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Brian Michael Bendis – Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1 & 2

June 17, 2014

47 & 48. Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 1: Cosmic Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2: Angela by Brian Michael Bendis, Sara Pichelli, Steve McNiven, Francesco Francavilla, Kevin Maguire (2013, 2014)

Guardians of the Galaxy, Volumes 1 & 2

Length: 144 & 168 pages
Genre: Science Fiction

Started/Finished: 09 June 2014

Where did they come from? The library.
Why do I have it? My friend sent me a T-shirt with the Nova Corps logo on it; I had no idea what that was. He pointed me towards the Guardians of the Galaxy comics, and these are what my library had. (Although these at least don’t mention the Nova Corps, so I’m still not entirely well-informed re: my t-shirt selection.)

It isn’t easy
saving the universe, but
these misfits will try!

Summary: The Guardians of the Galaxy are an eclectic group of “heroes”: There’s Star-Lord, aka Peter Quill, the half-human son of the royal line of Spartax; Gamora, daughter of the Thanos and the most dangerous woman in the universe; Drax, a green warrior who’s rarely defeated; Rocket Racoon, a smart-mouthed genetic experiment gone awry; and Groot, a tree-creature with amazing regenerative properties but a somewhat limited vocabulary.

In Volume 1, we start out with Star-Lord’s origin story… which becomes relevant when he is forced to confront his father as an adult. A galactic council, headed by Peter’s father, has met and declared that Earth, and the humans that inhabit it, are too dangerous to initiate contact with, and therefore declare that the Earth is off-limits to all aliens. However, Peter is convinced that all this will accomplish will be to paint a target on the Earth for all of its enemies, and that he and the Guardians (with some assistance from Iron Man) will be the only ones left to protect it.

In Volume 2, Gamora intervenes to stop Angela, a powerful creature of unknown origin who is headed directly for Earth. But when Peter senses a rip in time and space, he goes to confront the Guardian’s old enemy, Thanos, who has plans of his own for the Earth and its inhabitants.

Review: I had the same problem with these books as I have with reading pretty much every Marvel Universe book… namely, I haven’t read *enough* Marvel Universe comics, and therefore am totally lost a large percentage of the time. (Exceptions are total reboots, like Marvel 1602, or really peripherally-related series like Runaways – but even in those, there were definitely references I didn’t catch.) This series collects Guardians of the Galaxy comics that start with issue #1, so I thought this would be an okay place to start. And in some ways it was; we get Peter Quill’s backstory right off the bat in Vol. 1, but it skips from him being a kid on Earth holding his dad’s alien blaster, to him being an adult in a galactic bar, already part of the Guardians, with absolutely zero mention of how he got there or how the Guardians got together. Similarly, in Volume 2, we get some more development of the other characters, and tidbits of info on their backstory, but a lot of the plot revolves around the fallout of some major event that happened offscreen. (I’m assuming in some other comic, potentially in some other series? But at first it made me wonder if I was reading the collections in the right order, or if they’d left an issue out.) I also have no frame of reference for the various alien civilizations and other bad guys that are mentioned, and all of the Iron Man/Avengers references that are tossed around would have gone totally over my head if I hadn’t seen the movie. (…and I’m sure most of the references *did* go over my head.) This kind of frustration with how inaccessible to newcomers this interconnection makes Marvel Comics is absolutely why I don’t read more superhero comics, despite my library’s plentiful supply.

But despite all that, I followed the basic meat of the stories pretty well, at least in terms of what was getting punched and/or blown up, if not always exactly why. The art is bright and colorful and fun to look at, if often times physically improbable (both in the costuming department, and in the “how exactly are they flying un-helmeted through the vacuum of space again?” sense?). There’s also a good bit of humor interspersed with all the action; the Guardians seem like the kind of smart-ass snarky superheroes I could theoretically get behind, if I could figure out where the hell a new reader is supposed to start. 3/3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: This was a fun enough read, but I suspect that the more familiar you are with the Marvel Universe, the more you’ll enjoy it… and the less likely you are to need (or trust) my recommendation.

Volume 1: This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon
Volume 2: This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Couldn’t find any. Have you reviewed these books? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 17, 2014 3:05 pm

    I read just the first volume of these, I think, and there were times when I felt pretty lost. I wonder if it’ll all feel clearer once I’ve seen the forthcoming movie? Movie adaptations of comics books HAVE to try to appeal to non-readers of that particular comic, so presumably they’ll spoon feed us a bit more of the backstory for the film.

    • July 25, 2014 7:06 pm

      Jenny – That’s what I’m hoping as well. I have a friend who’s super-excited about the movie, and he was trying to tell me about something in the universe, and I was giving him blank looks… and I don’t know that my looks would be much less blank post-graphic novel… but at least I tried!

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