Guardians of the Galaxy 4

guardians of the galaxy 4

Today, Mikyzptlk and (guest writer) Nate are discussing Guardians of the Galaxy 4, originally released June 26th, 2013.

Mikyzptlk: Issue 3 of Guardians of the Galaxy was one hell of a ride wasn’t it? In case you missed it: Yes. It was. It was a fantastic conclusion for this title’s opening arc, so it’s no surprise to see issue 4 as somewhat of a transitory issue. Depending on how writers handle those kinds of issues, that can be a good or a bad thing. Normally, I find those issues succeed best when they use the downtime to focus on character work. Fortunately, Brian Michael Bendis seems to agree with that notion, as he spends a bit of time putting Gamora under the microscope, before setting things up for the next adventure. The results are a mix a melancholy, suspense, and, well, fun.

To Groot

There’s some of that fun I mentioned. Our heroes went through a lot in the opening arc of this series, so it’s completely gratifying to see everyone having such a good time. Also, just look at Groot’s face! How can you not love that? There’s just something that tickles the ol funny bone when seeing a giant tree-man drinking through a sippy-straw. I’m not sure what it is, BUT I LIKE IT. Anyway, Gomora and Tony eventually slip away, and from what I can tell, that thing that never happens to guys, totally does not happen to Tony, when he and Gamora attempt to get intimate. After that totally not awkward (because, honestly, that never happens…usually) scene, Gamora leaves to go back to the bar. Only she doesn’t make it as she gets shot in the back by an unscrupulous bounty hunter instead. Meanwhile, back at the bar, the rest of the Guardians have an encounter with some Spartax Royals, and the results are just as you might expect. Back in the city, Gamora struggles to take out the bounty hunter, but is eventually saved by Rocket Racoon and a rather large particle weapon. The Guardians move on to their next destination, as the bounty hunter, who had just previously been blown away…gets right back up again.

Okay, so as I said earlier, there’s a right way and a wrong way to handle issues that deal with transitioning from one adventure to the next. My personal preference is when a writer uses that downtime to focus on characters on a more personal level. After all, I’m not going to care too much about the adventure if I don’t care about the hero (or heroes) having them. It’s important for writers to take a step back from all of these non-stop battles and feats of heroism in order to examine who all of these colorfully-clad characters really are. It’s especially important to do that with a series like this since it’s probably generating a lot of new reader attention. Not only has the series been given a new #1, but it’s picked up one of Marvel’s most famous creators as well. Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that there’s a little movie coming out for it as well that is probably bringing the book even more attention.

I have very little experience with these characters (Iron Man being the exception), so it’s wonderful to see Bendis taking a breath every now and then to focus on these characters in a meaningful way. Rocket and Groot are easily my favorite characters of the bunch, but that’s mainly due to how outrageous they are. Yes, there is most definitely an emotional core to these characters as well, don’t get me wrong, but I connect to these characters because they either make me go “bwa-ha-ha” or “d’awww.” At the same time though, Bendis is quietly crafting Gamora into a character I’m finding myself drawn to more and more every issue. I’ve mentioned previously what has intrigued me about the character, but this issue adds another interesting and subtle layer to her. Take a quick look and I’ll explain what I mean.

Gamora

This scene takes place immediately after she leaves Tony to bask in his shame. Just look at her here. It seems like with every steps she takes she realizes more and more how alone she really is. Sara Pichelli has been sharing art duties with Steve McNiven for the past 2 issues, but here, she takes center stage. While I’m not a fan of all of her character interpretations, she absolutely nails her portrayal of Gamora. I remember reading this page in my living room, and as I read these panels, all of the ambient noise in the room seemed to fall away. I could almost feel Gamora’s loneliness and isolation in this scene. Even the angle of the shot helps to amplify this sensation as we see the emptiness of space above her. It’s a beautiful scene, rife with melancholy. Of course, this scene does get interrupted by that bounty hunter I mentioned before. This is where the issue changes gears, and we are treated to a fun and light-hearted bar fight on one end, and a much more dangerous and suspenseful fight to the (almost) death on the other. The battle between Gamora and the mysterious and regenerative bounty hunter may be over for now, but I’m sure we’ll be seeing him again in the next issue.

It’s incredible what this series is capable of delivering. I didn’t have much doubt that the book would be good under Brian Bendis, but I had no idea that he would bring so many emotional elements to the table. Shame on me, I should have known better. Alright Nate, I’m not sure what experience you’ve had with this book, but are you enjoying it as much as I am? Also, what do you think about Tony? I must admit, I’m still wondering if he’s an appropriate addition to the team. He’s definitely got a fish-out-of-water thing going on, so that’s interesting. Any thoughts on that?

Nate: Hi Mik. Yeah, I am loving this book! Of course, I’m biased. I have been a fan of Brian Michael Bendis since Ultimate Spider Man (the Peter Parker version of Ultimate Spider Man). I’ve loved how Sara Pichelli’s art, combined with Bendis’ writing, has established Miles Morales as the new Ultimate Spider Man, so it is awesome seeing Bendis and Pichelli working together on Guardians of the Galaxy. Bendis is great at establishing and developing characters, and I think he nails it in this issue. Each character gets a chance to shine (or not, perhaps in Tony’s case). Speaking of Tony—like you, I have mixed reactions to him being on the team. In some ways he is a distraction, but I sort of enjoy seeing him floundering about a bit (to stick with your fish out of water metaphor), trying to figure out the whole outer space thing. The scene with him hitting on Gamora in the bar is great, and then after his attempt to “climb mount Gamora” (to quote Rocket)—he makes an intergalactic call to Pepper Potts, which was hilarious, but also kind of skeevy.

Tony does keep the story Earth-centric, even if the action is largely happening elsewhere. I don’t mean to suggest that a story needs to be Earth-centric to be compelling – just look at Saga. Marvel seems intent on having a larger interconnected Universe for the Avengers and the X-men to bounce around in, and Iron Man effectively ties these space adventures to the earthbound Marvel heroes. In fact, the rest of the team makes it pretty clear what they think of Earth:

Tony Phone Home

Tony makes for a good audience surrogate. We are already 4.1 issues into Guardians, and like Tony, we really don’t know what the hell is going on. Tony expresses his concern to Pepper when he calls home, and judging from this conversation, Tony will be hanging around for a while. There appears to be something big on the horizon. Marvel has pretty much told us what some of this is, but it is also clear there is a lot more going on than we are aware of. Bendis seems to have a good handle on Tony’s voice though, and tends to play him for laughs. As long as Tony keeps being Tony, I will probably enjoy him in the cast.

I am a bit more skeptical towards the addition of Angela in the next issue. While I have faith in Bendis and Neil Gaiman, I also have some fear that she will prove to be an even greater distraction than Tony. That being said, I am prepared to be pleasantly surprised! However, seeing the five main Guardians coming together at the end of the issue, along with the bond and banter they share, makes me want to see more of the core team without additional outsiders. I mean, what is better than a conversation between Groot and Rocket!?!

Strange Bedfellows

I agree Mik, Gamora was the standout character in this issue. Her fight with the bounty hunter was seven pages of intense awesomeness! I could have included any number of images of Gamora here, but these give a sense of how dynamic the fight was:

PPSSSUII

The pacing, the staging, the shifts in advantage all worked to up the tension and really left it unclear who would win. Especially with Gamora’s fight being interspersed with scenes of the more humorous bar fight, and the scenes of Tony’s more serious conversation about the fate of Earth. I agree Mik, it was the quieter moments, the images you included above, and the image of Gamora putting her head down and preparing to be shot, followed by the look on her face when the rest of the team showed up at the end, that really fleshed her out and made her a tough, but sympathetic, character. Pichelli’s work on Gamora here was great.

Yeah, I have been thoroughly enjoying Guardians of the Galaxy—it has been tremendously fun so far, and this has been my favorite issue to date. I loved the character development and the camaraderie shown by the team. The overall story may not have progressed much here, but when an issue is this much fun, I don’t really care!

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page.  Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore.  If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there.  There’s no need to pirate, right?

5 comments on “Guardians of the Galaxy 4

  1. Funny enough, this is the only Marvel book I’m reading who’s protagonists I was unfamiliar with coming in (aside from Iron Man) and it’s the book I’m enjoying the most by far, and the likeliest to survive my end-of-August chopping block.

  2. I assume, Rocket was calling earth a “shit-hole,” but I’m only making that assumption because it’s my favorite line from Alien: Resurrection. Right at the end, as the crew realizes they’re headed for Earth, Jonner goes “Earth… man… what a shit-hole.”

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