I’m a bit on and off with Brian Michael Bendis’s Guardians of the Galaxy. For the most part, it’s kind of a fun series but with very little character development. The first arc had a bit of overkill with Rocket Raccoon’s “blam, murdered you” catchphrase, and the most recent story arc (issues 14-17) was kind of bad. Its best issues were involved with the Trial of Jean Grey crossover with the All New X-Men, and that’s mostly because of how good All New X-Men has been so far and it mainly focused on those characters. This issue on the other hand is actually pretty good.
The background information you’ll need to know is on the recap page, but here’s my quick recap. The Thanos Imperative event is a Marvel Cosmic story by Dan Abnett from a few years back where every space empire in the Marvel Universe had to team up against the Cancerverse. The Cancerverse is an alternate universe where death does not exist, and it’s about to consume the main universe unless they stop it. It’s the very definition of an epic event, yet there’s still room for character moments and plenty of distrust between Thanos and the other heroes (Thanos being a necessary part of defeating the Cancerverse). If you haven’t read it, you absolutely should track it down and read it.
One of the results of the event is that Star Lord, Drax, Richard Ryder and Thanos were trapped within the Cancerverse. This issue begins the story arc where it’s revealed exactly what happened, how three of those four escaped, and what happened to Richard Ryder. There aren’t too many answers in this issue alone, but the tension ramps up from the start. This is an obvious point of contention between Gamora and Peter Quill. There’s plenty of action as Thanos fights the other three, while also fighting off the Cancerverse’s leftover forces. There’s a lot to like about this issue from an action standpoint and yes, even a characterization standpoint.
The art by Ed McGuinness is very good. From the moment Gamora steps into the darkened room to interrogate Star Lord, you can tell she’s angry even before she gives any hint with her dialogue. You can tell Star Lord is very resistant to say anything, hinting that whatever he did to escape, he’s not proud of. The fight with Thanos is plain epic, with environmental destruction, energy beams lighting up the environment and armor being blown to pieces. The environments are detailed and straight out of a sci-fi horror movie.
While it would have been nice to have a few more answers in the first issue of this important storyline, it’s a solid opener. The stakes are through the roof and for all we know, will only get higher. If this is a sign that Bendis’s Guardians series is going to improve from now on, then sign me up. It’s not brilliant, but unlike half of Bendis’s run so far, it’s worth the $4 price tag if you have that to spare. Either way, this is worth checking out for anyone who has read The Thanos Imperative, who has enjoyed Bendis’s Guardians run so far or those who just want more Thanos action.
I’m not sold on this series by any means and was considering dropping it after the last story arc, but I’m hooked for issue 19 at least.