Brian Michael Bendis (Writer), Sara Pichelli, Olivier Coipel, Mark Morales (Artists), Justin Ponsor, Ive Svorcina (Colorists)

The Story: Star-Lord continues his discussion with Thanos, as the rest of the team face-off against Angela.

The Review: As Bendis continues his huge tale featuring the X-Men from the past, present and future, it would be hard to remember the fact that he has another team book under his sleeve. With this book seeing a particularly harsh delay in its release (with the latest issue being released at the end of July), it kind of got lost in the shuffle of big events that is up with the bit two. However, with Angela supposed to be properly introduced in this arc, does Bendis manage to convince the readers that the wait was worth it?

Unfortunately, not so much as this issue simply doesn’t seem to know what it wants to achieve. There are interesting tidbits, to be sure, yet those moments don’t amount to much for both this simple issue and in the long run of this comic, or so it seems. While the discussion that Star-Lord and Thanos share is indubitably captivating, with Bendis actually writing the voice of Thanos in a much better way this time around, it amounts to build up toward Infinity, an event that has already seen its third issue being released. On its own merit, it does manage to play well into the current version of Thanos that is being pushed by Marvel.

Another character that seems to be thoroughly pushed by Marvel, albeit it is a somewhat-new yet not-so-much one, is Angela. While the action certainly do push certain qualities of the character to the forefront, it does not amount to much in terms of readers investment, as her characterization is almost non-existent. Despite a few lines here and there and being generally very angry, Angela just has no presence that justifies the big push she has been getting. Besides beating the tar out of the whole team in an overly log action scene, she gets one line of dialogue, which is exactly one word: ”Demon”. Not the best introduction to a character, especially not one that Neil Gaiman is consulting for.

Speaking of dialogue, this is really not the best showcase of the usually fluid or at least somewhat entertaining dialogue that is one of Bendis strength. While there are some strong moments here and there, with Thanos and before the whole team rejoins the battle, the moment the action is there seems to kill the momentum the issue might have had. Some of the remarks gets then reduced to small sound effects like ”Graaaghh!” or to some ominous, yet rather incredulous ”This dame…So familiar.” The dialogue rapidly become stilted, which doesn’t really enhance the action rather than divert from it.

One of the saving grace of this issue is the action. Here, every character, except one, participates in the battle against Angela in a meaningful way, showing of what they do quite well. Gamora with her swords, Drax and his rather angry side, Rocket and his gun, the general uselessness of Tony Stark*, everyone is there. While they do get beaten quite so, we do at least see most of the Guardians in action, which is a definite plus.

Another strength of this issue is the art, which is split up between Olivier Coipel and Sara Pichelli. The Coipel bit, dealing with Thanos and Star-Lord, works rather well in setting a different tone with the rest of the issue, as it is much more character-based, with a minimal background. He is able to put the focus between the two characters, on Thanos more specifically on the menace he constitutes. Sara Pichelli, meanwhile, occupies the action parts, which she does very nicely. Her panelling, the character poses and the focus on their expressions really renders the energetic and fast-paced action on the page.

Something that is also done quite well is the colorization, as done by both Ive Svorcina and Justin Ponsor. Both colorists are assigned with a different artists, with Svorcina attached to Coipel and Ponsor with Pichelli. Both are able to unite the two different styles fluently, trying the two scenes together seamlessly thanks to similar, yet not identical palettes. The somber scene with Thanos and the much more energetic and kinetic scene with Angela really works together thanks to the similarity of the cosmic elements, the backgrounds, which depicts the unification in space. It’s excellent work from two talented colorists.

The Conclusion: Some nice action and some excellent artwork cannot amount to much if the story is virtually nonexistent and the direction too mysterious to be specific. It’s a nice effort, yet the team of Bendis, Coipel, Pichelli, Morales, Svorcina and Ponsor could have certainly done a better job considering their talents.

Grade: C+

-Hugo Robberts Larivière

*No, I unfortunately never did warm up to his presence in this book, not that Bendis really does anything with him more than joke around. That, and put the costume old Guardians fans would want to see instead of the newer costumes.