Guardians of the Galaxy #1

The recap page of "Guardians of the Galaxy" #1 reminds readers of who the Guardians are and kicks off the story with "But things have changed." After all, this is the all-new, all-different Marvel lineup. However, Brian Michael Bendis goes back to the appealing nature of the previous volume of "Guardians of the Galaxy" before events and crossovers disrupted the flow of the Guardians' narrative. With artist Valerio Schiti along for the ride, Bendis opens the issue with the fascinating aspects of the "Guardians of the Galaxy": the alien-ness of it all.

The establishing shot of Annihilus, brooding yet sovereign on his throne in the Negative Zone, is a computer desktop wallpaper waiting to happen. Schiti provides magnificent and painstaking details throughout the issue, but -- as established in this first scene -- he also uses liberal amounts of shadow to season scenes with mystery or uncertainty. The double-page introduction of the Guardians leaping into action puts the shadows aside, giving readers a quick, widescreen presentation of the team in action. The character logos scattered across the page are a little over-the-top, but the half-dozen characters are a thing of beauty. Colorist Richard Isanove uses every hue available, from the purple-to-indigo horizon to Drax's lime green skintone and the ever-lovin' Thing's baby blue peepers.

Cory Petit does a great job on letters. From Annihilus' sickly green dialogue on the first page, "Guardians of the Galaxy" #1 is a field test for letterers, with half a dozen different word balloon styles peppering these pages.

Of all the characters present, Bendis gives the most panel time to Benjamin J. Grimm, using the Thing as readers' point-of-view. It serves as a nice surface-level introduction to the rest of the cast, but the cast has little in the way of depth. There's some humorous exchanges, some fun developments and some opportunities for Schiti to draw emotions and expressions, but Bendis is clearly writing "Guardians of the Galaxy" #1 for readers who have at least sampled his work in the previous volume. All the exposition comes through dialogue, but new readers might be left wondering just what the motivation is for this cast of characters to stay together.

"Guardians of the Galaxy" #1 is less "all-new" and "all-different" and more "Guardians of the Galaxy with an all-new, all-different Star-Lord and, oh yeah, Ben Grimm's here, too." The Thing slips right into the story and gives the cast a center to revolve around. Bendis, Schiti, Isanove and Petit give readers a fair amount to pique their interests, including a fight with the Chitauri, with the promise of more to come. "Guardians of the Galaxy" #1 is the first step in this new journey, but it feels like more happens in this issue than the entire previous volume, from the subplot involving Annihilus to the last page reveal of a new threat.

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