War of Kings

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Marvel Cosmic Fan-Fav Paul Pelletier To DC Comics – With Geoff Johns!

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:3314:]]I’ll say it.

Another Marvel Cosmic big time blown opportunity.

Paul Pelletier is a Cosmic Book News favorite as he worked on the likes of War of Kings as well as Nova, Guardians of the Galaxy and Fantastic Four.

Of course, we know that Marvel axed all their cosmic stuff to make way for the upcoming Bendis and Loeb snoozefest (yeah, we’re still whining).

From Marvel Cosmic, Pelletier went to work with Greg Pak on Incredible Hulk, and eventually ended up on Wolverine.

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:3315:]]Now we learn, via Bleeding Cool, that Paul Pelletier is heading on over to DC Comics to work with Geoff Johns on an as-of-yet unnamed project.

Sure to be a blockbuster, we can’t wait for that.

Good for Paul.

Any guesses what they will be on?

Hawkman?

Added: Green Lantern?

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Guardians of the Galaxy Movie: Who is Star-Lord?

(Editor’s Note: Continuing our coverage on the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, up next is Star-Lord!)

 

The leader of the band: Who is Star-Lord?

 

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Like most of the trendy movies, I will begin this article at its ending and then work backwards:

Peter Quill aka the swashbuckling (aren’t they all?) space hero known as Star-Lord is busy fighting the mad Titan Thanos alongside a cadre of Avengers and his own team, the Guardians of the Galaxy. How he got here, we do not know.

The last time we saw said hero, he and Nova (our Nova, Richard Rider) were literally stepping up to the plate to save the universe from Thanos by collapsing the so-called “Cancerverse” in on itself, seemingly dying. Thanos made it back, and apparently so did Quill. Where Nova is – the true Nova – there is no word — from space or Marvel ED.

Hows and whys aside – Flark, who except the great Peter David bothers with continuity anymore? – Star-Lord IS back in the Marvel U. alongside the once-disbanded rag-tag heroes he commands. At his side in Avengers Assemble have been Rocket Raccoon, Gamora, Drax, Bug and Groot.

How he is here is still a Bendis mystery, but who he is — well, your M.E. can help you there.

[Dissolve to hazy beginning, around the time I was about to graduate from high school: 1976.]

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:3275:]]The first (and best) Star-Lord is Peter Quill, whose premiere adventure was in Marvel Preview #4 (January 1976) and was created by Stainless (miss those Bullpen monikers) Steve Englehart and Steve Gan.

Quill is born during an unusual astronomical phenomenon when many of the planets align. Seeing no resemblance, the man who believed he was Quill’s father accuses his wife Meredith of infidelity and attempts to kill the infant, but dies of a sudden heart attack. Quill is raised by his single mother until she is killed by an alien.

(Peter’s real father is Prince Jason of the alien race Spartoi, who had fled his Empire after wrongly being branded a traitor by his father Eson, later crash-landing on Earth to be cared for and nursed back to health by Meredith.)

Quill is placed in an orphanage but escapes and eventually becomes a trainee NASA astronaut. An alien entity called the Master of the Sun eventually visits the space station that Quill and other astronauts are inhabiting, and offers the mantle of Star-Lord (an interplanetary policeman) to a worthy candidate.

Peter volunteers, but is rejected in favor of a colleague he once treated badly.

Outraged, he is ordered by NASA to return to Earth and is to be discharged for his conduct. Instead, he steals a scoutship, returns to the space station, and takes his colleague’s place.

Peter Quill becomes Star-Lord, with the Master of the Sun first creating an illusion in which the character is able to find and kill the aliens that murdered his mother to free him of his past. Equipped with a sentient vessel called “Ship,” Quill commences his role as Star-Lord.

The character later encounters the former Herald of Galactus, the Fallen One, and is almost killed defeating the entity (Star-Lord’s vessel “Ship” is destroyed in the conflict). The pair is subsequently imprisoned in the intergalactic prison known as the Kyln. Star-Lord is freed by our man Nova during Annihilation and aids in the war against Annihilus and his hordes. Quill later acts as military adviser to Ronan the Accuser.

When the Kree homeworld of Hala is conquered by the Phalanx, Star-Lord leads a band of rebels against the invaders until the war is over. In an effort to prevent another interstellar war, Star-Lord forms a new version of the Guardians of the Galaxy. These are “proactive” cosmic heroes who try to end emerging galactic threats early.

Following the War of Kings event, Star-Lord as well as Nova appears to die while saving the universe from Thanos and the Cancerverse. But, as said in the beginning, Peter Quill reappears with some of the Guardians on Earth to aid the Avengers against a returning Thanos.

And just in time for a reported new comic written by Brian Michael Bendis and a movie coming out in 2014.

Ain’t Hollywood great?

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Bill Rosemann Brings Back Darkhawk and Cammi In “Avengers Arena”; But For How Long?!

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:3061:]]Remember the “Survive” Marvel NOW! Teaser that featured Dennis Hopeless and Kev Walker?

Well, Marvel revealed what it really is about. 

And it sounds pretty wild!

The new title is dubbed “Avengers Arena,” and it sees 16 young heroes – including Darkhawk and Cammi – battling it out against each other on Murderworld run by the villain Arcade.

It’s kill or be killed!

Former Marvel Cosmic editor Bill Rosemann is behind the book — which probably explains the inclusion of Darkhawk and Cammi. So thank you, Bill!

Not only are Darkhawk and Cammi present, but so are the students from Avengers Academy and Runways in addition to new characters.

Last we saw of Darkhawk was in Nova #36, I believe, when Evil Darth Quasar knocked him out giving him a concussion. Regarding Cammi, last time for her might have been Annihilation with fans wondering whatever became of the former sidekick of Drax The Destroyer.

“After his last appearances in War of Kings and NOVA, Darkhawk soars again!” Marvel Editor Bill Rosemann told Marvel.com. “Staying with sci-fi, just wait until you see what Dennis and Kev have planned for Annihilation’s Cammi, baddest girl in all the galaxy.”

[[wysiwyg_imageupload:3062:]]Rosemann goes on to compare the new series to the popular novels and movies, Lord of the Flies and Hunger Games, but with a “Marvel twist.”

“AVENGERS ARENA gives a high concept itch a superhuman scratch. Throughout history, societies have sent their young adults against one another in competition, whether that’s in war, sports or “American Idol.” Likewise, art has examined this phenomenon of the older generation sacrificing the younger generation and also of young warring gangs wanting to prove who’s #1 in everything from the myth of Theseus vs. the Minotaur to “Lord of the Flies” to “Battle Royale” to “Starship Troopers” to “Survivor” to “Hunger Games.” Teen vs. teen competition is as old as storytelling — but now it’s time to give it the Marvel twist,” Rosemann said.

Writer Dennis Hopeless states there will be “a lot of murder in this new Murder World” — and we can’t help but wonder if it Marvel will continue their course of killing off cosmic characters.

I think fans of Darkhawk know that he would pretty much be able to take any of these guys out. 

Right?!

Avengers Arena #1 hits in December.

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Review: FF #7

*Warning: Spoilers*   This one poses as a conundrum for me. On one hand, you have Mr. Hickman who basically wipes out the entire War of Kings saga in a few pages (wonder what DnA think about that?), in addition to the FF not showing face — once again. On the other, an interesting and …

Review: FF #7 Read More »

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Review: War of Kings: Darkhawk #1

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CREDITS:

WRITER: C.B. Cebulski

PENCILS: Harvey Tolibao & Bong Dazo

INKS: Harvey Tolibao & Joe Pimental

COLORS: Jay David Ramos & Rain Beredo

LETTERS: VC’s Cory Petit

ASSISTANT EDITOR: Michael Horwitz

EDITOR: Bill Rosemann

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Joe Quesada

PUBLISHER: Dan Buckley

COVER PRICE: $3.99

COVER DATE: April 2009

IN STORES: February 4, 2009

SYNOPSIS:

The first story (of two contained in this issue) is a new 22-page story centered on Darkhawk and his situation following his recent appearances in Nova (Vol. 4) #17-19. The story opens with Chris Powell rushing around his bedroom, chiding himself for his current predicament: running late for work. While pondering his anger issues and growing concerns that he may lose control as Darkhawk, Chris rushes downstairs to the dining room where his mother and two brothers are already eating breakfast. Chris has moved back east to his family’s home in New York since becoming the Chief of Security at Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. Chris transforms in to Darkhawk and flies off to work, feeling good about himself and his world (yeah, we’ll see how long that lasts!).

Darkhawk arrives at Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. and finds problems are waiting for him. Dr. Necker, one of the Project scientists, briefs him about a Skrull booby trap (left over from the Skrull infiltration of Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. during Secret Invasion) bringing down a containment field long enough for X-Ray and Vector of the U-Foes to escape from their cells. Just then, Vector breaks through an adjoining wall and immediately attacks Darkhawk. Goaded by Vector, Darkhawk takes the battle to the air. Vector attempts to rip the amulet from the Darkhawk armor, and the amulet responds by fatally (?) blasting Vector. Darkhawk returns to the ground near where Vector’s body fell, very upset over losing control of the amulet again. Dr. Necker approaches Darkhawk from behind, when he raises up and hits her, saying, “Get away! You can’t have it!” Darkhawk immediately apologizes, explaining that his armor seems to be reacting on its own. Dr. Necker suggests that he let Project personnel study it, but Darkhawk hurriedly leaves, preferring to not let anyone else get hurt.

Some time passes, and Chris shows up at a meeting of the Loners’ support group being held in Manhattan. Mickey (formerly the super-hero known as Turbo) is speaking to the other members when Chris arrives, asking for help. He explains to Mickey and the group about his armor reacting on its own instinct, then reverting back to his control. Mickey and Chris leave the meeting and grab some sushi, discussing Chris’ apprehension about being the subject of tests at Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. Mickey recommends that he go through with the testing for his family and for her.

After the meal, Mickey goes with Chris to his house. They talk briefly outside, with Mickey declining Chris’ invitation to come in and meet his family. Just then, the amulet begins glowing red-hot, burning Chris. Before he has time to react, a fireball appears in the sky, headed directly for the Powell home. As it crashes in the Powells’ backyard, Mickey and Chris rush around the house to find a humanoid figure wearing a suit of armor remarkably similar to the Darkhawk armor, complete with its own amulet. As Chris remarks that his amulet was the last one, the figure speaks, saying that is what “Designate Powell” was supposed to believe. From behind them, Chris’ mother and brothers come out to the backyard to see what is happening, and Chris orders them back into the house and to call the Initiative for help.

Chris turns back to the mysterious figure, asking how it knows so much about him. The figure says it is there to save Chris, then reaches out to Chris and touches his amulet, initiating his transformation to Darkhawk. As it does so, it hints at a larger threat requiring the both of them to work together. Darkhawk is stunned, asking the figure how it transformed him. The figure responds by telling Darkhawk there is much he does not know. Another fireball appears in the sky, again headed for the Powell home. The figure exclaims, “No! It’s found us already,” as the fireball lands with great impact, destroying the Powell home. To be continued…!

The second story is a reprint of Darkhawk (Vol. 1, 1991) #1, and is included for historical reference.

NOTES:

The bulk of this issue was exposition and first-person narration from Chris’ point of view, filling in the reader as to what Darkhawk has been up to since he left the Loners and became the Security Chief at Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. This seems to have given the story the accessibility necessary for the reader who may not have been familiar with Darkhawk; however, it also includes elements for those familiar with Darkhawk to be able to enjoy the story as well, such as the fight with Vector – Darkhawk (with an assist from Daredevil and Captain America) first fought the U-Foes back in Darkhawk (Vol. 1, 1991) #6, so it was nice to see a subtle nod to the older continuity. Given that this is a two-issue mini-series, it seems like it is designed to provide the transition for Darkhawk from Earthbound hero (his role up to now) to cosmic bad-ass (his larger role in the Marvel Universe proper) in fairly rapid fashion. The next issue should illuminate us to the real purpose of the Darkhawk armor, how it is connected to the Shi’ar, and what side he will fight for in the War of Kings. From there, Darkhawk’s story will continue into the War of Kings: Ascension four-issue mini-series, where it seems he will become involved in a skirmish in the Negative Zone (King Blastaar anyone?). I am stoked for this, and can’t wait until War of Kings: Darkhawk #2 (of 2) is released on March 18 to find out more!

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Guardians of the Galaxy #25 Review

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Written by: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning

Artist: Brad Walker

Colorist: Wil Quintana

Cover Artist: Alex Garner

Warning: Contains Spoilers
 

Some recent comics have limped out of existence with a whimper – Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk come to mind – but, if issue #25 of Guardians of the Galaxy is indeed the last issue of this fine series, it can be said that it went out in style, proudly and with head held high as the class act that it is, always has been, and always will be in comicdom’s halls of history.

Master writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning deliver a tour-de-force of cosmic comics entertainment as they tie up all the dangling plot threads from Issue #1 to present. We learn that our beloved 616 Universe Guardians literally stand at the epicenter of all time and all quantum realities – with everything – and I do mean everything depending on their actions or lack thereof. An overwhelming responsibility – and one they are perhaps thankfully unaware they possess.

The story proceeds at breakneck speed with our intrepid heroes ultimately triumphing over a resurrected Thanos – or, like their seeming victory over The Magus a few issues back – is everything exactly as it seems? I suppose that – and the ultimate fate of Phyla – remains to be seen in the upcoming Thanos Imperative.

I am consistently impressed with DnA’s ability to so skillfully handle the characterization of such a large ensemble – making each character unique and interesting both as an individual and as part of an interacting cast. Whether it’s Rocket comforting a stricken Groot, Drax and Gamora figuring out how to attack Thanos, or Rocket and Peter sitting next to each other at Starlin’s Bar and quietly summing things up over a “DnA Cosmic Ale” bottle of beer – the strength and consistent high quality of Guardians of the Galaxy has always been centered on the interplay among the characters.

Brad Walker’s art is amazing. I’m really glad he drew this extraordinarily important issue. He’s taken this book and given it a signature look and feel. If Guardians of the Galaxy does come back from Hiatus Hel; please Marvel – make Brad Walker the regular artist for this book. Quintana’s colors perfectly capture the dark mood of this issue. Garner once again produces a truly impressive piece of cover art – perfectly capturing the awe and menacing majesty of The Mad Titan. I look forward to seeing more of Garner’s work.

As I have been writing this review, I found myself struck with a feeling somewhat akin to the feeling one experiences at the end of a romance when considering all the sweet ‘might have beens’ that now, regretfully, will never be. I can’t help but think that there are still a lot of fine stories to tell of this motley crew’s adventures – and I can’t help but be sad at the thought that we may never hear those stories. I know from various personal communications that others feel exactly the same way. Let us hope that our sadness is unfounded.

In closing, I would like to thank Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning for re-vitalizing Marvel’s Cosmic line and bringing us cosmic fans 25 wonderful issues of Guardians of the Galaxy. Guys – you gave us an unforgettable set of stories and a magnificent series that will be held in the utmost esteem by generations of cosmic fans. You took a bunch of dimly remembered cosmic characters from the past, breathed new life into them, and made us care about them. Cosmic comics literally don’t get any better than your Guardians of the Galaxy.

I’d like to thank Brad Walker for bringing his extraordinary artistic talent to the pages of Guardians of the Galaxy. Brad – your work is amazing and I look forward to seeing what you’ll be doing for Marvel next. Thanks to Wil Quintana for your consistent masterful coloring. Thanks to all the other artists and colorists who have contributed to this wonderful series.

I’d like to thank Bill Rosemann for his editorial work on this series and for his support of and kindness to the cosmic fans. Likewise, thanks to Joe Quesada for taking a chance on the Cosmic line in general and this series in particular. If he hadn’t, we wouldn’t have had 25 wonderful issues to enjoy.

It has been my extraordinary privilege to share my thoughts on Marvel’s cosmic brand line with CBN’s readership each month and an extraordinary honor to have Marvel quote some of my GotG reviews in a few solicits. I would like to thank CBN Editor-in-Chief, Matt McGloin, for giving me the opportunity to write for CBN.

Finally, I’d like to thank the legion of loyal GotG fans who have stuck with the series from beginning to hiatus. You guys and gals are the greatest and I’ve appreciated all the comments and enjoyed the good natured debates in which we’ve engaged over the run of this series.

So, let’s keep Star-Lord’s dream alive by buying The Thanos Imperative as the most important lobbying effort we can make is voting with our dollars. If TI does well financially, we may well see Star-Lord and company back for more cosmic adventures.

Rating: Five Stars

Article by: Bill Meneese

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Guardians of the Galaxy #23 Review

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COVER BY: Alex Garner
WRITERS: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
PENCILER: Wes Craig
INKER: Serge LaPointe
COLORIST: Nathan Fairbairn
LETTERRE: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Warning: Contains Spoilers

 

Phenomenal. Absolutely, astoundingly phenomenal. With issue #23 of Guardians of the Galaxy, Abnett and Lanning prove once again why they are the Megalords of Cosmic Comics.

In a recent interview, I said that one of the reasons that Guardians of the Galaxy is consistently among the best comics on the shelves is that it avoids delving too deeply into standard superhero fare – instead focusing on epic science-fiction/fantasy concepts and storylines. Rather than re-treading the superhero concepts and storylines we’ve seen countless times before; Guardians of the Galaxy brings new twists and turns to the table. Never is that more evident than in issue #23.

DnA’s superb writing captivated me from the first page to the last page. Magus was written as insanely menacing – approaching “over the top” – but never actually going over the top and becoming a caricaturish villain. I liked it that he seemed to be genuinely impressed by the Guardians as foes who could actually stop him. That says something impressive about our heroes.

I’m not exactly sure how Phyla’s portion of the team was re-animated. Was it the power of belief resurrecting them or were new bodies created from belief for their souls to inhabit? Were they ever really dead in the first place? It wasn’t clear to me. This might be the weakest part of the storyline; but I was so happy to see them back I didn’t even care how it happened.

Magus’ psychological torture of Phyla was quite revealing of her inner struggles and conflicts – the selfsame struggles and conflicts fans have speculated about for quite some time. This torture sequence actually makes Phyla a more interesting and sympathetic character – bringing her some much needed character development and giving her a chance to shine as a heroine. I’ve always had mixed feelings about Phyla; but after this issue’s developments I’m beginning to become a fan of the character.

I was especially pleased to see the #1 fan favorite canine back in action. Cosmo fans are rejoicing! I hope we get to see some Cosmo-centric stories in the future because he is the next character just aching for some character development time.

Starlord’s team did security duty for the re-constituted Galactic Council. DnA made even this seemingly mundane task for our heroes into something interesting – with cameo appearances by some fan favorite characters as well as inclusion of some topical content regarding terrorism.

All-in-all this throw down with the Magus is shaping up to something that will likely make the Infinity Gauntlet saga look like a cake walk.

Just about everyone – myself included – acknowledges that Wes Craig is a skilled artist and I have to say that in this issue Craig delivers his best work yet on the series. The real debate is about artistic style. In other words, is Craig’s style a good fit for this particular book? Some fans think it is – and others think it isn’t. I think this issue’s art will create a much needed middle ground about the issue.

I’ve seen Craig’s style called impressionistic, abstract-tending, manga-influenced, and cartoonish – all with fans passionately debating what particular label is most accurate. Whatever you call his style – it certainly isn’t photo-realistic – the style that the majority of the fans seem to prefer if the feedback on the forums is any indicator. I personally prefer the photo-realistic style for a book that is telling serious, dramatic, epic, galaxy shaking stories. I think the more abstract style detracts from the gravitas of the storyline.

Fairbairn’s colors are well done as usual. Garner’s cover art is nothing short of astounding. I think it might be the best portrait of The Magus ever rendered. Thank you Mr. Garner. I’d like to see what you could do with some interior art for the book.

It almost – no, I won’t soft peddle this – it does make me angry that more people aren’t reading this top of the line book. It is a travesty that this book sells only 22K or so per month. Comics fans need to broaden their horizons, break out of the routine, and pick up something new and fresh. Guardians of the Galaxy is a veritable feast of new and fresh. Won’t you pull a chair up to the table?

Article by: Bill Meneese

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Guardians of the Galaxy #22 Review

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Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning

Artist: Brad Walker

Colorist: Wil Quintana

Cover Artist: Alex Garner

Warning: Contains Spoilers

 

From the front cover to the last panel – everything – and I do mean everything – works for this comic.

Garner’s cover art is eye-catching and beautiful to behold. I absolutely loved his renditions of Moondragon, Drax, Rocket, and Bug. Hey Marvel, if we can’t have Walker as artist for every issue, how about hiring Garner as fill-in artist for Guardians of the Galaxy?

Speaking of Walker, he really outdid himself with the art for this issue. I’m not exaggerating when I use the word ‘magnificent’ to describe his work. From the small details of a character’s face in a close up panel – to a ginormous double-page spread of Knowhere crashing through the UCT Fleet of ships – Walker proves he is adept at handling every aspect of art that such a sprawling cosmic epic as Guardians of the Galaxy demands. I especially appreciated his attention to detail in every panel. Nuances in characters’ facial expressions, wrinkles in the characters’ uniforms, starships in the background, and the sheer number and variety of Luminals depicted are just the first few examples from a long list of other details that show the care put into construction of each panel. Thank you Mr. Walker – the fans notice these details and admire your work. Speaking of admirable work – Quintana’s coloring of this issue is jaw-droppingly good. I think he deserves an award for his coloring of the combat sequences and especially for the double-page spread featuring Knowhere.

The dynamic writing duo of DnA continue their hot streak for this book’s storyline, weaving a tale featuring action, adventure, humor, character development, and non-stop excitement. In terms of character development, I was most impressed with the attention given to Moondragon and Drax. The healing in their relationship was nice to see – and Drax’s development into a more complex character was a welcome story thread. Drax is a favorite of mine from way back and he’s been past due for some serious character development. Thanks DnA for taking Drax beyond the 2-dimensional bad-ass characterization. I also loved it that Rocket got a chance to lead and to shine – showing once again that he’s a lot more than mere comic relief. Starlord also shines in this issue. The success of this mission is a major step toward redemption for Starlord. His overall demeanor changes for the better in the last part of the story. The twist at the end of the issue is not a great surprise; but it is a welcome development. I was very pleased to see what was depicted in the background of the last panel.

With edge of your seat excitement, snarkily funny humor, gripping drama, engaging characters, and stunning visuals – Guardians of the Galaxy is a breathtaking romp through the cosmos that is light years ahead of the competition. Call your local comics shop and have them reserve you a copy today!

Article by: Bill Meneese

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Guardians of the Galaxy #21 Review

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Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning

Artist: Brad Walker

Colorist: Wil Quintana

Cover Artist: Brad Wilkins

Warning: Contains Spoilers

 

It was fitting that this issue was released on the eve of Christmas Eve because it certainly felt like a wonderful early Christmas present.

There’s a lot to love about Issue #21 of Guardians of the Galaxy. First, I must once again heap praise upon master storytellers DnA. Only in their hands could a character with as many intrinsic flaws as Moondragon actually carry a story this complex. Amazingly, for the first time ever I found Moondragon interesting, sympathetic, and relevant. I found myself actually starting to like her and beginning to honestly care about what’s happening to her. It was also nice to see her hold her own in a fight against a vastly more powerful foe.

Walker’s fine renderings go a long way in re-making Moondragon from an arrogant, self-centered, occasional pseudo-villainess into a more heroic character that might actually develop a fan following. Not only does Walker capture Moondragon’s beauty much better than most other artists have in the past; but he also takes the time to make her facial expressions mirror the various internal and external conflicts and turmoil with which she is contending.

I’ll admit that I was at first nervous about Moondragon joining the team and being the pseudo-narrator and focus character of this arc as in the 36 years that I’ve been reading stories featuring the character I’ve always considered her a “story killer.” My fears have been allayed. She strengthens this arc. One thing though – the big goofy earrings have got to go. I don’t know any soldier or law enforcement officer who would engage in hand-to-hand combat wearing something like those big earrings that could easily be grabbed by an opponent and used to inflict disabling pain (and wasn’t this exact scenario portrayed in a fight scene in the otherwise eminently forgettable Aeon Flux movie?). Even setting aside the practical considerations, the big earrings detract from her looks. Let’s just drop them and focus on the lithe sexy bald chic look such as was so perfectly captured by the Ilia character in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Star-Lord’s portrayal is also noteworthy. DnA nicely capture a Peter Quill who is rapidly “fraying around the edges” from the multiple sources of stress coming at him from every angle as well as the inner demons which have always driven him. Thus, vulnerable both psychologically (from recent and historical events) and physically (having been de-powered some time ago) – Quill is easily the most “human” of the cast of characters and therefore the most intrinsically relatable to the readership. I’ve often wondered why DnA have chosen to keep Quill de-powered. I suppose the “human-ness” that I’ve just referenced is at least one reason – but I don’t think a power tweak would make him less relatable and I confess that in 2010 I’d be happy to see Ship find him and return his healing factor, partial invulnerability, and flight powers at the very least. The other Starlord, Singin Quarrel, can keep the Element Gun as I never cared for that poorly conceived weapon. A projectile weapon is the proper side arm for the Peter Quill Star-Lord.

The final breakout character of this issue was Drax the Destroyer. I’ve been a Drax fan for 36 years (yeah I’m old). My favorite incarnation was the original Thanos-obsessed, purple-cape-wearing, skull-cap-sporting, cosmic powered version. My least favorite incarnation was, of course, the poorly conceived brain-damaged pseudo-comedic version from the Infinity Watch era that was thankfully put out of its misery in the pre-Annihilation Drax mini-series (leading to creation of the modern incarnation).

I do like the modern portrayal even though it’s perhaps occasionally a bit too Wolverine-ish for my tastes. I was glad to see Drax get some character development time in this issue. Too often he’s been portrayed as merely the bad-ass guy who shows up and kills all the villains in the room. Don’t get me wrong, I like bad-ass guys (and girls – see the uncensored Kick-Ass trailer featuring Hit-Girl) who show up and kill everyone in the room – I just prefer them to have a better motivation than “because I can.”

The UCT Matriarch really did a number on Drax with the psychological manipulation trick; but that should trigger character development such as we have never before seen from Drax. As a side note, I’m looking forward to seeing how Drax will exact revenge against her. As another side note – what’s with Drax’s alien-looking facial appearance? I prefer the more human facial characteristics such as depicted in his Annihilation appearances.

Of course, Rocket Raccoon and Groot contribute to the humor of the series with assistance from Bug and Jack Flag – all without going overboard to the point that it interferes with the gravity of the situations in which the team finds themselves. I really hope 2010 brings us at least one Rocket-centric and one Groot-centric plot thread as these two intriguing characters are just aching for further development. Rocket has been stellar in his role as Peter’s second in command; but I want to get to know him a little better – learn more about his background and his motivations. Likewise, I want to know why Groot sticks around on Knowhere rather than making efforts to rebuild his Kingdom. While I’m on the subject of anthropomorphic characters, I’ll just come right out and say it. I MISS COSMO!!! Please DnA, bring Cosmo back in 2010 (and while you’re at it – bring back the easy on the eyes Gamora and Mantis).

As in most good science-fiction/science-fantasy, relevant and topical socio-political-religious issues are addressed. Governmental cowardice on the part of Knowhere’s ruling council, government sanctioned treachery on the part of Knowhere’s official super-powered peacekeepers – The Luminals, and the religious fanaticism of The Universal Church of Truth are all touched upon. The consequences of these issues are presented without heavy-handedness or descent into preachiness; and without DnA necessarily taking a side. In other words, DnA use the situation to provoke thought about these complex issues – letting the reader draw their own conclusions. Thought provocation – now that’s a rare commodity in what passes for news programming and popular entertainment these days.

Walker’s photo-realistic style art is among the best I’ve seen in the business. I always look forward to opening up an issue of Guardians of the Galaxy and enjoying the eye candy when I see Walker’s name on the cover. Quintana’s coloring makes the art pop off the page and command your attention – adding another layer of depth to the comics reading experience. Wilkens’ cover art is successful in being both attractive and in accomplishing the difficult task of a one-frame capture of the action characteristic of each issue of Guardians of the Galaxy – providing the initial temptation for potential readers to pick this book off the shelf and for long time readers to continue buying it. That’s the acid test for the quality of a cover in my comics worldview.

In closing, I’d like to thank Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Brad Walker, Wil Quintana, Bill Rosemann, Joe Quesada, and all the other Marvel Artistic and Editorial staff who have worked hard to bring we fans each wonderful issue of Guardians of the Galaxy throughout 2009. Thanks especially to the loyal fans who buy each issue of Guardians of the Galaxy so Marvel can keep these incredible adventures coming to us each month. Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t just set the storytelling and art bar for Cosmic comics; it sets the bar for all comics. Let’s all continue to work together to make 2010 an even better year for Marvel Cosmic. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to the Marvel Staff and the Cosmic Fans.
 

Article by: Bill Meneese

 

 

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Guardians of the Galaxy #20 Review

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Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning

Artist: Brad Walker

Colorist: Wil Quintana

Cover Artist: Alex Garner

Warning: Contains Spoilers

 

Awesome. Amazingly, jaw-droppingly awesome. I felt as though I had just finished reading a chapter from a dramatic, exciting, well-constructed novel.

Issue #20 is both an aftermath story for the previous arc and a prologue for the next arc. Transitional issues of a series are often times among the weaker stories in a series; but in the highly talented hands of writers Abnett and Lanning, Issue #20 is one of the dramatically strongest of the series thus far.

We are treated to an issue filled with a blend of action-adventure, plot advancement, and a unique form of character development through the eyes of the newest telepath addition to the team, Moondragon. Moondragon “gets in the heads” of several of the characters to explore their motivations and their struggle to cope with the deaths of so many teammates last issue. There are some particularly somber and touching scenes featuring Starlord and Rocket where their pain is evident both in their words and their faces.

Speaking of Moondragon, I have to say that I was a bit concerned with her addition to the team at first. I’ve never really liked that character. To me, she always sucks all the air out of any storyline where she appears. Not so this time out. I was pleasantly surprised all the way around. She really worked in this storyline both as an individual and as part of the team. In fact, this storyline wouldn’t have worked as well as it did without her and her private struggle to cope with the loss of Phyla.

The tenuous political standing of the Guardians on Knowhere station is also explored a bit more; with fan favorites, The Luminals, guest starring as foils to Starlord’s plans. It is during this sequence that we get another tantalizing clue as to who is in the cocoon being held by the Universal Church of Truth.

My personal favorite visual scene takes place in Starlin’s bar. Rocket on a booster seat and Groot with a giant-sized umbrella drink being absorbed through his roots will hold a special place in my visual memory for a long time.

Speaking of visuals, let me rave about the art. First off, Garner’s cover art was well-constructed, eye catching, and intriguing. It almost looked like a poster for a SF horror film. It would tempt me to buy this book when it caught my eye on the shelf; and that’s the yardstick I always use to judge a cover.

Walker’s interior art was magnificent. I was excited to have him back on this book and he did not even come close to disappointing. Every page was eye candy. Walker brings back the intricacy, depth, and all around eye pleasing beauty of the characters and the settings that has been missing for the last several issues. He even made me see Moondragon’s beauty for the first time as normally she does nothing for me. I was struck by his ability to capture the emotions of the characters in their postures and facial expressions. He also perfectly captured the weird and wonderful environment of the fault and its denizens. I hope Walker stays on this book forever. To round out the visual extravaganza, Quintana perfectly captures the mood of each scene with his coloring and shading. Comics art and coloring don’t get much better than this.

If you’re not buying this book, you’re missing out on one of the best comics being published by any publisher bar none. It is truly head and shoulders above most of the stuff that makes it to the shelves – including the best sellers. The dynamic writing duo of DnA paired with the incredible artistic talent of Brad Walker make this book a top quality must read every month. I know it sounds fan-boyish, but I’ll admit that I generally read it for the first time in my car on the parking lot of my local comics shop because I can’t wait until I get home to see what DnA and Walker have created. Seriously, if you ignore everything else I say, take my word on this one. Buy Guardians of the Galaxy. In fact, buy two copies and put one in the hands of a friend who is not currently reading the book. It will leave both of you happy; and you’ll make a friend for life.

Article by: Bill Meneese

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Guardians of the Galaxy #18 Review

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Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning

Artist: Wesley Craig

Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn

Cover Artist: Pasqual Ferry

Warning: Contains Spoilers

 

I really like it that DnA are mining the Marvel vaults for cosmic characters that have lain dormant for far too long. This issue gives us original Guardians of the Galaxy, Killraven, and Hollywood (a future, aged version of Wonder Man). What more need I say? With a lineup like that, you know you’re in for a helluva ride and, as always, DnA do not disappoint.

To recap, #18 picks up where Star-Lord’s portion of the team (Mantis, Bug, Cosmo, Flagg) left off in #16. It seems that Star-Lord’s team is lost in time and space, being randomly thrown from one alternate reality to the next (kind of like the old Time Tunnel series); but always ending up in a reality on the date Friday January 13th, 3009. The effect also has them aging at different rates with Star-Lord being an old man, Bug now a teenager, Cosmo a puppy, and Mantis an infant. Strangely, Flagg is immune from the aging effect but seems to be fading away into insubstantiality. The team arrives in a future version of NYC where a team consisting of Killraven, Hollywood, Charlie 27, Starhawk, and Nikki (calling themselves the Guardians of the Galaxy) are in the midst of battle with the “Martians” of Killraven’s time. Our Guardians aid the alternate Guardians in their fight; overcoming the Martians. Starhawk reveals that Star-Lord’s team must find a way back to their reality and time or they will cease to exist. Both teams decide to raid the ruins of Avengers Mansion so Killraven’s team may use the weapons stored there against the Martians and so Star-Lord’s team may use Doom’s time machine to get home. Just as the team fights their way into the mansion’s weapon’s cache; time-space shifts again and Star-Lord’s team is whisked away to another reality before they can use the time machine. They end up in a reality controlled by The Magus and are immediately attacked by operatives of the UCT.

DnA are to be commended once again for a story that delivers drama, excitement, and a flat out fun time. I appreciate their ability to take an enormous cast of disparate B and C list characters from Marvel’s dim and distant cosmic past; and develop them into complex characters that we care about by putting them in an A list story. Just goes to show you that the old adage, “there are no bad characters,” is true. It all boils down to the writing; and DnA are a powerhouse of a writing team.

I really enjoyed seeing Killraven again after such a long absence. Having always been a Wonder Man fan, I was also excited to see Hollywood in this book. I hope DnA find a way to bring these two back for some more adventures with the new Guardians. The developing friendship between alternate Charlie 27’s and Flagg has been a fun element across this story arc as well. Speaking of Flagg, I am wondering what DnA have planned for him. He’s been the “duck out of water” character since he was introduced to the team; but he now seems poised to take on a much more important role. I hope he isn’t being written out of the book as I’ve started to like this character being part of the team.

Some think that the magic of this book rests solely on the shoulders of Rocket Raccoon and Groot. Issue #18 should lay that theory to rest. The magic of this book is in the interaction of the ensemble – which is amply demonstrated in this issue where Rocket and Groot are absent.

This story begins the process of bringing the two halves of the current Guardians back together into what will no doubt be a major throwdown with The Magus. I hear another long absent cosmic alumnus will be making an appearance in this book quite soon – namely Kang. I’ll be anxiously awaiting Kang’s return and wondering who will be brought back next from Marvel’s past to mix it up with the team – John Carter? The Micronauts? Rom Spaceknight? Whoever DnA bring back, I’m sure they’ll give us a memorable story.

Ferry once again delivers magnificent cover art for #18. It really is one of my favorite covers for the series thus far. Fairbairn’s colors are nicely done – being the perfect complement to Craig’s art. As to Craig’s art – I will say that I liked his art this time quite a bit better than I liked his previous work on this series. I don’t know if he’s growing into the look of this title or if I’m just getting used to the jarring stylistic differences between Craig and Walker. In either case, I still prefer the more realistic take of Walker on this book. Craig is obviously a talented artist, but the more “Saturday morning cartoonish” style of his art is just not right for this particular book.

Guardians of the Galaxy consistently delivers the perfect balance of action, adventure, humor, drama, excitement, and unpredictability. Bar none, Guardians of the Galaxy is one of Marvel’s finest books; and if you’re not reading it – call your local comics shop right now and add it to your pull list. You’ll be glad you did.

Article by: Bill Meneese

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Guardians of the Galaxy #17 Review

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Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning

Artist: Brad Walker

Colorist: Jay David Ramos

Cover Artist: Daniel Acuna

 

Warning: Contains Spoilers

 

It’s like a Christmas morning experience once per month on the day Marvel releases each new issue of Guardians of the Galaxy. I can’t wait to open each issue and savor the surprises contained within. No character is safe and anything can happen in this book – as was proved over and over again in Issue #17.

To recap, Warlock receives Starlord’s message from the future; but before he can act, the T-Bomb is detonated, tearing a hole in space-time which is quickly dubbed “The Fault.” Gamora and Warlock depart to try to repair The Fault; while Rocket, Groot, and the rest of the team transport to Attitlan to make sure the Inhumans don’t detonate any more T-Bombs. The Guardians arrive on Attitlan and the recriminations fly, leading to a scuffle; but the argument/scuffle are cut short when Attitlan is attacked by a large creature emerging from The Fault. The Inhumans and the Guardians join forces to stop the creature; but the Inhumans are also in a race against time to stop Attitlan from falling into The Fault. Maximus and Groot devise a plan to save the city. Their plan works and Martyr departs to aid Warlock and Gamora in their efforts to repair The Fault. Warlock succeeds in freezing the advance of The Fault. In a surprise move, Martyr then stabs him through the chest to fulfill her pact with Oblivion. Gamora kills Martyr in reprisal and rushes to assist Warlock. Warlock regains consciousness; but immediately transforms into The Magus! The Magus snaps Gamora’s neck and throws her into The Fault.

This is going to be a tough review because there’s nothing wrong with this issue of the series. I do want to mention several things I really liked. To begin with, the team has really come together as a powerful, effective, and well functioning strike force. Unfortunately, this occurs just in time for the team to be fractured into several units and for two founding members to be (apparently) killed. I do hope that the deaths of Martyr and Gamora will somehow be reversed by the conditions of The Fault; as Gamora is a favorite character (especially now that she is fully healed and has her hair back); and Martyr was just beginning to become interesting.

As usual, Rocket and Groot steal the show. Smart-assy hilarity spews from Rocket nearly every time he opens his mouth. The great thing about Rocket is that he is able to get away with all the humor without becoming a buffoonish character that nobody takes seriously. Rocket may be small in stature; but he is great in leadership – and a fighter I’d be happy to have at my side in a serious scrape. DnA finally explain why Groot went from haughtily loquacious in past characterizations to the rapidly losing its humorous appeal single-phrased “I am Groot.” It turns out that Groot is not only still loquacious – but also a towering genius at physics; and Maximus can understand all the nuances of meaning in what others hear as Groot merely repeating his name. It was nice to see Groot broken out of his role as the dumb lumbering powerhouse of the team – and using his until now hidden great intellect to save the day rather than just smashing everything that crosses his path. I hope a method is found to better communicate with Groot as it would be fun to see this aspect of the character further developed.

That final sequence with Warlock transforming into The Magus was not entirely unexpected. Nevertheless, it adds a fine new twist to The Guardians’ storyline and I look forward to seeing where DnA take us next.

I heartily welcome Walker’s return to the fold as artist this month. He’s really made this book his own; and I hope he stays on as artist for a good long time. Ramos’ colors are commendable as well. Acuna’s cover art for Guardians of the Galaxy is quite good, but he’s spoiled me with his more exciting cover art on the last three issues of Nova. Specifically, the action portrait shot of Warlock, Black Bolt, Gamora, and Medusa is technically well executed; but not particularly interesting, exciting, or an attention grabber. I just don’t think it’s going to motivate any first time reader to pick this book off the shelf to check it out.

In short, DnA deliver to us once again a nice hot cup of outstanding cosmic para-military action-adventure. The Guardians of the Galaxy are truly the “Cosmic Avengers” that many have been asking for over the past several years; and I don’t understand why Avengers fans aren’t flocking to this book. Add this one to your pull list folks. It deserves a prominent place there for the foreseeable future.

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Guardians of the Galaxy #16 Review

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Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning

Artist: Wesley Craig

Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn

Cover Artist: Pasqual Ferry

Warning: Contains Spoilers

 

Original Guardians of the Galaxy, contemporary Guardians of the Galaxy, Badoon, Celestials, Avenger’s Mansion, Dr. Doom’s Time Machine, and fan favorite Cosmo saving the day! Man – I’m telling you – this issue has it all in terms of story! DnA manage to once again amaze readers by deftly delivering an engaging and exciting tale built around an enormous and disparate cast of characters.

Picking up where last issue left off, Starhawk uses Dr. Doom’s Time Machine to abduct Starlord, Cosmo, Mantis, Bug, and Jack Flag; spiriting them away to a time 1000 years into the future where the Badoon rule what is left of space-time – an area the size of the solar system kept intact by an enormous engine composed of Celestials and built around the sun. Upon arrival, the original Guardians attack the contemporary Guardians for an interesting and fun throw down. When both teams call a time out, it is learned that the universe has collapsed due to Black Bolt’s detonation of a doomsday bomb during the WOK conflict. To save themselves, the Badoon used a Cosmic Cube to enslave the Celestials and keep the collapse of the universe at bay with the Celestials’ powers. The Guardians fight their way through Badoon resistance and destroy the Celestial engine, causing the last of space-time to collapse; but not before Cosmo gets a message through to Adam Warlock. The message is simple: Stop Black Bolt.

I want to compliment Pasqual Ferry. I really enjoyed his cover art featuring the original Guardians of the Galaxy. Unfortunately, the interior art leaves much to be desired. Craig is a good artist and his style was tolerable for issues #11 and #12 as they took place in an abstract realm of the universe. However, his style is just not right for this book at this time. It looks rushed and Saturday morning cartoon-ish. This style would be fine for some books; but frankly it detracts from GoTG and makes the action sequences and the overall reading experience less enjoyable. If I have one overall criticism of GoTG it’s that the art has been inconsistent across the entire run of the series to date. This book needs a regular artist like Walker, Alves, or Devito. Here’s hoping that Walker is back soon and is hired to be the regular artist for this title.

DnA weave a fine tale for the first meeting of the entire original GoTG team with the contemporary team. They also up the stakes for the Guardian’s involvement in WOK, making it critical that they intervene to stop the war before the war results in the collapse of space-time that Warlock has been warning about since issue #1. I was happy to see Cosmo playing a critical role in events for the first time in this series. He is one of the stand-out characters and really hasn’t gotten enough face time in the series until this issue. The other little moments in the issue where the original characters get to know the contemporary characters were also nicely done.

GoTG is one of Marvel’s best titles month after month. I really hope WOK gives it a much needed boost in sales so that it stays around a good long time.

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Guardians of the Galaxy #15 Review

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Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning

Artist: Brad Walker

Colorist: Jay David Ramos

Cover Artist: Salvador Larroca

Warning: Contains Spoilers

 

Once again Abnett and Lanning show us why Guardians of the Galaxy is one of the best books Marvel puts on the shelves each month. I just can’t understand why this book is only a mediocre seller. It really is much better than most of Marvel’s top sellers.

The story picks up at the start of the melee that was set up at the end of issue #14 with the Guardians facing off against the Inhuman Royal Family and the Shi’ar Imperial Guard. The Inhumans rescue Crystal from Phyla’s attempt to use her as a hostage; but not before Starlord and Mantis reveal to Crystal the damage the War of Kings is doing to the space-time continuum. Lockjaw transports the Inhumans back to Hala; leaving the Imperial Guard and the Guardians locked in mortal combat. The Guardians use the diversion of the Inhumans departure to split into three smaller teams to more effectively engage the Imperial Guard. Gamora and Phyla are on one team while Starlord, Cosmo, Flagg, Bug, and Mantis are on another. Rocket, Groot, Drax and Captain Victory teleport in to make up the third team. Warlock goes solo to confront the Shi’ar magic user. Meanwhile, Starhawk manipulates Moondragon into setting her free. Warlock once again transforms into The Magus persona and kills the Shi’ar pursuing him. Starhawk abducts Starlord’s team. The other Guardians teams defeat or evade their pursuers; and then converge on the Continuum Cortex to drive the Imperial Guard off of Knowhere. As the remaining Guardians debrief; they are disturbed by a totally unexpected event – the severed head of the Celestial that is Knowhere suddenly comes back to life; and it’s looking for Warlock.

I thoroughly enjoyed #15 and I was impressed by DnA’s ability to tell such a fast-paced and engaging story using such a large and disparate cast of characters. It would be easy for some of these characters to get lost in the shuffle or for them to be given short shrift; but DnA gave each of them something important to do.

My favorite sequence in this issue is the first one where the Guardians are caught in the middle between the Inhumans and the Imperial Guard. My only complaint is that this sequence ended too quickly. I would have preferred to see some more action with all three teams fighting each other in a free for all. As it was, the Inhumans quit the field all too quickly.

Warlock’s sequence was intriguing. His abrupt transformations into the murderously psychotic Magus are jarring. The question in my mind is: are DnA feeding us a red herring? Is it really The Magus we’ve been dealing with since Annihilation? Who is in the cocoon being protected by the Universal Church of Truth?

Starhawk’s abduction of Starlord’s team is intriguing as well. Where did she take them? Interestingly, Cosmo was with them and I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing him in on the direct action.

The sequence where all the remaining Guardians converge on the Continuum Cortex and drive out the Imperial Guard was very satisfying. I always enjoy it when the Imperial Guard get their asses handed to them – and they made it clear that they were humiliated by being defeated by the Guardians.

The final sequence where the Celestial came back to life was a real shocker. I didn’t see that one coming and I can’t wait to see what DnA have in store for us with this development next issue.

I am a fan of Walker’s art. He consistently scores a home run with all the complex scenes and different characters being portrayed in the typical action packed GoTG story. Ramos’ colors perfectly complimented Walker’s art. I didn’t find the Larroca cover very satisfying though – and that’s disappointing because a cover featuring Cosmo and Rocket if done better would have been an instant favorite for me as I am so fond of those two characters.

I know this will come as a surprise to those of you who respond to my critiques in the forum, but try as I might, I really couldn’t find much to nit-pick about this issue. The story was engaging and plausible, the action was exciting, and the interior art was good. Quite simply, GoTG #15 was a thoroughly satisfying read and it remains one of Marvel’s consistently best offerings month after month. Here’s hoping GoTG has a long and glorious future.