Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1 by Brian Michael Bendis (Graphic Novel Review)

Much as with DC’s New 52, Marvel’s reboot of its entire line-up (mostly) means that its a great place to get started with their comics. New books. New creative teams. The whole deal. I’ve tried to get a start on some of the titles, primarily X-Men but I’ve only stuck with a very small handful. With news of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie being a part of Marvel’s phase 2 for its cinematic universe, I decided to go ahead and read the current ongoing, written by a long-time Marvel main-stay, Brian Michael Bendis.

Marvel doesn’t exactly any cosmic books ongoing right now. As far as I can tell, Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: God of Thunder are the only such, despite the fact that a lot of the Marvel events have an effect on the entire galaxy, especially when they feature villains like Thanos and Ultron and Galactus and who knows who else. My first taste of Guardians of the Galaxy has been excellent, and I look forward to getting down with the second volume.

MN - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.1With the exception of Iron Man, all these characters are new to me. But going in, I was already looking forward to reading about Rocket Raccoon, who I find to be a most humorous character. With all the news that’s been coming out of Marvel Studios for the forthcoming film, I’m really excited to see Rocket on the big screen. Although I wonder if it will have Iron Man in it. Probably not. I could do with less Tony Stark in the MCU phase 2, or just Marvel movies in general.

So, to the story here. The graphic novel collects the first three issues of Bendis’ ongoing run, a prequel #0.1 issue that tells Peter Quill aka Star-Lord’s origin, a digital-first comic that is another prequel, but is not an origin story, merely tells how Peter Quill brings in Drax the Destroyer to his team for their new adventures. And these new adventures relate to a massive shift in the galactic status quo, which made for a really interesting premise. Peter’s alien father, the Lord of the Spartax System, has called together a council of the biggest galactic empires and together, they’ve all just instituted a new law: that the Earth, troublesome Earth with all of its out-of-control superheroes, is off-limits to everyone. Naturally, this just paints a big target on Earth for anyone interested, and the warlike Badoon are the first ones to the party.

This was a fairly good story. It has characters that I really enjoyed, but it didn’t give me much of a reason to connect with them really. Not like how Jason Aaron did in Thanos Rising and in Thor: The God of Thunder. Being the primary Galactic Guardian, Peter Quill gets in a lot of scenes, particularly since the apparent major antagonist here is his father J’son. All the hints we get of the histories of the other Galactic Guardians, especially Gamora, were nice touches however. Gamora more so since she is apparently Thanos’ daughter. Now that’s a story I’d really like to read more of, especially in light of Jason’s Thanos Rising mini-series which has a big subplot regarding Thanos’ children.

If there was any one issue of this graphic novel that I really liked, it was the #0.1 issue with Quill’s parents. Of all the five issues here, it was clearly the best. It was a personal story that dealt with a lot of Peter’s history, and it explains his motivations and his hatred for his father really well. This is all nice lead-up to the main story itself. The art-team of Steve McNiven, John Dell, and Justin Ponsor also have a big contribution in making this issue really stand out. While the panel layouts are nothing special, the story moves along at a quick pace, and each panel is richly drawn and coloured.

The digital issue that is reprinted here, Guardians of the Galaxy Infinite #1, gives us a day in the life of Drax as he sits around in bars and fights off those who want a piece of him, usually because they want him to pay for whatever… incidents he’s caused. I really liked how this issue was presented. It doesn’t give us any kind of origin story, it just dives right in, and lets any backstory come out naturally. Mark Oeming, Rain Beredo, and VC’s Joe Caramagna are the artists for this issue, a panel-by-panel issue at that, and I think they did a pretty good job of things. There’s definitely a very strong cartoonish vibe to the issue, as if this is an episode for a late 90s Cartoon Network animated comics series, and I think it works really well for Drax. It certainly makes for a nice counterpoint to the rest of the issues, which are drawn with a much more detailed and polished style.

The team from the #0.1 issue is the one that does the art for the first three issues of the main series here, with the addition of Sara Pichelli from #2 on. The character-work from both McNiven and Pichelli is outstanding and they really make each character, whether the good guys or the bad guys, the individual Galactic Guardians or the Badoon soldiers, stand out on their own. No frills, no bells-and-whistles, just clean, sharp pencils with excellent with the inks and colours enhancing the entire effect. And I’ve enjoyed Sara’s work on the Spider-Men mini-series from last year, so its great to see her on an ongoing title, especially one with as much diversity to offer as Guardians of the Galaxy.

Along with Thor: God of Thunder and Young Avengers, I think I’ve definitely found my next Marvel series to follow on a monthly basis. I really enjoyed this trade, even if it seemed that the main story got over too quick. An extra issue or two added to this collection would have worked really well I think, especially if we had learned more about J’son and this new rule that he has gotten implemented.

Rating: 8.5/10

Posted on September 30, 2013, in General and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Excellent review, I’ve been really enjoying this series myself. Also, I believe Nova is another Marvel-Cosmic title.


    • Ah yes!! That one slipped through my mind! Inexcusable, especially since I read the first issue for that! Although I didn’t enjoy it, that’s for sure.


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