Reviews of trade paperbacks of comic books (mostly Marvel), along with a few other semi-relevant comments / reviews.

26 May 2009

Guardians of the Galaxy, v. 1: Legacy

Collects: Guardians of the Galaxy v. 2 #1-6 (2008)

Released: March 2009 (Marvel)

Format: 152 pages / color / $16.99 / ISBN: 9780785133384

What is this?: In the wake of the Annihilation events, Star-Lord puts together a “proactive” team to fight cosmic menaces and repair damage.

The culprits: Writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning and penciler Paul Pelletier

I’ve always felt Marvel should do more with their cosmic characters. I wasn’t sure what, exactly, but there was a great big universe out there in which tell stories — any kind of story you wanted, really, with at least a dozen characters Marvel fans were familiar with. But for a decade after Jim Starlin’s Infinity series, there wasn’t much — no Silver Surfer, very little Thanos, few (if any) events.

Then Marvel released their Annihilation crossovers, and I was happy they seemed well received, both critically and commercially. I didn’t particularly want to read long, involved space crossovers, but if they renewed interest in Marvel’s deep space program, then more power to them.

Guardians of the Galaxy, v. 1: Legacy coverBut when Marvel released Guardians of the Galaxy, v. 1: Legacy, I was intrigued. Playing off those crossovers, with characters who had been among their protagonists, Guardians was telling a new story going forward — more manageable, it seemed, than a sprawling crossover. I decided to get on board, and I’m glad I did.

First of all, the characters as written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning are fantastic. Rocket Raccoon is the most fun — how can a talking raccoon who blows up stuff not be? I enjoyed the bluntness / simplicity of Drax, and the telepathic Russian space dog Cosmo is a hoot as well. The other characters are also distinct: Star-Lord is a leader who may be over his head and might like the action a little too much, Gamora is deadly and sensual, the new Quasar is a new hero trying to connect with the father of her former girlfriend. (OK, they are well-worn character tropes — except for Quasar. Still, the old tropes can still work in the right situation.) I’m not sure about Warlock and Mantis, who don’t remind me of what I’ve seen of them in the past, but I’ll chalk that up to the Annihilation crossovers I haven’t read.

The idea of the team is a logical one — a proactive team to fight threats like the Annihilation wave and the Phalanx before they can commit genocide and to repair the damage those attacks did. Still, proactive teams never work in comics — well, rarely work. The Guardians’ standard heroic missions and fights against the Universal Church of Truth are entertaining, and although Skrulls are overexposed, the Skrull / Secret Invasion storyline that makes up the second half of Legacy succeeds; I especially like Drax’s method of rooting out Skrulls.

On the other hand, I am less enthused about Major Victory and Starhawk / One Who Knows (from the original Guardians) and Mantis’s heavy foreshadowing (if you can call blatant prophecy “foreshadowing”). I don’t care for playing with timelines — go read Exiles, if that’s your thing — and prophecies rarely turn out well, either for characters or writers. I am extremely uninterested in Star-Lord’s method of recruiting and a potential breakup of the team; the sooner the next volume is past that, the better.

Paul Pelletier’s pencils are great. The character designs are excellent, and their similarities show the team’s connections rather than being confusing or boring. Pelletier’s storytelling is great, and his art is sharp and beautiful. His aliens are imaginative, vibrant; he even makes each tentacled space beasts distinct.

My misgivings about the long-term plot threatened to lower my enthusiasm about the initial concept, but Pelletier’s art saves Legacy, pushing it past good into very good territory. I’m looking forward to the next volume of Guardians when it comes out in paperback (presumably in the fall; the hardback is already out out this week).

Rating: Marvel symbol Marvel symbol Marvel symbol Marvel symbol (4 of 5)

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Anonymous Trade Talks Troll said...

Woo! Great review! I've been waiting to pick this volume up, and now I think I can convince myself to go get it. I rarely find Abnett & Lanning less than enjoyable, so it's good to hear that GotG delivers too.

9:19 PM  

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