Guardians of the Galaxy #0.1 is an excellent start to what can be an amazing series. Brian Michael Bendis, widely known for his runs of New Avengers, Daredevil, and Ultimate Spider-Man, has decided to bring his talent to the fast approaching new series. While popular, Dan Abnett’s 2008 series had the misfortune of being started just after the Annihilation Conquest event, and then being thrust into another large cross over event, War of Kings, after only six issues. While not directly dependent on the event itself there are quite a few random characters involved that show up, such as Darkhawk and the Starjammers. The result of the war warped reality and it is ultimately the Guardians who manage to stop the war in a very convoluted plot line. All this was likely very confusing for new readers. It was not so much the plot that made the Guardians endearing, but rather the characters and their interactions. There was something quite charming about having a group of sometimes goofy B-List characters dealing with omega level threats to the galaxy.
Guardians of the Galaxy # 0.1 does not suffer from the same problem as the beginning of Abnett’s series despite being formed in the wake of Avengers vs X-Men, instead presenting a perfect jumping on point for new readers. This preliminary issue sets the stage for the series by establishing the back story of team leader Star-Lord, altering it significantly from his original 1976 origin. Peter is the son of an earthling Meredith Quill and the prince of the planet Spartax, who crash lands on her farm. The romance between the two is actually quite sweet albeit short-lived as he must return to his people who are at war. The issue does an excellent job of establishing Star-Lord’s sense of justice, courage and quick thinking at an early age. He defends a girl from a bully and is able to save himself when enemies of his father come to kill him. It also establishes issues with his absent alien father, which he will likely work through in the series. His connection to the throne of Spartax also gives him potential for grand adventures and character moments.
The team roster keeps most of the beloved characters, Rocket Raccoon Groot, Gamora and Drax the Destroyer. Fans of Phyla-Vell, Adam Warlock and Mantis will be sorely disappointed as they are nowhere to be found. The addition of Iron Man to the team seems like a forced attempt to sell more books because of Iron Man’s popularity at first glance, but this is far from the case. The trouble with the Phoenix made Tony Stark realize that there are bigger threats out in the cosmos and he wants to keep Earth safe. He does not immediately come in and take charge, but rather shows that he is willing to learn and follow Star-Lord’s command.
The art is solid and there are a few changes to designs that are worth noting. There seems to a Mass Effect influence present in the case of Gamora and Star-Lord, as their armor and weaponry are similar in design to something found in that game series. This is not necessarily a bad thing because the armor looks very sleek and cool. Iron Man does it again with yet another great suit. The Phoenix Force armor fits in very well with the setting while still in keeping with Iron Man’s style. The color scheme is very cool and it is exciting to wonder what amazing new features his suit will display in the near future. One questionable choice are the odd glowing bulbs that seem to be embedded into Groot’s skin, but this may be explained at a later date. The only other questionable design choice is Gamora’s new look; she does not have the appearance of a battle hardened assassin. Rather, she has on what seems to be a copious amount of makeup and softer features which may not befit the niece of Thanos and may not sit well with some fans of the deadliest woman in the universe.
Overall this was a very good introduction to the series for both new readers and fans of the Guardians. There is much potential for storytelling and hopefully Bendis will capitalize on it in the series proper.