Brian Michael Bendis Valerio Schiti (A) Richard Isanove (CA)
Cover By: Arthur Adams and Jason Keith
Publisher: Marvel Comics
So guys, I have a confession to make. I love Brian Michael Bendis. The internet has taught me that liking Bendis is a very controversial thing, so I thought that I should come out about it. His work on the Avengers and New Avengers rank among my favorite all-time comic book runs.
On one hand, his books are consistently solid, so I don’t really get all the hate that he gets. On the other hand, his style exudes confidence, his books are almost always packed wall-to-wall with snarkiness and one-liners. It’s very Whedon-esque, and, though I do like most of Joss Whedon’s stuff, his tendency towards constant zingers and one-liners’ can get a bit tiresome in serious moments. So I suppose I could understand why it might get old for some people, but to rise to the level of genuine hate? That seems a bit much. He’s easy to avoid if it’s not your thing. Then again, this is the internet, so something is either the greatest thing every or a horrible, rancid piece of trash.
Anyway, my next few reviews are going to be playing catchup somewhat. I’m going to be doing my first reviews for a lot of titles that I have been reading for a while. So, in addition to reviewing the issue itself, I’m also going to be discussing the series as a whole up until this point. To start it off, I’m going to be talking about Bendis’ Guardians of the Galaxy.
I’m stuck in this weird position. I am aware that the version of the Guardians that we have right now is entirely thanks to the writing duo of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, but I didn’t read their run on the book. However, I absolutely loved their saga of cosmic crossovers as well as their runs on Nova and The Heroes for Hire, and I generally enjoy the Marvel and DC titles that Dan Abnett has been putting out since the two split up. My point is I cannot say with completely certainty whether or not it’s better than Bendis’ Guardians of the Galaxy title. My father enjoyed Abnett and Lanning’s book quite a bit, and I definitely want to read it at some point in trade paperbacks. I can presume that the book was quite good, and, if nothing else, it’s obviously been influential to the current team as well as the movie franchise.
But to get to the current series itself, the story is still happening in the shadow of the Guardians of the Galaxy/X-Men crossover The Black Vortex. The team of Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Groot, and Venom have been joined by The Thing and Kitty Pryde. The Spartax Empire is in disarray, and Star-Lord aka Peter Quill is trying his best to keep it all together as their new king. The post-Secret Wars issues pick up with Peter meeting up with the Guardians on the Spartax homeworld just in time for Hala, a Kree Accuser, to show up and tear the place apart. She is pretty unhappy about what Peter’s father and Spartax’s former king, J’Son, did to the Kree capital planet, from which she takes her namesake. The Guardians are able to apprehend her, but not before she tears up the planet a good bit. Immediately following this, an intergalactic crook by the name of Yotat who takes the already bad situation and makes it worse. They are able to subdue him as well, but not without Hala escaping and the Spartax government ousting Peter Quill as their king due to the destruction.
From here the Guardians split up to liberate a Badoon prison planet. Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde is in one team, Rocket and Thing in the next, and Venom and Groot in another. The first team is actually captured by the Badoon, and the last is the one that #8 focuses on.
This issue opens up with the explanation as to what exactly is going on in the current story arc. The team is meeting up at Knowhere to discuss how to shut down the prison planet. The decide to go it alone without backup, because the Badoon have a tendency to blow up prison planets that are assaulted with the intent of freeing prisoners. One-liners are made, and the team keeps referencing a nebulous “her” that they are looking for.
It moves onto the duo of Venom and Groot landing on the planet with a pretty cool sequence of the symbiote spreading wings and gliding to the surface that I’ll let you experience for yourself. Upon landing, Venom realizes that the prison colony they are in charge of freeing is made up of Skrulls. He is immediately hostile towards them due to their Secret Invasion in years past as well as their more recent attempt to steal his symbiote. However, a trio of Super Skrulls and Groot manage to convince him to help them. A Badoon patrol appears, and Venom, Groot, and the Super Skrulls team up to take them down. Then the Skrulls lead the Guardians to a mining tunnel where they find many more Skrull prisoners to liberate, and Venom finally decides to save all of them.
This series as a whole has had some pacing issues. Bendis is generally good at including some character moments, but he has had some instants, such as some of his latter Avengers work, where he is too content at throwing threat after threat at the characters. He seemed less prone to do this before the Secret Wars reboot.
When there is something of a character moment, they don’t have enough space to breathe. Generally, the Guardians of the Galaxy play off of each other pretty well. That’s sort of their thing. However, when everyone is the comedian, they can all kind of sound alike as personalities. Again, this didn’t seem as much of a problem before Secret Wars.
The stories also take a long time to wrap up. We’re eight issues in, and there have only been two stories written so far, and the second one isn’t even close to over. I know that is just a trend of modern mainstream comics, but I still reserve my right to complain about it.
Even with these problems, I have a hard time disliking the comic. It’s a fun read. The characters are still enjoyable and charming, and they’re easy to root for. The action sequences have been consistently cool. Schiti’s art work is rock solid. The charisma of the pre-Secret Wars run still shines through in the comic. Plus, the lineup of the team is weird and pretty awesome.
To bring the discussion back to this issue, it’s definitely my favorite of the post-Secret Wars series thus far (and not just because I absolutely adore Flash Thompson as Venom the Space Knight). It moves at a slightly slower pace, so we can actually get a little of Groot and Venom interacting before the fighting starts. Plus, Venom actually has a nice little character arc where he is forced to overcome is prejudices about the Skrulls, and I could buy it.
His conclusion at the end of the issue to save the Skrulls actually kind of confused me at first. I thought that the Skrulls in the tunnel were ambushing Venom and he was telling them to come at him. That weakened the issue for me. However, when I reread it and got a second opinion, I realized that he was actually telling them to follow him. I’m not sure if that is just me, or if the writing and art was actually being too vague. As it is though, the ending is good and actually wraps up this portion of the story.
The current Guardians of the Galaxy comic as a whole is good. It certainly has its flaws, but it’s still a fun, weird little read.
Issue Score: 8/10
Series Score: 7/10