Today, Ethan and Shelby are discussing Guardians of the Galaxy 5, originally released July 31st, 2013.
Ethan: I’ve always been envious of people who can consistently sleep through long flights. I’m not a tall person; airplane seats are not all that constrictive for me. Leg room is not really a big concern. Nevertheless, I haven’t mastered the skill of settling in and passing out. So on the one occasion in which I did get lucky enough to fall asleep during takeoff and wake up during the landing, I was freaking out a little. One minute, I’m freezing in the Great Plains; the next, I’m squinting at the Sierra Madre through bleary eyes and a tiny window. If our species ever gets around to inventing teleportation, I think it will feel a little bit like that. In Guardians of the Galaxy #5, a new character is undergoing her own, much more radical translocation – Angela, “Hunter of the Heavens,” has been ripped out of her home universe/reality, and she is NOT happy about it.
As Angela hurtles towards Earth, Rocket Raccoon continues his nonstop trash-talking of Earth and its technology while he helps Tony StarK repair his armor. Elsewhere, Peter Quill is on Rigel 7 to call on Mantis, looking for answers. Peter felt the dislocation when the space-time continuum was damaged at the end of the Age of Ultron arc, and he’s trying to figure out what happened. Mantis comforts Peter, but she doesn’t have any answers to offer. Back in space, something trips Rocket’s “Earth signal” – a warning that something is heading towards Earth. That something is, of course, Angela, as the team finds out when they warp into Earth-space. Gamora suits up and engages Angela in close combat on the moon, but quickly loses the upper hand while the others prepare to back her up. As the issue closes, we find out that Peter is getting pretty desperate for answers following his fruitless visit to Mantis – desperate enough to drop in on Thanos. Not a terribly bright idea, but the visit does reveal that Thanos understands what has happened – reality has been torn and denizens of other universes have fallen through those tears. The universe has company, and the heroes of Earth are to blame.
Let’s be honest: this issue is pretty much a protracted red carpet session for the integration of Angela into the Marvel universe and Neil Gaiman into the Marvel creative team. As Patrick recently made me aware, Angela originated in the Image Comics universe back in 1993 as a partnership between Todd McFarlane and Gaiman. At the time of her creation, Gaiman owned the rights to the Angela character, thanks to the quirky creator-owned property model of Image Comics. Later, McFarlane claimed that HE had exclusive rights to the character, but a 2002 lawsuit divided those rights equally between him and Gaiman. Ten years later, the two reached a settlement, granting full legal ownership to Gaiman. As Gaiman returned to Marvel this year, Marvel purchased Angela’s character from him but is relying on him for consultation while stitching her into the larger Marvel universe.
Again, I wasn’t actually aware of all this real-world drama surrounding Angela’s character before this issue, but it’s an amusing parallel to the themes in the book. As a property, Angela is valuable – valuable enough for her co-creators to fight over her; meanwhile, Tony Stark is tripping over himself to try to win over Gamora following their hook-up. Then there’s the Wizard of Oz Effect of Angela getting sucked into the “standard” Marvel universe, mirroring her transfer from Image Comics to Marvel. Are those comparisons between real life situations and the events of this issue tenuous and self-indulgent? Well, ok, yeah they are. Still, the introduction of Angela into this (to her) bizarre, undiscovered country offers a neat glimpse into the equally weird world of business and copyright.
Litigation aside, Brian Michael Bendis doesn’t throw much story at us, but he does work in some of the grin-worthy dialogue we know him for.
Putting aside the fact that I would fail miserably at it, if I could write any character in the Marvel catalogue, it is Senor Rocket. When he’s not screaming his signature “Blam! Murdered you!” at the top of his tiny lungs, he’s uttering blithe, heartless put-downs of anyone within earshot. When Primitive Earth-Man Tony Stark showed up and started tagging along with the crew, it was almost too good to be true. Curse your wild luck Bendis, but you write him well.
Plus, he’s cuter than box-jumping cat Maru and ‘80s film-star mogwai Gizmo COMBINED:
(See what I did there, Patrick? You thought I didn’t read the comments, but I DO).
When artist Sara Pichelli isn’t working on the oh-so-soft cheek-fur of aforementioned hyper-evolved scavenger, she and colorist Justin Ponsor are whipping up some pretty-pretty pictures. Exhibit A: check out the liquidy sheen on Gamora’s armor as she tenses for a pounce off the lunar surface:
Or take a look at the Clash of the Valkyries: bits of heavenly cloth, shredded in the upper reaches of Earths’ gravity well, set against the flare of Copernicus’ crater and the shades of the Cold, Serene and Tranquil seas. No shortage of eye-candy here, and I love the sense of speed we encounter as Gamora collides with Angela, flinging her off-course at blistering speed.
I’ve got a handful of other screenshots I’d love to share, but it’s about time to shut up and shove off. Shelby: how’d you like Angela’s intro? Think she’ll turn out to be a personification of kicking ass and taking names like Red Sonja, or will the Princess Leia gold bikini be the main star? And what’s with the fixation on the hookup between Gamora and Tony: fair plot point, or juvenile reinforcement of gender roles via reversal?
Shelby: Here’s a fact that is a surprise to no one: I already love Angela. It was pretty inevitable, considering my heavy bias towards everything Neil Gaiman touches and my general excitement about bad-ass warrior women. I gasped out loud on the train when I saw the panel of the two of them colliding in space; that one image contains this perfect juxtaposition of warrior of science and technology and warrior of legend and mythology. And honestly, as impractical as the gold bikini is, I absolutely love it. I love it because, even though her sword belt covers more skin than most of her clothing, there’s no distracting from the power and righteous fury Angel wields. Pichelli and Ponsor knock it out of the park with the art in this book. To have one team be able to so deftly handle assertive, sexy women AND beautiful space backgrounds is almost too much. I feel like I’m being spoiled.
As excited as I am to see how Angela is going to interact with the rest of the team, I am even more excited about how seriously the Marvel universe is taking the events of Age of Ultron. Not only do we have the introduction of creatures from other dimensions, but Peter is dealing with the real consequences of having seen all of time at once. At the end of Ultron, we had a number of characters involved experience the same sort of fracturing Peter has here, but they were all involved. They may not have known exactly what was happening to them at that moment, but they knew about the time travel shenanigans going on; it doesn’t take that big of a mental leap to figure out that the two are related. Peter was on the other side of the galaxy, wholly untouched by the events of Ultron. To see him sucked into this whole “tears in time” problem grants a lot more meaning to the Ultron storyline. It was fine enough on it’s own, when it was contained to just the portion of the Marvel universe it inhabited, but the ripples spreading outward to some of the more obscure corners of Marvel Land make me appreciate the story more in hindsight than I did when it originally concluded.
You’re totally right about Bendis’ style, Ethan. The universal consequences of time travel are fun to consider and all, but it’s the character work here that really makes this book come together. The dynamic between Rocket and Tony and Gamora and Tony is especially interesting. It’s like the two of them are out to out-Tony Tony. Besides being Iron Man, what is Tony Stark known for? Snarky attitude and a playboy lifestyle. And yet, here he is being out-snarked by a raccoon and sexually rejected by a woman who is both more powerful and wholly uninterested. As much as I love the overly-confident, egotistic ass that is Tony Stark, I really love that he’s being forced to confront his superior attitude in the face of others far more superior. So buckle up, buttercup: Tony is in for an interesting ride, and we should just count ourselves lucky we get to come along.
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?