Specifically set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude” #1 has the same spirit as the volume of “Guardians of the Galaxy” that inspired the film’s cast of characters, in no small part due to the contributions of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning.
This two-issue series is the forerunner to the cinematic version of the Guardians, less about the team to be featured in “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy” film than it is about the galaxy that team inhabits. The Infinite Comic released earlier in the week adds depth to the story here, but Abnett and Lanning provide more than enough for readers to sink their teeth in to with the painful origin of Nebula. Much of “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude” #1 is set in flashback and, in doing so, brings up Nebula’s shared past with Gamora under the tutelage of Thanos. Abnett and Lanning take the readers into Nebula’s mind and help define her drive, in the process explaining her relationship with Gamora quite thoroughly. In doing this the duo provides readers with a smart balance of character and action.
“Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude” #1 is very well drawn, showcasing Wellington Alves’ ability to craft worlds and create distinguishable characters. The opening panel of the book fills the top half of the first page with a meticulously crafted utterly gorgeous close-up image of Nebula’s face through the blast shield of a helmet, with heads-up readouts lighting the faceplate and stars reflecting on the other side. That composition makes me think that maybe this story was intended to be a digital-first release (or maybe it already was and I somehow missed it) as it would have completely filled the screen with a jaw-dropping introduction to a character designed to give Gamora a run for her money in a “toughest being competition.” Alves’ work throughout the issue is solid and well-crafted, short on money shots but deep on storytelling. Jay David Ramos’ colors trend toward the pastels a bit more than I prefer in my superhero comics, but this is as much a sci-fi adventure as it is a superhero comic. Clayton Cowles’ letters are the icing on this interstellar visual cake, giving Nebula’s thoughts and memories emotional charge beyond the story and the art.
Given that “Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy” is being compared to “Star Wars,” I hope that is a harbinger of good things to come. As Marvel did between “Star Wars” films back in the 1970s and 1980s, I can only hope they choose to provide readers with comics that continue to expand the Guardians of the Galaxy’s universe. So long as Abnett and Lanning are on tap, more, please.