Summary Of Guardians Of The Galaxy (So Far) And Review Of #17


Previously on Guardians of the Galaxy! (I probably don’t need to say, but SPOILER ALERT)

(Note: This is a summary of issues 1-16)

With the movie coming out this Friday, and because this is the first review of an individual comic in this series, I’m going to start with a summary of what has happened so far. Guardians of the Galaxy (2013-present), written by Brian Michael Bendis, focuses on seven unique individuals: Peter “The Star-Lord” Quill, Lady Gamora, daughter of Thanos (although she’d hate my saying so), Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, and, more recently, Venom and Captain Marvel. Iron Man was also a  member, but left to return to Earth around the seventh issue.

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This run of the comic has so far centered primarily around Peter Quill’s relationship with his father, King J’Son of the planet Spartax, who crash-lands on Earth, knocks up Peter’s mother, then leaves to rejoin a rebellion against the Badoon Brotherhood (scaly, green, lizard-people). Upon finding out about J’Son’s illegitimate son, the Badoon come to Earth to kill Peter and his mother in order to eliminate any heir to J’Son’s rule. Peter escapes, but not before witnessing his mother’s murder.

Flash forward: Now in space, Peter Quill meets with his father for the first time in years. J’Son informs Peter that he and the rest of the Guardians are being forced to cease defending Earth, because the Council of Galactic Empires (of which J’Son is part) have declared it illegal to step foot on the planet. According to J’Son, the only way to save Earth from greater galactic threats is to ignore it. As can be expected, power-hungry J’Son is actually planning on sparking another galactic war by scheming with the Badoons (yep, same lizard-people)  to attack it. Doing so would lead Freyja, the All-Mother of Asgard, to declare war, and would thereby force the galaxy into chaos, ripe for J’Son’s picking.

So, when the Guardians land on Earth to assist Britain in the Badoons’ onslaught, they are deemed criminals and are hunted by members of all six galactic empires.

After escaping their capture by the Spartax empire, Peter Quill sees a literal flash of people and places that no one else does, so he  finds Thanos to ask about it. Thanos informs him that a group of Earthers have torn the space-time continuum, which has scattered individuals across time and space. They are all lucky to be alive.

It is not long after this encounter that The Guardians meet and battle a woman named Angela, a fallen warrior-angel from a dimension called “Heven.” Accepting her as a well-intentioned misfit like the rest of them, the Guardians give her a communicator and welcome her into their ranks part-time.

As this meeting occurs, Thanos initiates an attack on Earth, partnering with (once again) the Badoon. With battles waging across the Earth, we join the Guardians as they help to defend the orbiting S.W.O.R.D. (Sentient World Observation and Response Department) headquarters. Unable to overcome the waves of Badoon, Abigail Brand, head of S.W.O.R.D.,  is forced to destroy the space station. Angela and Gamora travel to the home planet of the Badoon Brotherhood to crack some skulls and free some slaves, then Angela departs.

Remember that tear in the space-time contiuum? Well, the X-Men did it. And when they did, they pulled the original team (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Beast, and Angel) into the modern day. Hearing word of this, the Shi’Ar empire, led by Gladiator, aim to try Jean Grey from the past for crimes committed by modern (although, technically also past, since she’s dead and all) Jean Grey. Traveling to Earth, the Shi’ar abduct her, leaving the rest of the X-Men (and modern day Kitty Pryde) to join the Guardians in rescuing her.

By the time they all reach the home world of the Shi’ar, Jean Grey has escaped her trial and has gone to have some alone time to think about the crimes she is supposed to commit as the Phoenix. When the Guardians and the X-Men step onto the planet, they’re met by Gladiator and the rest of his team. A giant battle ensues, but it gets interrupted by Grey, who transforms into a kind of Neo-Phoenix. Neo-Phoenix Grey tells off Gladiator, because he killed her whole family “preemptively,” then the two teams leave the planet, threatening the Shi’ar with death if they ever return to Earth. Before entering their ship, Gladiator declares war on the Guardians.

Agent Venom officially joins the team, leaving a spot in both the Avengers and the Thunderbolts back on Earth. Unfortunately, as soon as we’re introduced to the group as a unit, the Guardians are captured and separated: Star-Lord is taken back to Spartax, where he’ll be a prisoner to J’Son’s court; Drax is taken back to the Shi’ar empire to be tried as a pirate; Rocket is turned over to the Kree empire for genetic experimentation; Gamora is beaten by an assassin, who takes her to the planet Moord, home of the Badoon Brotherhood; Groot is given to the Brood (giant space ants), then exiled to the desert planet, Rigel 8; and Venom is captured by the Skrull, who aim to commandeer the Venom symbiote suit.

Star-Lord, having escaped from his father’s lackeys by jumping out a window, is rescued by Captain Marvel (whom the team encountered during the S.W.O.R.D. adventure). The pair then head back into J’Son’s palace to recover Quill’s clothes and gun. In doing so, they encounter the king and call him out on all of his dictatorial tendencies. Because the entire galaxy is receiving a transmission of what was supposed to be Star-Lord’s trial, the whole galaxy is also witness to J’Son’s tyranny. Rebellion ensues.

After the Skrulls try to use Venom’s suit, it tricks them, destroying their lab out of its attachment to Flash Thompson (Venom’s alter-ego). The symbiote and host are reunited and escape.

REVIEW OF ISSUE 17 (WE MADE IT! Also, more spoilers.)

To those of you who just read entirely to this point in the article: Props and congratulations, you’ve officially made it through about 18 months of backstory in one sitting. That’s quite an accomplishment; be proud. Make sure to tell your friends and family of the trials (get it?) you’ve endured. Now, if any bathroom breaks or concessions are required before moving forward, this is a great opportunity to take care of business.

Welcome back! This week’s issue of Guardians of the Galaxy basically illustrates the ways in which the team are able to reunite. After recovering his pants (and the rest of his clothes, too, but especially his pants), Star-Lord and Captain Marvel locate his ship. Using a remote control on his belt (see?), Quill is able to fly the ship to safety, where Captain Marvel drops him off. As they are both boarding the ship, they receive a transmission from Gamora, who, after Angela comes to her aid, has pretty much massacred the Badoon Brotherhood. Meanwhile, Drax, requesting death by combat after he is found guilty in his trial, chooses Gladiator as his combatant. The two duke it out, with Drax having the physical upper-hand. But Gladiator, being able to breathe in space, cheats and just flies them both out of the atmosphere to wait for Drax to suffocate. Luckily, he does so just as the Guardians (including recently picked-up Gamora and Angela) enter the scene. Gamora and Captain Marvel save Drax and take him aboard the ship.

After everyone has gotten on safely, the team receives a transmission from The Supreme Intelligence, head of the Kree empire and former member of the Galactic Council. The leader tells them that for revealing J’Son’s true colors, he has decided to free Rocket from the experimental studies and return him to them in one piece. Rocket has no recollection of the experiments. In a panic, the team finally travel to Rigel 8 to find Groot, who by this point is barely alive. They return to Knowhere, the planet on which Drax and Venom were separated, to reconnect with him, but they cannot find him. Venom, after having been tricked by Skrull who assumed the likenesses of his Avengers teammates, watches from the shadows, finally turning away from them to go his own way.

Let me begin by saying, generally, this series is a joy to read. With interesting plots, dynamic visuals, and a good amount of humor and snarkiness, Bendis and his crew have put together a very strong collection of comics. While this week’s story was a good finale to all that has been happening over the last several issues, it was overall not very satisfying: The whole thing kind of felt as if I was reading it on fast-forward. Rather than really exploring the trouble that all the team members had to go through, we watched what seemed like spark notes of it. There wasn’t exactly anything wrong with the issue, I just always heard myself asking for more.

I suppose that actually says a lot about the world that Marvel and Bendis have helped to create: I am interested enough in the characters and their storylines that I want as much information as possible about them. The Guardians realm is immersive, and as you dive deeper and deeper into it, you continue to want more and more. Even though this week’s issue wasn’t a disappointment, exactly, I felt that I was going backward in the degree of intensity and exposure I was getting to that world.

For instance, three of the five original members were reunited with the Star-Lord almost as soon as their transmissions reached him. But I wanted to see their journey; I wanted to watch them struggle and overcome, rather than just hear that they did.  I’ll give it to Bendis, the battle between Drax and Gladiator was pretty satisfying, but after witnessing things like the gigantic bout between the Guardians, the X-Men, and the Shi’Ar, the reunion felt half-hearted.

I also have a little bit of an issue with Venom’s role thus far in the series. Venom is my favorite superhero and has been since I was just a munchkin. At this point, we’ve essentially seen him get captured and act like a doofy human/parasite out of his element. That’s it.  Venom is pretty much just a kid in an extraterrestrial candy shop. I know he’s only been a member of the team for four issues, but it’s been very hard to watch regardless. According to Bendis, after Original Sin concludes, the Guardians will having dealings on the Symbiote Planet, so we’ll see how that goes.

Artistically, the issue was beautifully illustrated and laid out in an attractive, easy-to-follow way.

Overall, I’d give #17 about a 7/10, which is still significantly stronger than average, but it’s still low compared to the pleasure the rest of the series has been. If you can, absolutely start reading, and enjoy the film Guardians of the Galaxy, in theaters August 1.