Robot 6

‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ makes a landing — is it worth a look?

guardians

This week saw the arrival of Guardians of the Galaxy #1 by Brian Michael Bendis, Steve McNiven, John Dell and Justin Ponsor. The series spins out of the events of Bendis’ Avengers Assemble arc, but at the same time sets up a new story and mission for Starlord, Rocket Raccoon and the rest of the team.

So does the comic soar or make a crash landing? Here are a few opinions from around the web to tell you just that ….

David Pepose, Newsarama: “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.” (4/10)

Joey Esposito, IGN: “Because of that grand scale, artist Steve McNiven gets to step in and do some great work with some massive splash pages and double-page spreads. The introduction of Gamora, in particular, is a standout page that sums up the character with one pose with no assistance required from Bendis’ words. Equally impressive is the double-page spread that introduces the whole team together; it’s a finely detailed piece of work that is as explosive as you’d expect from this kind of book.” (8/10)

Iann Robinson, Crave Online: “John Dell’s inks help define and give depth to what McNiven is doing. The faces are inked so the emotions come out, but Dell never takes it too far. The inks are heavier in the outlines, which helps give the forms weight during the space scenes. Colorist Jason Ponsor is the final piece of the puzzle. He’s very reserved with the color work until he needs to go bigger. Even from panel to panel he works with light colors on close ups or forms and then goes huge with explosions. His background color themes work particularly well during the space battle.” (8.5/10)

Noel Thorne, WhatCulture: “There’s only one minor detail that took me out of the issue and was also something that bothered me about the #0.1 issue – Star Lord essentially says he’s only interested in protecting Earth and the way #1 plays out, it seems the action is going to be Earth-focused. The series is called Guardians of the Galaxy, not Guardians of Earth – I’d’ve liked to have seen Earth taken out of the equation altogether and have the Guardians go to some alien world on the other side of the universe. But hey, this is early days, we’ll get there eventually, I’m sure. Like I said, it’s a minor quibble.”

Geoff Arbuckle, A Comic Blog: “If Marvel wanted to roll these guys out with enough time to build a built-in audience for their movie next Summer, it’s best to keep the initial exposition at a minimum. There will be time down the line to go deeper. Instead, just have the series hit the ground running and get things going. That’s what was done here and I think we’re better off for it. It’s not bogged down with retelling histories or spending a lot of time just showing the characters’ personalities and staving off a more exciting, action-packed story so these characters can get a real good treatment first. Bendis gives us enough for the characters through the action. As I said, there will be more time later. For now, let’s just blow some space stuff up and show us some really interesting characters that resemble raccoons or trees who can only every introduce himself. This is the heart of the Guardians so let’s just go for it and treat this like a true first issue of a series.”

Doug Zawisza, Comic Book Resources: “While there’s plenty to gripe about in Guardians of the Galaxy #1, there is no mistaking that Brian Michael Bendis and Steve McNiven have shown up to tell their story of the Guardians, not to interpret Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s Guardians. Taken for what it is — an offering for uninitiated movie buffs and lapsed comic fans enthused by the upcoming feature film of the same name — this comic book offers quite a bit to enjoy, but needed to be just a little bit longer in order to completely satisfy. This is a good, solid start, but it needs a little more punch to secure the readers’ interests.” (3.5/5)

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Anyone else just a bit annoyed that a title that was previously not Earth-centric is now just another book where everyone is all about the Earth? One of the refreshing things about the DnA books was that much of the time, Earth was in another galaxy.

And DnA didn’t turn a sufficient prophet with their good stories so another direction is tried.

Pretty solid start, but these don’t feel like DnA’s perfect characterization’s of these characters I came to love. And on one hand that’s okay with me. I’m going to give this one a few more issues to find it’s groove.

Afraid not Simon. I think to explore the spaceways you can do with a homely counterpoint, grounding all the battles across the infinite in something a little more personal — which I guess is a roundabout way of saying Bendis and McNiven are clearly working to a brief here and for this reader, a few issues focused on Earth, showing how the Guardians fit in with “everything else”, is a small price to pay for expansive, galaxy-rendering action later. First (proper) issue, let’s be fair.

Of course, I’ve never read any GotG before (I’m not too stoked on the DnA I’ve read, I apologize to all for that) so anybody else, please crucify me et cetera, but I’m on board for now – especially with art (the colouring! sumptuous!) like that – and felt this was a punchy enough first issue. I kind of get who (this version of) the Guardians are, so to that extent I’d say the first “review” is totally pants.

Steve: To be fair, that’s not really accurate, Guardians was still above the usual 20000 units level when it finished, and was in a different climate, notably comparing the figures for characters who have appeared in just books is a bit different to one connected to an upcoming film where the characters have appeared in games and TV shows in the mean time, raising awareness. There’s also the whole thing that Bendis and McNiven are bigger names than DnA. Which isn’t to say that being Earth-centric is fundementally bad, but to my mind it kind of misses the point of the book, after all, it’s called “Guardians of the Galaxy”, not “Galactic Guardians of Earth”. Haven’t got my copy yet, so can’t give my oppinion, but from the Avengers Assemble appearances I’m expecting it to not be as good…

Also because that’s just too weird a incorrect spelling and it’s bugging me, you mean profit. Prophet being someone who prophesises things.

If they balance the earth based stories with the non earth based stories they’ll be better off. I think that if DnA had struck more of a balance between the two themes it would have worked better. That was the point of bringing Ironman to the team. Whose only going to be there for the first arc.

Here’s the CBN review. Some how you always forget us. :)

McNiven’s art and Ponsor’s colors are nothing short of magnificent. You’d be hard-pressed to find better “photo-realistic” style art and eye-pleasing coloring in any comic book on the shelves today. That being said, if I had to criticize anything – it would be that Star-Lord has been rendered a bit too much the “twenty-something pretty boy” rather than the older, more seasoned and hardened look of times past. I actually prefer the older, seasoned, hardened look and feel to the character. I know this entire series is essentially a prequel to the 2014 movie – so the characters are being rendered to look somewhat like their movie counterparts, but it’s hard for me to take this version of Star-Lord as seriously as previous versions as he looks like he should be modeling for GQ rather than leading a guerilla task force protecting Earth from incursions from the great empires controlling the local group of galaxies.

Let me pause to take some Pepto-Bismol before I talk about Bendis’ writing, story direction, and characterization.

There – that’s better. Thanks.

First off: What the hell is Iron Man doing in this book? I mean, I get it that he’s the “gateway” character to lure Avengers fans into actually breaking out of their rut and trying Bendis’ “Cosmic Avengers” – but his shoehorning into the book and storyline feels completely un-natural and un-necessary. He might as well be wearing a tee-shirt with “Gateway Character” written on it. I can tolerate and enjoy Robert Downey Jr.’s interpretation of the character in the movies, but I haven’t cared for the comic book version of Tony Stark since Civil War. I’d go as far as to say that Stark’s behavior during Civil War disqualifies him for any leadership position – much less a high-stakes one such as defending Earth from incursions. Plus, the “duck out of water” angle doesn’t really apply to Stark as he’s had many space adventures over his career. Finally, he just doesn’t mesh well with the Guardians. I’m sure in upcoming issues we’ll be treated to predictable clichés such as him putting the moves on Gamora. Maybe we’ll get lucky and she’ll kill him.

Next, what is it with the daddy issues? Why does every cosmic character have to be driven by daddy issues? Lack of creativity or originality perhaps? Besides – the daddy issues aren’t even consistent with Star-Lord continuity. Jason and Peter settled their differences back in the 1970’s storylines and even went adventuring together. How is it that Peter has been regressed in age/mentality by at least 10 years Marvel time and is back to having daddy issues? Seriously, I much prefer the grizzled smart-ass tactical genius from Annihilation and GotG Volume II to Bendis’ watering down of the character in the name of mass market appeal.

Also, the gateway character himself – Stark – points out that there’s numerous Avengers teams defending Earth. I’d add that there’s S.W.O.R.D., SHIELD, X-Men, and numerous other heroes, teams, and organizations available to defend Earth. Why exactly are the Guardians needing to park in low Earth orbit? Isn’t S.W.O.R.D already there? Isn’t Earth well-protected enough? Wouldn’t the Guardians be better placed back on Knowhere with access to the entire universe instantly at their fingertips? Shouldn’t the title be changed to “Guardians of the Earth?” This Earth-centric focus is once again nauseatingly aimed at mass market appeal arising from Marvel Editorial’s long-held belief that cosmic hasn’t historically sold in high numbers because there’s no market for stories set in space far away from Earth. Yeah – I remember back in the 70’s when some said the same thing about Star Wars. Funny that the GotG movie is already being compared to Star Wars.

In terms of characterization, I’m wondering why in the world Peter is suddenly so concerned with Earth to the exclusion of the rest of the local group of galaxies. The same question could be asked of Drax, Rocket, Groot, and Gamora. What’s their stake in this? Is it just loyalty to Peter? If so, that’s sure a major change in characterization from Volume II. Also – where’s the rest of the team from Knowhere? Intuitively – it seems they’d be better choices to round out the team than Stark.

In the final analysis – my whole problem with Volume III is that at best it’s “GotG Light.” That is – it has some of the same characters only softened, re-characterized as less mature, and apparently motivated for vastly different reasons than those presented in Volume II. Whereas Volume II was soaring space-based para-military science-fiction, Volume III is mediocre Earth-centric clichéd super-hero-ish fantasy. Volume III’s Bendis-ification makes it pale in comparison to Volume II. With Gaiman taking over in a few issues – maybe it can be salvaged. Let’s hope so

Matt, couldn’t have said it better…. If you are a fan of the Valentino 90’s squad or the 70’s/800’s team what is the hook here?

If you are a fan of the 2000’s DnA reimagining what is the hook here?

Just copying the Green Lantern family idea of making Earth of galactic central importance isn’t going to be enough. Adding Iron Man to the team isn’t going to be enough. Alright Bendis, you got your job cut out for you. Most of Marvel Cosmic fans have already felt slighted and disrespected because of the disregard given to their stable of characters and history. Win us over… but seeing what you have done with Ultron I can only say.. *Gulp!*

800? of course I meant 80… sowwie

This issue was lacklustre. So lacklustre that Jake Earlwine and I both spent 12 minutes reading it at the LCS and then returning it to the shelf.

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