In Brian Michael Bendis and Art Adams’ “Guardians Team-Up” #1, Bendis uses a fairly mundane plot device to bring the Guardians to Earth and loosely connects this series to his current run on “Guardians of the Galaxy” proper. That loose connection enables wiggle room for the story and the rosters but it doesn’t change the personalities Bendis has established in his experiences with Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot (Angela, Venom and Captain Marvel are absent in this issue). With a limited timeline to hook readers, Bendis keeps the action fierce and fiery in “Guardians Team-Up” #1, giving both Avengers and Guardians ample opportunities to flex their muscles and make an impression.
Of course, it helps that Bendis is writing those action sequences for Art Adams. While his work is nowhere near as prevalent in today’s comics as it was in the 1980s, there is still a wonderful sense of grandeur packed into every panel Adams draws. “Guardians Team-Up” #1 features Adams without the filter of an inker, and the drawings are much better for it. At points, an inker certainly would have helped smooth rough spots out or increased the depth of field a bit, but pure pencils give readers the fur on Rocket’s noggin and the reptilian skeletal countenances of the Chitauri. Adams, like George Perez, flourishes when there is more to be drawn on the page, and Bendis’ story delivers plenty to be drawn, including gigantic spacecraft, strip malls and Hawkeye about to eat a sandwich.
Paul Mounts’ colors are bright and unapologetic. By the end of “Guardians Team-Up” #1, I found myself more accustomed to the wide, spring-inspired range he uses, but — early on in the issue — the colors seem out of place, especially given the cinematic inspiration for the cast of this comic. Mounts is definitely more apt to color the Avengers and their wide array of bright uniforms, but the Guardians range from brown to three different shades of green and over to mahogany, all of which seem almost faded on this brighter scale.
Petit’s letters pose no such adjustment period. From Rocket’s rumbling balloons to the variations on “I am Groot,” the letterer makes it all fit nicely and even brings along Chitauri babble for variety. Petit works in the Avengers logo along the way and gives the sound effects depth, integrating them with Adams’ art.
“Guardians Team-Up” #1 is the kind of comic that will keep team-up nuts occupied for hours, days or maybe even weeks, poring over the panels to find all of the detail Adams has packed into this story. The story itself walks a very fine line between being relevant and simply pandering to the movie audience. For now, Bendis and Adams seem content to keep “Guardians Team-Up” new reader friendly but rewarding for seasoned readers, which is a magnificent choice and gives the comic a semi-retro vibe.