Like many readers, I was tempted by the appearance of the All-New Guardians of the Galaxy title to decide whether to jump onto the title for this run, and the fact that the title also appeared as part of Marvel’s Free Comic Book Day offering was an added bonus.
Truth be told, I wasn’t arriving at the new #1 cold, having seen a preview of Gerry Duggan, Aaron Kuder, and Ive Svorcina’s work on the series which piqued my interest. For me, the tone and attitude of the artwork on a series is one of the biggest draws, and on a title like Guardians, I was looking for humor, attitude, and a certain whimsy in the action and science fiction elements. From the preview, I was already very interested in reading at least the first issue to see if I’d dig it.
Now there are multiple Guardians of the Galaxy titles at Marvel right now, including Rocket and Groot separate spin-off books, and buying them all might break your bank, as it might mine. I preferred to pick one, and I’m glad I picked this one.
Starting in the Free Comic Book Day title, which also included a Defenders story teasing the new series, we got a fresh new story featuring the Guardians and placing them in the context of a changed regime at the Nova Corps who are not friendly towards them and prefer to enforce outdated warrants for their arrest. This pits the Guardians against the system in a new but classic way, which works. We also have plenty of zany and chaotic fight scenes which introduce us to another new twist–Drax the Destroyer has determined not to use violence anymore. A fact which drives Peter Quill crazy every time they need him.
The FCBD issue also sets up the idea that a new authority, and a very dark one, The Raptors, are now setting their sights on the Guardians, too. In a short story, we’re introduced to the characters and their current situation very well, all while getting a first impression of Aaron Kuder’s fabulous and goofy artwork. Not least because tiny Groot is just a violent ball of destruction under the tutelage of Rocket.
Moving on to the first issue of the All-New Guardians of the Galaxy comic, which was released last week, we have a tremendously funny and weird opening to the story which I won’t spoil, but it involves subterfuge on a gigantic scale. Another classic concept is revisited regarding our Guardians–are they pirates, thieves, criminals, bounty hunters or heroes? The line is so blurry, and this comic reminds us of that. This first issue feels more like a pirate story than anything else, and when this team is striking out on their own, their personal attitudes and nuances are more apparent. They’ve never had to be heroes every day to be compelling as characters, just when it’s really important.
They have been hired to heist something by “Cosmic Elders” according to Gamora, from an impregnable city called “Citopia”, and it’s an Ocean’s 11 style “Smash and Grab” as the issue is titled. Rocket’s role as planner and knower of things comes through loud and clear, as does the “tiny ball of murder” theme for baby Groot. Trying to avoid a “profoundly stupid death”, the Guardians encounter new mysteries and shady deals, all while it’s clear that schisms have opened up within the group. Maintaining that group unity has been a major Guardians theme of late, so that’s also familiar and dramatic territory. They even start to tackle the question of why baby Groot is not growing up as quickly as they might have expected.
The plot brings us visual wonders in this first issue, the scale and breadth of new locations, strange creatures, and unusual characters, giving a cosmic adventure feel that will resonate with fans. Kuder’s artwork with Svorcina’s colors captures that sense of wonder, movement, and unpredictable energy that really ring true of these characters and their world. The comic makes for a winning combination of writer and art team, and though there’s a lot of choice out there, this is the title I’ll be following.
All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #2 arrives in comic shops on May 24th, 2017.