Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 1
Collection: Guardians Of The Galaxy #1-12© 2008-2009
Publisher: Marvel Comics © 2014
Writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Pencilers: Rick Magyar (#1-7), Brad Walker (#8-10) & Wes Craig (#11-12) with Jack Purcell (#9), Livesay (#10) & Rodney Ramos (#10-11)
Inkers: Rick Magyar (#1-7), Victor Olazaba (#8-10) & Wes Craig (#11-12) with Jack Purcell (#9), Livesay (#10) & Rodney Ramos (#10-11)
Colorists: Nathan Fairbairn (#1-3), Guru-eFX (#4-6) & Wil Quintana (#7-12) with Bruno Hang (#9)
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Clint Langley (#1-10), David Yardin & Bruno Hang (#11) and Paul Renaud (#12)
Assistant Editors: Lauren Sankovitch, Lauren Henry & Michael Horwtiz
Editor: Bill Roseman
These are the stories that inspired the film… or at least what Marvel says. Fun tunes coming from Star Lord’s Walkman? Nope! Drax always taking things literally? Never! How about lots of jokes and humor? Meh, from time to time. Dare I say as a warning, if you already have a pre-conceived notion of what the Guardians of the Galaxy are as a team, as characters and as an overall property from just what you saw in the film, I recommend that you either adapt or leave this one behind.
Guardians of the Galaxy has a history dating back to the late 60’s but the modern team as we most know it today started back in 2008 after the Annihilation: Conquest storyline and during Civil War (the first one). Different characters were plucked from the Conquest storyline in forming a pro-active team ready and willing for any possible recent events and catastrophes. This team includes Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Adam Warlock and Quasar.
Abnett and Lanning give us a rich, long and intricate story dealing with issues of teamwork, trust and regret. One thing the film certainly borrows is the rag-tag team of misfits more or less comes together who do not all trust each other in the beginning who all realize the galaxy needs saving. In adding I say Groot and Rocket seem rather on point. Characters like Gamora face regret from her past as an assassin, others like Star-Lord and Adam Warlock want to save the world but also have issues with each other in how the team is to function. With that said, this is not your run-of-the-mills Super Friends team. Other characters pop up as well like Mantis, Cosmo and Bug. At face value the book does feel a bit over-populated with some characters getting shafted. In fact, the book treats the reader as if they know the characters already from the Annihilation event, so do not expect much back-story at all. However, Abnett and Lanning remedy this with the characters’ personal debriefs logs, side missions and objectives by the team in pairs and others running into their own issues. These issues consist of a Skrull invasion, temporal disturbances, the Badoon, Ronan the Accuser and quite possibly my personal favorite – The Church of Universal Truth. Never, have I seen what is more or less an evil church in the galactic sense who’s power manifests from belief. I kid you not, as Rocket says “…they can do anything if they believe they can. And that, let me tell you, can sting.”
Lanning & Abnett do add layers to these characters I’d argue in comparison to the film. For example, Drax can get existential? Yeah, weird. Gamora can be rather selfless on the team and doesn’t mind getting around, if you know what I mean. Another tidbit is a good use of foul language that is obviously centered. You get a feeling the book rides a balance of humor but not too much as they know when to use it to add levity to the scene or when the character would naturally respond to a scene just like this.
Art wise the book is fantastic. What is most interesting is how the book shares four different artists but manages to keep a good consistency. I do not accuse any of the artists to be copying off each other but unless you keep this detail of four artists in mind and going into the panels with a magnifying glass, you will notice very little. There are few differences like Walker – whose Star Lord looks rather younger and more handsome. Craig – who offers a softer touch and a Drax who isn’t nearly as big and muscly. The use of splash pages and huge team montages is seldom used but makes it all more impactful for the few times we get a nice layout on the page(s) of the team. Instead of embracing this cliché, the artists and writers use it as a tool for emphasis. It is hard to pick a favorite as they all have strengths. Interesting it is, in how each artist is also their own inker within this book as well. Colorists do a bang-up job, my personal favorite being Quintana who puts you into a great state of dread and nothingness in the final two issues of this volume. Yet, the big take away was the cover art provided by Langley mostly who offers this rather dark, expressive but exciting painterly work. The others such as Yardin, Hang & Renaud go more traditional in their cover work. Renaud’s is a nice break given the content and context of the series his cover almost resembles something more of an indie-fantasy comic.
In the end, a lot of action, high tense, high stakes galactic fun is to be had here with moments of drama and some humor from time to time. Yet, there is so much that happens in the span of 12 issues in this book that it is hard to remember, especially given some of the comics have a page count closer to 30 rather than 20 let’s say. At the same time, the comic is so much fun to read and look at you want to pick it back up and gaze over it again. Yes, it really has little to do with the film but that is OK. This is the wonderful thing about comics and fiction is the different interpretations. If you take them both on their own merit and as separate entities they are just fine. For example, you can have your campy Batman with Adam West and you can have your pulpier, gothic one with Keaton, or perhaps you’d prefer Affleck, that’s fine too. By the end of the day they all exist and are at your beckon on the shelf.
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