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Review: Guardians of the Galaxy #3 (Bendis)

If I were to free associate, the first words that come to mind in describing this issue are: boring, un-imaginative, hackneyed, wordy, un-balanced in terms of verbiage vs. action, and un-exciting in the single action sequence. I could go on but it’s just too sad to see the decline from the imaginative, exciting, fast-paced, and fresh Volume II to the terribly generic and ponderous Volume III. Yep – the architects got their hands on it and turned it into just another sub-average Avengers-like book, and it painfully obviously shows.

There’s a lot of exposition about the Guardians in the first three quarters of this book, but the Guardians themselves only appear in the last few pages of the book for a real yawner of a battle sequence followed by Star-Lord, once again, acting out his daddy issues. Basically, Star-Lord commits treason, and it’s hard to see how he could ever realistically reconcile with Spartax in general and his father in particular. Now there’s a writing black hole that even Gaiman is going to have a hard time fixing as it basically makes the Guardians pirates now and forevermore. What a dumb decision. Royal outlaw you can come back from – royal traitor – well – not so much. Does Bendis actually put any thought into this hack writing?

Poor Rocket is reduced to a catch-phrase shouting caricature of himself in Bendis’ desperate attempt to reduce him to a marketable icon which can be plastered on tee shirts sporting an image of the gun-toting raccoon and the phrase, “Blam! Murdered you!” How sad. Bendis has so painted himself into a corner with this approach to the character that basically all Rocket says in this issue is the catch phrase and variations of it. The great thing about Volume II was that – despite his appearance (which would naturally lend itself to reduction to silly cutesy-ness in the hands of the wrong writers) – DnA never reduced him to such a caricature. Instead – they did the un-expected and played him as a smart-assy but competent “force to be reckoned with” and Star-Lord’s second in command. Bendis and Loeb seem to be hell bent on turning Rocket into a silly, hot-headed, “shoot everything in sight,” pseudo-bad-ass who callously brags about “murdering” other soldiers.

I ask again – do Bendis and Loeb actually put any thought into this hack writing?

Groot gets to shine, but Gamora and Drax are under-utilized as usual. Of course, Tony Stark gets a whole lot of panel time. What a surprise. And once again he’s totally out of place in this book. His attempts to bribe the Spartax soldiers come across as more annoying and stupid than funny. I hope Gaiman does the sensible thing and drops him from this book like the rotten potato he is. That would be a good start toward cleaning up Bendis’ train wreck.

I’m getting really tired of this Council of Kings thing that Bendis focuses on way too much in each book. They come across as a bunch of arrogant and terribly un-interesting jerks, and I just want them to go far away as they make totally boring villains. The art has declined somewhat in this issue. Looks like McNiven drew much less than in past issues. Bad mistake on Marvel’s part. A lot people were only buying this book for the art. Expect sales to fall. Ponsor’s colors remain at their usual best and help to partially make up for the decline in the art.

In summary, Bendis has reduced this book to the level of any sub-average generic Avengers book you can pick up off any shelf at any comic book store. If you substituted anyone from any Avengers roster for the Guardians, the book would read exactly the same. “Cosmic” is just a background setting in Bendis’ parochial Earth-centric approach to the characters and concepts. No awe and wonder. Plenty of generic talking and generic action. With a few minor tweaks, the story could just as easily take place at the center of Marvel’s universe – Long Island. The architects think that this approach will make the characters more “relatable” to the typical Marvel reader. Yeah – Norse Gods, billionaire playboys, WWII era super-soldiers, big green rage monsters, super-spies, a man with spider powers, mutants with indestructible metal skeletons/claws, and wisecracking assassins – they’re all 100% relatable to the typical comic book reader. But these “cosmic” characters – they’re just too “far out” for the typical comic book reader to fathom.

Get a clue architects – before you run cosmic irreparably into the ground.