First Impressions – GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1

guardians-of-the-galaxy-no1-loneStarCover

With a movie slated for release next year, Marvel is prepping their space-centric super team for the limelight with a new ongoing series. It’s time for GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1, where we meet the motley cast of characters we’ll get to know very intimately in the coming months: Peter Quill the Star-Lord, Gamora the assassin, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, and…Iron Man?

And yes, once again I’m running with the Lone Star Comics variant cover.

The important history to refer to is the old GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY ongoing that ran from 2008 to 2010, which followed from Annihilation: Conquest. There was a much older incarnation from the late sixties, but it has as much to do with this team as the 2011 Defenders ongoing has with the current Mighty Defenders.

Which is to say almost nil.

I don’t know much about the Guardians of the Galaxy – not to be confused with DC’s Guardians of the Universe – save that when the 2008 series ended, a number of lingering plot threads were apparently tied up in a miniseries published later. That miniseries is The Thanos Imperative, a wonderful story I encourage everyone to go read. Why? Because the premise is that the main Marvel universe is invaded by a parallel “Cancerverse”, where life won out over death by killing it. Yes, they killed death, and then wanted to expand their cancerous empire into new universes.

And only Thanos, avatar of death, can save the main Marvel universe. Keep in mind, he’s a bad guy. The Thanos Imperative is a wonderful mix of Marvel’s premiere space characters, one of its premiere space villains, and Captain Marvel. Since I can now call myself a fan of Captain Marvel past and present, I rate this story highly.

But we’re not here to talk about the Thanos Imperative. We’re here to talk about GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1.

New readers are introduced to Peter Quill, bastard son of the King of the Spartax Empire, and the man known as Star-Lord. While slumming in a bar in the deepest reaches of space, Peter is confronted by his father. The King – heavily implied to be a right bastard – gives his son and heir an ultimatum: stay away from Earth. It is now to be considered off-limits to anyone, as decreed by a meeting of the Marvel universe’s strongest alien empires. Yes, all these competing galactic interests got together and formed an agreement not only about anything in particular, but about the fate of one planet. Nevermind Earth is basically the center of the universe and a force to be reckoned with in its own right – populated so by people who bend the universe and beat up celestial aspects on the daily basis. According to the King of Spartax, Earth is to be left alone.

So of course it’s going to be targeted by literally everyone for destruction or conquest. You tell angry aliens they can’t touch something, they go to it out of spite.

Obviously the Guardians of the Galaxy can’t have that, and thus we have the initial story arc of the series. Protecting Earth from the everyone that wants it dead. Also for some reason Tony Stark gets involved. I don’t know why he’s here…actually scratch that, I know exactly why he’s here. Marvel wanted to boost sales on the book by having Iron Man get in on the action. The book outright admits there are half a dozen things Tony Stark ought to be doing instead of flying through space, like the ten different Avengers subgroups, half of which he’s probably a member or key interested party.

At least they bothered to give the guy a suit. Has a vaguely Asian style to it, like a samurai. Or maybe that’s just the thing my brain jumps to.

So the operative question remains: do I recommend GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1? Sure, why not? It’s probably required reading if you have any intention of seeing the film next year, and in all honesty I wish I could see more. I say I wish because my pull list is far too large as it is, so I literally cannot afford to add it.

There’s at least one other thing that would stop me. I don’t know most of these characters except what I vaguely remember from the Thanos Imperative. And the way this comic is structured, I didn’t find myself gravitating to most of the team. Except for two: Rocket Raccoon and Groot. Rocket Raccoon is simultaneously really lame and really cool. It’s one of those elements of the super hero genre that tickles my fancy. And then there’s his partner and best friend Groot. He is Groot. He’s also a sentient plant monster who speak only the stock phrase “I AM GROOT”.

The fact that these two are best friends is so endearing to me. While the more serious trio of Star-Lord, Drax, and Gamora didn’t really stand out for me – though will doubtless prove themselves worthy of attention in due time – it’s these two that would have sold me on GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. You know, if I didn’t have dozens of other books to keep track of.

Give this one a try, if only to see a raccoon in a space suit shoot a huge laser cannon at a space ship, while a tree monster beats its way through the remains.

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