Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1 Review

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Let’s take a look at the 2008 run of Guardians! Volume 1’s cover is pretty iconic even if the roster is certainly a little different from the film’s. Good ole Groot is still around, but he evidently could not make the cover. No loss there and Warlock is really the team’s power hitter anyway. It’s a cosmic adventure so the plot is very dynamic and keeps on changing throughout the run so a static summary can be a little tricky. Try and keep up!

The Guardians disbanded a long time ago, but Starlord wants to bring them all back together again to save the universe. There are quite a few threats that have risen up like the Badoon, Blastaar, and the Skrulls so the universe really needs the team. That being said, none of the members really like Starlord and by the end of the collection, they like him even less than usual. I didn’t think that was possible, but he does have a way with teammates. Can he keep the team together long enough to make a real difference or is he going to die first?

Debatably, the plot that takes up most of the collection is the Skrull one. The Guardians are currently based in Cosmo’s home. It’s a large Celestial head that also houses a small army of other people who aren’t thrilled that Starlord has decided to open up shop here. As tensions rise, someone is murdered and there seems to be a Skrull on board. The problem is that there is no longer a way to detect them (Even Professor Xavier could not do so in Secret Invasion) so everyone is a suspect. Drax quickly becomes the lead suspect because he keeps disappearing from time to time and even shows up with a bomb. It’s a rather drastic strategy that he uses and I don’t think I actually buy it (Involves everyone “dying” for a quick minute) but Drax was never one for subtlety.

That storyline wasn’t my favorite, but Skrulls can always lead to intriguing plot developments. We even saw Adam Warlock take on Cosmo. I’m confident that Warlock would have won had he kept on going. Another plot involves the Church of Universal Truth. These guys are fairly powerful and they believe that Adam Warlock is their chosen champion from prophecy who will lead them to conquest. That’s why they are a little confused. Adam Warlock may have appeared, but they still hold the cocoon where he is supposed to wake up from. One of the Warlocks is evidently a fake, but which one?

This was definitely my favorite plot. The church warriors have very cool designs and could actually fight quite well. Their powers stem from their belief so the stronger their convictions are, the stronger they become. Warlock was able to fight on par with these guys, but the other members didn’t fare so well. The Guardians were able to escape though and now Warlock is aiming to become their leader. We’ll see if his plan ends up working.

The reason why the members are separate is due to a plot twist from the Skrull arc. The reason why it seemed odd how the Guardians would all be willing to come together so easily..is because Starlord had Mantis telepathically mess with everyone’s minds to make them want to join up. Obviously this is very unethical and a terrible move on the leader’s part. No matter what his hopes and aspirations for the team were, there’s never a good excuse to invade someone’s mind like that. The team is right to be upset with Starlord so they are all having their own adventures. Unfortunately, I’m sure that they will join up again, but Starlord should definitely be kicked from the team after something like that.

Another plot involves Phyla and Drax going to stop an evil magician who had kidnapped Moondragon. The guy’s a decently tough sorcerer and he puts up a good fight. I’m confident that he could probably beat Drax, although I’m not sure about Phyla. Phyla was Quasar for a while and her energy abilities are second to none. When you consider her super speed, flight, and energy projection, she’s easily one of the Guardians’ strongest members. Even better is the fact that the real Quasar returned at the very end so we may see him more in the next few volumes. I was always a fan of that guy so it’ll be great to see him back.

Starlord’s plot involved being trapped in the Negative Zone along with Blastaar and being forced to act as a delegate for him. Starlord has to try and get the prisoners to team up with him to face off with Blastaar, but prisoners aren’t the most trust worthy of people at times. It’s a pretty interesting battle and Blastaar is definitely a tough opponent, although I see him lose a lot more than he wins. Things don’t go all that well for him this time either.

The PC (Politically Correct) police jump in at the end though with Moondragon’s pairing with the new Quasar. I don’t believe that this is a new development, but in the older comics, she was interested in characters like Warlock and a few others. Being a flirt’s a bad character trait, but the twist of her being bi, or in Iceman’s case, ignoring his whole comic industry, is always regrettable. DC and Marvel have definitely been adding in more gay characters in their comics and hopefully this isn’t too frequent. It will likely increase as the agenda goes further and it’s too bad. How many more characters will be turned gay or bi are the years go on? I feel like the number is only going to increase and that’s terrible. As a Christian, I still don’t believe in the gay movement and seeing it in the comics is no fun.

As far as the characters are concerned, Adam Warlock is still my favorite. He believes that the Guardians should not have a boss and delegating with other groups slows them down. His personality has changed somewhat and he’s a lot more eager to fight at all times. Mix this in with his great character design and he’s easily the best character here. I liked Quasar a lot as well and it’s great to see him return. Every character returns at some point so the waiting is the tough part. ( A few exceptions) Rocket Raccoon is all right I suppose, but he still can’t fight all that much, which is always a little dicey when in battle. He talks a good game though.

Groot…is Groot. He doesn’t have a whole lot of personality anyway. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I liked Gamora or Drax this time though. Gamora’s scene with Nova really says it all and technically that’s not even out of character. We’ve seen her have flings with many different characters, but it just makes her look so bad. There’s no way I can take her seriously after such a scene. As for Drax, I still miss the real incarnation of him. This warrior version just doesn’t do it for me. He’s barely even pretending to be a hero at this point and really just does whatever he feels like doing. If he was a little stronger, then that could maybe have helped him as a character.

For the most part Starlord’s a decent character. He’s charismatic, which is important for a leader, but he did mess with the minds of his teammates and that’s a big no no. He didn’t seem like the type of guy who would pull something like that. I suppose he was desperate, but it will make you lose a lot of respect for the guy. Mantis is just as guilty for agreeing to such a thing of course. She can fight a little, but she typically just acts as a communications officer so you won’t see her in the field all that much. Cosmo is cool since he’s a Dog, but he sure does like to play all of the angles and doesn’t take the right side often enough.

The art is very good. It’s like a mix of the current art with some early 2000’s where the colors were very bold. I didn’t like the cover art so I’m glad that it didn’t look like that in the actual comic. Iconic or not, the live action style just doesn’t work for any comic book. It doesn’t feel right if you ask me. This way, we can still get a lot of good action scenes and easily read through the adventures.

Overall, This was a good Guardians comic. There was certainly a lot action throughout. The Moondragon part at the end is regrettable, but besides that, the setup is certainly getting ready for a big volume 2. I look forward to seeing Warlock’s plot play out and Oblivion actually stepping into the ring will be great. After all, cosmic entities usually talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk. It’s about time one of them decided to stretch his muscles a bit. I hope Nova appears some more because he only got a very brief cameo here. After seeing his teenage days, it’ll be great to see him in his prime. Maybe we’ll even get some cosmic guest stars since Marvel has so many of them at their disposal. Will the Guardians actually get back together or is the group gone for good in their own title!? As you ponder this question, just remember that the group needs Warlock to survive.

Overall 6/10

Comic Reviews, Comics, Reviews

Guardians of The Galaxy/All New X Men The Trial of Jean Grey Review

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It’s time to look at the recent crossover between these two series. It has always been a smart decision to have two series collaborate on their own mini arc. Marvel and DC have been doing this for decades at this point and the formula continues to work. You also don’t have to wait quite as long to finish an event since it is essentially getting double speed until it finishes. I recently finished a volume in the All New X Men series so it’ll be interesting to see how they handle this galactic mission!

The title is actually pretty self explanatory to the plot though. The Shiar has found out about the original X Men arriving on the present. Gladiator realizes that this is his chance to make his people look good so he decides to attack Earth and kidnap Jean Grey. Realizing that a frontal assault against the strongest planet in the multiverse would be a bad idea, he attacks during the night and kidnaps her. The X Men are dazed and confused, but luckily the Guardians of The Galaxy show up. The X Men decide to hitch a ride with them and head off to stop Gladiator before they can execute the telepath. Will they make it in time!

The X Men felt out of their depth in their own series and that is also the case here. Gone are the days where the X Men were a force to be reckoned with. Skism and AVX really changed things for them. If Wolverine and Storm were around that would help, but Shadowcat is really the only adult member at the moment. This means that the classic members have to do a lot of the heavy lifting as well and they simply aren’t cut out for this. It’s safe to say that they would have been doomed if the Guardians hadn’t shown up and I don’t even think that the Guardians are that tough. They are certainly not as imposing as they think they are.

Cyclops tries to act as the commanding leader for the team, but only once in a while. He does make threats to the villains on how he will destroy them, but considering his current level of power…I don’t really see him going very far. Still, he is still a good ally to have and he sticks by his friends. Jean Grey certainly hasn’t made it easy for him. That being said, Cyclop’s final decision isn’t the best one, how can he protect his team if he’s on another planet? At least he won’t have to worry about the Avengers messing with him anymore.

The Beast, Angel, and Iceman are really just around for levity. They certainly don’t do well during the fights and they don’t have much of a role in this arc. Angel already got his development though so we’re just waiting on the other two. Jean Grey naturally gets a large focus here and I’m glad that she made the right call in not surrendering. Just saying that she was guilty and waiting to be executed would have been a pretty lousy decision. Instead, she harnessed her powers and managed to take on Gladiator. Her new abilities will certainly come in handy for the upcoming battles and maybe she’ll get even stronger. She really needs to put a handle on her telepathy though. Constantly reading everyone’s minds is a sure way to destroy the trust between teammates.

X 23 is a part of the X Men roster this time, but her role is very small. The characters even joke about it as one of them forgot that she was on the journey. I consider her to be one of the stronger members of this X Men roster so hopefully she will get more action next time. From the Guardians Roster, Angela, Gamora, and Drax would be considered as the heavy hitters. The thing is..they simply aren’t very strong.

For Drax, he has been unimpressive ever since his latest retcon/design. Gone are the days where he could go toe to toe against powerhouses like the Hulk and Thor. I really miss those days as I also preferred his design back then. He’s all talk in the current comics. It’s hard to gauge Angela and Gamora’s strength as they mostly just fight minions. I’m inclined to say that they could probably take out most of the current X Men members,m but they’re still not ready to go up against Gladiator. Still, they’re good characters. As per usual, I’m not a fan of Groot. His gimmick gets old very quickly and he is rarely helpful in a fight. Rocket’s always cool though as he constantly insults allies and enemies alike.

As for Jean Grey’s execution, it may be obvious by now, but I would naturally say that she is innocent.
You certainly can’t be found guilty of something that your future self did. Especially considering that you now know about it and can likely avoid it happening. (Moot point here thanks to the time travel element of course) It’s always an interesting debate of whether you should arrest or destroy someone if you know that they will eventually commit a large crime. I’m not entirely opposed to the idea of an arrest, but that’s a deeper talk than this review requires. Needless to say, the Shiar would essentially be murdering an innocent person in their mistaken quest for justice and that’s why they have never been considered as heroes.

There are certainly a lot of sub plots here that hint at things to come. Thanos is missing so naturally his next plan will be coming soon. Star Lord’s dad seems to want to stir up as much trouble as possible and the Badoon are also getting ready. Meanwhile, I wonder how the Supreme Intelligence will handle the situation. He was against the trial as he seems to be the most intelligent member of the group. Since the Shiar broke the truce not to go to Earth, I expect him to hopefully retaliate in some way. The Kree don’t simply back away when there is a fight!

The art is good for the comic. It’s at about the same level as the other All New X Men graphic novel. This means that the art typically looks good and it’s certainly very clear, but there will be moments when the characters just look off model. It’s not too distracting, but it still keeps me from calling the art very good. The important thing is that it will keep you engaged in the comic though.

As this is Bendis, the writing isn’t exactly spectacular. That being said, we’re certainly not at Dan Slott level and the comic maintains a fun atmosphere throughout. The slang and comic relief can get to be a bit much at times, but we do have to accept the fact that Bendis is working with two teams who are comprised of comedy characters. Iceman, Angel, Beast, Star Lord, Rocket, etc. Put them all in the same room and things are bound to get dicey!

The collection is slightly longer than the average one, but still makes for a short and sweet read. If I had to name a negative, it would be that the All New X Men are too easily impressed. I already went into it in my earlier All New X Men review, but they seem a little too naive, young, and easily impressed. They are still X Men so I expect them to cope with these kinds of situations a little easier. Is it really strange to see a talking tree and raccoon? I don’t think that they should really be shocked about this. When the Shiar attacked with their foot soldiers, I also think that the X Men should have won. How can you lose to foot soldiers?

Also, is it just me or did the comic have a lot of fun bashing Earth? Apparently, we have geniuses like Bruce Banner, The Wizard, Tony Stark, Reed Richards, and Peter Parker, but we can’t make spaceships that can move nearly as fast as just about any other race. If not for the Guardians arriving, we apparently don’t have the tech necessary to reach their solar system in time. I find that a little hard to buy as our tech should certainly be able to stand up to theirs. Considering how many alien ships we’ve claimed after failed inventions, we could have reverse engineered all of the necessary parts to make an even better ship. Hopefully we’re just holding back!

Overall, This was a fun team up between the two teams. The heroes are lucky that Jean Grey is a powerhouse now because they definitely are lacking in strength. Ordinarily, I’d assume that Gladiator could essentially take on both teams by himself. We’ll see how long the cosmic interlopers can keep their hands off of Earth. Hopefully the Guardians can protect it, but I really don’t see how. They have sensors that warn them whenever someone attacks Earth, but it’s not like they can just outrace every space vehicle. They need better defenses or this is going to happen again. I recommend checking out this collection as it is a fun action story. There are quite a few references to Jean Grey’s original days as the Phoenix for old fans and you will get to decide if you think Jean Grey is innocent or guilty. Hint, she is innocent!

Overall 7/10