Guardians of the Galaxy #1
WHO ARE THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY? One year ago, the Guardians of the Galaxy were destroyed. Their optimistic future shattered by the betrayal of one of their own. Now they ride the space lanes of a lawless corner of the galaxy, trying to outrun their tragedy. Can they rediscover their heroism and humanity on the bleakest frontier? Can they forgive the failures of their past? Or will they fade into the dark, eternally unforgiven?
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1 is an exciting kickoff to what promises to be a massive shift in tone and story for the Guardians and pulls that off mostly in this issue. At the same time, it does run into Marvel’s latest storytelling trope, that being the ‘What did Peter/the FF/whoever do?’ mystery-box style story in terms of its central conflict, it doesn’t feel as artificially invasive here as it did in Amazing Spider-Man.
The issue begins with the Guardians on planet Gailee IV, the team striving together to evacuate the town of Solitude before something monstrous arrives to take them all out. They struggle to do so, the evacuation coming down to brass tacks as the team has to make hard calls and suffer catastrophe losses. Underlying it all are questions about the team’s current status quo that may not be answered in this issue but are certainly raised by the coming of Grootfall and the strange absence of Rocket Raccoon. Grootfall is a promising mystery that has jammed the team into a new and strained status quo.
The atmosphere of this book is gritty. Its Western space setting and strained character relationships craft a fresh tone for the Guardians. While it may come as a step back or erasure for some, the team is being brought back down to being a scrounging, rag-tag group just looking to get the job done in the wake of the looming Grootfall. In that regard, this book is an excellent jumping-on point for anyone interested in the team but only knows them through the films or their hit game.
From a story perspective, I only found some of the character’s voices in this issue. While Lanzig and Kelly have done a downright great job with their writing in this issue, from the narrative pacing to all the team introduction moments, it’s hard to get past some of the dialogue for Gamora and Mantis feeling very out of character.
All the characters seem like surface-level amalgamations of who they are in other media, with an underlying, unknown history bubbling beneath their surface that, when revealed, will hopefully lift their new characterizations to a level. However, this is one of the negatives to mystery-box storytelling, so I can’t say it’s surprising to find it here as this issue’s most significant detriment. The team dynamic here is on point; Kelly and Lanzig are doing a great job making sure everyone in this book works off one another realistically and has a moment to shine.
That being said, this issue’s narrative work is excellent and very intriguing. Everyone’s worst traits are on display as they go about saving the day, making for what should become a very tense and exciting tale about this group of people finding their way past the struggles of their conflicting levels of morality. Peter Quill especially exudes this desperate, desperado identity as the team struggles to agree on whether or not half-wins are something they should settle for as the galaxy’s premiere hero team.
Kev Walker’s art does a lot for the book’s visual atmosphere. His design for Solitude rings familiar with zany science fiction and classic Clint Eastwood westerns, breathing life into the new tone and direction for the team. The aliens are designed with excellence, and all look as though they could be from the same place as one another, which goes a long way in making this space Western feel believable. Walker’s art is great on its own, but it truly does lift the overall product in unison with the story.
With the introduction of Grootfall that only raises more questions and a new, hard-boiled tone, I've never been more interested in what was going to happen next for the Guardians of the Galaxy. This is also a good jumping on point, so check it out if space-westerns are your thing.
Guardians of the Galaxy #1: Grootfall Begins
- Writing - 7.5/107.5/10
- Storyline - 8.5/108.5/10
- Art - 8/108/10
- Color - 8/108/10
- Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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