Marvel NOW! Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2: Angela Review | Fanboys Anonymous

Marvel NOW! Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2: Angela Review

Posted by Orion Petitclerc Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Welcome to my second review of the Guardians of the Galaxy comic book series, written by  Brian Michael Bendis as a part of the Marvel NOW! initiative. In my last article, I reviewed the first collected volume, titled "Cosmic Avengers," to prepare you guys and gals for the Guardians of the Galaxy film coming this summer. I gave volume 1 a whopping 4.5 and 5 stars out of 5 for the writing and art, respectively, and touted its success in drawing a new reader (namely, me) into relatively unknown territory. This time around, I'll be reviewing the next volume in the series, titled "Angela," which collects issues #4–10.

Read Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 on the Marvel Comics app
Before I get to reviewing this volume, though, some background information is required for this outstanding volume. In volume 1, we saw the Guardians welcome Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man, to their ranks—which include Peter Quill (a.k.a. Star-Lord and the half-human team leader), Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot, who also compose the team roster in the film sans Iron Man. Star-Lord laid out the team's mission statement pretty clearly in issue #0.1—that they would defend Earth from any extraterrestrial trouble his father, King J'son of Spartax, may cause. Star-Lord then learned from his father that he and a council of galactic empires had decreed Earth off-limits to any extraterrestrial interaction. A fortunate turn of events, no?

No, actually; for at the same time, a scandalous Badoon invasion force attacked Earth, leaving the Guardians as the gung-ho first-respondents in the absence of the Earth-based Avengers and superhero collectives. They managed to fend off the attackers but were immediately arrested by the Spartax empire for violating the intergalactic decree. The whole ordeal obviously stunk of a set-up, and the Guardians escaped custody and broadcast a message to the people of Spartax exposing King J'son's injustice against Earth's protectors.

Now, derailing from Guardians of the Galaxy for a moment to the wider scope of the Marvel comic book universe, last year saw the big Marvel cross-title event, "Age of Ultron," from which the 2015 Avengers film sequel borrows only its name. The event in itself was a huge, confused mess with poor execution (in my own opinion), but it managed to leave lasting effects on the Marvel Universe in its wake due to the characters' abuse of time traveling. Among these effects was the introduction of a very significant property into Marvel's vast library of characters: Angela, an angel and hunter from Heaven.

Avengers: Age of Ultron set and cast photos on Fanboys Anonymous
When your debut into a new universe involves riding the decapitated head
of a Kirby-era monster, you know you're destined for greatness.
Angela originally belonged in one of the founding Image Comics titles, Spawn, and was jointly created by the series' creator, Todd McFarlane, and guest co-writer Neil Gaiman (Sandman, American Gods, Coraline). Early in 2012, a lawsuit between McFarlane and Gaiman over ownership rights for Angela and Medieval Spawn was settled mostly in Gaiman's favor. He gained the rights to both characters, and many wondered what his plans would be for them. Then in 2013, it was announced that Gaiman was returning to Marvel to cowrite the final issue of the main Age of Ultron title with Bendis and to introduce Angela to the Marvel Universe. This ultimately culminated at the end of Age of Ultron #10 with Angela being shunted into the mainstream (616) universe due to Wolverine and the Invisible Woman breaking the time/space continuum.

Zoe Saldana Guardians of the Galaxy Gamora nude photos
"She's up all night for good fun, he's up all night to get lucky!"

Read Angela's first appearance in Image Comics' Spawn #9 on Comixology
Obviously she doesn't remember hunting Spawn
on Earth.
All right, to the actual review. We find the Guardians celebrating their freedom in some intergalactic cantina (once again conjuring up parallels to Star Wars and the Mos Eisley Cantina), which leads to Tony getting lucky and living his Captain Kirk dream with Gamora and a big bar fight between the rest of the Guardians and Spartax royal guards. Once they go orbital, Tony, Gamora, Groot, and Rocket Raccoon notice that Star-Lord and Drax have mysteriously abandoned them before their attention is diverted to an alert that some space entity is headed toward Earth. They take off to intercept the intruder and meet Angela head-on in battle.

Angela's presence in the Marvel Universe means trouble according to Uatu the Watcher, but after a brief and decisive battle and a short term of imprisonment, Angela is released from the Guardians when it's obvious she means Earth no harm. She flies off to Earth's surface to see it for herself, explaining to the Guardians that just as Heaven is a myth to Earth, the same is true vice versa. The Guardians leave her to her own devices for a short while before she shows up again to assist them in defending Earth against Thanos' armies during the "Infinity" cross-title event. She ultimately joins the team toward the end of the volume.

Watch Spawn: The Animated Series on Hulu Plus instant streaming
All Fearless Defenders really needed was these two, and it could've survived!
Once again, Bendis' writing really shines in this second volume, and with Gaiman credited as a consultant for issues #4–7, Marvel drew a lot of star power to deliver another immensely enjoyable reading experience. Tony is, again, completely humbled by the oddities and advances in technology he experiences firsthand in his adventures as a Guardian. Where volume 1 did Drax an injustice in development, Bendis delivers more Drax in volume 2 and we get a glimpse of the kind of character he really is. The banter between Groot and Rocket Raccoon still echoes with those same lethal R2-D2 and C3P0 quips that resonated in the first volume, and plenty of Star Wars references abound. What really shone for me this time around was Gamora and Angela's interactions in issue #10, in which we see them become something akin to best friends after having clashed in battle the first time they met.

Download Guardians of the Galaxy comics on Comixology

The art in this volume continues to deliver stunning visuals to accompany the excellent writing. Sarah Pichelli and Kevin Maguire's styles compliment Steve McNiven's from the first volume in their strong sci-fi elements and distinct characterizations, while Francesco Francavilla kills with his much more classical, ink-heavy line work reminiscent of Mike Oening's work in the previous volume.

The real success, though, is in Bendis and Gaiman's handling of Angela in the Marvel Universe. They faced a particular challenge in reinventing and reintroducing a character who had been unused for over a decade and whose appearance and development in the Spawn comics was all too brief to warrant much celebrity outside of a cult following. I did read her first appearance in the pages of Spawn #9 and admit that she fostered some attraction in me (not just because she was a hot and badass red head with a 'do only the '90s could produce), but what Bendis and Gaiman did with her made me a new fan.

Follow Iron Man's adventures in space in Guardians of the Galaxy by Brian Michael Bendis
Alas, poor Groot. She slew him well.
Guardians of the Galaxy, volume 2: "Angela" gets 5 out of 5 stars for both the outstanding writing and titillating artwork. Once again, this is another must read if you're interested in the Guardians outside of their upcoming film, especially since you most likely definitely won't be seeing Iron Man or Angela on the big screen.

Still raving to see the Guardians of the Galaxy film this summer? If you read the book, how do you think Marvel did with adopting Angela? Let me know in the comments section below, and stay tuned for future Guardians of the Galaxy reviews by yours truly here, on Fanboys Anonymous!

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