Way back when, I started reviewing comics for CBR with “Guardians of the Galaxy” #1. That book was written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning and featured an odd collection of space-faring heroes from the Marvel Universe. It’s amazing how much things can change in just a little time without seeming all that different at all.
In this issue, the Annihilators (ugh) are chasing down and doing battle with the Universal Church of Truth, much as the Guardians did back in their series. The difference is that this book is filled with the “heavy hitters” of the cosmic scene: Ronan the Accuser, Ikon (think ROM, not the copier), Gladiator, Beta Ray Bill and Quasar. That collective is managed by Cosmo, the telepathic cosmonaut pooch who happens to be the primary holdover from the original “Guardians” series.
The combined power and might of the Annihilators appears unmatchable, or at least that’s the story in this first issue as five characters (with significant coordination from Cosmo) rip through a pair of dueling starship armadas and send them both packing. It makes for a nice bit of exposition for the characters, but the story never delivers a true threat until the Annihilators are sent to Earth and decide to hover between interesting and boring.
That portion of the story is largely spent setting up the next issue (or three) and doesn’t deliver much of what you would expect solely from the cover of this issue. What it does deliver, though, is the promise of a more compelling match-up in the next issue. More compelling than boring isn’t much to go on, but fans of the Annihilators (man, can’t we come up with a better name?!) will be thrilled by what’s coming next, even if this issue underwhelms them as much as it did me.
Contributing to my underwhelming is Tan Eng Huat’s artwork. I first saw his stuff on “Doom Patrol” almost a decade ago. Then Huat’s art was edgy and daring, unorthodox, and borderline ugly, but in a manner that snagged my attention. His art in this book is so filled with dramatic poses and flashy effects that the concept of telling a story in the panels is all but lost. Huat uses cartoony lightning bolt symbols to indicate telepathic communication between Cosmo and the rest of the team and it simply comes across as hokey.
The hokiness of a talking raccoon and his sentient tree buddy would be a better match for such imagery, but Timothy Green II plays up the cute and cuddly factor in the Rocket Raccoon and Groot backup story. That tale has such a wonderfully unexpected final panel that I found myself ready to come back for the next issue solely because of the combination of Rocket, Groot, and — well, that would be telling. Let’s just say it works, and I’m in for more. Even if it means slogging through the first story in the next issue.
This isn’t the strongest offering I’ve encountered in a #1 issue this month, but it certainly isn’t the worst. Unfortunately, it’s just good enough to be faintly memorable. Whether or not that proves to hold true until October remains to be seen.