When the cosmos of the Marvel Universe needed heroes, an eclectic band of space saviors answered the call. During the first "Annihilation" war, these cosmic champions banded together to defeat the mad schemes of Annihilus and his genocidal invasion force from the Negative Zone. Shortly after Annihilus was defeated, the technoorganic Phalanx launched an attack on the Kree Empire, thus beginning "Annihilation: Conquest." Once again, a group of heroes stepped forward to fight for freedom.
The war against the Phalanx comes to an end in April, but the need for heroes does not. May sees Marvel's cosmic defenders join forces to bring peace to the war ravaged space ways in "Guardians of the Galaxy," a new ongoing series by writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning and artist Paul Pelletier. CBR News spoke with Abnett and Lanning, collectively known to their fans as DnA, as well as Pelletier and editor Bill Rosemann about the new title.
"Guardians of the Galaxy" is a series that has been gestating for some time. DnA put their ideas for "Guardians" on the back burner to work on "Annihilation: Conquest," and as luck would have it, the aftermath of the sci-fi epic proved to be the perfect launching point for the book. "'Annihilation: Conquest' rehabilitated so many cool cosmic characters (and Keith Giffen's 'Star-Lord' mini must take the credit for most of that)," DnA told CBR News. "We realized the MU Cosmos was crying out for a team book to sit alongside Nova's solo outings."
"As a new 'Nova' series rocketed from [the first] 'Annihilation,' we thought this would be a good opportunity to continue the fun for 'Conquest' readers through this new series," Bill Rosemann added. "And also just like 'Nova,' 'Guardians' will launch clean -- even if you haven't read a single 'Annihilation' or 'Conquest' issue, you can jump onboard with issue #1 and get all you need to know to enjoy the show."
Once it was decided Marvel's cosmic characters would work together on a permanent basis, a name was needed, and the creative team found one in the Marvel history books. The original Guardians of the Galaxy were a team of space faring heroes who fought for justice in a far off alternate future, but, say DnA, the Guardians moniker seemed to apply to this modern day band of freedom fighters as well. "We toyed with various other names (The Cosmic Avengers, The Annihilators, Arse-Kickers of The Fantastic), but 'Guardians of the Galaxy' has always been the label of choice for any Marvel Cosmic Team," DnA explained. "Then we realized we had a really great story that made sense of the name choice."
"Not only does the team name say what they do, but it also give us the opportunity to resurrect the proud Guardian legacy, as well as introduce a new generation to the Guardians ethos," Rosemann stated. "Whether they're in a possible alternate future or in the current Marvel Universe, the Guardians are diverse warriors gathered together to fight for freedom. And longtime readers may want to keep their eyes open for -- whoops, I almost let something slip!"
April's "Annihilation: Conquest" #6 plants the seeds for the ongoing "Guardians of the Galaxy" series. "Thanks to the back-to-back cosmic conflagrations, the Marvel spaceways are, quite frankly, a nightmare," Rosemann continued. "Entire civilizations have been crippled, scattered societies are scrambling to rebuild, paranoia, isolationism and fear is spreading -- the battles may be over, but evil endures. In fact, the battles may have even unleashed new evils!"
"Adam Warlock has seen a new threat brewing," DnA added. "And you'll just have to read 'Annihilation: Conquest' #6 to discover exactly what that is."
The Guardians feel it's their job to perform intergalactic surgery on the evil infecting the spaceways. "They're going to be the cosmos's Mightiest Heroes, battling to make sure that nothing on the scale of either Annihilation events ever again happens," DnA said.
"While Nova patrols the stars as a one-man police force, the Guardians use a combination of skills and power to defend our universe from invading forces and stop any new Annihilation-size threats from exploding," Rosemann stated. "In other words: defend -- hunt -- destroy. Any questions?"
In the aforementioned "Star-Lord" miniseries --which lead into "Annihilation: Conquest"-- it was the heroic legacy of Peter Quill AKA Star-Lord that turned a rag-tag crew of Kree convicts into a tight knit band of freedom fighters. In "Guardians of the Galaxy," Star-Lord steps forward once again to unite a new team of heroes. "We don't want to spoil the ending of 'Conquest' in a 'who lives, who dies?' kind of deal. But, (spoiler alert) it is Pete," DnA confirmed. "It's all his idea, him being all guilt-stricken by the causes of 'Conquest.' Adam Warlock gives him some focus to his worries. Adam, you see, knows what's coming.
"As you can see from the superb first issue cover art by Clint Langley, the core team roster is: Star-Lord, Quasar, Drax, Gamora, Rocket Raccoon and Adam Warlock. Plus there's the support staff: Cosmo and two other very popular characters. And during the first arc, we get two extra (and big surprise) additions to the mainstay. Who? Well, hang on to your hat-- Joan Van Ark and Bart Simpson. Just kidding. Hawkeye and Rom. Kidding. Steve Rogers and Mr. Rogers. Captain America and Thom Yorke from Radiohead. Two of the cast of 'After M*A*S*H.' Nova and Kitty from 'Hello, Kitty'. Charlie-27 and Yondu. The Great Lakes Avengers. Ronan the Accuser and Alf. The Silver Surfer and Matthew Broderick.
"Kidding? Some? All? None? Read and find out."
The Guardians' group dynamic reflects the team's diverse membership and their unique perspectives. "Pete's a strong, temperamental leader in the Han Solo mode, with gallons of guilt to expunge," DnA explained. "Adam is a Merlin to Pete's Arthur. Quasar (okay, since we're going down analogy road anyway) is Lancelot - bright, fierce, gifted, but too eager. Drax and Gamora are old school, real down and dirty warriors (Gawain and Bors, if we're following the Arthurian analogy), but they both have a history in murder and destruction that they're going to have to get past if they're going to be on this team. The Guardians may at last offer both of them the chance to vindicate themselves. Pete selected Gamora and Drax on the basis of the heroic backbone they displayed during the 'Annihilation' events (despite them ending up on the wrong side last time). Rocket is the light-speed wit behind the tactical moves. Cosmo--gosh, he's a talking Russian dog. What's not to love?"
Cosmo lovers will be happy to know DnA plan is to give everyone's favorite telepathic canine plenty of spotlight. "Cosmo's aboard because of the team's choice of venue for its home base (that's right, the decapitated Celestial head called 'Knowhere'). Cosmo is more of a supporting character, a 'back room' guy, but he'll have his moments to shine," DnA stated. "In fact, we're planning one issue to be entirely about the back room team. The Guardians are out there somewhere, saving the Universe, but we stay with the support crew as they drink coffee, argue, and try to figure out which way up the vital map/chart/blue-prints flippin' well goes."
In addition to "Guardians of the Galaxy," DnA are also penning another ongoing Marvel sci-fi series, "Nova." While both of these books explore the cosmic landscape of the Marvel Universe, the writers and their editor are taking care to make sure each title is quite different from the other. "We see Nova as kind of cosmic Lone Ranger, rushing from emergency to emergency. The Guardians will be much more strategic and heavyweight," DnA remarked. "Nova goes where ever he's needed. The Guardians, as we will reveal, are fighting a much more specific threat.
"A team book supplies you with opportunities that solo titles often do not -- such as ensemble interaction and enhanced threat capability – so expect the creative team to fully exploit that in the months to come. Or, in comic book terms, think of 'Nova' as a Spider-Man-style book and Guardians as an Avengers-style book. Hmmm--but Spidey is in the Avengers now, isn't he? Oh, you know what I mean."
When it came time to find an artist to depict the horror, humor, and heroism of "Guardians of the Galaxy," Rosemann and DnA didn't have to look far. "I was supposed to be the regular artist on 'Nova.' It seems that editorial hit a snag with the original artist for 'Guardians,' so they decided to ask me if I was interested in taking on this project," Paul Pelletier told CBR News. "It's really cool that Marvel has the faith in me to launch this book. I was very happy on 'Nova,' but there is always a thrill to be able to have your own book. Besides, I'll still be working with exact creative team I had on 'Nova!'"
"Paul's simply brilliant," DnA stated. "He's what we in the UK call a 'safe pair of hands.'
'Guardians' couldn't wish for a more skillful, inspired, dynamic talent."
"I've been a long-time admirer of Paul's ability to mix classic heroism with both horror and humor -- and fans of his excellent art on the cult-fave 'Negation' know what I'm talking about," Rosemann added. "So if you've never seen Paul stretch those muscles, look out -- he'll be pushing the boundaries as Dan and Andy dream up over-the-top action and vicious villains."
Pelletier wants "Guardians" to have the same sort of artistic feel as his recent issues of "Nova," which shouldn't be too hard because he's still working with his 'Nova' inker Rick Magyar. "I really want to try and explore a darker mood with these sci-fi books," Pelletier remarked. "I've always had a traditional superhero style, so it would be nice to see if I can shake it up a little and push myself into slightly different areas. Ahhh--who am I kidding--it'll probably just end up looking like my normal style. I will be trying, at least!"
Pelletier expects "Guardians" to be a difficult but highly enjoyable assignment. "Let's see--a large team of space-faring characters battling against crazy cosmic entities throughout vast alien planets and galaxies. No challenge there, right?" laughed the artist. "In all honesty, I have a feeling this book will bring me the same sense of fun and excitement I had when I was penciling 'Negation' for CrossBen."
Pelletier, DnA and Rosemann are all over the moon with excitement about "Guardians of the Galaxy" and hope fans give the new series a chance. "I just hope that there are tons of people out there ready to take a wild ride with us on this book," Pelletier said. "It can get lonely out there in the cosmos!"
"If you want to see Marvel continue to explore a variety of genres, give issue #1 a chance," Rosemann stated. "And if you like what you see, spread the word. Yes, 'Guardians' will push all those superhero buttons that we all love -- troubled heroes, sinister challenges, emotional intrigue and jaw-dropping cliff-hangers-- but it's also a sci-fi book packed with amazing worlds, mind-blowing technology, wild life forms and intense space warfare. And like all good sci-fi storytellers, the creators will comment on humanity with visuals and metaphors that will hopefully be thought provoking and maybe even controversial. And, who am I kidding, if you just want to see bad-ass fighters, hot femme fatales, a high-tech HQ in a decapitated Celestial head, a telepathic Russian cosmonaut dog, and a smart-mouth raccoon with a penchant for heavy armaments, we'll have all that too."
"It's going to be great. We both loved (and grew up on) Jim Starlin's cosmic Marvel stories in the'70s," DnA added. "This is our homage to, our tribute to, and our advancement of those themes, characters and ideas. This is the job we got into comics to do. Plus… a talking Russian dog. Love it you most certainly must."
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