“Guardians of the Galaxy” #10 is a perfect example of how great art can make a lackluster comic a better experience, but it still can’t make the entire issue great. Kevin Maguire’s art in “Guardians of the Galaxy” #10 is in many ways everything I want from a comic book, but Brian Michael Bendis’s script moves at the speed of molasses.
One of the things I appreciate about Maguire’s art is that he can handle the big showy moments just as well as the tighter, more focused ones. Take the first five pages by way of example. This sequence is bookended by splash pages; an opening splash on the first page, and then a huge two-page splash for pages 4-5. Page 1 works well in part because it’s a quiet moment, the preparation for battle as Gamora loads her gun while Angela hefts a sword. They’re the focus on the page, even as you can see enough of the background to get a grasp of what the word of Moord looks like. It’s a well-composed page, one that sets the mood instantly.
Turning the page, there are two rows of 8 panels, and then two more rows that have just three panels. With the first two rows, Maguire for the most part uses tight zooms on Gamora’s and Angela’s faces. It works well, because even through all of that we see Gamora checking the site on her gun, Angela’s expression changing as she talks about the smell, and the occasional slight pull-back to show more of their bodies. For a dialogue-heavy sequence, Maguire keeps it moving so that it’s not boring even as they continue to prep.
And then, the preparing over, the panels start to grow. As they expand, it’s a visual prelude to what’s about to come. Maguire gives readers the nod that the moment of release is just around the corner, and then at the page turn, you hit the jackpot. It’s just Angela and Gamora leaping through the air (with sword and axe poised, and guns firing) but there’s a strong visual burst of energy here. It’s the perfect follow-up to everything that we had on the last two pages, that slow building of power. It doesn’t hurt, of course, that Maguire’s art is smooth and clean as ever. He’s a top-notch artist and I adore getting comics drawn by him. Even with a character with such a cheesecake design as Angela, Maguire keeps it from feeling exploitative; instead it’s an admiration but I never felt like it had shifted to sexualizing. (That said, I wouldn’t mind if someone designs her a new costume.)
Unfortunately, the script for “Guardians of the Galaxy” #10 moves at a snail’s pace. It sets up that Angela wants to get home, and that the Guardians don’t know what happened to Thanos, but otherwise, there’s little here. I like the relationship between Gamora and Angela being built, and Gamora’s frustration at the aliens they’re freeing from the Badoon is amusing, but it doesn’t change the fact that this feels a bit like filler; an epilogue that should have taken a quarter of a comic, not the entire issue.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” #10 is the sort of comic where you can just examine each page carefully and see all the time, work, and craft that went into every single moment. I’m glad we’re getting more comics from Maguire, after his dismissal from “Justice League 3000” before it was even published. But hopefully, we’ll see him on a book that has a little more energy in its story before long. This is, unfortunately, another slow slog.