Star Lord: Guardian of the Galaxy (Review)

Star Lord: Guardian of The Galaxy

Collection: Marvel Preview #4, #11, #14-15 and #18; Marvel Super Special #10; Marvel Spotlight (1979) #6-7; Marvel Premier #61; and Starlord (1996) #1-3 © 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1996, 1997 and 2014.
Publisher:  Marvel Comics © 2014
Writers: Steve Englehart, Chris Claremont, Doug Moench & Timothy Zahn
Pencilers: Steve Gan, John Byrne, Carmine Infantino, Gene Colan, Bill Sienkiewicz & Tom Sutton with Michael Golden
Painter: Dan Lawlis
Inkers: Steve Gan, Terry Austin, Bob Wiack, Tom Palmer, Bob Mcleod & Tom Sutton
Colorists: Tom Palmer, Ben Sean, Bob Sharen & Glynis Wein
Letterers: Tom Orzechowski, Annette Kaweicki, John Costanza, Jim Novak & Bill Oakley with Joe Rosen
Consulting Editors: Marv Wolfman, Roy Thomas & Roger Slifer
Associate Editors: John Warner, Ralph Macchio & Glenn Greenberg
Assistant Editors: Bob Budiansky with Lance Tooks
Editors: Archie Goodwin, John Warner, Rick Marschall, Jim Salicrup & Tom Brevoort

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This is certainly an otherworldly collection of comics. This printed collection was released in time for the first Guardians of The Galaxy motion-picture, focusing all on Peter Jason Quill A.K.A. Star Lord. Right from the beginning I must tell you this is not Chris Pratt! This is not James Gunn’s Star Lord. No, this is a different Star Lord with, well, different father(s). I would prefer not to give the origin to the character away, that is what the book is for or if needed, consult a wiki page if you must. Part of me got a Batman meets Green Lantern vibe reading this particular Star Lord, but the more I read this the more that did not fit and was just a crude injustice.
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Three of the best comic-book writers and one science-fiction writer take on the duties of Star Lord. It must be noted that Star Lord was the creation of Steve Englehart but that lasted for only one issue. Claremont would go on to solidify the character’s background, origin and overall characterization for the rest of the book. The book itself does not contain one complete narrative arc, given these stories were published yearly among different issues and titles. However, the stories are fun, dramatic, and at times intense and carry out an entire plot within one issue. In fact, if you did not read the prior issue, no worries. A few of these stories average 30+ pages, hence this book will keep you busy for a while. Star Lord sets out a darker, bitter character under Englehart but under Claremont he’s more of a swashbuckler adventurer, while tying at least the original basis of Englehart’s mythos to some degree. Normally, Moench is a terrific writer but his stories were rather the weakest, being too wordy and too much exposition in retelling origins and histories. Throughout the stories we deal with the ideas of vengeance, destiny, justice, responsibility and regret. One of the carrying themes throughout the book is the vow to not kill, in how far one should go with it. These stories were published during the Bronze Age when the Comics Code Authority became a bit lax and stories started to become more violent and less family friendly silliness. Along for the ride is Star Lord’s friend and partner, his self-conscience ship. She, yes she, ship turned out to be an amazing character. With each story there is a new alien threat and new planet to explore, giving this series this a huge vast setting to roam around in feeling limitless, as if you truly are in space.

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The character, adventures and the black and white art make the book feel like an old pulp sci-fi hero, something along the lines of a Flash Gordon. In fact, reading this I felt I was in a different age. The stories feel less comic book-y and more old school, traditional sci-fi. Do not worry, only the first half give or take of the book is in black and white. Steve Gan’s inks certainly help add tension and drama to panels he draws throughout Star Lord’s first appearance. Gan has a retro, almost deco like style to Star Lord’s world, especially the machinery and setting. Meanwhile, I have nothing to say of John Byrne and Carmine Infantino, they churn out amazing work as they historically done throughout their careers.  I have no words to describe their talent. Bill Sienkiewicz offers this intriguing photo-realistic look, which looks great in black-and-white, giving it a timeless feel. Marvel Premier #10 is the first to use color and it is used brilliantly, as everything pops and finally this does not feel like a galaxy that wants to kill you. No, you want to visit it. However, the next two stories after go back to black-and-white for the last time. This does make the book feel a bit disjointed and uneven, to get a splash of color finally to only have it taken away from you. I will say Sutton’s work feels like that cheap, generic 70’s comic book art and barely does any justice to the book. Last but not least was comic-book artist or should I say painter – Dan Lawlis. I was worried going into the last three stories, as they came out during the 90’s. Mind you, this was a time were comic art was extreme with huge, bulging muscles, extra tight costumes and Pamela Anderson + sized breasted women. Luckily, Lawlis did not feel victim to this. Lawlis has a beautifully painted almost photo-realistic vibe with beautiful coloring. Imagine Alex Ross but not as gallant and smooth, but rough around the edges, this is to comment on Lawlis’ style not his actual work.  I especially love the painted covers throughout the book which you swear could be used as old movie posters if there was a Star Lord film in the 70’s.

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On a side note you can find most of these issues around in color, but these here are the original printings. Color was added later for reprints. This collection offers a few perks besides the covers, old pencils and old promos but also timely letters from some of the people who worked on the book like Englehart and Claremont themselves. A additional three page reprint for Marvel Preview #11 in color and also included is a retrospective article from Steven Grant, an entire comic historical profile and bio of Star Lord. In conclusion, do not expect fun tunes and jokes with this collection. This is the original Star Lord told by the original creators, different minds altogether. Instead, think back to Flash Gordon, Star Trek in its 60’s heydays, Star Wars when it first arrived on the scene in 1977 and other sci-fi of the period.

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