I'm impressed. At the end of the previous issue of "Guardians of the Galaxy," it appeared that six of the thirteen-member cast were brutally killed. It's one of those moments that seemed prime to be undone at the start of the next issue. One of those, "Oh look, they were just unconscious" moments, similar to what the producers of "Blake's 7" had always intended for what turned out to be a character massacre in their (unexpectedly) final episode. Well, it's the next issue, and the characters are still dead.
Now, it could be that a few issues later some or all of them will come back. But (and power to Abnett and Lanning if I'm wrong) I'm getting the feeling that it isn't the case. I applaud them for that, too. Sure, everyone's going to have characters they liked that are now gone, but it makes the book feel that much more high-stakes, and it lets the surviving characters deal with the emotional fallout from the previous story. It's a big move, and I hope they let it stand.
As for the issue itself? I like that it's mixing the Cthulhu-inspired monsters from the "Realm of Kings" event that just began with political machinations of different organizations that are all moving in on Knowhere. It makes the book feel a little different from the typical "team fights bad things" set-up, and with the group's numbers cut in half, makes their attempts to succeed that much more difficult. They can't just punch their way out of situations that Abnett and Lanning are coming up with, and I like that the Church of Universal Truth seems to be positioned to be a major story element in the months to come.
Brad Walker's pencils are at their strongest when he's dealing with normal situations. I like how the Guardians look as if they're wearing genuine uniforms, not super-hero outfits. They bunch up like heavy fabric, rather than clinging to people's chests and legs. Even Groot's creepers really do look like tree roots; they're not clean and slick, but instead come across as plant matter that you'd see in the forest. I'm not as crazy about Walker's pencils when he draws fight scenes; some panels seem a little too cluttered and hard to follow, but even then they're just merely not as good as the rest of the book rather than bad.
"Guardians of the Galaxy" has a new status quo, and with any luck we'll see it stick around. And if not, well, it will be fun while it lasts. In terms of books with a depleted team, though, Abnett, Lanning, and Walker are doing a good job at making this one work.