Guardians of the Galaxy #8

A rescue mission on a Badoon prison planet goes sideways in "Guardians of the Galaxy" #8, where writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Valerio Schiti split the team up to rescue... well, we don't know who yet -- but does it really matter? She apparently needs rescuing, and that's enough to send events into motion.

Let's face it, only the Guardians of the Galaxy could stir up more dangerous/bad/crazy ideas while sitting around a dining room table, and their latest is a doozy. During this run on the title, Bendis has made it a priority to display the work this collection of individuals has in store before they really become a team. Both old and new members must learn how to communicate and trust one another, but those lessons are best learned through experience, and the prison planet proves to be quite the classroom.

The Guardians are known for leaping before they look, and Bendis presents that quite literally as the action of the issue starts when two teams leap from the ship while it's above the atmosphere. This allows for a stealthy arrival but places Venom and Groot far from their objective. Bendis balances action and characters throughout the clean script, using this traveling opportunity to concentrate on Groot and Venom.

All of the Guardians joined the team with an element of personal tragedy, and Bendis explores Venom's hatred of the Skrulls with great effect in issue #8. Ultimately, Venom must decide whether or not to help the imprisoned Skrulls, but this is where the issue deviates from character. Can Venom forgive anyone for anything? Can he really want to assist the race that attempted to imprison everyone on Earth? By the issue's conclusion, are we really supposed to trust his decision? It's a nice angsty scene, but Venom's decision happens a bit fast.

Valerio Schiti faces a few artistic challenges in this issue, including the dialogue-heavy dinner table meeting and a fight sequence with the Skrulls. Schiti uses more delicate lines for the meeting and thick broad strokes for the fights. This effect places emotional weight on the fights as Venom struggles against Groot and his inner hatred, while colorist Richard Isanove does a good job using the reds of the planet to fuel Venom's venom. Fine details are not forgotten, however, and small things like the Guardians logo on Venom's shoulder and the way the Skrulls possess random physical characteristics of different Marvel Universe members (Nightcrawler's tail was a nice touch) add depth to the story.

If you're already a Guardians fan, you'll enjoy "Guardians of the Galaxy" #8 and all its the miscellaneous Marvel Universe references. However, it's not a great starting point for new readers.

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