GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #16
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Nick Bradshaw, David Marquez, Jason Masters
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: June 25, 2014
The Guardians have been scattered across the universe, captives of the different empires of the galaxy, but things start to look up for the rag tag group in this issue of Guardians of the Galaxy.
Brian Michael Bendis is putting this team through the ringer in this arc, splitting up the band and putting each team member in a situation where survival isn’t all that probable. He does a great job in this issue of highlighting what makes the Guardians who they are and not just an Avengers team in space: they are a scrappy crew. This is not a group that makes any sense together whatsoever, but they are a group who spits in the face of the odds and no matter how badly they are not in their favour, they dive in head first to do what is right. These qualities are on display throughout the entire issue and while the team members are entertaining to read as an ensemble, it has been a nice change of pace to see some of them solo for awhile. This situation has led to a solid introduction as to why Venom works in space, and a decent mystery is being built around the nature (and power) of the symbiote. Bendis continues to grow the entertaining friendship between Angela and Gamora, and with each passing issue Angela is making more sense in the Marvel U. Bendis is integrating the character into the title very well, and it’s starting to feel like she has been around since the inception of the team.
Fans looking for their Captain Marvel fix that felt let down by the last issue will be very happy with the contents of issue #16. Carol makes her presence known in this title in an entertaining way, and I think Bendis/Marvel made a shrewd move bringing this character into Guardians. With the storyline and personality Kelly Sue DeConnick has built for Captain Marvel she just makes sense with the Guardians and if this initial appearance is any indication, there are going to be some great times to come for Captain Marvel with these characters.
Bendis writes this issue well, but where it stumbles is in the art department. Guardians #16 is penciled by 3 artists and features three colourists, which is simply too many cooks in this kitchen. Nick Bradshaw’s style is very unique and having an artist like Jason Masters pick up mid-story is extremely jarring. Masters’ work isn’t necessarily bad, but it is such a dramatic shift in tone and style that I actually thought the story had shifted to a different plot beat. Whether this was due to scheduling, or many other reasons, it hurts the story dramatically and kills the momentum being built by Bradshaw. Marquez’s style is similar enough to Bradshaw’s that when he takes over it feels like the story is returning to it’s original tone for the most part, and the issue does end on a high note. The lack of a consistent colourist hurts the transitions between artists even more, as it feels like the entire tone of the issue shifts whenever the art changes. This format can work when separate storylines are handled by different artists, but to change styles dramatically in the middle of plot beat when tension is rising kills all the momentum this story had.
Guardians of the Galaxy #16 will be an enjoyable read for people who have read Guardians up to this point. The artwork, as a whole, does not rise to the level of Bendis’ scripting, which is a shame. Going forward, hopefully there is more consistency in the tone of the book as the story is going interesting places. Introducing Carol Danvers to the team gives the title a nice shot of energy and the final page alludes to an upcoming battle that will be a must-read.
The Verdict: 6.5/10