When I peeled open the cover of Guardians of the Galaxy #1, the issue already had three strikes against it. Yes, I know that the saying is “two strikes against it”. But, it didn’t. It had three strikes against it:
- I never liked the Marvel “cosmic” lines when I was growing up
- I was lukewarm on Avengers A.I. #1
- New Avengers #1 really bugged me
I must have ruled the last one a strike, and the batter appealed to the third base ump, who called it a foul tip.
I grabbed this title the same day I grabbed a bunch of comics at Legend. I figured that since “Guardians of the Galaxy” is going to be the next Marvel Summer Blockbuster, I should brush up on the team. In addition, my hope was that since they’re trying to build this to a big motion picture, they might make the title a teensy-bit accessible for casual comic readers.
To my initial surprise, I didn’t detest this issue. To my later surprise, I kinda liked it.
Not to say that there is not a lot of weirdness that goes on in this comic. However, it was set up well for very specific readers – people who are both tangentially aware of the concept of a “Rocket Raccoon”, and are also new to this title.
There’s a lot of generic set-up in a rundown Cantina, *cough, cough*, I mean a bar in space. Then, bad guys. Then, daddy issues.
Daddy issues like, “Son! You could be so much more!” and then, “No, dad! You’re not the boss of me! And also, I’m a badass.” It’s that level of drama.
Cut to, the next page in the issue. It’s a really poorly placed advertisement for some other Marvel titles. The ad completely breaks the continuity of the story and got me lost.
When I returned to the story, it took me about three re-reads to figure out that the character in the following splash was not the protagonist of the title (a Mr. Peter Quill), but was actually Tony Stark in some weird armor I had never seen before.
The sequence follows, thusly:
CANTINA SPACE BAR – DAY
GAMORA (Female, 20s, Green from head to toe) slays five armored dudes with her broadsword.
Stop it, Gamora. Me and my dad were just arguing. No big deal.
That’s your girlfriend?
PETER petulantly slams his helmet down over his super-handsome features.
Don’t go away angry, son. Just because you’re wasting your life…
PETER LOOKS MAD, LIKE HE’S GOING TO TAKE OFF INTO A SPACE RAGE ONCE HE GETS HIS SPACE GEAR ON.
Hey, readers… Here’s a bunch of ads. Hope you don’t forget about what was just happening in the first issue of a title where you have no idea who the characters are or what their costumes look like when they’re flying around outer space. Because, then you would be so confused. Excelsior!
EXT. – OUTER SPACE – UMMMM… (DAY, I GUESS?)
SPACE GUY FLIES AROUND IN OUTER SPACE WEARING A COSTUME NO ONE HAS EVER SEEN BEFORE IN THEIR LIFE, EXCEPT ON THE COVER OF THIS COMIC WHICH MAKES YOU THINK HE’S ONE OF THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.
GUY FLYING IN SPACE:
I’m really tormented. Exactly in the way that someone who just had a fight with their dad would be. I should have put on this Iron Man armor and jetted off into space a long time ago.
Aaaaaaaand, end scene!
Wait a minute guy in an armor I’ve never seen before. Are you Tony Stark? Are you still Peter Quill, but you got armor from Tony Stark, and that’s why you’re a Guardian of the Galaxy? What’s going on?
Turns out it is Tony Stark flying around in space, which raises a bunch of new questions.
Tony. Come on man. Why did you name your onboard computer P.E.P.P.E.R. ? That acronym can’t be a natural byproduct of a normal nomenclature. Here is a comprehensive list of names that don’t immediately make me wonder whether you are wearing underwear in that armor:
- ANY OTHER HUMAN NAME (OR FOOD FLAVORING/SPICE) FROM THE COURSE OF HUMAN HISTORY EXCEPTING “PEPPER”
Anyway, after the Iron Man weirdness, there is some cool action. The action scene that follows, along with the reactions of the characters – Rocket Raccoon in particular – gives me hope that this title has some staying power. There’s a good story at the core of this with real, understandable motives and big time stakes for the characters. Even if one of those characters is an ambulatory tree.
I hope that the weird Iron Man aside in this review didn’t distract you as much as the weird Iron Man aside in the comic distracted me. Now that you’re prepared for it, you might find this issue fun.
I’m not saying that the comic is ground-breaking, but it’s much better than I expected at the outset. I’ll give it another issue to see how it progresses.
And that’s saying a lot based on my recent experiences with Marvel comics.
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