With Guardians of the Galaxy #2, readers got a boatload of surprises.
Or rather, an ice-load.
And these weren't just your run-of-the-mill page-turners. We're talking icons of the Marvel Universe just popping up in space, like the one featured on the issue's cover -- Captain America's shield.
It all started as the team investigated an anomaly in space-time and found a huge lump of ice that had just come tumbling through the fissure. Within the ice they found the gate to the Avengers Mansion, Captain America's shield, and in the kookiest twist of all, an actual member of the original Guardians of the Galaxy, Vance Astrovik, who's calling himself Major Victory.
Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning with pencils by Paul Pelletier, Guardians of the Galaxy is Marvel's new ongoing series that focuses on a team of space heroes who were featured in the Annihilation: Conquest event, including Star-Lord, Adam Warlock, Rocket Raccoon, Drax, Mantis, Gamora, Groot and the new Quasar.
When the name of the series was announced, many fans of the original Guardians of the Galaxy were concerned that this title would take that name yet have nothing to do with the former concept. But now, with the appearance of Major Victory, the link to the original team becomes more obvious -- and in fact, this new team didn't name themselves "Guardians of the Galaxy" until after they heard Major Victory utter the words.
While the discoveries in the ice could be called randomly convenient, there seems to be more at play here as Vance struggles to remember his mission -- one he's sure was supposed to bring him to this timeline in the Marvel Universe. And as another threat to the team looms in the background -- the powerful religious zealots called the Church of Truth -- it looks like the Guardians of the Galaxy are facing trouble on more than one front.
With a Secret Invasion tie-in on the horizon for the Guardians, Newsarama talked to Abnett and Lanning -- who answered our questions using their customary "DnA" moniker -- to find out more about the mysteries in the ice and what's coming next for this team of Marvel space heroes.
Click on the arrows in the frame above for an exclusive peek at Guardians of the Galaxy #3
Newsarama: Now we know where this team got their name! Was that the plan all along? To have the one of the original Guardians accidentally name this team? How did you come up with that?
Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning: Initially, we thought it would be fun to have Rocket try to name the team as a running gag. Once we'd agreed on using Vance Astro, we saw there was a chance to tie the old and new Guardians together. It was a more organic way to name the team and acknowledge the heritage of the book.
And it is more catchy than, "Arse Kickers of the Fantastic," but only just!
NRAMA: In issue #2, the Guardians find the front gate of Avengers Mansion, as well as Captain America's shield on a huge frozen mass. So I'm just going to let Rocket Raccoon ask this one: "Are we saying this whole place is a lump of Avengers Mansion that's somehow been bitten off and spit through time-space?"
DnA: We think Rocket is pretty much on the money. There are obviously big surprises awaiting in this storyline, and we couldn't possibly spoil them by giving them away in advance. That said, Keyser Soze is Kevin Spacey!!
NRAMA: What can you tell us about Vance? Who is he, what does his current state tell us about him, and will we be finding out more about how he got here?
DnA: We have definite plans for Vance; we will of course reveal who he is and how he got here but, for the moment, this is a character who has travelled to our era by moving outside time. His memory is imperfect. You are going to have to stick with us to find out exactly what his story is...
NRAMA: So is Vance sticking around? Won't that be a little awkward with an alternate version of him already on Earth?
DnA: We certainly intend on keeping Vance around for some time, and if we get our way, that will mean we have to address the fact that technically there are two of him around in the Marvel Universe. It'll make for a great story!
NRAMA: The Guardians seem to be fighting on two fronts -- the fissures that they're trying so hard to prevent, and now the Church of Truth's attacks. Is there a connection? Or is it just a matter of this team always being handed a little more than they can comfortably handle?
DnA: The Guardians have multiple galaxies to patrol, so it's no wonder the threats are coming thick and fast. However, the fragile nature of universal integrity is definitely connected to the rise of the Universal Church of Truth.
NRAMA: Early in the first issue of GotG, Gamora asks Adam Warlock, "The Universal Church of Truth... didn't they used to worship you, Adam?" Obviously, he's not particularly happy with that part of his history, is he? Why is that important for him to erase from this timeline? Did he succeed?
DnA: In the classic Jim Starlin story, Adam Warlock was appalled to discover that the UCT worshiped a god known as the Magus and that the Magus was in fact a future version of Adam Warlock. With the help of Gamora, Thanos and Pip the Troll, Adam was able to erase the timeline of his future self and prevent that from ever happening. It was a fantastic story, one of our favorite Starlin epics. However, at the end of it, the Church still existed; only the object of its worship had been erased. We thought the Church was too interesting and compelling an institution to leave unexplored. After all, the Church and the Cardinals, and the Matriarch are not super-villains in the classic sense. They are part of galactic culture, antagonists that the Guardians must deal with rather than simply defeat. Besides which, as Adam himself says in issue #2, 'History doesn't repeat itself, but sometimes it rhymes.'
NRAMA: These issues have been told through the "logs" of the members. Why? As writers, why did you think that worked for these issues? Is that going to be the standard format, or something you're just doing for this arc?
DnA: It was a story-telling device that occurred to us early on. We think it's fun, both as an opportunity for some in-character humor and as an extremely effective way of moving exposition forward. In a team book it is all too easy to get bogged down in dramatically presented information and disclosure. The 'diary-room' shots are a kind of short hand way of keeping the pace moving. We probably won't use them in future as heavily as we've used them in the first three issue, but they are a very useful tool to have.
NRAMA: Do you two think Star Lord's right and finding the shield will pull the team together? Can people like Drax and Gamora really be part of a team? Will we see evidence of their teamwork anytime soon?
DnA: Absolutely. In issue #3 we're really going to see people acting on behalf of the team. More importantly, the Secret Invasion story that runs from Issue # 4 to # 6 will put the team dynamic under extreme pressure with everyone suspecting everyone else of being a Skrull. We think you'll be surprised in how involved the team dynamic has become even at that early stage.
NRAMA: And Issue #3 features Starhawk how? Is there anything you can tell us about that appearance?
DnA: He turns up. He kicks arse. He vanishes again. He's an even bigger mystery than Vance Astro!!
NRAMA: What else can you tell us about the upcoming tie-ins with Secret Invasion?
DnA: As we mentioned earlier, the team is taken to breaking point by paranoia and suspicion. The story takes place on Knowhere, during a security lockdown. There's no way in or out. It's very claustrophobic; it's very tense. We're going to learn a lot about the characters as are the team members.
NRAMA: What else is coming up in the next few issues for the Guardians? Are they up to the challenge?
DnA: Beyond the Secret Invasion storyline, the Guardians will have to face the threat of the Church of Universal Truth, a old favorite alien race makes an appearance and we build up to the reveal of a genuinely big, big Bad! We think the team are up to the challenge: they are a surprisingly tough group that's more than the sum total of it's parts, and if they can't cope, then nobody can!