“Infinity” hits and brings along Francesco Francavilla in “Guardians of the Galaxy” #8. With Neil Gaiman cited as a “consultant,” Brian Michael Bendis brings the Guardians to the rescue of the Sentient World Observation and Response Department (S.W.OR.D.) as the latter deals with the invading hordes of Thanos.
The opening spread of Francavilla’s contribution to “Guardians of the Galaxy” #8 features Thanos’ armada bearing down on Earth under a voiceover debate between Star-Lord and Gamora regarding the course of action best suited to defuse the attack. Letter artist Cory Petit establishes clean color-coding for the pair’s conversation without any extraneous iconography or overly ornate decor on the caption boxes. That direct and plain approach works wonderfully with Francavilla’s understated and deceptively simplistic artwork that is very much a throwback to Al Williamson’s work on “Star Wars.” In keeping with that theme, consciously or subconsciously, Francavilla keeps the colors flatter, brighter and more bold than most comic books today, which works to amplify and celebrate Francavilla’s shadow-rich, heavy style. Visually, this issue is a bit jarring when set in context against the smooth, detail-rich, crisp and clean art from Sara Pichelli, Steve McNiven and Olivier Coipel. Francavilla doesn’t fumble around in finding his interpretations of the cast, making each one recognizable even in shadow.
Bendis is a versatile enough writer to accommodate his artists’ various styles, as he does here, dipping the main storyline of “Guardians of the Galaxy” #8 into a sneak attack as Rocket Raccoon and Star-Lord attempt to rescue Abigail Brand. The writer gets out of Francavilla’s way more than a few times throughout the story, letting the compelling visuals enrich the adventure. Bendis squeezes in some humor, including a renewed attempt at providing Rocket Raccoon with a “catchphrase.” The humor doesn’t come from the phrase as much as it does Star-Lord’s and Brand’s discussion of the phrase, which is as much a gentle rib pointed at irritable readers as anything else.
Although the Guardians are still quibbling and quarreling amongst themselves more than I would like, “Guardians of the Galaxy” #8 is a solid, adventure-packed read that serves as a transitory issue merging the Guardians into the “Infinity” crossover. In this incarnation, the Guardians are supposed to be protecting the Earth, which Thanos is threatening. With more than half of the team personally connected to Thanos’ success or failure, it only makes sense to intersect the team with the Mad Titan, elevating the team’s profile in the process. Bendis and Francavilla do a fine job of delivering an entertaining comic book with plenty of adventure, as they set the stage for more interaction with “Infinity.” The end of “Guardians of the Galaxy” #8 indicates that more explosive adventures are on deck for Star-Lord and crew.