WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy #1 by Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, Marte Gracia and VC's Cory Petit, on sale now.
#WhoAreTheGuardians? That is a question Marvel posed to fans last September when the publisher announced it would be relaunching Guardians of the Galaxy from the Thanos creative team of Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw. The accompanying promotional art by Shaw featured over 35 Marvel cosmic characters who could be in the running to join the team.
The Guardians of the Galaxy more or less disbanded following the Infinity War event series. Drax is dead, Gamora is a villain and no one knows what's up with Rocket Raccoon. All we're left with is Star-Lord and Groot. When Marvel released the cover to the new Guardians of the Galaxy #1, it included 11 cosmic heroes with the promise that only six of them would make the cut.
With the issue now in stores, we can finally answer the #WhoAreTheGuardians question.
Guardians, Mount Up
Thanos' brother, Eros aka Starfox, assembled a gathering of the various cosmic characters in the Marvel Universe to witness the last will and testament of the Mad Titan. Upon learning that Thanos uploaded his consciousness into another person's mind in the event of his death, the group began to argue about the ethics of hunting for and terminating possible candidates. However, the discussion quickly halted when the Black Order crashed the secret gathering to steal Thanos' corpse.
The attack included ripping a hole in the fabric of space to cover their exit, sucking the heroes into its gravitational pull. They all would have been lost if not for the arrival of Star-Lord and Groot in the Ryder (the replacement ship for the Milano), and for the quick thinking of Beta Ray Bill. The Korbinite hero tied his Asgardian hammer Stormbreaker to Cosmic Ghost Rider's chain forged from the bones of Cyttorak and hurled it like an anchor out of the hole, landing on the Ryder. Four heroes emerged once Star-Lord and Groot pulled on the chain.
When the Nova Corps attempted to arrest the four characters, Star-Lord used his galactic rights to claim them as part of his immediate crew -- thereby establishing the new Guardians of the Galaxy.
Joining Star-Lord and Groot are Beta Ray Bill, Cosmic Ghost Rider, Moondragon and Phyla-Vell. Beta Ray Bill was last seen in Cates' Death of the Inhumans miniseries where he helped the Inhumans fight off extinction at the hands of the Kree. Another character to appear in a Cates-penned comic is the Cosmic Ghost Rider. He made his debut in Thanos #13 and became an immediate hit with fans, mostly based on his insane personality, unique visual design and mystery surrounding his identity.
While all signs pointed to the former Ghost Rider and Herald of Galactus being Deadpool, we would learn the future Right Hand of Thanos was really Frank Castle. As for Moondragon and Phyla-Vell, they became involved in the Infinity Wars after being pulled from an alternate universe to Earth-616.
So, with the new Guardians of the Galaxy team set, they can now get on with the business of tracking down the Black Order to recover the corpse of Thanos, along with investigating if the Mad Titan truly succeeded in finding a loophole to cheat death's cold grip. The Marvel Universe and the Guardians of the Galaxy may never be the same again.