As the Marvel cosmic line builds to “The Thanos Imperative,” the main push is in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” but this issue seems somewhat limited by the upcoming story. With the entire issue leading to the final page, there’s only about half an issue’s worth of content while Abnett and Lanning stall for time somewhat. The issue is still a fun, entertaining read, but it’s lacking compared to previous issues of the title.
The issue opens in an interesting fashion, presenting the fight between members of the Universal Church of Truth and the not-quite-as-dead-as-everyone-thought members of the Guardians of the Galaxy in a series of thin splashes with some panels overlaid on top, the narration providing insight into each character. It’s an interesting technique and works to spotlight each character and draw the fight out, but does hamper many of the characters.
Since each fights in a different way, depicting each’s efforts in a unified visual structure like this doesn’t present each in their best light. Part of what makes a character like Gamorra so dynamic visually is her acrobatic fighting skills as she moves through a crowd with a deadly grace.
The rest of the team deals with the problem of a Galactic Council meeting and attempted assassination. There’s a clever moment in the Guardians’ response to being barred from the proceedings, but this section of the book reads mechanically, moving from plot point to plot point. The plot points are smart and make sense while still offering some surprises, but the execution is wanting.
Wes Craig’s art definitely carries the load in this issue more than usual with the emphasis in the early scenes on the fight and the large images. His cartoony style has the right amount of rough edges to convey the brutality of the battle. Both sides are hell bent on subduing the other by any means and you can tell that from the art. Craig’s style has some awkward quirks to it that are actually quite charming. His characters look slightly off and rumpled.
Craig changes up his style effectively for the character of Maelstrom, a representative of Death, presenting him in a less solid fashion. The coloring adds much of the definition to the character as Craig’s art uses more blocky shadows to suggest his features. He has an otherworldly quality because of the art, a great way to make him stand out in a book full of unique-looking characters.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” has set a high standard over its two years and this issue falls short a little, but still maintains the entertaining charm that’s made it such a joy to read.