"Is that good, Dad?" my eight-year-old asked to my exclamation.
"Yeah. It's good."
"I was wondering. Because you don't normally say that when you finish a comic."
Yeah, she's right. I don't normally say that when I read a comic. Of course, I don't normally read comics by Abnett, Lanning, Pelletier, Magyar, Quintana and Caramagna more than once a month.
Following the collapse of the team that was brought together in the first issue of this volume of "Guardians of the Galaxy", this issue promised a "new" team, as depicted on the cover. Except when you start to read it, you get the old team. The first few pages follow the far-flung futuristic struggles of the Guardians of the Galaxy many readers know and love –- Charlie-27, Martinex, Vance Astro, Starhawk and Yondu. Honestly, they've never looked better. Whereas some of the characters never quite appealed to me visually (Charlie-27 always looked like someone was experimenting with scale and shear in Photoshop, long before Photoshop became a household application) Pelletier makes Charlie-27 look like a brute of a man who could take on the Hulk and the Juggernaut and stand a pretty good chance of winning.
Abnett and Lanning do a stunning job of playing with all of the parts in the "Guardians" mythos –- from the former "current" team, to the future team (although Nikki was notably missing) to the fill-in team: Rocket Raccoon, Cosmo, Groot, and Bug, Mantis, Star-Lord, Drax and Quasar –- all are given a little panel time and a chance to shine.
I cannot gush about Pelletier's art any more than I already have. This man is easily one of the greatest artists currently using pencil in the comic industry. Period. From his rendering of Groot to the Zom Thralls to the Badoon's manufacturing facility, every piece of this book is detailed and distinct. What's even more impressive is that this is the seventh issue, they've all shipped on time, and there hasn't been any fill-in art. So, Paul (and Rick), I applaud you both. Take a bow.
That said, as magnificent as Pelletier and Magyar are with their stark recreation of the galaxy on paper, their work is most definitely improved upon by Quintana, who renders Cosmo and Rocket with actual fur. Groot truly looks like a living tree and backgrounds are even given texture and pattern.
Both covers are energetic and cosmic, with Langley rendered Rocket's Guardians v.2 and former "Guardians" guide Jim Valentino drawing the Guardians in his own way.
The big reveal at the end may not come as a huge surprise to some readers, but for me, it was a signature moment displaying just how cool this series is. I've said it before, and it bears repeating, this series is an underexposed, overlooked, high-octane widescreen adventure. If comics were movies, this would be the one people would be talking about all summer, never hesitating to label it light years better than its competition.
Panel for panel, word for word, there just isn't a better value in comics nowadays. While it has had interaction with the rest of the Marvel Universe, this title does feature fringe characters, so it has a little more room to breathe, grow and thrive. This is a book where damn near anything can happen, and more often than not, it does.