Guardians of the Galaxy #1 (LGY: #151)

Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Geoff Shaw
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Artists: David Marquez, Dean White
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Review by Nico Sprezzatura

After two blockbuster films and an appearance in Avengers: Infinity War, the Guardians of the Galaxy are now some of the most recognizable Marvel characters to the general public, despite being C-Listers (at best) as recently as a decade ago. But after Gamora’s heel turn and the death of Drax the Destroyer, it seems the Guardians are heading into an uncharted new chapter, beginning in this week’s Guardians of the Galaxy #1. Is it one worth checking out?

The Guardians of the Galaxy comics have been through two distinct eras since their pre-movie relaunch: Brian Michael Bendis’ years-long saga, which gave the team the comedic tone later seen in their Marvel Cinematic Universe films, and Gerry Duggan’s space opera-esque run, which directly lead into his Infinity Countdown & Infinity Wars event series duology. Incoming writer Donny Cates seems to be trending more towards the latter’s feel, but really, this first issue bears more in common with Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s 2008 revival (which essentially created this version of the team before Bendis took over) than either of those.

For the uninitiated, here’s a catch-up. After finally killing her adoptive father Thanos, Gamora rechristened herself as Requiem, a masked rogue serving a mysterious being called Devondra, who tasked her with collecting the Infinity Stones, previously assumed destroyed until recently. Though she and Devondra were ultimately stopped by Loki’s “cosmic” Avengers, it came at the cost of Drax’s self-sacrifice, and Gamora escaped before she could be punished for her actions. With one of their own dead, another MIA, and a third (Rocket Raccoon) choosing to leave the team, all that remained of the Guardians after their ordeal were Star-Lord, Gamora’s jilted ex-lover, and Groot, who can now communicate in complete sentences. (That turned out much longer than intended.)

Guardians of the Galaxy #1 launches with a tantalizing mystery — it turns out Thanos uploaded his consciousness into another host body before dying at Gamora’s hand, and it’s up to some of the Marvel Universe’s heaviest cosmic hitters to figure out who the “new” Thanos is. When the decimated Guardians get caught up in this investigation, they end up recruiting a few familiar (and a few not-so-familiar) faces to their ranks to find Gamora before she’s brought to justice (i.e. killed) for her crimes. Oh, and it turns out the Black Order have a new leader who’s working to resurrect the fallen Mad Titan. No biggie.

Cates is something of a hot property at Marvel right now, coming off an acclaimed run on Thanos (which spawned a new character who appears in this title, Cosmic Ghost Rider) and the currently ongoing Venom, which many regard as the character’s best run in years. Given his clear penchant for cosmic-level stories, Cates is a pretty great choice to pen Guardians, since their name literally invokes the word “galaxy.” Based on this first issue alone, it seems like Cates is in it for the long run, and hopefully he will be able to follow through with his vision.

Joining Cates on Guardians of the Galaxy is Thanos collaborator Geoff Shaw, with whom he co-created the aforementioned Cosmic Ghost Rider, and they’re a great match for this kind of space-faring story. Shaw’s art is full of detail and nuance, yet totally grand and epic in scale. Even if Cates’ script didn’t hook me in, Guardians of the Galaxy #1 would be worth the price of admission for the visuals alone. Colortist Marte Gracia brings it all together, with eye-popping palettes that reflect the diversity of characters and settings featured within.

The Verdict: Buy it.

With a brand new perspective and intriguing plot developments, Guardians of the Galaxy #1 is an exciting relaunch for one of Marvel’s premier titles.

Nico Sprezzatura
Nico Frank Sprezzatura, middle name optional. 24. Schrödinger's writer.

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