Guardians of the Galaxy #1 / Writer: Donny Cates / Artists: Geoff Shaw & Marte Gracia / Letterer: Corry Petit / Marvel Comics / January 23rd, 2019
In the wake of Infinity Wars, the Guardians of the Galaxy and the whole cosmos have been left in disarray. Gamora thought she did the universe a favor by killing Thanos, but little did she know he was prepared for this eventuality. Guardians of the Galaxy #1 places the cosmos’s heroes in a tough position: they have to determine where the “new” Thanos will rise. Before they can come up with an action plan they are attacked by the Black Order, who escape with their master’s body by sending our heroes into a wormhole. With the help of Star-Lord and Groot, a handful escape to assemble the galaxy’s last hope. Star-Lord and Groot are joined by Moondragon, Phyla-Vell, Beta Ray Bill, and Cosmic Ghost Rider – the new Guardians of the Galaxy.
This opening issue of Guardians of the Galaxy felt like a breath of fresh air mixed with Abnett and Lanning vibes. Donny Cates delivered a great hook for what’s to come, creating suspense and mystery throughout the unfolding plot. Having been a huge fan of the Guardians since the Abnett and Lanning days, I had a lot of expectations for this opening issue, and Cates delivered. He showed he could keep true to the nature of the team being built for the highest stakes, with trickles of humor here and there. While I’m a big fan of Duggan’s run, I was still ready to see a fresh take on the Guardians with the previous one rooted in characters we’ve seen a ton over the past few years. Cates wasn’t scared to shake things up and bring on this new take I’ve been craving. He brings new faces on board as well as re-imagined versions of old favorites, which tees up the suspense extremely well.
One thing I was worried about was how friendly to new readers this first issue would be, coming off the back of Infinity Wars and Cates relying on quite a bit of his previous cosmic related books. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it summarizes the recent past in a clear and concise way that puts all readers on a relatively equal footing. It does help to have read Infinity Wars to understand the gravity of the situation, but readers get the important plot points from the way Cates presents everything. Cosmic Ghost Rider feels like an organic part of the story, and Rocket’s absence is handled with humor while still feeling important to the future of the plot.
Geoff Shaw brings the same magic he brought to God Country to this comic. Despite the briefness of the action, it really shines Shaw’s style. It’s dynamic without feeling overwhelming, and his paneling moves everything along nicely. He uses just enough details to create complete scenes without being visually overwhelming. The pencils marry themselves beautifully to the colors of Marte Gracia, who brings a sort of dynamism to the comic. This creates a nice contrast with the comic’s dark premise, acting as a visual stimulant in a grim story with high stakes.
As a Guardians fan, I couldn’t be happier with the way this comic turned out. The popularity of this team allows them to have top creative teams attached to them to create amazing stories. Despite that, the flexibility this team is allowed is what makes them fresh and fun to follow. Cates and Shaw seem to understand that and intend to use that fact to maximum effect. Guardians of the Galaxy #1 was dynamic, brutal, and the perfect hook for a series that will grab audiences’ attention in a heartbeat.
Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 @#$%! I am Groot!