This is not a review I wanted to write. While it’s nowhere nearly as good as All New X-Men or Uncanny X-Men, I’ve mostly been enjoying Brian Michael Bendis’s run on Guardians of the Galaxy. There usually a lot of character development, but at least the banter is fun and the action is good. I’d rather read a fun comic with little character development than one with unlikeable characterization or incredibly stupid storytelling. And I can tell what Bendis is going for in this, but … this comic was kind of bad.
Guardians of the Galaxy 15 takes place shortly after the last one ended, with each of the Guardians separated in all sorts of dangerous and/or hopeless situations. Rocket Racoon probably has it the worst, while Gamora’s situation is one that almost seems she can escape from. The problem is besides revealing each situation, there is very little progress being made in the story. Gamora is just fighting a bunch of thugs while her captors keep repeating the same question. Drax is simply thrown in a cell that he can’t break out of. Groot has a brief fight with the Brood, and it’s kind of hard to worry about him too much when all the brood surrounding him are dead and he’s snapped in half, when he survived being reduced to a single stick earlier in the series. The only two scenes with any real progress are Star Lord’s and Venom’s.
The biggest complaint is that, despite being in the center of the cover, Captain Marvel doesn’t show up once in this issue. Bendis actually addressed this on his Tumblr page and apologized for it, saying that he had a fantastic entrance for Captain Marvel but removed it because he liked the hopeless feel of the comic. It’s possible that the cover and solicitation were prepared before he removed the Carol Danvers, and the hopeless feel is one thing that works for this comic. There would be fewer people complaining if they swapped it so that Captain Marvel showed up on the last page in this issue instead of issue 14. On the up side, he promised that Captain Marvel is not only in the next issue, but narrates the Annual. Also, while I’m annoyed by her lack of appearing in this issue, this is something I’ve encountered before in the world of comics.
For all the problems with the writing, the art by Nick Bradshaw is good. Without being too gruesome, it captures the hopelessness of Rocket Racoon’s situation very well. It’s a mysterious lab with surgeons examining his body while they’re communicating with the Supreme Intelligence. The action in Gamora’s scene flows smoothly, showcasing her ferocity. Venom’s scene in particular has a bit of everything, with great backgrounds in the marketplace, good symbiote visuals and a great shootout with debris, smoke and glowing energy effects. The second half of the comic doesn’t look as good thanks to an artist switch, but it still looks decent enough.
While the art is good, it doesn’t quite save this issue for me. Some people will enjoy the hopeless feel to it, but the lack of Captain Marvel and very little plot development severely hold this issue back. I liked it a little better with my second reading, but it’s still my least favourite new comic I’ve read this week. If you’ve been enjoying Bendis’s take on Guardians of the Galaxy this is still worth reading, but Captain Marvel fans should wait until the next issue before trying it out.