It has been a long time since Guardians of the Galaxy was a quality read. DnA’s Guardian of the Galaxy was absolutely legendary. It was truly brilliant. But, this franchise has had some rough times since DnA left the helm and Brian Bendis took over control. From that point on The Guardians of the Galaxy have been a pedestrian read and a bit of a jumbled mess.
Donny Cates is one of Marvel’s new rising writers. Hopefully, Cates will be able to tap into that magic that DnA had with this franchise and resurrect the Guardians of the Galaxy back to their former glory. Let’s hope for the best and hit this review for Guardians of the Galaxy #1!
Words: Donny Cates
Art: Geoff Shaw
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin at The Sanctuary. Starfox (Greatest. Marvel. Character. Ever.) has assembled a ton of cosmic characters including the Starjammers, the Imperial Guard, Silver Surfer, Beta Ray Bill, Cosmic Ghost Rider, Quasar, Moondragon, Phyla-Vell, and a bunch of other cosmic characters.
Starfox is standing next to Thanos’ decapitated body. Starfox says that even though Thanos is dead that he still poses a threat to the universe. Starfox then plays a recording of Thanos. Thanos appears in the recording and says that if they are seeing this recording then it means he is dead. However, Thanos had his consciousness uploaded and implanted in another person at the time of his demise. Thanos says he wishes he could see the assembled heroes scrambling as they try to prevent his final gauntlet. The recording then ends.
Starfox says that this is why he called all of the cosmic heroes to The Sanctuary. Starfox said that he did not include any Earth-based super heroes because the Earth-base super heroes have a problem with getting their hands dirty.
Phyla-Vell interrupts Starfox and asks him why the Guardians of the Galaxy are not here.
We cut to Peter Quill’s ship that is halfway to Knowhere. Star-Lord is irritated with Groot who keeps whittling at his wood and sending splinters and sawdust around the cabin of the ship. Our heroes then arrive at Knowhere’s location and are stunned to see that Knowhere is missing.
We cut back to The Sanctuary. Starfox says that they are going to have to kill a lot of people on this mission to stop Thanos. Starfox said that he assembled the people in this room because they all have no problems with killing if necessary.
Starfox unveils a list of individuals from across the galaxy who based on their power, intelligence, and influence would be the most logical targets for Thanos to upload his consciousness into. Starfox then says that the most obvious candidate for Thanos to upload his consciousness into is Gamora. Starfox says that Gamora must die.
Phyla-Vell agrees with Starfox. Phyla-Vell says that they should have killed Gamora when she first had the chance. Moondragon disagrees. Moondragon does not think that Gamora should be considered guilty just because of the actions of her parent. Cosmic Ghost Rider agrees with Moondragon and says that the “kid” has a point. (Ummmmnm…really? Moondragon who has always been presented as at least in her 30’s is a “kid?”) Comic Ghost Rider points out that Thanos could be anyone in the room.
Suddenly, Knowhere appears outside of The Sanctuary and wraps its unbreakable steel cables around The Sanctuary and crushes it to pieces. The Black Order then enter the torn open Sanctuary.
We hop back to where Knowhere is normally located. A Nova Centurion has arrived on the scene. The Nova Centurion asks Star-Lord where the rest of his crew is. Star-Lord says that Gamora is missing, Drax is dead, and that they don’t talk about Rocket.
The Nova Centurion gets an alert about Knowhere heading toward The Sanctuary where a secret meeting being held that the Nova Corps is supposed to pretend that they don’t know is happening. Star-Lord asks about the meeting. Groot responds that they got an invite to the meting but that Groot did not tell Star-Lord about it because it sounded lame.
We hop back to The Sanctuary where the cosmic heroes are battling the Black Order. During the battle, Proxima fires a large weapon that creates a hole in the fabric of space. The hole sucks our cosmic heroes into it. The Black Order then grab Thanos’ body and head back into Knowhere. Knowhere then teleports away from the scene.
The Nova Corps then arrive on the scene along with Star-Lord’s space ship. We see Beta Ray Bill’s hammer come flying out of the hole in the space fabric. Cosmic Ghost Rider’s chain is wrapped around the end of Beta Ray Bill’s hammer. The hammer then smashes into the cockpit of Star-Lord’s vessel.
Star-Lord tells Groot that it looks like they have had a rescue mission fall into their lap. Groot grabs Beta Ray Bill’s hammer and Star-Lord fires the ship’s engines and they pull Beta Ray Bill, Cosmic Ghost Rider, Moon Dragon, and Phyla-Vell out of the hole. (Really? Out of all the cool cosmic characters that got sucked into the hole these are the four that we get back? Beta Ray Bill is cool. But, the rest? Gross.)
Our rescued heroes then board Star-Lord’s vessel at their landing bay. The Nova Corps Centurions then arrive outside of Star-Lord’s vessel’s landing bay. The Nova Corps demands that Star-Lord turn the rescued heroes over to them for questioning.
One of of Nova Centurions points out that Star-Lord’s Galactic Rights only extend to members of his immediate crew. Star-Lord then answers that the heroes are with him. That they are his new crew. Cosmic Ghost Rider starts saying no and that he did not sign to be a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
We then hop over to Knowhere. The Black Order report to a shadowy figure and say that they have delivered their new boss the Thanos’ body. The shadowy figure asks about Starfox. Proxima replies that Starfox and the rest of the cosmic heroes at The Sanctuary are all dead.
The shadowy figure asks why Thanos’ head is missing. Proxima says that Thanos’ head was not on the ship. The shadowy figure orders the Black Order to go retrieve Thanos’ head. That Thanos’ body must be complete in order for them to resurrect Thanos.
Proxima responds that Thanos is with his greatest love: Death. That to take Thanos away from Death would be to wage war against Death itself. That no one can defy Death’s will. Not even Hela.
We then see that the shadowy figure is Hela the Norse goddess of death. End of issue.
The Good: The Guardians of the Galaxy #1 was an impressive start to this new title. There is certainly plenty in this debut issue to enjoy. Donny Cates does yeoman’s work with Guardians of the Galaxy #1 and checks off all the boxes of the necessary ingredients for the debut issue of a new title.
Cates clearly sets forth the mission statement for this title. The reader clearly understands what type of story we can expect from Guardians of the Galaxy every month. This title is going to offer a Sci Fi action/adventure romp that will deliver a strong dose of comedy. It is vitally important that a debut issue of a new title clearly possess an easily identifiable personality.
Cates also does a proper job quickly showing the reader all of the various characters that will be on this title. Now, not all of them get much in the way of panel time, but we do see a huge cast of characters at The Sanctuary. Silver Surfer, Gladiator, Adam Warlock, Darkhawk, and Richard Ryder are all on the cover of Guardians of the Galaxy indicating that they will all be members of this new incarnation of the team. Silver Surfer gets a bit of panel time while Gladiator, Warlock, Darkhawk get no real panel time. However, you do see these three characters in the scene at The Sanctuary. Richard Ryder is nowhere in this issue at all.
Having said that, outside of Richard, Cates at least shows the reader all of the heroes who will be on this roster. Cates also wastes no time showing the reader the initial boss villain for this opening story arc as well as the minions working for the boss villain.
Guardians of the Galaxy #1 boasts a huge cast of characters on both sides of the conflict and it is impressive that Cates was able to roll out so many characters in such a seamless fashion in just one issue. That is no easy feat.
Cates also does a brilliant job of plotting in Guardians of the Galaxy #1. It is crucial that the debut issue of a new title quickly rolls out the main plot-line as well as several sub-plots. Cates does that by giving us the main plot-line involving the quest to find who Thanos used to upload his consciousness into. Cates then gives us the plot-line involving Hela’s plan for Thanos’ body and her use of the Black Order. Cates also gives us the plot-line of the other heroes who are lost in the hole in space created by Proxima. Lastly, we have the surprise formation of a new Guardians of the Galaxy. That is a ton of plot-lines to install in just the debut issue of a new title. That is incredibly impressive work by Cates.
The pacing is spot on. The story never lags or loses focus. The story moves forward with a clear direction in mind. Cates progresses the story in a logic fashion with each scene building pleasantly off of the prior scene. The story builds in intensity as it arrives at the surprising hook ending.
Guardians of the Galaxy #1 is also a well balanced issue. Cates delivers a story that has plenty of strong character building scenes and plot building scenes as well as some quality action to keep the issue from being dull.
Cates ends Guardians of the Galaxy #1 with a quality hook ending. The reader is left wondering why Hela is involved with Thanos, which body Thanos is uploaded his consciousness into, and if the heroes who got sucked into the hole in space are truly dead. That is how you end an issue with the reader at the edge of their seat eagerly wanting more.
Cate’s dialogue is average. Star-Lord has the best lines in this issue. Star Lord revealing that he names his new spaceship Ryder after Winona and not Richard was a brilliant moment. Ryder is an actress who grew to prominence in the late 1980’s and this is consistent with Star-Lord’s nostalgia for 1970’s and 1980’s culture. And it is also the cheesy type of thing that Star-Lord would do.
I will admit that I am a bit ambivalent about this new roster for the Guardians of the Galaxy. I thought this team already had an excellent roster that did not require much tinkering with at all. I also liked the consistency between the Marvel Studios version of the Guardians of the Galaxy and the comic book version.
Having said that, I like nearly all of these characters that Marvel has selected for this new version of the Guardians. Beta Ray Bill is a great character so I am glad to see him joining the roster. Beta Ray Bill is a character that is worth being on one of Marvel’s super teams.
I am also a big fan of Silver Surfer. The Silver Surfer has an excellent pedigree and it makes sense for him to be on Marvel’s cosmic team. Now, the only problem with the Surfer is that he is such a heavy hitter that it is going to be difficult to place this team in serious danger that he cannot handle on his own.
I have always liked Darkhawk. This is a great 1990’s character that deserves some love. Darkhawk is a logical addition to a cosmic super team.
I am also looking forward to the Guardian being added to this roster. I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the Imperial Guard. Why? Because the Imperial Guard was co-created by Legion of Super Heroes legend Dave Cockrum and the characters were based upon my beloved Legionnaires. Guardian is the Superboy analog. The Guardian is a cool character with a nice OMAC style look who has tons of potential. It would be great to see Marvel finally fully develop the potential in the Guardian’s character.
I adore Adam Warlock’s character so I am certainly glad he will be on this team. Plus, Warlock is more closely associated with the Infinity Stones than any other character outside of Thanos. And Warlock’s Infinity Watch team was the Guardians of the Galaxy before DnA revived this franchise. Much of the Guardians of the Galaxy is rooted in Jim Starlin’s cosmic work for Marvel. And Starlin is known for the successful revamp of Adam Warlock’s character. Warlock’s inclusion on the Guardians of the Galaxy makes perfect sense.
Of course, of all the characters being added to the Guardians’ new roster, Richard Ryder is the one character I am most excited about seeing join the team. I love Ryder’s character. For me, Richard Ryder is THE Nova. Period. And Richard is one of the original members of DnA’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Richard has been gone too long and it about damn time that Richard return to the Guardians of the Galaxy.
I do love that Marvel went big for the Guardians’ roster size. We are going to get eleven characters on this new roster. I would be fine if Marvel treated the Guardians like their answer to DC’s Legion of Super Heroes and went with an even larger roster than this eleven person roster. The galaxy is a big place. It takes a lot of heroes to properly guard it.
Geoff Shaw serves up plenty of solid artwork. Guardians of the Galaxy #1 has a consistent and steady look. Shaw does a great job drawing an issue that is crammed full of so many different characters. Shaw employs some interesting looking panel layouts. Shaw’s artwork shines the most during the action scenes.
The Bad: There are a couple of characters that I am less than thrilled about seeing on this title. Phyla-Vell has been a crap character ever since she first appeared in Captain Marvel #16 back in 2003. This is a character that has been a failure in numerous different roles. She failed as Quasar. She failed as Captain Marvel. And she failed as Martyr. Guess what? She fails as herself, too.
Maybe Cates can do the impossible and make Phyla-Vell a compelling character. But, that is something that no writer has been able to do over the past 15 years. Adding the real Quasar, Wendell Vaughn, to this team would have been a far superior idea. Hell, resurrecting Peter David’s heroic version of Genis-Vell would have been a much better idea than adding the craptacular Phyla-Vell to this team.
Moondragon is a character that I used to love. Moondragon is also a logical choice to be on the Guardians of the Galaxy. Moondragon is Drax’s daughter. Plus, Moondragon was a member of Warlock’s Infinity Watch which was a precursor to DnA’s Guardians of the Galaxy.
But, unfortunately for Moondragon’s character she has been stained by being paired up with Phyla-Vell. Phyla-Vell’s crappiness has rubbed off on Moondragon and made Moondragon a far less compelling character. Hopefully, Cates will separate Moondragon and Phyla-Vell so that Moondragon can move on and reach her full potential.
Cosmic Ghost Rider is the only other character that I am not thrilled with being added to the Guardians’ roster. Cosmic Ghost Rider is such a stupid character. It is so hard for me to take anything even remotely serious about this character. Cates has his work cut out for him to sell me on Cosmic Ghost Rider.
Even though I definitely like the vast majority of the characters on this new roster the fact remains that this is a weird collection of characters. This roster is just an odd mix-mash of characters. It feels like Marvel’s editorial staff jammed the names of all of their cosmic characters in a box, shook it up and the first eleven names that came tumbling out made the team.
It is going to be tough for Cates to take such a random collection of characters and meld them into a cohesive team with good chemistry between the characters. I am not saying that it is impossible. I am just saying that this is not going to be an easy task. Hopefully, Cates is up to the challenge.
The only plot in Guardians of the Galaxy #1 that did not immediately grab my interest was the plot line involving all of the heroes “dying” in the hold in space. This is false suspense. We all know that these heroes are not all dead since the roster is also going to include Silver Surfer, Darkhawk, Nova, Adam Warlock, and Gladiator.
My only other disappointment with Guardians of the Galaxy #1 was that Thanos is all over the place in this issue. Look, I love Thanos’ character. I have always been a huge fan of Jim Starlin’s creation. But, a little bit of Thanos goes a long way. What made Thanos so special back in the day was that you did not see him that often. So, when Thanos made an appearance it really mattered. It was truly a big special moment.
Now? Thanos’ purple mug is literally everywhere. From the Avengers’ movies to what feels like every Marvel comic. It is time for Thanos to go away for a long time. Marvel needs to have Thanos disappear for at least five years. Ideally, Marvel would have Thanos go away for closer to ten years. Then Marvel could bring Thanos back in a spectacular fashion that would make him feel like the big special event treat that his character should always be.
Overall: Guardians of the Galaxy #1 was a quality beginning to this new title. I would definitely recommend this issue to any reader who loves cosmic Sci Fi stories or to readers who like action/adventure stories. Fans of DnA’s Guardians of the Galaxy who fled this franchise once Bendis took over the Guardians should definitely give Guardians of the Galaxy #1 a try. Cates demonstrates a far superior feel for the Guardians franchise than Bendis ever did.
Guardians of the Galaxy is a title that has tons of potential. If Cates can get this roster to mesh and work successfully together and then give the reader something a bit fresher to deal with than Thanos then I think Guardians of the Galaxy will turn out to be a blast to read.