Guardians of the Galaxy #1
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Steve McNiven, John Dell and Justin Ponsor
Lettering by Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by David Pepose
'Rama Rating: 4 out of 10
Who are the Guardians of the Galaxy? Despite a Point One issue, several Infinite Comics and now this Issue #1, the answer remains unclear. And while there is some decent artwork behind these newly relaunched spacefarers, there's not enough characterization or high concept for a solid entry point for what should be Marvel's next big team.
Part of the problem is that Brian Michael Bendis takes it for granted that we know who these characters are and why they're together. If this is your first time reading about Starlord or Gamora or Drax, you're going to be scratching your head at their very, very limited bits of characterization — Gamora's a badass, diving into the fray twice in one issue (the first time is somewhat unclear why), while Drax just scowls and says tough guy things like "almost admiring" the barbarism of the Badoon. Things blow up and lasers are fired, but it's all pretty haphazard and feels tacked on.
There are other big questions, as well, which barely get answered. Why is Iron Man around? And considering how space is, how do Iron Man, the Guardians a fleet of Badoon all randomly show up to the same place? What is the Guardians' mission, and why did they come together in the first place? Bendis does do decently well when explaining the interstellar politics — with Earth declared off-limits by most civilized worlds, what's to stop the worst of the worst from coming in? — but that feels like putting the cart before the horse when there's nothing for us to relate to with Peter Quill, Gamora or even Tony Stark.
The art also looks surprisingly funky, given the creative team. First off, while Steve McNiven's clean linework makes this comic feel big and bold, his redesigns are still a little too soon after the masterful redesigns done for these space characters during Annihilation. Starlord in particular feels so bland without his crazy sci-fi helmet, and Gamora's spacesuit looks like a generic piece of white armor with articulated joints. (Rocket Raccoon has a somewhat similar problem, too. They all look too much alike.) His layouts are also somewhat questionable, with a lot of letterboxed panels and shots pulled too far away to really hit you. The other problem is between inker John Dell and colorist Justin Ponsor, this comic is dark — like, it's tough to make out details kind of dark. Sadly, for a comic that had this much fanfare, there really weren't any big visual moments that stick with you here.
And that's the big problem with Guardians of the Galaxy #1. It's got two huge names attached, and considering few people knew or cared about this super-group, that's a good hook to bring on new readers. But that's just the hook — after a number of chances to get acquainted with this group, I still don't know anything about Starlord and company that would make me want to read about their adventures. Decent pencils and a semi-smart twist will only take you so far — if this book doesn't develop some characterization stat, Marvel's next big franchise is going to be over before it's even begun.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!