I have mostly focused on DC books for the past few years, and while I had heard of "Annihilation", I had not read any of it. I was intrigued, however, when the announcement was made regarding "Guardians of the Galaxy". This book promised a new start in an area of the Marvel Universe that had drawn a lot of critical acclaim of late.
While I am not intimately familiar with all of the characters in the title, I knew of Rocket Raccoon from Mike Mignola's mini-series and I also knew of Warlock and Quasar from their previous incarnations. After hearing so much chatter about the Annihilation story, I decided to take a chance on this #1 issue to see just how New Reader Friendly it could possibly be.
My lack of experience with this niche of the Marvel Universe didn't cause me any concern when I sat down and gave this a good read. This team comes together from the extenuating circumstances (the story ones, not the critical acclaim or commercial viability) of the Annihilation adventures. The issue gives a nice education about the formation of the team, some insight into each character and plenty of flat-out action. Do I know why they're fighting the Universal Church of Truth or even what the Universal Church of Truth is? No. But the concept is there â€" the UCT are the bad guys, while this ragtag bunch are the good guys. I felt at ease reading about Starlord, even though this was my first (memorable) encounter with him. Same holds true for Drax and Gamora.
Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning do a fabulous job of avoiding cliches while setting the team up. Even though the personalities are obviously disparate, there is no obligatory in-team fighting, but the interaction between characters remains dynamic. The previously mentioned insight for the characters comes in the form of engaging the reader by breaking down the fourth wall under the premise of debriefing videos. Mantis proves especially valuable in this capacity, as she provides insight that most assuredly will appear in the advance solicits soon to appear for new issues of this series. This was well-executed and I hope to see it continue in future issues.
I've liked Pelletier's work for quite some time now, I'd dare say since I first encountered his early foray into the Marvel Universe in the pages of "The Incredible Hulk", lo those many, many moons ago. Pelletier delivers the goods on this issue, which is great when you consider the cast ranges from a telepathic Russian dog to a reborn artificial lifeform or two. He doesn't stop there, however, as there are spacecraft, explosions and aliens aplenty to put on display here. Undoubtedly, Magyar and Caramagna polish up the pencil work, but they don't bury it.
The book is fast paced, yet packed with insight and personal interludes, tempered by glorious visual fireworks, making this seem like an underpublicized big screen gem set to runaway with more box office receipts than the production studio thought it was worth. A lot of information crosses the page here, but not at the expense of overwhelming a newly-minted reader. This is a summer comic at its very best. I may not have known the characters or the background that put them into this situation, but I have gained enough clues through this read to understand the important niche this cluster of cast-offs fills. More importantly, I find the cast and their interaction engaging enough to know I'll be back for a few more issues at the very least as I attempt to learn more about this group and the big screen action they encounter.