Brian Michael Bendis and Valerio Schiti’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” ends its current run with some rather abrupt conclusions in issue #27, providing readers no real closure and completing a run of stories that were, sadly, not of the quality typically associated with the creators involved. Much like the rest of the series, it’s filled with good ideas that never really get off the ground, some forced antagonism and a roster changing decisions that come from left field.
It’s difficult to pick up an issue of this book and not like it; the concept and the characters are fun and the exchanges between them are always lively. The plots, however, have left a lot to be desired. Blame it on the higher profile given to the series as a result of the success of the movie; it’s understandable that there’s less room for experimentation. As writer Brian Michael Bendis has taken the series to the middle of the road, the stories have also lost much of their impact. Part of that comes from the long form nature of his scripting and plotting; if a Bendis story isn’t quite working, there are still several months through which a reader must sit and wait before that single story is complete. The stories have often had a lot of leisurely pacing, followed by a big crammed plot moment or three.
Because of his longer look at a story, when the publishing line pulls a stunt like “Secret Wars,” it forces the writer to cram even more at the end. Here, readers are introduced to an apparent blood feud between the cosmically aware Gamora and Kindun, a rivalry deduced, confronted and settled within the course of a few pages, with the rash decision on her part to then leave the team with nary a look back. The entire issue winds up feeling rushed due to the leisurely pace of the entire series before it. The dialogue is fun; Rocket gets in some space swears and Flash Thompson gets a lesson in using the word “alien.” Valerio Schiti turns in some excellent action; his pencils have been a highlight of the series since coming aboard, delivering cool moments and great character acting in the smaller moments. As fun as it looks, though, the action suffers in much the same way the stories have during this entire volume: it looks cool but is ultimately all for nothing. Here, for all the fighting, Gamora independently forces the invasion away on her own, away from the rest of the team. She then takes off for deep space, leaving both the characters and the readers wondering what happened in the previous pages. It feels empty and a bit unsatisfying.
Overall, though there were many great ideas tossed at this iteration of “Guardians,” very little seemed to stick. Somehow, the series felt like it took too long to accomplish very little, even in the issues that had the task of getting in the bigger beats of any story. Completionists will want to pick up this issue but, with the soft “Secret Wars” reset button being hit soon, there’s little in these pages for anyone else to grasp onto.