Saturday, September 28, 2013

Review: Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy #6

There's a lot going on in the Marvel Universe right now, both in the comics' (616) universe and the TV/movie universe.  Now, the comics and the TV and movie properties don't share continuity, but the stuff that happens in one tends to inform the stuff that happens in the other, so that if we want clues to what might (might!) happen in some of the future movies, one of the better sources we have is the comics.  With that in mind, Marvel re-booted the Guardians of the Galaxy (GotG) early this year, either to feed--or perhaps merely to gain advanced profits from--the hype surrounding next year's GotG movie.

Either way, I personally love the Guardians, and I've been reading the new book ever since it started.

Which brings us to where we are now, with this past week's GotG #6.

Guardians of tthe Galaxy #6, starring Angela.
For better or worse, the 616 Universe is sort of split these days.  Not along lines that make any sort of logical, story-typw sense, but along internal, editorial lines within Marvel Publishing.  This is how we can wind up having a book like Guardians include a character like Thanos having a conversation with the Guardians' leader Peter Quill (aka Starlord) at the same time that a different set of books--Jonathan Hickman's Avengers/New Avengers/Infinity books--also stars Thanos, but this time he's conquering the Earth and facing off with the Inhumans.  But at least for me, it was a little off-putting because Hickman's Infinity event is a massively-scaled space opera, and one would have expected to see the Guardians involved, especially since Hickman himself has gone to some trouble to reference some of the early plot-points within the initial Guardians' story arc, but...  Well, this version of the GotG is written by Brian Michael Bendis, and Bendis, it seems, is more concerned with tying up loose ends from his own Age of Ultron event from earlier in the year.  This has the effect of disconnecting Marvel's most cosmically-oriented book from the actual events of the Marvel Universe's spacefaring parts, essentially stranding the Guardians, Marvel's "space Avengers", in Earth-space while the actual Avengers, normally Earth's Mightiest Heroes, are off in the far reaches of the galaxy.

It's weird.  And I don't exactly understand what's going on, and that's not just because this book is disconnected from the other books in the Marvel Universe.  Normally that continuity stuff doesn't bother me too much.  In this case, though...  I mean, why is Gammora carrying a red Sith double-lightsaber?

Gammora.  With a space-suit and Darth Maul's lightsaber.
I mean, at first I thought maybe Bendis had just lost his mind and didn't care if Lucasfilm sued for copyright violation.  But then I remembered that Disney just bought Lucasfilm (and Star Wars), and since they already owned Marvel...  Maybe this is just corporate synergy?  A subtle reminder that GotG isn't the only space opera in the Disney pipeline?

I don't know.

Regardless, I feel like I shouldn't rag on this book too much.  I mean, it's not bad.  It's just disconnected.  It exists in its own universe in a way that I personally found a little off-putting.  But there are certainly good parts of it.  For one thing, Bendis has got a good handle on Thanos.  The Mad Titan is truly scary here, and the way that Bendis has laid out the two-page spreads shows the grandeur of one of Marvel's truly Big Bads very effectively.  Also: this is the first time we've really seen Angela do anything in the Marvel Universe, and they've done a great job showing what a bad-ass she can be.

With that in mind, artist Sara Pichelli's work is outstanding throughout this book.  The figurework is great, the fight scenes are exciting, and most importantly, Thanos is scary as Hell.  Even Uatu, the Watcher comes across as interesting and intimidating, and that's no mean feat!

I love Pichelli's work here.  These are GREAT character designs.
So.  Guardians of the Galaxy.  I'm still buying it, and the art is definitely well worth your time, but I don't mind saying that I'd like to see the book go somewhere soon, and as of now, it just seems to be meandering.  There're good bits in every single issue, but taken as a whole, it's hard to see this issue--or any of the issues--as part of a larger work, either within the Marvel Universe or as part of a collective, cohesive internal narrative all its own.

Take that for what it's worth.

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