(*this review originally appears in Bob’s Threat Level Wednesday for Oct 01, 2014)
Guardians 3000 #1
w. Dan Abnett
a. Gerardo Sandoval
4 out of 5 Space Monkeys
Because there is finally a Guardians book on the shelf I can read without getting that weird mixture of anger and nausea that hits me when I read the current series, whose current writer, by the way, has been the first person to get me to stop collecting a Guardians book since I picked up Valentino’s #1 in 1991, and went back and got each and every appearance of them. This is the Guardians of the Galaxy! Abnett and Lanning developed the current interpretation of the team (Starlord, Drax, Groot, and Gamora, plus a few others along the way) during their cosmic epics: Annihilation, Annihilation: Conquest, and the War and Realm of Kings mini series.
They took the name of Arnold Drake and Gene Colan’s original idea: a team of rebels in the far future, each the final representative of their home planet, fighting a one-sided battle against the galaxy’s conquerors, the Badoon, and kept the core idea of the group, only using current characters in the Marvel Universe. Loaded with action, drama, a large dose of humor and some fantastic art, the Guardians of the Galaxy continued (or started.. you know because time travel!) a great tradition of second string heroes banding together to save the universe from cosmic level threats.
Then Bendis came. Followed by Angela.
And then the slow descent into mediocrity that followed.
The GOTG became a sort of Avengers Cosmic Lite, watered down by over-humoring, boring dialogue, the “I can put anyone on a team and sell it” mentality that ruined the Avengers franchise for me, and led to such stellar GOTG members such as Iron Man, Ms. Marvel and Venom (yes that Venom!) that just sucked the uniqueness of being a Guardian right out of the book. And then there’s the general reworking of the core members personalities into pablam-esque mouth pieces and derivative handbook examples of talking heads.
So when this book was announced, I went ape-shit!
Guardians of the Galaxy has always had a special place in my heart. When I first got into comics heavily, in my early teens, every title was in the 200s, 300s, etc., totally mired in a history that was decades older than I was. Then Guardians of the Galaxy #1 came out and I jumped on board, and along with New Warriors, I collected those titles like they were Spider-Man and Fantastic Four in the 60’s, month in, month out, from issue #1 ’til the end, and any remake after that.
And now they are back, and I can read a Guardians of the Galaxy book on a monthly basis, without being in running distance of either a toilet or a bottle of Xanax. And this one has what you want in a GOTG comic: compelling writing, dynamic art, smart characters and dialogue. And, get this, the team guards the galaxy. Novel idea, huh?
Abnett is back on the scene, sans Lanning, and literally just shows you how (pay attention, Brian!) to write a futuristic space adventure comic! From the opening scene to the final page, Abnett pulls you into the adventure, dropping you mid-scene into a battle to save a lone earth-girl, Geena Drake (I see what ya did there… GENE Colan & Arnold DRAKE… smart one Dan! ) from the clutches of the Badoon. The original team is back – Vance Astro is in his metallic suit sporting Captain America’s shield, Charlie 27 is in his original post Space-suit costume, Starhhawk is looking as cool as hell as always, Martinex is looking a little less facet-y than his original dermatological sheen, and Yondu, thank the Gods, doesn’t have a flat top mohawk or sound like Merle Dixon… and actually uses a bow!
Abnett pulls out all the stops on his creativity, dropping lines of future speak like “Garked” and “Dinkwaft”, cool concepts like the Hideaway Parliament, a group representing the last race’s beings not yet conquered by the Badoon, the Night-Vowed, and The Old Hunger.
Plus the sight of a dead Star-Lord might also be an indicator of someone else’s opinion on his current handling.
Made me chuckle.
And all of this was brought to you by the over-the top action penciling of Gerardo Sandoval. With a heavy manga influence, he captures the zeal and colorfulness of the 90’s Valentino run (I know a lot of people weren’t crazy about Valentino’s “cartoony” style, but it always resonated with me as brighter take on the future ala Legion of Superheroes, with just the right dose of Saturday-morning-cartoon to make even a then 14-year-old nostalgic), but has the shade and shadow effects needed to give it a more serious tone, not just for sake of the story, but to fit the sensibilities of the current reader’s maturity.
The book is ripe with cool sci-fi concepts, fits seemingly into all previous Guardian history (check out their Legacy trade paperback to see the first interaction between the current and future teams and see what caused all the shifting timelines in the 31st century), and delivers enough intrigue, twists, and action to keep you wanting more.
This is the Guardians.
End of Story