Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Review # 152 - "Guardians of the Galaxy - 'Cosmic Avengers' and 'Angela'"
If you pick up the Marvel NOW! relaunch of "Guardians," you will find an experience that matches up perfectly with what you've seen on screen. You can watch the film, grab volume one, learn all about who Star-Lord's father is and go from there. Despite a difference in how Peter Quill's mother died, you're going to see the same characters acting the same way with pretty much the same history. Quill, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot have all been around for decades. But with most of that time spent as side-characters with little relevance in history, everything you need to know about them, well... you know already. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. Oh, and did I mention that Iron Man has joined up as a temporary member?
I haven't been keen on Brian Michael Bendis' latest output, but his work here is making me a fan again. Maybe it's due to having a fairly clean character pallet, but I can't be quite certain why. All I know is he pulls off writing for this cast perfectly, and he easily employs a mixture of wisecracks and bonecracks. There is a lot of both.
The biggest wave "Guardians" has made in its latest incarnation is the addition of Neil Gaiman character Angela, ripped from the pages of "Spawn" into the Marvel Universe at the end of "Age of Ultron." While I stand by her not being as jaw-dropping a reveal as Marvel had hoped, she fits great as a "Guardians" plot device. Aided by her over-the-top 90's design (she SCREAMS 90's to the point of slightly touched-on parody) the character drips presence. I have to believe Gaiman's consultation plays a role in that, as many of his creations seem to stand out even when they're immobile.
But a lot of credit has to go to Sara Pichelli who worked with "Civil War" artist Steve McNiven on the first few issues before taking over on her own. Her work is dazzling, leap-off-the-page stuff. She draws a great fight between Angela and Gamora (they got that one out of the way early) that sells the book, and her absence from the final three issues in the second volume is more than noticeable. Marvel has been giving her some high-profile work and I hope they keep it up because they have an underrated star on their hands.
Of course, you could say the same thing about the Guardians of the Galaxy before their film came out. These collections were in print ahead of their big screen debut - let alone what Abnett and Lanning had been doing with the characters beforehand - and if the blockbuster sends some new fans to the source material, then they are really going to like what they see. It's got the same humour, the same action... and the same fun.
Rating(s): 8/10 ("Cosmic Avengers,") 8/10 ("Angela")