Happy Comic Release Day!
I hadn’t purchased any new comics in a while, so this week I went into my closet to searching my pile for trade collections for something that would interest my kids.
I pulled out a book that I’d ordered several months ago and somehow forgot about, volume one of Marvel’s new Guardians of the Galaxy.
I started reading, was hooked in five pages, and handed if off to my son for his approval. He agreed with me, so it was this week’s choice.
I collected a comic called Guardians of the Galaxy years ago. This book shares its name but has only a tiny connection to the previous series.
As the title implies, Marvel’s space-faring characters have gathered together to protect the galaxy. They’re a very disparate group, some of them aren’t even strictly heroes, but they all want a fresh start and to make a difference. Starlord is the stalwart leader, Quasar is recovering from the death of her lover, Gamora is a galactic killer who wants a higher purpose, Adam Warlock is an old school cosmic/mystical character still concerned with protecting reality, Drax is, well, Drax the Destroyer, and the cast is rounded out by Rocket Raccoon, who wins the best dialogue prize.
A galactic war that shook the Marvel Universe has left holes in the very fabric of space time, holes that need to be closed and repaired before they (once again) threaten reality. The Guardians are formed to deal with this threat but they soon run into a church that wants to test them by killing them and they uncover a lost artifact and its owner who seems to be a threat to the time-space whatsit all by himself.
It’s not giving too much away to say that the artifact is Captain America’s shield. And it’s not being wielded by its most famous owner.
What Kids Will Like About It:
Like most books I recommend, anyone can pick up this comic without any previous knowledge of the characters or storyline.
All you need to know is inside the pages, no wikipedia search required. The series starts with a splashy action sequence as the Guardians rush to save a ship from destruction via one of those galactic tears in reality. During the fight, there’s an aside from each team member taken from a debriefing after the mission. That brings the readers up to speed about who the characters are and how they came together.
The story is told with a wonderful dash of humor and a sense of the ridiculous. For example, the headquarters of the heroes is located inside the disembodied head of one of the Celestials, the cosmic entities created for Marvel by Jack (King) Kirby.
The pacing is great. Though the action only slows down on occasion, it’s still enough to get a good sense of the characters.
And did I mention the telepathic Russian space dog who’s the head of security inside the Celestial’s head?
There is a lot of violence. Marvel has this book rated for teens. I wouldn’t give it to very young readers but I suspect age ten would be all right. It’s violent without being gory.
What Parents Will Like About It:
I described this to my husband as “well, it’s sorta like a galactic Torchwood.” Except everyone on this team has a super power, they’re protecting the galaxy rather than a planet, and (so far) they don’t seem to create more problems than they solve. (Sorry, Torchwood.) The book is full of these wonderful asides that may go right over kid’s heads but that parents will get. Longtime fans of Marvel will enjoy the inclusion of some of the more cosmic obscure characters and, for fans of the previous version of the team, there is a small connection.
Unfortunately, while the initial plot is resolved in this collection of issues #1-6, this volume ends on a cliffhanger. If you’re hooked, you will have to buy more. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The other trades available are Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2, War of Kings Book 1, Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 3, War of the Kings Book 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 4, Realm of Kings.
There are a bunch of wonderful splash pages featuring aliens, spaceships, and battles. But I’ll go with the first one, with the team immediately in over their heads in hand-to-hand combat on a spaceship headed for one of those rips in reality. That got my attention fast.
About the Creators:
Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning frequently work together. I first read their stories during their acclaimed 2000 relaunch of DC’s Legion of Super-Heroes. Most of that series is uncollected in trade but it’s well worth searching out the individual issues on eBay.