The Hardcore Review: Guardians of the Galaxy 1-5 (spoilers)
With this edition of the Hardcore Review, we go into deep space. Encompassing the entirety of the galaxy as it were. The perils that seek to destroy it, and those who have taken up arms to be its guardians. Yes, after much ado, I’m talking about Guardians of the Galaxy. To be honest I did not jump in on the ground floor with this relaunch. I picked up with issue 5. Although, with purchasing sketch covers from my comic book dealer, I actually did get issue one of this space fairing opus. And it may very well be true, Mr. Bendis can do no wrong. I’ll be honest, other than the recent X-Men written by Brian Wood, I haven’t read a Marvel comic regularly in quite a long time. And I’ve never really latched onto a sci-fi comic either. The other day, during a signing event to raise money for a local non profit, I perused the back issue bins when I saw the newest issue of GotG on the new comics rack. I found back issues 2-4, and still having the sketch cover for issue one at home, decided to take a chance. After all, a giant space tree, that walks, and a murderous and no doubt, alcoholic raccoon combined with the efforts of messers Bendis and penciler Steve McNiven could never go wrong. Could it? And not only was the gamble on a Marvel book worth it, I also found a great new artist in Sara Pichelli who worked with McNiven on the first three issues, while taking over the penciling duties full time with issue 4.
This book, with a cast of misfits is not just the next possible Marvel Studios franchise on the big screen. With stars like Zoe Saldana, Dave “Batista” Bautista and Michael Rooker attached, this could be the next big thing. Not only is the art amazing, but the script, as usual from Bendis is a lot of fun, but filled with intrigue, deception and of course chaos. And when you throw Tony Stark into the mix, you know there’s bound to be carousing and womanizing somewhere in there. Hence the Teen plus rating. With such a colorful cast, it had to be no question that the interpersonal relationships of the Guardians that would make this book work. And it does. When I first crossed the writings of Brian Michael Bendis it was in the form of teenager Peter Parker in the Ultimate Universe so many years ago. His use of dialog and plot points of how a super powered teen could have so many problems, made me appreciate writing in comics. And with the GotG, it has made an even bigger impression upon me.
Bendis is what all comic book scribes should aspire to become. I could throw adjectives at you until the end of this review and not do his work justice. If you want to experience it, then you have to read it for yourselves. And that is super high praise coming from me, championing a Marvel Comic.
McNiven has been a stalwart artist for many years now. And having Pichelli work with him, and in effect passing the art torch to Sara, is something that is tantamount to even higher praise than I could ever give. This is something that might get talked about, but it never gets talked about enough. In an industry dominated by men, and a readership made up mostly of men, a female creator needs to work twice as hard to receive even half the kudos of her male counterpart. I say Sara did such an amazing job with this book, that I honestly didn’t even realize that she had taken over with the complete job of penciling with issue four. That’s quality work when you’re coming in after McNiven.
Here’s the low down on Guardians. Tony Stark has become bored with his Avengers duties as well as his high profile life as a billionaire playboy. He takes to space, to see what it has to offer. In the confines of a closed meeting, leaders of the galaxy have convened to decide the fate of Earth. After the decision, we find Starlord confronted by his father, the King of Spartax, telling Quill (Starlord) to stay away from Earth. Quill takes this as an affront to who he is, and almost immediately vacates his position in space royalty to find out why, “Earth is off limits.” Enter Drax, Rocket, Gamora and Groot, Starlord’s team of guardians. The space traveling Iron Man comes across a Badoon warship that is headed to Earth, to destroy it. Which confounds Starlord as it was promised, that Earth was protected. The ensuing battle over London, England with each member of the Guardians taking down a Badoon gunship is EEFing fantastic. And then, when you think everything is solid. It turns it’s ugly head as the Spartax Royal Guard apprehend Starlord and the Guardians. Iron Man’s armor is torn to pieces and all hope is lost. Until the great hero emerges. And I loved the pacing and attitude it brought. Some trees can do more than just walk Mr. Tolkien. Bendis and Pichelli could teach you something.
To read Rocket’s dialog while he’s blasting away at the Badoon is priceless, and yet worth every penny of the cover price. And seeing the changing expression on the face of Groot as he bellows the only three words in his vocabulary, “I am Groot,” and how the giant walking, smashing tree converses with Rocket, like so much Chewbacca and Han. It’s probably my favorite part of this epic, so far.
Now, enough with my diatribe. Today’s Hardcore Review needs a fantastic grade to accompany it. The dialog and story deserve a top flight grade, and the artwork was nothing short of some of the best in the industry. Bendis, McNiven and Pichelli are a great team. And now that it’s Bendis and Pichelli, they make up an amazing tag team for comics. So today, we’re talking tag teams in wrestling. There have been a ton of great tag teams in the business. Although, all too often, tag team wrestling is relegated to the mid card of an event. But there have been some duos that were so dynamic they go the main event from time to time. Today I bring you the insane team of Kevin Steen and El Generico. During their time in Ring of Honor the duo made a huge name for themselves. But nothing about this team was better than their double team finisher of Steen hitting the rolling German suplex into the waiting hands of El Generico who knocked out their opponent with the vaunted and underused brain buster. With that, I bid you… good night, and great reading!