However, we all know that no book is safe in this economy. Guardians of the Galaxy could, and should, be higher up the chart, regularly selling more than the roughly 27,000 copies that it moves fairly consistently (each month since February). When you consider that over 13,000 people attended a minor league baseball game in Indianapolis on July 20th, 27,000 doesn’t seem like a ton.
So, all of this considered, why am I high enough on this book to take the extra time to present you with its merits? The answer would be, “Because I like it. A lot.”Page from Guardians of the Galaxy #17
Good Rocky’s Revival: One of the first things that discussion of this book usually focuses on is Rocket Raccoon. And with good reason: he is, for most readers, the star. Granted, he’s but one member of an ensemble, but he’s the break-out. Rocket Raccoon first appeared in an issue of the Hulk in 1982, landed his own mini-series in 1985, and basically languished in obscurity for many years, most appeared in very occasional issues of the humor-oriented She-Hulk books. When the character reappeared along with many other semi-forgotten cosmic characters in the Annihilation books, the total package (raccoon with smarts and smart-mouth plus big freakin’ guns) caught on with readers. Though his skills and tactical mind are beyond reproach, it’s still Rocket that gets most of the laugh lines in the book. Wait . . . laugh lines?Page from Guardians of the Galaxy #17 Yeah, It’s Funny: Without going quite as far as Justice League International or even Incredible Hercules, Guardians is nevertheless a frequently funny read. It reminds in some ways of a Whedonverse show: there is humor, sometimes a lot of humor, but it doesn’t come at the expense of action or character. One classic moment comes in the first issue of the relaunch, as the cast debates their possible team name mid-fight. Yes, someone actually suggests “Ass-Kickers of the Fantastic!” (guess who?).
Cosmo: At the risk of making you think that this is a talking animal book (we’ll get to the humanoids in minute), I have to throw in some praise for Cosmo, the telepathic Russian dog that runs security on Knowhere space station (which in turn is inside a not-quite-dead Celestial). Cosmo’s telepathically broken English and amusement at the humans/aliens aroundPage from Guardians of the Galaxy #18 him always bring something fun to the scene.
Did We Mention the Rest of the Cast?: Frankly, the characters here read a like a murderer’s row of Marvel’s cosmic history: Adam Warlock. Drax. Star-Lord. Gamora. Groot! BUG! And that’s before other mainstays like Major Victory begin to creep in. Writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning really play to the strengths of the cast; they’ve figured out how to pull the most out of this group, and have even been able to throw in seeming lost causes (like Jack Flag) and make them work.
It’s Accessible: Another highlight of the book has to be the “debriefings” sprinkled throughout. Akin to a reality show confessional, these bits give us extra insight into the characters and often break up the tension in particularly harsh moments. Something similar was used in Fraction's The Order to a slightly different effect. If you’re a new reader, this is a hugelyPage from Guardians of the Galaxy #18 Is that... Killraven? valuable tool for learning the cast.
Where Do I Start?: Though you can see many of these characters in action together for the first time within the pages of the Annihilation trades, you can enter the current series without much of a problem. In fact, a trade of the first six issues, entitled Legacy is already out, and Volume 2, a lead-in to the recently concluded War of Kings mini, is available as a premiere hardcover, with a trade coming early October.
The Bullet: Guardians of the Galaxy is a book that’s unabashedly fun and action-packed. It never fails to entertain me. If you like space opera or enjoy the mainstream super-hero titles but have never given this a look, pick it up. It’s funny, fast, and a quintessential Change of Pace.Artwork from Guardians of the Galaxy #17 (on Sale Aug 26): pencils by Brad Walker, inks by Victor Olazaba, colors by Jay David Ramos; Guardians of the Galaxy #18 (on Sale Sept 23): pencils & inks by Wes Craig. What, the art here wasn't enough for you? Fine, click here for two bonus images, one from each issue!