Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning are fairly dependable writers, and over the last few years they’ve been carving out their own little empire of interesting looking comics. So with “War of Kings” now raging through the books, this would be the prefect time for a new reader to jump on board, right? Well, don’t worry, I made that mistake so maybe you don’t have to.
It’s not a bad book, but for the first issue of a tie-in to an “event” comic, “Guardians of the Galaxy” seems determined to not cut a new reader any slack. The title kicks off with a bar brawl, and from there massive amounts of exposition and characters coming on stage to say things at each other. Presumably they’ve all got a history with each other, but considering just how much exposition goes towards explaining what’s happening in “War of Kings,” it’s a little surprising that none of it goes the other way towards “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Part of this problem could have to do with the large cast; with twelve main characters, plus a whole slew of guest-stars, it’s hard to keep them all straight. But a bigger problem seems to be that “Guardians of the Galaxy” #13 is really rushed. This feels like multiple issues of plot crammed into a single installment. I’m all in favor of a fast-moving comic, but this feels like an old record caught on slightly the wrong speed.
Brad Walker’s pencils didn’t help matters either, unfortunately. The second page of the comic features a splash of the Guardians fighting aliens in a bar, and it just makes me wince the longer I look at it. One character is punching someone towards the reader, but is looking off to an angle; if someone in real life tried to pull this maneuver off, they’d get whiplash. Another character actually seems to be trying to give the reader a “come hither” look, which I suppose could say a lot about how this character feels about fist fights, but I hope that’s not the case. In the background, Moondragon’s randomly performing the limbo, another character is doing a flying kick through the air that just doesn’t quite work… you get the idea. It’s a shame because there are pages I like later on; for instance, I don’t know why there’s a telepathic golden retriever working a teleporter as part of the team, but the way Walker draws him is the cutest thing I’ve seen all week. But like the script, the art ultimately feels like a jumble of elements that just don’t cohere.
Now, I suppose there is an assumption being made that people who buy “War of Kings” were already buying the outer-space books off in their own corner of the Marvel Universe, like “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “Nova,” and the various “Annihilation” mini-series. If so, it’s a faulty one; I picked up “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “War of Kings” because of all of the good words I’d heard about the previous events. While “War of Kings” has held my interest so far, I hate to say that “Guardians of the Galaxy” completely lost me as a reader. If I come across a chance to read the earlier issues I might give it another shot, but for now I think I’m best just sticking with the core “War of Kings” mini-series and calling it a day.