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Monday, May 27, 2024

Guardians of the Galaxy #1 Review

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Lately, each new calendar year seems to bring with it a new volume of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy comic. Like so many ongoing superhero books, Guardians never lasts long without switching up its numbering or relaunching with a new creative team. It's somewhat disappointing to see that process continue into 2020, as it's very hard to top the winning pair of writer Donny Cates and artist Geoff Shaw. Yet even as the old creative team moves onto other projects, the Guardians are clearly in good hands with Al Ewing and Juann Cabal.Like its predecessor, the new volume of Guardians is a perfectly accessible jumping-on point for new readers and those only familiar with the MCU version of the team. That's not to say this series necessarily takes its cues from the movies. If anything, Ewing and Cabal seem most directly inspired by the Dan Abnett/Andy Lanning Guardians series, which should be music to many a Marvel reader's ears. The fact that this series comes on the heels of the recent Annihilation: Scourge crossover makes those similarities all the more apparent. Once again, the galaxy is reeling and in dire need of heroes, and the Guardians will somehow have to rise to the occasion.

Ewing has a singular ability to connect the dots of Marvel lore and build exciting new conflicts on that foundation. That ability serves him well in this first issue, which acknowledges stories like Annihilation: Scourge, Avengers: No Road Home, Empyre and hints at a vast conspiracy threatening the fabric of the Marvel U. These references to recent Marvel continuity are never a burden, but merely a way of establishing the tone of the series and the desperate uphill battle to come. Ewing also shows off a knack for thinking outside the box. Who else would elect to make the Greek gods the main villains in a Guardians comic? As much as the series feels like a return to the beloved Annihilation-era Guardians, the new series also feels distinctly different and fresh.

If anything, the new series plays the seemingly endless revolving door of relaunches to its advantage. We first met the Guardians attempting to enjoy a much-deserved vacation and wondering what comes next. Does the cycle of war and heroism ever end? Does there come a point where they can leave it all behind and just live? Do they actually want that in the first place? In its own way, issue #1 serves as a commentary on the cyclical nature of mainstream superhero comics. Ewing and Cabal let us connect with these characters as each responds differently to the prospect of peaceful retirement and the rise of a new threat. With that in mind, there's a logic to the new roster, as some perennial members opt to sit this one out while others are all too eager to respond to the call to adventure.20 Most Anticipated Comics of 2020Cabal has regularly left a strong impression with his Marvel work, whether it's All-New Wolverine or Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. This series operates on a much bigger scale, but Cabal has no trouble responding in kind. The action scenes pack all the punch you'd expect from a conflict between literal gods and some of the most powerful heroes in the Marvel Universe. At the same time, Cabal once more shows his talent for bringing warmth and humanity to his characters, be they humanoid or talking raccoons. Federico Blee's bright, energetic colors certainly don't hurt.

The one drawback to Cabal's style is that his characters occasionally have stiff, artificial poses, and that unfortunately doesn't change here. The page layouts also tend to be fairly plain and straightforward, though one intricately rendered splash image shows what Cabal is capable of in that regard.

It should also be pointed out how much the slightly oversized page count benefits this issue. The extra pages allow the creative team to spend time exploring the characters and their shared dynamic before launching into a meaty and satisfying action sequence. This issue is able to provide both a clear mission statement for the new book and ample incentive for readers to stick around.


While the endless cycle of relaunches can get tiresome, there’s every reason to check out the latest Guardians of the Galaxy #1. This new series both hearkens back to one of the franchise’s absolute best eras and charts a bold new course for the team. It’s an accessible read that also connects the dots of many different Marvel storylines, all while pitting the Guardians against a most unlikely enemy. It’s safe to say this franchise is still in good hands.

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