third time, he’d show up to save the day somehow, but even I know it takes more than a few minutes for him to grow back to full size. So I’m not really sure what the point of that was.

And then we had this whole other perspective in the Negative Zone flashbacks. Of course, Earth being a threat to the rest of the universe is a familiar storyline, but what I enjoyed about these particular scenes was the more or less agreement that Earth is insignificant to the rest of the universe. Not only does J-son seem alone in his opinion of Earth, but the freaking All-Mother of the Nine Realms goes out of her way to defend it. I have to say I wanted to cheer a little bit when she put him in his place.

Now, all of this happened six weeks before the Badoon attack on Earth, so obviously, the Badoon break the agreement to leave Earth alone, but why? Why would the Badoon attack the Earth at J-son’s command when J-son has his own people who could do it? Whatever the case may be, I’m sure Freyja’s gonna be pissed and hopefully we’ll get to see some of our favorite Asgardians. How cool would it be to see Thor and Sif in a Guardians of the Galaxy book?

Side note: Poor Captain Britain.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy #1

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“Guardians of the Galaxy” by Brian Michael Bendis and Steve McNiven

I’m just going to say right off the bat that this issue is an incredible amount of fun.

We start out in a bar in the middle of the galaxy somewhere. Peter Quill is trying to pick up an attractive young Kree woman when maybe the best date killer ever shows up: Quill’s dad, J’son of Spartax.

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J’son wants Peter to stay away from Earth. Given that Earth is his home, and that his father abandoned him on said planet, Quill is none too happy about this, but his father insists that it is only for the safety of the people of Earth. A council of galactic empires has decided that no extraterrestrial being is to set foot on the planet, Quill included. Quill argues that by not allowing him access to Earth puts a great, big, giant target on it.

J’son then reminds his son of his birthright: he is the Star-Lord of Spartax. Quill just shoves that right back in his face, though. He has absolutely no interest in being the prince of his father’s empire.

Suddenly, a familiar face shows up.

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Meanwhile, elsewhere in the galaxy, Iron Man zips through space on a vacation of sorts when he is suddenly targeted by a Badoon warship. Fortunately, he’s not alone.

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Cue fight montage:

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No more worse for wear (for the most part), the Guardians make it back to their ship just in time to see the Badoon enter the Earth’s atmosphere. While Star-Lord can’t figure out why his father would leave the Earth unprotected and then announce it to the galaxy, Gamora believes his father may have set the whole thing up on purpose, knowing Peter Quill would never abandon his home.

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Great scott! This is a hell of a first issue. These are all characters we’re familiar with, but unlike the 2008 run, they’re no longer a ragtag group of heroes anymore. Sure, they’re still a motley crew, but now they behave like a well-oiled ass-kicking machine. I even like the way they have a more uniform look.

While this issue doesn’t do a whole lot to introduce these characters to new readers (with the exception of Peter Quill), it does have all of the signature thrills the book is known for. I enjoy the addition of Iron Man in this run, if only to serve as a familiar face in this otherwise bizarre story (if the rumors are to be believed, Iron Man will also serve as a link to the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, as well).

Brian Michael Bendis already wrote Star-Lord’s backstory in Guardians of the Galaxy #0.1, so I’m curious to see how he integrates the backstory of the other characters into this run. They look like the characters we know, but will they be any different this time around? Also, I’m really looking forward to seeing how Peter Quill’s father will factor into this story, since he is nonexistent in all of the other Guardians material that I’ve read. Sure, it’s not like a half-breed being torn between two worlds is all that new in the sci-fi genre, but at least here, it might add some depth to the Guardians’ leader, who was really just sort of a dick before. Including his father here gives that chip on his shoulder some sense of purpose.

The highlight of this issue for me? The Rocket Raccon/Groot relationship (big surprise). Specifically, after Groot is blown up in the blast, Rocket frantically searches for his buddy while the rest urge him to get back to the ship. At the last moment, he finds him. Well, sort of. He finds a sliver of wood. It’s a moment that is adorable in what could have been a heartbreaking sequence (for those who don’t know, Groot can regenerate as long as there is a piece of him left to grow back from).

In true Guardian fashion, this issue shines because it keeps things simple. I can’t wait to see where it goes.