By Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (writers), Brad Walker (artist), Andrew Hennessy (inker), Wil Quintana (colorist)

The Story: Thanos lives!!! And holy shit does he have an axe to grind…

The Good: Fellow critic Dean Stell and I were talking about this series the other day and we both agreed that one of the things that makes Guardians of the Galaxy (and really any of Marvel’s cosmic comics) such a fun read is how surprisingly accessible it is. Abnett and Lanning work hard to make every issue easy for new readers to jump into and rewarding for those of us that have been reading for awhile, and it never ceases to amaze me what a great job they do of walking that fine line month after month. It was also a great pleasure to see Walker back on the book. I never had a problem with Wes Craig’s art over the previous few issues, and am actually looking forward to seeing him come back to the book at some point, but I have to admit that Walker is the perfect artist for this comic.

What’s Not So Good: Naked Thanos. I don’t care if you’re a man or a woman, gay or straight, nobody and I mean nobody should have to go through life with the image of a massive, bald, naked, purple man burned into their retinas… Except for me apparently, because I am your Critic Extraordinaire and falling on grenades like this for your benefit comes with the job. Also, I’ve come to despise any stories involving a Cosmic Cube, which is without doubt one of Marvel’s most idiotic MacGuffins. Even when it’s broken and only slightly all-powerful, as Star Lord’s was in this issue, it’s still the kind of deus ex machina that makes you upset for having wasted your money on the issue to begin with. We read and enjoy comics for the satisfaction of watching our heroes triumph in the face of overwhelming odds. To simply wave a glowing Rubik’s Cube at a problem to make it go away is a cheap resolution and doesn’t make for an especially enjoyable reading experience. I would have liked to have seen a full out brawl between the Guardians and Thanos, and would have loved to see the Guardians be forced to retreat. A move like that would have better highlighted the kind of threat that Thanos poses to the universe, but at the same time I realize this will probably be explained more in the upcoming “Thanos Imperative” storyline.

Conclusion: After a few slowl-paced issues, it’s nice to see Guardians getting back on track with the kind of epic space action that we have come to expect from this corner of the Marvel Universe. The “Thanos Imperative” is upon us, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Grade: B

-Tony Rakittke