(Marvel Comics, 2014)
Written by Dan Abnett
Artwork by Gerardo Sandoval
Color Artwork by Edgar Delgado
Lettering by Clayton Clowes
There is no denying the impact that this summer’s blockbuster film Guardian of the Galaxy has had on the comic book medium that spawned these characters who now find themselves fixtures on the pop culture landscape. Starlord and Rocket Raccoon both now have popular solo on-going series that very closely echo the tone of the main series written by Brian Bendis however, the same cannot be said of the current Guardians themed series, Guardians 3000 making its debut this week. In fact anyone who is only familiar with the GotG characters from the Bendis series or the film is likely to be completely lost if they try to read this inaugural issue without first doing some prep work, or at the very least re-reading issue #14 of the current GotG series which this first Guardians 3000 narrative spins directly out of.
Guardians 3000 #1 marks not only the return of original team members Vance Astro, Martinex, Charlie-27, Starhawk and a Yondu who doesn’t resemble Michael Rooker at all, but also former GotG scribe Dan Abnett, although this time he is minus his long-time collaborator Andy Lanning. This version of the Guardians more closely resembles the team that made their debut in Marvel Super Heroes #18 way back in 1969. This time around the year is 3014 and the Guardians are locked in battle with the sinister Brotherhood of the Badoon for the safety and peace of the galaxy.
This issue picks up directly after events taking place in a Guardians Special from earlier this year in which the rescue of an Earth girl named Geena Drake from the clutches of the Badoon slave colonies sets the stage for the break-neck paced action that kicks this story off. The Guardians are under unyielding attack by the Badoon forces while doing their best to ensure Geena’s well-being, however in a surprising and tragic turn of events they are all violently killed. Yes, that is correct the titular team of heroes are all slaughtered about the time you reach the staples. Fortunately for we the readers, as well as the galaxy as a whole, they are not actually dead, well not dead-dead anyway. The next page begins with a panel proclaiming the time to be thirty minutes later and in that half hour time and reality have reset to just minutes before that ill-fated battle is to begin. Reality begins to shift and alter and with it Starhawk’s gender! That’s not the biggest change though, that would have to be the fact that the Guardians now have the opportunity to change the outcome of the conflict, which means that they could now survive the battle that just ended their lives.
It is also at this point in the narrative that we begin to sense that Geena Drake is going to play a major part in this drama. Her role while obviously vital remains somewhat ambiguous but certainly this along with the exact reason for the fracturing of time forms the central inspiration of this arc. Abnett is known for bringing high concept science fiction sensibilities to his comic book stories and that is definitely what he is doing here. There are quite a few instances in this first issue that harken back to events of his original run on GotG in 2008 and it’s just that type of complex planning and adherence to continuity that have made Abnett such a favorite of fans and critics. Abnett also teases about the potential fates of the Kree, the Shi’ar and even the current Starlord who is referred to here as King Peter, the Star-Lord of Spartax as well as introduces an alien race known as the Old Hunger who are thought to all be former heralds of the planet consuming behemoth, Galactus. These are just a few of the Easter Eggs tossed out to fellow continuity crazy fans like myself and the sort of meticulous details Abnett has become known for over his extensive career however while they are comic book gold for us, these kind of minute details can frighten off new readers. Guardians 3000 is not the book I would recommend to the casual fan just stepping into the LCS from the Cineplex showing of Guardians of the Galaxy but it is the exact book I would recommend to the well versed comic book reader who is hungry for some complex story full of plenty of details to obsess over and fuel debate with the like-minded. Abnett does offer some cursory introductions to each team member, mostly consisting of a brief explanation of powers but this is just not enough to garner a vested interest from a first time reader.
Visually, Gerardo Sandoval very accurately illustrates the kinetic vibe of Abnett’s narrative. He nails the action spot on with his bold line work and clever use of irregularly shaped panels. Sandoval’s slick, highly stylized character designs are a perfect fit for this book. Edgar Delgado’s electrifying use of vibrant colors works so well to bring Sandoval’s images vividly to life; Starhawk’s energy beams shine from the page as do the blasts of red and orange bolts in the battle scenes. Sandoval’s precise posing and choreography with Delgado’s vivacious pallet are the perfect one-two punch to knock this one out of the ring. Abnett’s hyper-fast paced, time fractured narrative couldn’t look better.
The only drawback to this amazing first issue is that by it being so firmly entrenched in continuity it is somewhat difficult for first time readers to jump in instead this book is written for the long time Guardians’ fans that can hit the ground running and never look back. As much as I love this book I will admit it wasn’t until the second reading that I picked up on many of the deeper plot elements which made me love it even more. (4.75/5)
Shawn is an aspiring writer/ artist who has been reading, collecting and living comic books for over 30 years. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, their son, lots of cats, dogs and other various finned and furry friends.