A Review Of
Guardians of the Galaxy #1
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Juann Cabal
Colorist: Federico Blee
Cover Artists: Cabal & White
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed herein are purely the opinions of the author of this article and do not necessarily reflect the official opinions of CosmicBookNews. Timelord regularly reviewed the 2007 “Nova” series and the 2008 “Guardians of the Galaxy” series with his reviews directly sent to the books’ editors and creators. Timelord’s reviews have been quoted by Marvel on cover blurbs, in press reviews, and in solicits.
Warning: Contains some spoilers.
The good news is that Ewing appears to have resisted any temptation to deliver yet another Gunn/Bendis-esque buffoonish, self-parodying, cheap-laughs-seeking take on our beloved characters. He’s playing the characters and story straight and allowing humor to arise organically and parsimoniously – just as it mostly does in real life. He rightly realizes that Guardians of the Galaxy is not a situation comedy – but rather is best played as serious military science-fantasy.
Refreshingly, Star-Lord is played seriously and we see little trace of the bumbling “accidental hero” portrayal that has plagued the character since DnA’s departure. Thank you, Mr. Ewing. It is great to see Quill finally portrayed once again as a more mature leader of men. He’s still not back to DnA standards by a long-shot, but I’ll applaud any step in that direction. Cabal’s rendering of Quill without the long blonde hair and with a more muscular body helps cinch this promising movement away from the buffoonish, ineffectual “surfer-dude” portrayal that unfortunately persisted even through Cates’ well-received most recent re-boot of Guardians of the Galaxy. On the downside, Ewing chooses to embrace the brutal ret-conning of Quill’s origin story as “false memories.” That’s a shame. I’d rather see Quill’s original origin story embraced and have him regain some of his original abilities – not to mention seeing him reunited with Ship and the real Element Gun.
I had mixed feelings about Rocket’s more subdued personality as well as his James Bond-ish attire. I enjoyed seeing Rocket portrayed seriously rather than as comic relief. On the other hand, Rocket’s hallmark edginess was in short supply this time out. It is possible to portray Rocket as DnA did – both competent and edgy with a wry, smart-assy sense of humor. I hope that portrayal develops over the course of this series. The white suit is fine for this first adventure, but after this, it needs to go. It’s really not practical for the kind of moves Rocket needs to make in a fight. He doesn’t need to copy James Bond or anybody else to be cool. Rocket is an icon in and of himself.
Nova is my all-time favorite character, so naturally, I was excited to see Rich Rider have a recurring guest star role in this series. Once again though, the characterization is slightly off. He is portrayed as too subdued. Rich’s struggles with PTSD have long been a defining element of his character, but lately writers have been portraying him as too depressed and too defeated by his struggles. Rich is best portrayed as a cocky but mature leader of men – acting much like many professional soldiers struggling with PTSD but effectively coping with it by refusing to let the symptoms hold them back. Let’s see Rich rise above the symptoms, really get into the soldiering game, and instead of complaining about the loss of the Nova Corps – go back to Tranta, find the lost Orienta Shard, re-boot the Worldmind, resurrect the Xandarians, and re-build the Nova Corps (without Sam Alexander – a character that just needs to go away forever and whose name should never be mentioned in a serious war story such as this series is now portraying).
Drax, Groot, and the rest of the supporting characters got little page time. I hope we see a newly powered-up Drax come out to fight next issue. What page time Gamora got was a little disappointing. Once again, her portrayal was too subdued. I like the over-the-top, savage, barely clothed, sociopathic Gamora from the DnA era. This overly cautious, world-wearily defeated, moral compass iteration of Gamora is just a snooze. And what can I say about Marvel Boy except – meh. I was always unimpressed with the character, but I’m willing to be open-minded in the hopes that Ewing will find a way to make the character less insufferable and more interesting.
As to the big bads, Ewing has delivered an interesting concept. What happens when the Greek Sky Father goes all crazy? We’ve seen the Gods disrupt the universe before and the likes of Hercules stepped up to save the day. It was good to see Herc again. I look forward to his appearance next issue to see what he’ll do about his kin and their bad behavior.
I truly enjoyed Cabal’s photo-realistic style for the interior art for this issue as well as Cabal and White’s primary issue cover art. I think that style works best for cosmic. However, more attention needs to be given to differentiating the features of each character. In some panels, Quill and Marvel Boy looked like twins. Blee’s colors were very eye-pleasing, perfectly complementing Cabal’s art and making the action pop off the page. I hope Cabal and Blee are permanently assigned to this title.
Ewing delivers a promising start to this latest re-boot of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. I am cautiously optimistic. While not as edgy as Cates’ most recent Guardians of the Galaxy run, which was a fan favorite as it deliberately brought the franchise back closer to the all-time-fan-favorite DnA era, Ewing does weave an intriguing tale of gods gone mad and mortals forced to cope with and contain the gods’ bad behavior. He appears to be heading in the direction Cates headed – away from the Gunn-Bendis silliness and back to the acclaimed DnA era of respectable science-fantasy. Marvel is earning my money again with this approach, so I’ll be back for another issue next month. Tell your friends to buy this book. It deserves a chance at a good long run.
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-article by: Timelord
Guardians of the Galaxy #1 preview: