Marvel NOW! Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1: Cosmic Avengers Review | Fanboys Anonymous

Marvel NOW! Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1: Cosmic Avengers Review

Posted by Orion Petitclerc Thursday, February 20, 2014
Salutations, men and women of the geek-o-sphere! Welcome to an article by yours truly that's—what?!—NOT about Venom or Moon Knight! Yes, it's true: I'm here to talk about something outside of the ordinary, for once! (Actually, not really. I've done this once or twice or thrice before, so….) With the impending debut of a rather indie Marvel superhero film you might not have heard about called Guardians of the Galaxy (yeah, you know, that little can-do sci-fi epic you might have seen the trailer for on Jimmy Kimmel Live!), I'm going to get you guys prepped with everything you need to know about this ragtag team of misfits in outer space. What authority do I have to commit such a feat? Well, I just recently read and caught up on the current Marvel NOW! Guardians of the Galaxy comic book series written by Brian Michael Bendis, so I think a review should do the trick.

Watch the first trailer to the Guardians of the Galaxy directed by James Gunn on Fanboys Anonymous

Buy Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1 on the Marvel Comics appThe Guardians of the Galaxy is actually an older Marvel concept only recently earning increased popularity from its cult standing. The original team roster isn't as well-known among the masses as the current film-bound roster, but for now I'm going to only address the current team…because it's the only one I know. (Also because Agent Venom will be joining the team in April.) I became interested in Guardians of the Galaxy when the film was announced and when news of Angela's membership broke last year during Marvel's "Age of Ultron" cross-title event, but I didn't have any interest in committing myself and my hard-earned cash to another comic book series without Venom or Moon Knight.

It was announced a few months ago that, as part of the All-New Marvel NOW! initiative, a few printed Marvel books would include a digital collection redemption code, including Guardians of the Galaxy #11.NOW. I decided to take the opportunity to catch up on the book, considering it's only 11 issues in, just in time for when Agent Venom blasts off into outer space. The book came with a code for the free digital version of Volume 1: "Cosmic Avengers," which includes issues #0.1–3, and Guardians of the Galaxy Infinite Comic #1–4. I essentially got nine comics for the price of one. It's a sweet deal and, after having read through volumes 1 and 2, is totally worth picking up to get ready for the film, if not just for how awesome this series is.

Follow Peter Quill's rise to fame in Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1: Legacy by Dan Abnett

This particular series isn't the first for the current group, but the great part about volume 1 is that you don't need to spend extra time or money playing catch-up. The book starts off with the half-human Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star-Lord (as played by Chris Pratt in the film), retelling his origin story to Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man, who's fitting to join the team. The origin story also serves another purpose besides helping new readers into the mythos: it sets up the entire purpose of the team in this book. Star-Lord's father, J'son (alternatively, Jason), the King of Spartax and an alien, abandoned his mother when she was pregnant with Peter, leaving behind a world of trouble for the young heir to an intergalactic throne and for his home world, Earth. Ideally, Star-Lord and his Guardians of the Galaxy are out to protect Earth from any extraterrestrial trouble his father may have caused.

With that touching story, Iron Man is convinced and joins the team alongside Star-Lord; Gamora, the daughter of Thanos (that purple alien dude at the end of The Avengers) and the most dangerous woman in the universe (played by Zoe Saldana); Drax the Destroyer (played by David Bautista); Rocket Raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper); and Groot, a sentient tree alien who knows how to say only "I am Groot" in English (voiced by Vin Diesel; think Treebeard, the Ent from Lord of the Rings).

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The actual story begins with J'son informing his estranged son that he and a council of the galactic empires decreed Earth off-limits to extraterrestrial interaction. They did so in an attempt to allow humanity a chance to build itself up to a position in which it could be honorably welcomed to the galactic civilization. Unfortunately for the Guardians, a situation arises during which a Badoon invasion force attacks Earth, forcing them to protect the planet on Earth soil and in Earth airspace. Obviously, the whole ordeal feels like a set-up when the Guardians are arrested by the Spartax empire for violation of the decree, and they end up fighting their way to freedom.

Watch Vin Diesel's award winning voice acting performance in Iron Giant on Netflix streaming
After the four main story books, we get four of Marvel's special "Infinite Comics"—digital comic books with special panel transition effects—featuring character study stories for Drax, Rocket Raccoon, Gamora, and Groot, respectively. Of those four, my favorite was Groot's story, which followed a special day in the life of an alien farming family jaded and angered by the troubles intergalactic wars brought to them, particularly when a space battle in low orbit rains debris down onto their farmland. It's a more grounded story from the grandiose space adventures of the main book, and I love the frustrations and the social interactions of the family beneath grand-scale conflict that's just way over their heads.

Follow Iron Man's adventures in space in Guardians of the Galaxy Volumes 1 and 2
The parts I like most about this volume are the characterizations, and I think that's where Bendis really shines, next to universe-building. Star-Lord reminds me a lot of Han Solo from Star Wars; he's a scruffy-lookin' nerf herder with a no-shits-given attitude and a swagger about him that could—and most of the time does—get him arrested or into a brawl. Gamora is a bad-ass, Amazonian-like warrior princess who despises and constantly tries to distance herself from her heritage and could probably hold her own against the Hulk. Rocket Raccoon and Groot really are the essence of a buddy-cop team and are a comedic relief in the way of R2-D2 and C3P0, but with more violence and less dopiness. Drax is probably the only anchor pulling the entire team down for me, as he seems pretty two-dimensional as a brooding brute who's the second powerhouse after Gamora but still suffers too many blows and gets the wind knocked out of him often. It's Iron Man's characterization, though, that really shines for me. For a guest star, he'd probably steal the show if he were ever featured in the team's film roster and played by Robert Downey Jr. This Tony, though, is a kid in a scientific and technological candy store: you could really feel his wonder and awe and sheer excitement in his space adventures, even when he's bereft of his armor and armed only with a blaster rifle.

Experience Marvel's Infinite Comics on your tablet, smart phone, and desktop with Comixology and the Marvel Comics app
The art really helps in selling this volume, too, between the Mass Effect-esque designs by Steve McNiven and the stylized work of Mike Oeming, which reminds me somewhat of something from BPRD and Declan Shalvey. The art never really suffers and helps the writers along with the storytelling process fluently. I was entertained and hooked from start to finish, and that's not an easy feat for a non-superhero book. Yes, Guardians of the Galaxy is not a Marvel superhero comic book; it does feature Iron Man and makes reference to the Avengers and some U.K.-based superheroes, but at its core, Guardians of the Galaxy is a sci-fi adventure, and it's super enjoyable.

I give Guardians of the Galaxy, volume 1: "Cosmic Avengers" 4.5 stars out of 5 for excellent writing and characterization (excluding Drax, who needs more work) and 5 stars out of 5 for the great artwork. This is definitely a must-read if you're interested in the Guardians outside of their upcoming film.

Are you ecstatic for the Guardians of the Galaxy film after seeing the trailer? If you read the book, what were your thoughts? Who's your favorite Guardian? Let me know in the comments section, and stay tuned for future Guardians of the Galaxy reviews by yours truly here, on Fanboys Anonymous!

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