Sunday, 14 April 2013

Marvel Now! Guardians of the Galaxy #0.1 & #1

While it was interesting to take a look at a DC comic for the last installment of my little review blog, I thought it would be fun to return to Marvel and take a look at yet another of their new space  based / cosmic offerings. 

Again, such as with my Nova review, this will be two reviews in one in order to play catch-up with the series, which today (as you can no doubt see from the title) will be


so of course we start with...

We open this comic to discover that it is set 30 years ago and some woman is sitting on some steps at the front of her house talking to someone on the phone.  Now while it isn't outright said who is on the other end of the line, I can only guess judging by the conversation that she is talking to her mother.  A mother who it seems is one of those overbearing types who believes her daughters life is not complete without a man, even if that man happens to be a jerk.

Still their conversation is cut short by the untimely (or perhaps for the woman's sake timely) crash landing of a space ship. The woman, who we later discover is called Meredith, is shocked to discover what appears to be a human emerging from the wreckage and after a small shock where he momentarily pulls a gun on her, she takes him into the house to recuperate.  When he is feeling a bit better he informs her that is name if J'Son and not only is he actually an alien but he is of the throne of Spartax.

Of course she allows him to stay while he tries to fix his ship and during that time the two fall in love.  He actually finished the ship faster then he let on but he wanted a few more days with her but realized that it was about time for him to return to his people and his responsibilities.  She asks to go with him but he tells her that he is returning to a war and that she and the people of earth are not yet ready for what is going on in the rest of the galaxy (tho considering this is the Marvel universe that is probably a load and was just used as some excuse to dump her after what is basically a slightly extended one night stand)

Of course it turns out she was made pregnant by him and we move forward another ten years, or as the comic says "Twenty years ago." Here we meet the future leader of the Guardians of The Galaxy...Peter Quill (who later becomes known as Star-Lord).

Peter is caught reading a comic by his mother which she says is "crap" (this is kinda ironic considering this is in a comic because...meta humor, you have to love it).  Somehow this turns into an argument about Peter's dad not being there with Peter insisting that he has no father and acting up quite a bit.

We then move scenes to Peter at school where he is talking about creating superheroes with a friend of his when he suddenly sees the school bully picking on some little girl just because she has darker skin or something (racism).  Of course Peter feels that he must stand up for her and, despite the bully being much larger then Peter, Peter kicks (well slaps) his ass to the ground and proceeds to beat him up.  Then a teacher arrives.

He returns home and while washing up for dinner some aliens called the Badoon arrive and kill his mother. They are in fact looking for him so they can put an end to the Spartax bloodline.  Using his mother's shotgun he is able to kill the aliens and then also just happens to find his father's gun.  He takes a few moments to wonder about where it came from when he suddenly sees a bright light.  Quickly he runs from his home just as...

His house explodes.

The force of the explosion propels him into a tree and knocks him unconscious.  He then wakes up a short while later in hospital where a nurse gives him back his "toy gun".

We then learn that this has all been a flashback / story being told to Tony Stark by the adult Peter who sums up the rest of his life by saying

"I lived the rest of my childhood in an orphanage and a couple of foster homes...but the second I could find a way off planet earth I took it...I joined NASA. I did everything. I got up here and here I am"

Which kinda glosses over the parts that come inbetween him losing his mother and eventually becoming "Star-Lord" a bit too quickly.

Anyway, Tony says that is all he wanted to know and that he "is in". Then the comic ends with the Guardians ship flying off into space

Now the inclusion of Tony Stark / Iron Man in this comic means that this comic is strangely both a prequel and a sequel to

This time the comic opens up on another planet on which we now find the adult Peter Quill in a cantina, not unlike the one from Star Wars, where he is talking to a female member of the Kree race.  Their conversation is cut short with the arrival of his dad, King J'Son of the Spartax Planetary System and his entourage.  J'Son has come to tell his son that a recent meeting with  a Council of Galactic Empires has decided to make Earth out of bounds so that it has a chance to develop on its own and join them as a part of their galactic civilization in its own time.  This means that nobody, including Peter, is allowed to return to earth any time soon.

Peter however points out that this has effectively placed a big target on the earth and has left it open to attack from entities that do not care about following rules.  Just then Gamora appears and takes out some of J'Son's guards under the false impression Peter was in trouble, but Peter tells her to stop and the two leave.  J'Son says to his son that he should "imagine what he could accomplish if 'he' was doing what he was supposed to be doing".  A slight smile on his face in the very next panel hints towards the idea that Peter rushing off to the earth's defense is EXACTLY what he is supposed to be doing.

We then cut to Iron Man who is flying around space in his new Godkiller Armor having decided in a previous Iron Man issue to leave earth and "seek his fortune" in outer space.  He quickly comes across a massive Badoon ship approaching earth and attempts, without success, to take it down by himself. It is just then that the Guardians of the Galaxy arrive which of course consists of; Peter Quill aka Star-Lord, Gamora, Groot, Drax the Destroyer and Rocket Raccoon.

The Guardians and Tony join forces to fight back the Badoon, with Groot and Gamora even boarding the enemy ship via the front windows which Rocket has blown to pieces using yet another of those super over-sized guns he is so famous for.

The Badoon, realizing that they are losing the fight, decide to blow up their ship in an effort to kill the heroes but not before telling the rest of the Brotherhood to avenge them.  Iron Man gets a bad hit from the blast and Groot is reduced to a single sliver of wood.

Back on their ship, Peter desperately tries to determine if Tony is still alive while more Badoon ships enter earth's atmosphere.  Gamora tells Peter that she believes his dad knew earth would be attacked and that Peter would try to save it, because if he can't have either "Then as far as he is concerned you can all go to hell together."

In these issue Brian Michael Bendis  has crafted a very simple and somewhat cliched tale.  The first half of issue 0.1 is a simple story of a lost alien stranded on earth who meets and befriends a lonely human, not unlike such movies as E.T., Mac and Me and, perhaps more apt, Starman.   This then moves into the cliche of the boy who grew up without a father and has become angry and resentful towards his absentee father (who he insists doesn't even exist) and even his mother.  Yet he is still a good boy at heart as shown when he defends the little girl.

In issue #1 it feels a lot more like Star Wars, at least at the start, and their is not really much character development but instead is more about getting the Guardians and, their soon to be new member, Iron Man into a fight as quickly as possible.

This doesn't mean there is not some.  While Gamora says she believes J'Son wants Peter and the Earth to both go to hell I think it is quite the opposite.  Knowing he could not oppose the will of the Galactic Council, even if he is King of the Spartax system, J'Son forbade his son from "interfering" with Earth because he knew that Peter would do the opposite (just as Gamora said), not because he wants them both to go to hell, but because Earth is important to him and he knows that Peter and his team will be the best people to keep it safe but he considering the new law he could not "appoint" Peter its protector and so had to use reverse psychology to make him do it on his own.

While this is a great introduction to the series has really makes you want to see what happens next there is actually one major flaw in how the story unfolded.

Considering that at the end of issue #0.1 Iron Man is on the Guardians ship and is alive and fine as it blasts off into space, yet they don't actually meet until part way through issue #1 (which is why I called #0.1 both a prequel and a sequel) it has already undermined any tension that the end of issue #1 might have created.  It ends with Iron Man possibly dead and the earth under attack but we have already seen in the end of #0.1 that both are fine (because I doubt Tony would be smiling and flying off into Space if Earth was in trouble)

The art by Steve McNiven is simply awesome.  The characters and locations look great and well detailed and their faces are full of expressions, especially Rocket who is a total blast just like he always is.  This is helped by the marvelous inking job done  by John Dell which really makes MCNiven's pencils stand out and pop from the page.  To finish the job is the excellent coloring job Justin Ponsor which is bright and colorful and really captures the fun (almost 80ishness) of the comic and yet does not cross over into being too cartoony.

To sum up

Guardians of the Galaxy #0.1:

A fun if also a bit cliched story with great art and good characters but does gloss over Peter becoming Star-Lord FAR too quickly.

 4 Howling Wolves

Damn Good Read

Guardians of the Galaxy #1:

A fun read that quickly thrusts the reader right into some major action with the Guardians and Iron Man teaming up to save the earth from the Badoon.  It is only hampered by the fact the end of issue #0.1 has already spoiled the outcome of this still ongoing battle.

 4 Howling Wolves

Damn Good Read

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