When Guardians of the Galaxy relaunched, a number of cosmic heroes were thrown into a black hole courtesy of the Black Order. At long last, we learn what happened to the likes of Quasar, Cosmo, Darkhawk, and Adam Warlock in the Guardians of the Galaxy Annual. This oversized issue includes stories from some top tier talent and opens the door to a slew of new stories set in the far reaches of space.
Series writer Donny Cates pens “Faith,” a tale that serves as a book end of the comic, showing Cosmo checking in on the other heroes and setting up some big possibilities. Artist John McCrea creates a classic look to these pages and colorist Mike Spicer brings it all together, sealing in that sci-fi flavor. It’s a great way to kick off a solid book.
The other tales are of similar quality, giving quick snapshots into the lives of some of these lost heroes and how they eventually got out of that black hole. Each one can serve as a launching point for a new storyline, mini-series, or one-shot furthering their adventures, while also tying them into the ongoing Guardians of the Galaxy narrative. There are no bad stories in this Annual.
I, of course, gravitated towards the Darkhawk story, “You’re Only Young Once” because I have a soft spot for the character. Writers Zac Thompson & Lonnie Nadler put a horror spin on him, stretching the relationship between Chris and the Darkhawk armor. Although we’ve seen this examined and explored in recent years, there’s still a lot we don’t know about the Raptors and how Darkhawk’s powers work. This throws a lot of that into question.
Artist Filipe Andrade is the perfect fit for this story. Darkhawk is literally twisted around and nearly torn apart. His body resembles a more disturbing Mr. Fantastic as the black hole breaks him apart. It’s a trippy experience that complements the story very well. This continues when Darkhawk eventually lands back in reality and struggles to understand what’s going on. There’s a tinge of body horror in here which creates an unsettling feeling throughout these scenes.
“A Long Time in Politics” features a collision between the eternal positivity of Quasar and the pragmatic Nova. It’s rather inspiring that through everything Wendell has been through that he still has hope. Richard, on the other hand has had a decidedly different reaction. He’s seen such horrible death and destruction and all of that has taken a toll on his mind and body. He has seen the worst this galaxy can offer. Writer Al Ewing gets to the heart of both of these characters in a great conversation.
Artist Yildiray Cinar and colorist Rain Beredo create an epic sci-fi adventure in the flashbacks from both characters, showing the bizarre and amazing journey they’ve been through. Spicer mirrors their viewpoints in the tone of each tale, with Nova’s looking a little darker or more grim, while Quasar’s shines like a beacon of hope piercing through the darkness.
Finally, “Advent Horizon” takes Adam Warlock on a quest for godhood with a small race of Muppet-like creatures that worship anything that falls from the sky. Writer Tini Howard brings out the stoic quality in Warlock, but keeps him questioning everything around him. He walks a fine line between destroying an entire religion and keeping these people safe, so it’s a delicate balance.
Artist Ibrahim Moustafa makes this alien race look so very vulnerable and trusting. They look like castaways from Sesame Street and completely harmless so it’s no wonder Warlock wants to protect them. It’s no wonder they see him as a god either because he literally shines when he lands on their planet. Colorist Jay David Ramos puts an actual glow around the character that matches his yellow eyes.
Letterer Cory Petit does a stellar job with this Annual with the variety of voices heard. There are often different fonts and styles used for some of these cosmic characters, which furthers the unique look and feel of their adventures and Petit knocked it out of the park. I particularly like how Warlock’s is handled as it adds to his godlike presence which works well in his story.
The Guardians of the Galaxy Annual serves the dual purpose of checking in on some of the characters that were quickly lost in the beginning of the series, and giving us the start of a slew of new beginnings. If any one of these stories were given the chance at expanding with more comics, we’ll be in for a treat. They’re all solid and I certainly hope we get to see more from them.