Review: Guardians of the Galaxy #17 – Getting The Band Back Together
Since last Wednesday, I have seen the Guardians of the Galaxy movie three times: two preview showings and the full IMAX 3D experience yesterday. The only reason I share this tidbit is because during the reading of Guardians of the Galaxt #17 it became nigh-impossible for me to read Star-Lord’s lines and not hear Christ Pratt’s voice in my head. Just throwing that out there. But back to the book at hand…
Guardians of the Galaxy #17 picks up after the last couple of issues scattered the team to the cosmic winds. But now, just as easily as they were parted, the gang is all back together again… more or less. Groot is in pretty poor shape after being abandoned on an alien planet, Rocket has no memory of his abduction and torture by the Kree, and Drax nearly got spaced by Gladiator during his attempted trial by combat. Also, Agent Venom is, for some strange reason, hiding from the rest of the team on Knowhere. Only Gamora and Angela seemed to have been having a decent time of things, engaging in relentless amounts of female bonding via Badoon slaughter.
While a few potential seeds of future stories are planted in this issue (The Spartax uprising. What happened to Rocket? Why is Venom avoiding the team?) most of my concerns over Brian Michael Bendis’ seemingly directionless plotting of this book continue unabated. I do feel this issue was a bit better than last month’s, with the team at least getting some small bonding moments as they are reunited, but was it really necessary to split the group for three issues, only to bring them back together with minimal conflict, all for the sake of creating just a couple of loose ends? I suppose we’ll find out when we see just how big these potential plot threads actually become. On the plus side, we have Carol Danvers around now, but at this point I’m not holding out a lot of hope that she’ll be able to prop up a book that has difficulty standing on its own.
At least the artwork is less hectic this time around. Nick Bradshaw and his lantern-jawed character designs return again from last month and, while they don’t exactly mesh with longtime Bendis collaborator Michael Oeming’s style, they don’t look anywhere near as disjointed as some of the other artists’ segments from last month did. Although Oeming does draw Rocket as looking something like a bipedal bat in the face, I’m willing to forgive him more easily for some unknown reason, as it almost seems consistent with his slightly distorted, cartoony characters.
Guardians of the Galaxy is now in theaters, garnering both critical and audience acclaim. It looks poised to break August box office records before the opening weekend is even done. And despite this, Marvel continues to allow what could be a potential tentpole title propping up a newly refreshed cosmic wing of the Marvel Universe to flail around in the hands of a writer who doesn’t seem to know what to do with the team. I’ve said before, Bendis is a fine writer–I like his other work quite a bit–but he’s just not a good match with Guardians. Maybe he went into it without a clear idea of what he wanted to write and thought it would come to him on the fly. Maybe he was the only writer willing to take the reigns and reboot the franchise. I have no idea
But between Legendary Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon now on the shelves, we clearly have no shortage of writers willing to handle Guardians-related properties these days. Marvel needs to right the ship and get a writer on Guardians who has a clear vision and direction for the team before they let this opportunity slip past them. With next issue teasing resolution for the Cancerverse/Richard Rider Nova storyline that ended the original Guardians run as a tie-in to Original Sin, I shudder a bit to think of how things could potentially be messed up. Here’s hoping I’m wrong.