Continuing my series of reviews of the Marvel Cosmic titles, now I’m back to Guardians of the Galaxy – and the claim on the front cover that this was War of Kings volume 1 for this team. I loved the first Guardians of the Galaxy book, but I’ll admit I was worried going into this one. Could it have been a fluke? I haven’t been as enamored with Nova as I initially was (in the original Annihilation story) so there was a very real possibility that might happen here as well. Add to that the fact that I’ve been looking forward to getting into the War or Kings story for some time, and the pressure was really on to deliver. There is good news and bad news, but the bad isn’t all that bad. Want to find out why I say that? You know how to find out the answers…
The Guardians of the Galaxy as they were in volume 1 have fallen apart. Finding out that Star Lord used Mantis’ telepathy to help convince them to work well with others has caused the team to separate. But Galactic Crises wait for no team and its angst, so Rocket Raccoon gathers a new team together made up of just as motley a crew as before. Now Mantis is working in the field again, along with Groot the giant living tree who has finally regrown back to his original size, Major Victory who despite being a little crazy (and let’s face facts here, who ISN’T a little crazy on this team) is a powerhouse sorely needed by this reduced team, and Bug, the martial artist, jokester and lover who’s been sorely missed since his time with Star Lord’s team back in Annihilation Conquest.
They start off by facing the Badoon, considered a two-bit, reject cosmic race in our time, Starhawk tells a chilling tale to Cosmo (the talking dog, head of security for Knowhere – the space station the Guardians call home) of the future and how it belongs to this race and their undead warriors, and that they are not to be underestimated.
Meanwhile, Warlock and Gamora have sought out the Universal Church of Truth, to bring about an end to their conflict with the Guardians. But if Warlock is their Messiah incarnate – then who the heck is lying in the stasis cocoon the Church has been protecting? At the same time, current Quasar Phyla-Vell and Drax are on a quest to find the human girl Cammi (who accompanied Drax into space during the Annihilation war but has been missing since the end of those hostilities) – and instead find themselves on a quest to bring Moondragon, Drax’s daughter and Phyla’s lover back from the realm of the dead. But bringing her back is not without sacrifice, leaving Death with a new avatar (representative) on our plane of existence, and farther reaching consequences than we see in this book.
But the main plot tying this whole volume together is the search for Star Lord, who’s gone missing since the disbanding of the original team. He’s gone back to the Kree homeworld, only to discover they are under the leadership of a new ruler, and have recreated the galactic shield once used by the Phalanx – only now it is being powered by the bodies of dead Skrulls who dared try to invade in their failed Secret Invasion. But before Star Lord can decide how to best handle this new situation, he is captured and thrown into the Negative Zone – another dimension, which is in disarray now that Annihilus is no longer in control. Another being, named Blastarr has formed an army out of those left behind by Annihilus, and they are slowly trying to break down the walls of the fortress build by Mr. Fantastic to hold those superpowered beings who refused to participate in the Superhuman Registration Act. Because Blastarr knows from inside that fortress he can access a gateway leading to Earth – a backdoor that will allow him to invade with his army and ensure a quick victory over the human race. But can Star Lord figure out a way to defeat Blastarr, when he has to trust superhuman inmates to work together with him – and will the Guardians find him in time to provide the support he needs?
You’ll have to read the book to find out the answer to that. And it’s worth it, this book has just as much action, adventure, humor, romance, excellent art (ok, so it is lacking Paul Pelletier’s pencils for most of the issue – and he’s just a fantastic artist, but the follow up artists were just as good) and storytelling as the previous volume did. There were a number of twists that I didn’t see coming, lots of questions still left unanswered, while still providing a very complete story in its own right and something that could still be picked up and read without prior knowledge of the characters or this team. So, where’s that bad news I was talking about earlier? Well, it’s this whole “tie-in to War of Kings” aspect – other than that slight reference to a new ruler of the Kree, and a couple of other slight mentions of a coming war – this wasn’t any more of a tie-in to War of Kings than Nova Corps was. Frankly, I’ve have given it a completely different title, and saved the War of Kings moniker for the next Guardians TPB (which is called War of Kings book 2). That said, it was another strong showing for the Guardians and continues to be a book I can’t say enough good things about. If you have any interest at all in the Marvel Cosmic line, this is the book to try.