It’s that time again as another major comic book movie is upon us and this time it’s one of my all time favorites. Guardians of the Galaxy hits theaters on August 1st but before you go see the movie, here are a few words on Marvels current take on the not so famous Guardians. Now, normally if you were to come up and ask me “Casey I really want to read Guardians, where should I start?” I would definitely tell you to go pick up Annihilation: Conquest and the 2008 Guardians of the Galaxy both by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. In my opinion these books are by far the defining moments for these characters and worth the purchase, especially if you want to see how this awesome team came to be. For now and for the interest of new readers and those who will become fans based of their experience with the film, we will be discussing the latest run of Guardians of the Galaxy written by Brian Micheal Bendis.
Comic books are a fantastic medium for storytelling. Using beautifully rendered art with a little narration and a lot of dialogue, comics transport us to a world full of our childhood dreams and adult fantasies. Lately one comic in particular really catches the spirit of the medium. Marvel NOW’s Guardians of the Galaxy is everything your adult nerd-dom and inner child have been screaming for. Written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Steve McNiven, Guardians is fast paced and gorgeous. With an impending movie coming next summer, I felt everyone needs to know of the magic that is Guardians.
Bendis is crafting his story as if he were writing a big budget script and it starts like any big budget blockbuster would with the origin of our hero. An intergalactic prince travels across the universe and crashes on Earth. He is taken in by a lonely farm girl who nurses him back to health. Of course he has to go back to his kingdom but not before he leaves her with a little gift, a child.
Peter Quill grows up fatherless and angry, but the young boy’s whole world is turned upside down when his father’s enemies come to wipe out the bloodline he is so begrudgingly a part of. The Badoon (reptilian-like ruthless aliens) kill his mother and destroy his home but with this tragedy Peter is first introduced to his intergalactic destiny.
Guardians at its heart is about Peter and his rag tag team of outcasts. Peter is the soul of the team. He is called the Star Lord by his people and he is your typical heroic figure, morally straight but a little loose in his methods and haunted by his past. Peter will do anything for his team but more so he will do anything to protect the galaxy. Then you have the muscle, Drax, the Frankenstein-like monster; a man taken from Earth and created with one sole purpose: to kill the Titan Thanos (he is the purple guy at the end credits of The Avengers). As well as Gamora, the forgotten daughter of the Mad Titan. She was trained as a hardened killer and assassin who wants nothing more than to fight. She is as beautiful as she is deadly.
The heart of the team lies with two of its strangest members. Rocket Raccoon, a genetically engineered Raccoon with a pension for giant guns and the genius of General Patton. His best friend and loyal companion Groot is a giant tree who claims to be royalty and whose entire language consist of the phrase “I am Groot.” These two epitomize friendship and share one that is comparable to that of Buzz and Woody, Butch and Sundance or Damon and Affleck. They love each other and it shows.
Iron Man has also joined the team in this incarnation but I think we are all pretty familiar with him by this point and he only sticks around for the first arc. His introduction to the team does leave the door open for expansion though as Angela (Angel Assassin) joins the team as well as some other familiar faces in later issues.
Now I could go into specifics about the story and what the Guardians are up to in their latest adventure but I really recommend you read it. Instead I would like to tell you why you should be reading Guardians. The series, including past and present incarnations, offers us so much more than story; it offers us Star Wars with a little Firefly and Ocean’s Eleven. It’s about the team, the setting, and their relationships. It’s about watching a tree and raccoon share a special friendship and dare I say love, and then watching that tree and raccoon single handily destroy an armada. It’s about a beautiful green warrior woman and a beast of a man, decimating aliens with swords and light axes, and escaping intergalactic prisons. It’s about Peter and his space pirates and how they don’t belong to anyone or anywhere except each other.
Guardians will show you that a semi-normal boy from a farm can grow up to be a space hero and lead a team of aliens against the universe’s most evil and deadly villains. Following them will take you to the ends of the universe where you will see Mos Eisley-like bars, space knights, and meetings of the most powerful beings in the galaxy. Guardians will scratch every inch of your geek spectrum and I can’t recommend it enough. So next time you’re hurting for some good sci-fi, don’t re-watch Star Wars for the 100th time or sit through another episode of Falling Skys. Go to your local comic shop and pick up Guardians of the Galaxy.