Guardians of the Galaxy were always kind of a cult favorite team.   They were a malleable group of strange and relatively less popular cosmic characters from the far reaches of the Marvel Universe.   The original team was actually from several thousand years into the future, the contemporary version of the team didn’t exist until Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning(DNA)’s post-Annihilation series that lasted from 2008-2010.    This team which was comprised of odd-ball unheard-ofs was condensed into a few key players for their fantastic live action outing.  

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This is where things got rough for me.  Bendis’ Guardians started mirroring their goofy movie counterparts more and more.  It might be well loved by some but, for me, it felt like a cheap imitation.  It lacked the same creative chutzpah and unpredictability of the landmark cult classic series.   

I thought those Guardians were dead, the revolving door of misfit cosmic superheroes had closed and never again would we see a team as weird, wonderful and unpredictable as the ’08-’10 Guardians.    Then Donny Cates’ new #1 hits me upside the face with all the force of Beta Ray Bill’s Hammer.  This is the best first issue I’ve seen from Marvel in a long time.

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This book starts by tearing down most of what the film audience knows about the Guardians of the Galaxy, including many of the elements it had in common with the 2008 series.   Forgotten alumni Phylla Vell and Moon Dragon return, rejoining Star-Lord and Groot (Groot can talk now).  For freshman members, we get Cosmic Ghost Rider, Darkhawk, Beta Ray Bill, Corsair, and many more.    It’s unclear how the team is going to shake out in following issues because if this is anything like the DNA run that’ll be anyone’s guess. There are laughs to be had in the book, but these characters are no clowns.   This is a back to basics approach that starts veering off very quickly in it’s own direction and I love it.

The scale of the setting is immediately made obvious, the galaxy is at war.  It’s splintered and chaotic.  Thanos is once again dead.  His brother Eros has gathered our super-heroes to prevent Thanos’ final plan.  Each are selected because they lack the sort of ethical code that would prevent them from say….murder?  

Meanwhile, Star-Lord and Groot are unintentionally pulled into a rescue mission that may put them on the wrong side of the Nova Corps.  If you’ve  been keeping up with Guardians lately you might get the feeling you’ve missed something, but rest assured that’s by design.  Specifically, why won’t they talk about a member of the old Guardians team?