In Review: Guardians Team-Up #1

This should be the standard for all Marvel comics: fun and gorgeous heroics.

The covers: The Main cover is by Art Adams and Ian Herring. Getting a book with interiors by Adams is like getting Christmas to arrive early, so that’s why I picked this comic up. Looking at what he and Herring do, I knew this was going to be a good book. The Guardians are descending out of blackness onto the Avengers. I love the way Adams draws the oversized heroes, and Groot and the Hulk are two stand outs. Also looking good is Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel, Drax, Storm, and Thor. This cover is like a who’s who in Marvel comics and it’s beautiful. The first Variant is by Scotty Young and it features several of the Avengers and the five core Guardians as little kids all trying to ride in a quarter rocket ship found in malls or grocery stores. I’m not thrilled with Young’s work usually, but this cover has me eating my words–it’s fantastic! Groot and Hulk are having the most fun, since they’re standing atop everyone else. Looking at the anger on Drax, Gamora, and Thor’s faces is hilarious. It’s also an extremely bright cover, as there’s no background–it’s entirely white, but the characters costumes make the image explode. This is the best work I’ve seen Young do. The Variant by Pasquale Ferry is also on a white background, but it contains two circles showing the typical settings for each team, deep space and the skyscrapers of New York. On the left of the image are the Guardians, on the right the Avengers. It looks as though they’re going to start swinging with the following fights: Rocket Racoon versus Doctor Strange, Gamora versus Ms. Marvel, Drax versus Iron Man, Starlord versus Hawkeye and Ant Man, with Groot looking as if he’ll jump in wherever he’s needed. This, too, is an excellent cover. The characters look terrific and their poses superb. The final announced Variant is by Jose Ladronn and it’s a “50 Years of Inhumans” cover, showcasing eight characters and a dog I’ve not seen before and are nowhere to found in this issue. Clueless before this cover, it’s not one I would pick up. The characters look okay but I have no attachment to any of them. There’s also a really limited cover by Nick Bradshaw that is exclusive to the Marvel Collectors Corps (a bi-monthly subscription service from Marvel and Funko). This cover has a masthead similar to Marvel books of the 1070s. It focuses on the Avengers more than the Guardians, and has Captain America front and center with wings spread, leading both crews into action. Groot, Rocket, Cap, Drax, Iron Man, Gamora, Thor, Starlord, Hawkeye, and Black Widow look great. This is a sharp looking cover. Overall grades: Main A, Young Variant A+, Ferry Variant A, Ladronn Variant D, and Bradshaw Variant A

The story: This story revolves primarily around the Guardians with the Avengers making showing up to help them out against a horde of alien baddies. Brian M. Bendis’s story starts in sensational fashion with the Guardians’ ship plummeting to Earth, specifically New York. The opening page, that contains the always ridiculous opening title and credits Marvel still continues to do, has the ship on fire as its freefalls to the Big Apple. The ship avoids crashing into several buildings thanks to the expert piloting abilities of Rocket Racoon. Starlord suggest their plight is due to his furry friend’s flying skills, while Rocket barks back if he had been allowed to purchase a part earlier they wouldn’t be in this situation. They’re being chased by a massive starship over the city, and their pursuers have no problems firing and taking out any structure in the process. Rocket leaves the flying to Quill while he dashes into the back. None of the Guardians know why they’re being chased, all they want to do is get away. They zip past Avengers’ Tower, where Hawkeye’s lunch is interrupted by the spectacle. A female form within the enemy ship tells her crew to take the shot to destroy the Guardians, when suddenly their ship disappears. Rocket made a cloak to save their bacon. Naturally the heroes’ safety doesn’t last for long. How the Avengers come into the tale is slick and the introductions between the two groups is classic, with the scene between Rocket and Spider-Woman one for the ages. Another funny scene is Hawkeye’s marksmanship, before and after he displays it. I liked the inclusion of Sunspot and Cannonball, having been a fan of these New Mutants since their creation. The fights are cool and the cliffhanger ending which reveals who and why the Guardians have been chased is solid. This was fun. Overall grade: A+

The art: I’ve grown up on Art Adams’s artwork. Every time he does a book I have to purchase it. I can safely say his talent is as good as when he first started. The first two pages which goes between the ships flying about the city and the Guardians within their vessel shows the insane amount of details he puts on every page. The first panel is a great shot of their ship limping around, avoiding buildings as enemy shots rain down. The close-ups of the characters are fantastic–look at Gamora at the bottom of Page 2, or Rocket on 4. This is sensational. If a reader isn’t officially won over yet by the visuals, take a gander at Page 8 when the Avengers arrive on the scene. Seventeen characters, clearly seen, with an Avengers Quinjet and the debris of the Guardians’ forced landing. There are very few artists that can pull this off like Adams can. The next two pages are a stunning line up of the teams getting to know each other. This is amazing. The arrival of the bad guys shoot this book into the stratosphere as all the heroes battle an army of alien invaders. Page 14 has the arrival of a horde that would bust a movie’s budget. Drax’s take down shows his strength and that of his opponents. The final page has a gorgeous reveal of the villainess responsible for our heroes’ woes and she is beautiful and frightening. Every page is a wonder in action, style, and coolness. Superior work. Overall grade: A+ 

The colors: I have tried to read several Marvel books in the last year but was turned off by the dark colors that hid art and brought down any positive vibe the story could give; Original Sin being hugely flawed in this regard. Thankfully, this is not the case in this book. Paul Mounts has given Adams’s art such dynamic colors it’s breathtaking. The opening credits page sets the tone with the varied colors of the Guardians and the gorgeous sky as their ship falls. Beautiful cloud work on this page. The blues of the city make the scenes set there glorious. The interior of the villains’ ship is gorgeous in violet. Pages 15 and 16 knock it out of the park: the yellows, oranges, and reds are to die for. I love the color work on this book. Overall grade: A+ 

The letters: Opening titles and credits, dialogue, sounds, and incredible alien speak are created by VC’s Cory Petit. He, too, is doing a great job, but that alien font that appears toward the end of this issue is awesome. I love when aliens’ dialogue looks completely foreign and is completely untranslatable. Overall grade: A

The final line: This should be the standard for all Marvel comics: fun and gorgeous heroics. A dream come true for fans of super heroes. Overall grade: A+

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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