A Review Of
Guardians of the Galaxy #3
Artists: Vakueva, Sprouse, Ortega, & Cabal
Cover Artist: Shavrin
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” and 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 in cover blurbs, press reviews, and solicits.
Warning: Contains some spoilers.
To be fair, this is a transitional issue, exploring the consequences of the choices made by Quill and Rocket in terms of team inter-relationships and how each team member copes with grief; and also functions as a prologue to the next story arc. So, if you’re looking for drama, you may be satisfied. If you’re looking for action and adventure, there’s not much to be had in this issue.
To be clear, I’m fine with both drama and adventure, but I had mixed feelings about the presentation and timing of the drama in this issue, not to mention the characterization. I see where Ewing was going with the whole reversal thing in the opening pages where Groot speaks normally and the rest of the team can only respond, “I am (insert character name).” We use our imagination to intuit the given character’s dialogue based on the non-verbal actions of all the other characters the way we used to with Groot. That is, until the great reveal at the end where we see in flashback what Gamora really said to Rocket and it sets up the next arc. While that was artsy and surrealistic methodology and a “made for cinema” opening scene – and I can appreciate all of that as well as how it makes the ending of this issue more of a surprise and a twist, it still fell a little flat for me. I think I would’ve preferred actual dialogue. The “I am Groot” thing was both a great joke and a great method of pushing the limits of comic book non-verbally portrayed drama when first used lo these many years ago, but it’s played now – both in comic books and cinema and should be laid to rest for a very long time.
Gamora’s characterization continues to bother me. I’m just not seeing “The Most Dangerous Woman in the Universe” anymore, and I miss that characterization. Full disclosure, I’m an unapologetic (even in these deplorable PC times) fan of old-fashioned “Bad Girl” comic books. To me, Gamora’s “bad girl” sociopathic characterization from the Annihilation era was the best of the admittedly ridiculously wide range of characterizations she has gone through in her comic book portrayal history. What we’re seeing now is closer to her Infinity Watch characterization from ancient comic book history and even closer to Gunn’s less than satisfying cinematic characterization of her. Maybe Ewing will use Quill’s death to harden Gamora again and bring her inner bad girl back front and center where it belongs. I wouldn’t mind seeing her Annihilation era costume resurface again, too.
The other thing that fell flat for me was the timing of this particular drama. So we go from “happy family love fest” in the first issue to near-complete fractionation by issue #3 because Quill apparently dies? Groot abandons Rocket over this? Didn’t feel right to me. Sure, they squabble – but the characters clearly love each other and go to great lengths to protect and save each other in a crisis per numerous past story arcs. So, when one dies, they immediately blow apart? That’s not how a long-functioning team of seasoned soldiers react. Seasoned soldiers know death and have lost others before. They don’t do what Gamora did – get overly emotional and blame Rocket instead of Quill. Even more, Groot wouldn’t shun Rocket at a time like this – they’ve got too much history. I understand how this conflict is being used to set up the next arc, but still – it strains credulity based on the history of characterization of this team of seasoned soldiers.
I really liked Drax’s characterization this time out and hope to see his character developed quite a bit more. His struggle to integrate his human past and super-human present with everything that has happened in the interim was quite well done and his complicated history with his daughter, Moondragon, was perfectly integrated into his struggle. This is the first time we’ve seen a writer devote this type of attention to Drax since Giffen’s superb pre-Annihilation mini-series and it is both much appreciated and very much encouraged for more. Drax has all too often been used as the two-dimensional heavy in the comic books and, sadly, as imbecilic comic relief in the cinema. He has always been a character with great potential and Ewing seems to realize that. Bravo, Mr. Ewing! And thanks for bringing back his original costume and powers of flight and energy projection.
Bravo, also, to Mr. Ewing for finding a way to make Moondragon interesting. This contrast of 616-Universe Moondragon with Hero-Universe Moondragon is intriguing and makes for the most facile use of the Moodragon character in decades. I now care about seeing what she does in future issues rather than just tolerating her as a token background character that tends to make little difference in the big scheme of things.
The “Master of the Sun” references continue to occur and to tantalize. I hope this means that a ret-con of the ret-cons regarding the Master of the Sun is in the offing and we see Quill return in a few issues with Ship and his original costume and powers in tow along with the more mature “leader of men” characterization we began to see hints of in prior issues of this series.
I was also intrigued by the introduction of Rocket’s old nemesis, Blackjack O’Hare, to the mix of characters. The addition of an anthropomorphized rabbit to be the regular foil of an anthropomorphized raccoon is a stroke of brilliance and a nod to DnA’s intentioned but sadly never fully realized Cosmo and Rocket frenemy relationship.
I am hoping that Hercules and Rocket will form a team as I’d like to see Hercules become a part of the Guardians for a while. Ewing seems to understand how to characterize Hercules, another outstanding but sadly neglected character who has been brutally mischaracterized and mishandled by writers in the years since his last truly great series, The Incredible Hercules. I’m also liking Hercules’ new costume. It was time for an update to his traditional look.
There were a number of artists contributing to this issue and, while the art was consistently of good quality, the look of the characters changing from section to section of the book and even sometimes on the same page during flashback scenes, was both a little distracting and a little disappointing. It would’ve been better to have the same artist drawing the same character consistently. Shavrin’s cover art was well done, though I preferred the interior artist’s rendition of Blackjack to the cover’s rendition. As always, Blee’s colors were perfect.
This arc transition issue had its problems but overall is head-and-shoulders above anything that was produced during the deplorable era of Bendis and others of his ilk who tried to mimic the cinematic versions of our beloved Guardians of the Galaxy team. Ewing’s iteration of Guardians of the Galaxy, like Cates before him, approaches the quality of the much loved and critically acclaimed DnA iteration and deserves a good long run if it keeps aspiring to recapture DnA’s past glory. Buy this book. Tell your friends to buy this book. Talk it up online. Marvel is earning our Guardians of the Galaxy money again by aspiring to make Guardians of the Galaxy great again.
Article author: Timelord
P.S. In case you missed it, the Cosmic Book News forums have re-opened! Drop by and visit. Let us know what you think about the current state of Marvel Cosmic or the many others topics under discussion. Industry insiders read these posts to gauge fan reaction to their work, so it’s your chance to make your opinion known to the people who shape the future of the genre you love.
Guardians of the Galaxy #3 preview: