Saturday, March 14, 2015

CBR Dan Abnett's Guardians of the Galaxy

They call themselves the Guardians of the Galaxy.

What a bunch of a-holes....

Hooked on a Feeling for more Guardians of the Galaxy reviews:

Comic title: Guardians of the Galaxy by Abnett & Lanning: The Complete Collection Volume 1
Art by Rick Magyar, Paul Pelletier, Wes Craig & Brad Walker
Written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning 

Published by Marvel Comics 
From (2009) 2014
Lineup GotG series
Format: Omnibus-sized Trade Paperback collecting Guardians of the Galaxy (2008) #1-12.

Back in 2008 Dan Abnett did the seemingly daunting tasks of taking an old forgotten quirky science-fiction title, the original Guardians of the Galaxy, and completely revamp the title by using various unrelated C-list Marvel Comics characters nobody heard off to make something new and fresh with the concept.

Turning Star-Lord into their leader, a fairly recent addition to the Marvel Universe. Basically he was Marvel's answer to DC Comics' Adam Strange. A relatively recent character, inspired by 1960s classic science-fiction characters and old pulp serial characters.

The original "Guardians of the Galaxy" stories took place about 1000 years into the future, featuring plenty of alien races, spaceships, space-wars, exotic planets, etc. This new series would be true to the core concept and be used for a new pure science-fiction Marvel book.

The new series was written by the duo of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (or "DnA" for the fans).

The cast of characters were first set by Keith Giffen during the previous mini-series, and would spin off both Annihilation and Annihilation: Conquest crossover events. Giffen having already done most of the revamp of the characters.

This new spin on the Guardians would prove to be a huge success and would eventually lead into a huge blockbuster success we all know from last year.

This comic series was were it all started. It became an instead classic and an outstanding run, easily the best entry point for the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe.

Not bad for a team composed of such different protagonists. This Guardians of the Galaxy team originally featured Star-Lord created by Steve Englehart and Steve Gan, Rocket Raccoon created by writer Bill Mantlo and artist Keith Giffen, the current Quasar aka Phyla-Vell created by Peter David and Paul Azaceta in Captain Marvel, Adam Warlock created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Gamora "The Most Dangerous Woman in the Universe" and the adopted daughter of Thanos created by Jim Starlin, Drax the Destroyer created by writer Mike Friedrich and writer/artist Jim Starlin in Iron Man (!), and the "Monarch of Planet X" his majesty Groot created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Dick Ayers, and Cosmo the Spacedog from Abnett and Lanning's Nova title, and also Mantis who first appeared in Avengers by Don Heck and Steve Englehart in a supporting role for the team.

The series takes place after Peter Jason Quill aka Star-Lord's team were forced to band together in order to face the mad Titans himself, Thanos. Following the two subsequent Annihilation wars, the universe is still very much at risk. And the universe needs someone to defend it in such a vulnerable state.

And who else than is better suited to do so than our modern day Guardians of the Galaxy!

In the aftermath of the Phalanx invasion of the Kree empire (the alien species Kree seem to always be in a constant war with every single race in the MU), our Star-Lord decides to recruit the Guardians once more. He is able to get Adam Warlock, Drax, Gamora, the new Quasar, Rocket Raccoon and Groot again to join him in his quest. Together, with Mantis and the telepathic dog Cosmo as support staff they will operate from "Knowhere", the head of a long-defunct Celestial being. The force order of business is to try shutting down these ruptures in space-time popping up all over the place, scars left open from the recent war.

But it's not that simple, they also have to face the rising Universal Church of Truth, a bunch of fanatics looking to bring chaos back. And the fact they are powered by their own belief-machines isn't helping.

During one of their missions they find Vance Astro - "Major Victory" of the original Guardians of the Galaxy, misplaced in time for some unknown reason. He inspires them the name for the team in what I consider a perfectly fun time loop. That way the original Guardians still remain the first to have used that name despite taking place in the long distant future.

In the end they find out Peter used Mantis' psy-abilities to force the entire team to join Star-Lord unwillingly. They disband...

Only to have to join forces once more to continue saving the galaxy. This second story-arc sees Rocket Raccoon deciding to continue Star-Lord's mission. His new team includes the previously missing Bug, Mantis, Major Victory and Groot at first.

Groot had been previously destroyed and regrows without the ability to talk normally and be understood. Now famously reduced to only speak in three words: "I Am Groot".

Meanwhile Star-Lord is banished to the "Negative Zone" by Ronan the Accuser. There, Star-Lord finds the long-banished villain King Blastaar preparing a force to invade planet Earth. Thankfully he gets some help from Jack Flag - who really, really hates all this cosmic-stuff.

The book ends with a little side-story that will come to play later on - putting a cliffhanger on this first half of the 2008 series. Drax and Phyla are looking for Cammi, a young human friend of Drax, who has gone missing during Annihilation. During their quest they find a way they would be able to use to bring Drax' daughter Moondragon back from the dead... But they end up in Limbo, Phyla turned into the new avatar of Death!

It's such a fun fast-paced action-packed funny series.

They face all kinds of threats, ranging from the Church of Universal Truth, to Marvel classics like the Badoon and King Blastaar.

This trade paperback collection collects over 296 pages-worth of material.

Originally this entire series was collected into four trade paperback, spread over the four main story arcs. This collection reprints the first two volumes.

The original GotG always had a special place for Dan Abnett. I like the way he found to keep the original team as much a part of this series as the new heroes.

These older original Guardians would become an integral part of the series. From the way
this US Airforce astronaut Major Victory (aka Vance Astro) would end up on the rooster after having been misplaced in time, to having Starhawk become a regular foe for the new Guardians.

The rest of the team would finally pop up in the later issues, involving a lot of time travel. And alternate realities.

The series completely embraced its science-fiction nature.

You don't necessary to be familiar with any of these characters of have been read the previous Annihilation series. Jumping right in the middle of the story from the start, getting introduced to the team and these characters on their first couple of missions.

Using pretty clever debriefing sessions to establish these protagonists and build the story.

Since this was a book set in space, it was only loosely tied to the rest of the Marvel Universe. There was a minor tie-in with "Secret Invasion", but it only concerned a few bunch of Skrulls hiding on Knowhere during an issue.

I really liked the way they didn't necessary all get along, that's why this series was so much fun.

The Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning writing duo never disappoint! The series was simply fantastic!

Fast-paced, with plenty of snarky dialogues. Playing with all these scifi tropes. I really like the tongue-in-cheek approach!

They gave a lot of attention to the minor details, keep a certain sense of continuity and rewarding readers for sticking to the series for the long run. Like the time it took Groot to regrow, or how they kept Gamera burnt and hiding in cloak for a really long while while she was regenerating her skin.

It's the best book you'll ever find with a telepathic space dog!

The art was fantastic overall through the entire series. Clean, sharp and detailed. With vibrant colors.

It lasted for 25 issues. But with a film adaptation slated for release, Marvel saw it was time to bring the book back. Under the Marvel NOW!, the current run is now written by Brian Bendis and several spinoff titles have been announced thanks to the huge success of the brand.

Overall, Dan Abnett's Guardians of the Galaxy is still considered to this day a classic and one of the best scifi-based Marvel series!

The Essential Guardians of the Galaxy run.

Such a fun series, with a very appealing quirky team of heroes.

The huge success the series had at the time already compared it like huge blockbuster epic films. I still remember how it used to be described at the time, the 2009 books even contained a quote that said "if comics were movies, this would be the one people would be talking about all summer!" -

Marvel reprinted a couple of collection, new editions of the series just on time for the live action GotG film. The series was previously collected in the form of four books: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1: Legacy and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: War of Kings Book 1 being reprinted in my above pictured book.

The second half of the series: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: War of Kings Book 2 (#13-19) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 4: Realm of Kings last (#20-25) would be collected in the 2014 Guardians of the Galaxy by Abnett & Lanning: The Complete Collection Volume 2.

The second half would see Warlock and Gamora come back to join the team during the incoming "War of Kings" event. The teams split in two to try to reason the Kree and Shi'ar to avoid confrontation. Star-Lord, Mantis, Bug, Jack Flag and Cosmo would end up lost in time in the 31st Century and met several incarnations of the future Guardians (the original ones). With the help from Kang the Conqueror and all these alternate Starhawks, Star-Lord would get a second chance to escape the timestream and help prevent Warlock from causing the worst possible darkest timeline...

When it's all said and done, most of the basis for the 2014 live action Guardians of the Galaxy film can be found during DnA's GotG run. James Gunn was a huge fan of this relatively recent comic book series. The director of Slither and Super even included several scenes directly taken from the book such as a prison break, Rocket and Groot's friendship, Groot's sacrifice and the mini-Groot afterwards.

The Guardians of the Galaxy would return to comic book pages through Bendis run. Since then Marvel has launched all kinds of spinoff of all sorts. The first one being a new Star-Lord title. But since then they added a pretty good new Rocket Raccoon book, with a Gamora and a Groot series expected to join the ranks soon. Meanwhile Dan Abnett himself return to the Guardians, but not these characters. While some fans - including myself - expected to see him taking over Bendis, instead he launched his own separate project in a different corner of the futuristic Marvel Universe, a book featuring the original team titled Guardians 3000.

I give it:
3 / 3 Howards!

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