"Guardians of the Galaxy" #0.1 breaks out an extra-special Brian Michael Bendis-written decompressed version of Star-Lord's origin. The text page at the back of the issue, as well as Bendis' own admission from various points across the internet describes how the one-note origin of Peter Quill blossomed into an extra-sized origin story that delivers thirty pages of background on the leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Truly, Quill is the focus of this issue -- not Star-Lord, but Peter Quill. In this issue, Bendis introduces the readers to Quill's mother, Meredith Quill, and his father, J'son of Spartax. Readers also meet the school bully, Coogan, as well as Peter's school age pal. All of that informs the heroic decisions Quill makes and lays the groundwork for the notions of right and wrong in the mind of the character that will one day become Star-Lord. Bendis succeeds at making Quill very human, despite the alien trappings of an attack from the Badoon and the legacy of Spartax bloodline. Star-Lord appears on the last three pages of this issue, and Peter Quill himself is in little more than half of "Guardians of the Galaxy" #0.1, but Bendis manages to fill the story with drama and romance, excitement and adventure as Bendis does best: through simple human interaction. Bendis excels at writing people. Sometimes those people simply talk, but through Bendis' writing, they become characters that readers care about. That is very much the case here.
This debut issue of "Guardians of the Galaxy" opens thirty years ago and delivers a widescreen double-page spread depicting the vastness of space and small segment of the Marvel Universe. Like last week's "Nova" #1, that spread serves as prime display space for the creator credits of this comic. The overwhelming pronouncement of the creators involved detracts from the "wow" factor of filling a pair of pages with the starfield of a galaxy, but it also serves as a surrogate storyboard for the "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie that comic readers imagine whenever they begin reading a comic starring Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon, Drax, Groot or Gamora.
Thirty pages of story means thirty pages of art from Steve McNiven -- sort of. As mentioned previously, two of those pages are filled with stars, and a third page (which is actually the first page) is a slow zoom on the Earth. So McNiven only truly checks in for twenty-seven pages. McNiven makes the most of them, many of which have been available through various previews scattered about online. The artist's pages are wonderfully inked by John Dell, who helps McNiven's art gain depth and weight quite nicely. Justin Ponsor's coloring is spot-on, right down to the slow fade on the fireplace as J'son and Meredith embrace. Cory Petit rounds out the visual package with solid lettering, but doesn't carry the translations from the Badoon throughout their appearance in "Guardians of the Galaxy" #0.1. The meaning is present, but it would have been nice to have the translations continue as they began in this issue.
McNiven is known for being a very detailed artist, and that certainly holds true here. His details are not just the dazzling additives and fussiness of people, attire and environments, but story and life details, like the fact that a phone from thirty years ago would most certainly have been corded and a comic book being plucked from a ten-year-old's hands does flop and flap.
I'm glad to see "Guardians of the Galaxy" back on the racks. I know it is largely propelled by the upcoming movie and has what appears to be a forced appearance/role from Iron Man, but nonetheless, Marvel NOW! brings back space opera goodness. Readers get a little tease of the team to close out "Guardians of the Galaxy" #0.1, whetting appetites for the true first issue, but for now, this book is exciting, fresh and new, even if it does simply resuscitate an old tale from yesteryear.