Review: ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1

ALL-NEW GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1
Written by Gerry Duggan
Art by Aaron Kuder, Ive Svorcina, Cory Petit
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: May 3, 2017

Almost exactly nine years ago to the date, I sat down to review Guardians of the Galaxy #1 from Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Paul Pelletier, Rick Magyar, Nathan Fairbairn, and Joe Caramagna. And I fell in love with the cosmic corner of the Marvel Universe.

This iteration of Guardians of the Galaxy comes to us under the shadow of a successful multimedia empire that’s growing and sprawling, and it’s under that shadow that writer Gerry Duggan, artist Aaron Kuder, colorist Ive Svorcina, and letterer Cory Petit introduce an innovative plan sets things in motion. The opening salvo from the Guardians is ingenious, leveraging fear and rumor to achieve their ends. Along the way, we get a couple laughs and an introduction to the core cast: Peter Quill Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Groot, and Rocket.

The creators are in a nice spot where they don’t have to labor over the backstory and personalities via expository info dump. Virtually everyone walking into a comic book shop or picking up a device to purchase a digital version of this have a frame of reference for the handful of characters in the spotlight of All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #1.

Duggan fills the issue with dialog and banter, showcasing personality quirks and affinities through the characters. Truly, it seems as though he starts the characters off, but gets out of the way, letting them drive the adventure and tell their own tales. He provides a sufficient plot to drive this first issue, and teases out enough from the way the characters approach that challenge to define them. Star-Lord is the de facto leader, but he’s not revered or feared. Drax has chosen pacifism. Gamora is saying less, but unafraid to speak through her actions and decisions. Groot is stuck small, and Rocket has something to do with how that happened, while also being preoccupied with ordnance.

As for the art, this issue is considerably brighter than many of the debut issues previous volumes of Guardians of the Galaxy have been. Ive Svorcina’s colors don’t shy away from being super-saturated and loud. This isn’t a hipster or Goth space gathering; it’s the visualization of the clash of species, empires, and conflicts. There are green-skinned, blue-skinned, orange- and yellow-skinned characters. Tentacles and fur, scales and feathers. The issue opens with a visual crash of frames within panels, panels within verticals and all of them jam-packed with line work, colors, word balloons, and the amalgamation of all of the above.

Kuder’s style reminds me a bit of Robert Crumb mashed with Frank Quitely, particularly in the way he draws Rocket and Draw, respectively. This is not at all what I expect from Kuder, especially given his previous catalog, but mysteriously, it totally works for this series. Or at least this first issue.

Kuder avoids the standard-issue Marvel aliens, preferring to add to the sandbox, but he also adds quantity and creativity to the sandbox itself, packing backgrounds with detail, stashing Easter eggs, and meticulously describing the chaos of the adventures in All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #1. And there’s a giant frickin’ space fish. And it all works.

More thematically in tune with the film source (the Abnett and Lanning volume) than anything Bendis did in his run, All-New Guardians of the Galaxy feels like a return to form. Bendis’ Guardians were a lot more introspective, moody, and methodical. This is quite a bit more vibrant. The Guardians have spent some time on Earth, but now it’s time to check in on the rest of the galaxy and all the bizarre inhabitants out there.

All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #1 clocks in at twenty pages, but feels much more significant. In addition to starting the next chapter, Duggan, Kuder, Svorcina, and Petit start opening drawers and taking out some toys, adding them to the story they’ve set up. Mysteries and teases abound: why is Groot tiny? Why is Drax not destroying? Is there a deeper reason that the Grandmaster hired the Guardians than simple multimedia synchronization? All of these bits, and so much more, make All-New Guardians of the Galaxy one of the rare occurrences where I’m quite happy that a book will be double-shipping.

This is a snappy, fun debut from a creative team that is well-suited to deliver the all-new adventures of the ass-kickers of the fantastic. Fans of the films, the comic franchise, or the creative crew are in for a treat. Me? I’m going to wind up re-reading this a time or three before the next issue. Care to join me?

The Verdict: 10/10

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