With the Guardians of the Galaxy movie releasing this week, there are two Guardians of the Galaxy comic out today. GOTG 17 is one of them, and I didn’t pick up the other (the 100th anniversary Guardians of the Galaxy special; I’m not reading the 100th anniversary specials yet). I’m not sure how the 100th anniversary issue is, but this one isn’t that special.
This story arc began with issue 14. The Guardians team was separated and captured by separate entities. Starlord was captured by his father and offered a place by his side in the Spartex Empire. Gamora was sent to the Brotherhood of the Badoon, where she was thrown into a pit to fight until she dies. Rocket Raccoon, Groot and Venom were sent to different places to be experimented on. And finally, Drax the Destroyer was sent to the Shi’ar Empire to face judgement. This issue concludes the story arc, with the team being re-united.
The first part of this comic is fun. Starlord and Captain Marvel are working together to escape the Spartex while also causing as much trouble for the emperor as possible. Their banter is entertaining, and so is the chaos they leave in their wake. After that, the two of them picking up Gamora and Angela from the massacre they’ve handed the Badoon is alright. After that, this comic quickly degenerates in more ways than one.
The first half of the comic is drawn by Nick Bradshaw. His cartoony style works for this comic’s mood and he does it well, but it will turn off some. There’s a lot of detail in both the characters and the environment. When Starlord and Captain Marvel are flying his spaceship through the city, it’s complete with detailed smoke from the engines, debris from enemy fire and plenty of detailed skyscrapers. There are a few too many grins on characters’ faces, but otherwise it works very well. There’s a neat static effect on the hologram when they contact Gamora, and the pile of bodies she and Angela stand over is simply awesome.
But then the art switches to Michael Oeming, and it’s a sudden and jarring downgrade in quality. That’s not to say that Oeming is a bad artist – I’ve seen better from him. The art here just feels rushed, with barely any detail beyond wrinkles on some characters’ faces. Starlord’s eyes don’t match up in one panel, and there are a lot of awkward angles and colours that blend together. When they pick up Groot, it appears as though several of the Guardians are floating instead of walking, and I’m not referring to those who can fly. The art improves a lot once they enter the market at the end of the issue, but that doesn’t change the uneven art in the pages before.
The story itself also slips. The second half of the comic is a string of convenient events where the Guardians are rescued. The ship reaches Drax just as Gladiator pulls him into space – before he dies of asphyxiation. Rocket Raccoon is simply given back to them, and they find Groot on the surface of a planet. Apart from Venom hiding from the team, everything turns out perfectly fine.
If this week’s Uncanny X-Men is an example of Brian Michael Bendis’s writing at its best, this isn’t quite his worst, but it’s on the lower end of mediocre. There’s virtually no character development of any kind and with the ease that each character escapes, there’s no tension. The only thing worth reading in this comic is some of the banter in the first half, but that’s not enough to make something good. If you want to read some Guardians of the Galaxy material before the movie’s release, either re-read The Trial of Jean Grey or some of Dan Abnett’s Marvel Cosmic works. I hear Annihilation is good, but I still haven’t found the first paperback.