By Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning (writers), Paul Pelletier (penciler), Rick Magyar (inks), Nathan Fairbairn (colors)

This is how you write the first issue of a team book. Granted, if you’ve been following the Annihilation and Annihilation: Conquest series Marvel’s been running over the past two years, you’ll feel right at home, but for new readers the team chemistry is instantly realized. It helps that Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have been writing these characters for a while too. It’s really amazing how quickly they’re able to introduce the roster, give us background of what’s transpired with the Annihilation storylines, thrust us right into the middle of a chaotic battle, and set the tone of what’s to come.

Guardians of the Galaxy is a smart space saga packed with some of the most likeable characters you’ll ever meet. Rocket Racoon may feel like an outlandish choice for the team, but he fits right in and will most likely be one of the most popular characters amongst readers. His sarcasm coupled with his tactical genius is one of the cornerstones of this book. The humor, not just by him, but by the rest of the team off-sets the serious implications they get themselves into. The way these guys fight together is completely chaotic, yet when they’re put into a pinch they always manage to get the job done. Abnett and Lanning have cleverly planned this series. We get a run down on how the chemistry of the team is kept in check, how they move around the universe, what what may become of them in the future. A lot of ground work has been laid in this first issue, and it’s very, very impressive to say the least.

Paul Pelletier is the unsung hero of this book. He’s the glue that makes it all come together. From page one he throws down the gauntlet giving us spectacular splash pages, engaging fights, and harrowing views of space. There’s absolutely nothing negative I can say about the art he’s done in this issue – it’s strong on every single front, and believe me, this book moves around a bit.

In a perfect world, this comic would be one of those big budget, science fiction epics we’d see on television a weekly basis. But since it’s not, the comic will have to do. If the creative team can keep this momentum going (and I have no doubt that they can given their track record on Annihilation and Nova), Guardians of the Galaxy will quietly become one of the best new series of 2008. (Grade: A)

– J. Montes