GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #14
Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Andy Lanning, Dan Abnett
Art by Nick Bradshaw, Jason Masters, Todd Nauck, Phil Jimenez, Gerardo Sandoval
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: April 23, 2014
Brian Michael Bendis has brought huge clout to the Marvel Cosmic scene, and he hasn’t wasted any time showing, with Guardians of the Galaxy, that cosmic titles can be wild, entertaining reads. With this double-sized issue Bendis takes a bit of a breather after the events of the Trial of Jean Grey, and focuses on the characters individually rather than as a team. We get the introduction of Venom as the Avengers emissary on the team, which I’ll admit fully to not really understanding, but even in this first issue it leads to some interesting plot points. Venom’s dialogue is a little stiff and feels out of place at times, but considering how out of place the character is, it is somewhat fitting. Star Lord’s past comes back to haunt the entire team in a big way in this comic, drawing on plot points from the zero issue and it was nice to see Bendis flesh out some of the storyline he started there over a year ago. Bendis provides enough detail within this issue to ensure readers don’t have to go back to the beginning to keep up, and provides a decent jumping on point to the series with issue #14. For the most part, the primary story in this issue is setting up plot lines to come, so readers won’t find any resolution of story in this comic, but Bendis packs this one full of exciting situations to come. The final pages of his story lead to one hell of a cliffhanger, and really make this issue strong. Throughout the comic it may feel like a slow burn that is biding time, but Bendis brings it home with a bang that poses some very interesting threats to this rag-tag group of Guardians.
Nick Bradshaw’s art suits the story well and he pencils the diverse locations and species of the galaxy well. His style suits the tone of the series so far, and readers coming into this issue won’t feel like anything is out of place at all. Bradshaw provides Venom with a pretty striking new look for his Guardians tour of duty, while also making him feel off-balance in this cosmic landscape. Bradshaw’s action sequences are explosive and fitting for a book with a film coming out in 100 days, and he pencils Gamora’s fight sequences especially well. Justin Ponsor’s colour work seals the deal on the solid artwork, giving the art a dynamic feeling befitting the cosmic setting. The characters and explosive action leap from the page due to his strong colour work and he does an excellent job providing consistency in the artwork as it shifts to Masters & Nauck. Having three separate artists working pencils and four on inking does lead to some unsteadiness, but not as dramatically as could be expected. Masters and Nauck deliver the single strongest page of the entire issue to round out the comic after some inconsistent panels, but Ponsor’s work ties everything together well.
This issue features two backup stories, each written individually by a member of the writing team that brought this Guardians team to prominence, DnA. Andy Lanning handles the writing of the Groot short with artist Phil Jimenez, which is an entertaining look at Groot’s past. When all he’s got to work with for dialogue is “I Am Groot”, Lanning provides a surprisingly detailed look into what makes Groot the hero he is. Jimenez’s art is strong, and he does an excellent job of showcasing Groot as a younger character, more naive and inexperienced. Dan Abnett teams with Gerardo Sandoval for a short that floored me with the situation it builds, reintroducing the original Guardians of the Galaxy in a really interesting way that has the potential for some fantastic storylines. Sandoval’s art in this short is raw and his fight scenes are fantastic. This short really stole the show for the entire issue and ends it on a very high note.
Guardians of the Galaxy #14 provides a solid jump on point for readers looking to dive into Guardians and gives people a couple of really good shorts to add bang for the buck. Bendis has kicked off a major storyline in this issue and planted the seeds for some good ones going forward.
The Verdict: 8.0/10