Review: Guardians of the Galaxy #1
It’s never easy rebooting a series, especially one that stands on the periphery of popular comics. There’s a certain attachment comic book lovers have to properties long overlooked by their companies. For Marvel, ithey were titles such as Power Man & Iron Fist, Doctor Strange, Ghost Rider, etc. One of those beloved peripheral teams is Guardians of the Galaxy. The once small-time interstellar group is now getting a massive facelift from both Hollywood and writer Brian Michael Bendis. Guardians of the Galaxy #1 is Bendis’s first step in reestablishing the group.
Our issue opens with Peter Quill having a rather frank discussion with a Kree woman about hooking up in a remote space colony. As if on cue to ruin the moment, Peter’s father, the man who impregnated his Earth mother before leaving both her and Peter, appears. Peter’s relationship with his father is contentious to say the least. Blaming his father for abandoning the family, Peter has renounced his right as Prince Of Spartax in order to travel the galaxy dispensing justice. The king does not like this, and thus the tension is born.
Bendis uses this as a way to set up the first story arc. If problems exist within Guardians of the Galaxy #1, it’s that Bendis relies a little too much on exposition. Peter’s father explains that several leaders of various galactic empires have voted that no extraterrestrial shall set foot on Earth ever again. Earth has relied on alien help too often and, if it is to grow into a member of the galactic government, it must prove itself on its own. Peter has no truck with this. He knows if Earth is left unprotected, those aliens outside galactic law will unleash havoc.
The next piece Bendis moves into play is Iron Man, who is using his new super armor to take a relaxing cruise through space. A Badoon ship appears and has other ideas. Suddenly, the Guardians of the Galaxy arrive and we’re treated to an epic space battle. Bendis is fairly transparent with how he constructs the ending cliff hanger, but there’s enough mystery to keep things compelling. Suffice it to say, Earth is in dire straits.
A reboot lives or dies on how effective the first story is. Bendis manages to keep his story interesting in several ways. First, he leaves the Guardians characters untouched. Gamora, Groot, Rocket Racoon, Drax and Star-Lord are present and accounted for. Including a familiar face like Iron Man also helps move the story along, as does a massive space battle that stems the hemorrhaging of exposition in the first half. While very much a set up, Guardians of the Galaxy remains interesting enough to make me want for the second issue.
Helping all this space adventure come together is artist Steve McNiven. I’m not sure where to begin with this guy. His ability with penciling faces is a rarity. McNiven gives each character emotion and never sacrifices the face for other action. His detail work panel to panel is wonderful to look at. There’s never a waste of space, everything in each panel matters to McNiven. He also has a great way with motion and action. Things move, the battle have an intensity to them.
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.
Guardians of the Galaxy #1 is a strong first step in the rebooted world of a beloved team.
(4 Story, 4.5 Art)