By: Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Steve McNiven, John Dell (Artists), Justin Ponsor (Colorist)
The Story: Peter Quill meets his father and has an argument with him. After, he meets Iron Man and fights some Badoon.
The Review: Take a good look at the ‘’Story’’ section up above. This may sound like a very brief summary of what happens in this issue, which this section usually serves for, but unfortunately this is pretty much spot on what happens here, without spoiling the ending.
Indeed, one of the major flaws of this first issue would be the decompressed nature of the story, as Bendis really takes its time with a lot of things. Decompression isn’t necessarily a bad thing in comics, as some storylines can be enhanced by a longer structure and some emphasis on reaction from the core cast of the book. However, decompression can also seems like a cheap attempt at making a story that could be told in two to three issues longer, to fill out a trade, something that we also call ‘’writing for the trade’’. Now, this would be much too soon to properly classify in which category GotG will fall in, but judging from this issue, it would seem that the latter would be the correct answer.
To summarize everything that happens here, Star-Lord meets his father, the king of the Spartax planetary system, who proclaims that many important people and empires have claimed that the Earth is now untouchable and not to be disturbed. After an argument with his father, Peter Quill gets out of there with Gamora. We get a scene with Iron Man, who fights the Badoon as he his helped by the Guardians who come in the scene. An action scene occurs and then we get the big climactic cliff-hanger (which I will not spoil, as it is actually quite good). I have summarized a 22 pages comic in about 90 words without missing a single detail. That is kind of sad, especially when this is compared to the very first issue of the latest volume written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning.
In that issue, the team was introduced with a big action scene where every character could show what they could do and were introduced via mission debriefing panels. We got a mission statement; a scene where we saw how they got into the group and why while we also saw the major locales and theme of the book, all in a single issue. Here, we mostly get a hint toward the general theme and the mission statement, yet nothing more.
Now, to be fair, there are also a lot of things to like here as well. For one, we really do get a good feel about just who Star-Lord is in this issue, as Bendis shows us that he is a rebel with a cause, a person that knows just what needs to be done and that he can be the man for the job. Both with his scene with his father, with his team or with Tony Stark, we see just what kind of man Peter Quill is and I can say that I do believe this version is actually interesting, as the Spartax angle had not been really exploited in the previous volume. We also get some fun out of seeing Tony Stark being out of his depth, despite him being a big shot on Earth. We get some really small snippets of personality from the other characters, but it was clear that the focus in this issue was much more on Star-Lord.
Perhaps the other issues shall concentrate on the other characters, so I’ll wait before putting my judgment on this. Focusing more on a specific character in the very first issue, the introduction for new reader, is a somewhat questionable choice, as quite a lot of people would want to try this first issue. With a movie coming out, a lot of people oblivious to comics and the team history would not get much out of just seeing Peter Quill when there is a space raccoon with a huge gun beside him. At the same time, it is also a smart choice to focus on the more human characters to not destabilize the characters unused to science-fiction and such crazy concepts like Rocket Raccoon and Groot. However, this is not the very best introduction to this group of character.
What’s really lovely and serve as a great introduction to the whole thing would be Steve McNiven very professional art. His aliens are great-looking, his panels very large in scope, his action quite good and his poses really cool-looking. While I am not exactly a fan of his redesign of the costumes, I do have to admit he draw sci-fi clothing, spaceships and weaponry in a very good way, making this feel like a cosmic book in the visual department. To add to all the visual greatness, Justin Ponsor makes wonder with his color work, as the shadow and light effects he add are expertly layered upon McNiven’s art, creating some very nice laser effects, while also adding some more drama to the more serious scenes of the book.
The Conclusion: The first issue of Guardians of the Galaxy is unfortunately a decompressed read where nothing much really happens. We get a pretty good introduction about who Star-Lord is and where the book might be going, but we do so at the detriment of the pacing. Fortunately, there is some good action and some really great art and colorization from Steve McNiven and Justin Ponsor respectively that enhance the whole package to make this first issue a visual feast.
Hugo Robberts Larivière