While Brian Bendis run on Guardians of the Galaxy never reached the level of greatness that DnA’s run did it was still a fun comic book. Bendis did a lot of good in helping maintain the Guardians mainstream appeal by simplifying the team with the cast from the movie. Now with Secret Wars Bendis is going to be able to play with the Guardians in a different way. How did Secret Wars affect our favorite ragtag team of misfits? Let’s find out with Guardians of Knowhere #1?
Writer: Brian Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato
Colorist: Frank Martin
Story Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Several years ago Doom used his incredible powers to destroy a Celestial, only leaving its head in the wake of the destruction. Now in the present the Celestial head, known as Knowhere, is the home to various alien species.
Angela arrives on Knowhere and enters Cebulski’s Bar. There she finds Drax the Destroyer and immediately orders him to disclose where she can find a certain person. Drax tells Angela that he can’t do that even if she threatens him. Angela gives Drax one last chance to tell her the person’s location. Drax answers the ultimatum by punching Angela out of the bar.
Drax and Angela begin to brawl outside. As the two go back and forth Angela finds an opening in their fight to drive her blades into Drax’s throat. With Drax immobilized Angela looks to end things but is stopped by someone’s voice.
That person turns out to be a cosmic powered Gamora, the person Angela has been looking for. Angela tells Gamora that she has been ordered to take Gamora back with her, dead or alive due to Gamora leaving her territory. Gamora asks Angela if she knows who she is. Before Angela can answer that she is blasted from behind by Rocket Raccoon.
Rocket tells Gamora and Drax to get inside his ship. After they enter the ship the group leaves the location, much to Angela’s fury.
Elsewhere some mysterious figure watches Angela fly away and walks into the crowd once she is out of sight.
At a market on Knowhere Rocket takes Gamora and Drax to see Manthis, who can help heal Drax’s wounds.
At Manthis’ place Rocket express frustration over Gamora and her “lady of mystery” bit she has going since gaining cosmic powers. Rocket tells Gamora that her continued disappearance is not what they agreed to when they said they protect Knowhere as a team. After Rocket express worry over her life Gamora finally breaks down and admits that she thinks “Doom” is a made up thing to keep them oppressed on Knowhere.
Gamora quickly composes herself and tells the team to forget what she just said. Rocket tells Gamora to tell them what she has really seen with her cosmic powers. Gamora responds with one word “Thanos.”
Before the others can inquire into what she is talking about Manthis’ place is attacked.
Rocket is the first one of the team to recover and he quickly shoots the one who attacked them in the face. The blast has no effect on the guy.
The guy finally talks and tells Drax that he was there to kill him and whoever is associated to him. Drax reveals to the team that he met their attacker while Gamora was gone. The guy reveals his name to be Yotat and that he will make Knowhere his by becoming “Yotat the Destroyer” after killing Drax. End of issue.
The Good: Guardians of Knowhere #1 is one of those comics that mask its lack of story depth with loud noises. That said, Guardians of Knowhere is not a complete loss as there are a few things that are actually engaging for fans of the characters.
One thing that Guardians of Knowhere #1 was able to succeed at was expanding the idea behind what Doctor Doom created during Secret Wars. Until now we’ve only spent time on Doom’s Battleworld and have not explored what else is out in this new Marvel Universe. This is where Brian Bendis is able to expand on the idea of what kind of reach Doctor Doom has with his God-like powers.
Opening up the issue with the Celestial head and giving us a bit more context as to how the Battleworld Universe’s Knowhere was created added to the history of this universe. It is a good way to remind readers that Doom has ruled over Battleworld for several years by the time we are picking up on all the Secret Wars titles. Also, in establishing that Doom was the one that killed the Celestial you once again realize just how powerful Doom God has become.
Out of all this the thing that really saves Guardians of Knowhere #1 from being a complete dud is Mike Deodato’s artwork. For whatever weakness that appear in the story Deodato is able to mask them with how much depth he gave to Knowhere. Deodato makes you believe Knowhere is a place only scumbags and people who have nowhere else to go live. Deodato also does a good job in making slight changes to Drax, Gamora and Rocket’s designs that make them fit into this grimy setting. The action scenes where also on point as the art made you feel how power each blow and slash were.
The Bad: The biggest problem with Guardians of Knowhere #1 is that it never gives you context as to why you should care about this part of Battleworld. There is a tease of a bigger conflict at play with Gamora’s cosmic powers but not enough that gets me interested in the story.
The lack of context for character motivation kills any interest I have in the setting, which as I did find interesting. The characterization of Drax the Destroyer is the most disheartening. At no point does Bendis give us a reason why we find Drax as a miserable drunk when Angela meets him.
The same goes for Gamora who I never really feel sorry for because I don’t understand where this cosmic version came from. It is only lightly explained and even then her power upgrade isn’t anything that made me sympathize with her. Even the mention of Thanos had zero weight to it since it felt like Bendis was forcing the reader to care instead of letting us naturally understand Gamora’s mental state.
Adding to lack of interest in Gamora’s plight was the fact that her story is exactly the same as several other characters in other Secret Wars comics. Even though there is a slight change in the fact that it is Angela who is chasing Gamora instead of one of the Thors it does not make her story any different. And the fact that Angela was only around for the first third of the issue just reminded me of how the other Thors have been showing as being around for one action scene and that’s it. This automatically made it feel like Bendis had no better idea for the story in Guardians of Knowhere than just go down the same path other Secret Wars comics have been taking.
This overall lack of character depth is not helped by all the action sequences. Because instead of being exhilarating, the action sequences felt like Bendis was trying to find ways to mask the lack of depth in his story. It’s unfortunate because Deodato did his best to choreograph he entire sequence.
The ending with Yotat making his presence known had zero effect on me. For one I am not familiar with this character so there was no reason I felt like he was a bigger threat than Angela. The other thing about Yotat was that his story did not feel like it was connected to the bigger conflict in this story. It would have been a much better ending if Angela took Yotat’s place since we already had the idea that she was hunting down the Guardians.
Overall: Guardians of Knowhere #1 is one of the weakest Secret Wars tie-in comics that I have read. While I dig the concept of Battleworld’s version of Knowhere and Mike Deodato’s artwork it was not enough to overcome the weak story this issue told. At no point was I connected to the conflict Drax, Gamora and Rocket have found themselves in. It’s highly disappointing given the fact that Brian Bendis has been writing these characters for a while now and he couldn’t get me to care about them here. This disappointment makes my choice of not reading this Secret Wars comic an easy one given how good ones there already are to read.