Today, Shelby and guest writer Kevin are discussing Guardians of the Galaxy 6, originally released September 25th, 2013.
Shelby: In the real world, I’m a QA Analyst for a software development company, so my job revolves around dealing with mistakes. There are times when it’s important to take responsibility for your mistakes; if I misunderstand some software and call something a defect that isn’t, I always make sure to acknowledge I was in the wrong. It’s not easy, especially when I’ve made a big deal about it before being proven wrong, but I do it anyway. Sometimes, though, when I’m confronted with a mistake, be it mine or otherwise, the top priority is fixing it. It might feel nice to assign the blame, but at times it is just more important to figure out what we’re going to do about it.
Gamora’s fighting Angela on the moon, and things are not going great. As Uatu watches (as a Watcher is wont to do) with mounting concern, it ultimately takes the whole team plus Quill’s element gun set to “lightning” to take her down. He would have been there sooner, except he was chatting with his ol’ buddy Thanos about what exactly is happening. The only thing Thanos could do was confirm that, yes, time and space had been torn full of holes, and it was the “Earthers” who were responsible.
It’s that one-on-one with Thanos that really got me thinking. A mistake was made, and the consequence was the fracturing of time itself. On my first read through, I had the mindset that Quill was going to Thanos to find out who to blame, but that’s not really it. He hasn’t gotten to the point of blame yet, he’s still trying to figure out just what mistake was made. We can talk about who’s at fault, but Thanos has a longer view of the issue, and he’s got it right when he says it’s just Earth’s fault. From the view point of the rest of the galaxies and dimensions of the Marvel universe, it doesn’t matter if it was the X-Men, or the Avengers, or the Fantastic Four. Brian Michael Bendis does a great job making Thanos a voice of reason here. We wonder why other races and places put up with Earth’s bullshit, and it’s simply because, in the grand scheme of things, Earth doesn’t matter all that much. Or, didn’t matter, anyway.
It didn’t make any sense why Quill’s father would basically invite the scum of the galaxy to go after Earth, but now it’s starting to. Earth used to be like some little kid running around: kind of annoying, but mostly harmless. Now, we see Earth is like some little kid running around with a nuclear device: wholly unaware of the power they yield, and super careless. Angela is bound to be merely one of many entities gunning for Earth, and the Guardians are the only ones there to…uh, guard the place.
Speaking of Angela, the bulk of this issue was her Smash Bros. style fight on the moon with the rest of the team. I thought Bendis did a good job balancing the fight. Angela probably would have demolished them in the end, but Drax and Gamora got in a few hits. If one side could wipe out the other with no problem, it would have made the whole thing pretty pointless. As much as I like Bendis’ writing, especially the way he writes Rocket, it’s artist Sara Pichelli who really shines. Not only are her pencils just pretty to look at (especially with Justin Ponser’s colors), there’s a real cinematic quality to her work. I love the tension in the storytelling in this little square of panels.
The reflections of Angela in Gamora’s helmet and the cavalry arriving in Angela’s sword tell such a concise little story. There’s a lot of concern on Gamora’s face, which is highly telling when you consider she’s the the most dangerous woman in the universe; like Rocket said, “She’s having trouble. Which means we’re all in trouble.” And let us not forget that beautiful, starry background; the texture of it just looks velvety, perfect for an epic, warrior woman battle. My only criticism of the fight scenes is sometimes there’s a little too much going on.
I see what Pichelli is going for here. The overlapping and inlaid panels, plus the figures that extend outside of them, are meant to convey multiple things happening at once, and the chaos of battle. It’s neat, and I appreciate the thought put into it, but visually it’s just a little too chaotic. It took me a couple read-thrus to fully grasp what exactly is happening here. Even still, the concept is great, and that looming Angela screaming in rage/pain comes very, very close to making up for the busy execution.
I’m excited about the direction this book is taking. I like seeing the Guardians fighting a very real consequence of other heroes’ reckless actions. I can easily see Rocket and Gamora declaring that Earth needs to clean up its own mess for a change. And I just love Angela; she’s so bad-ass and cool! But enough about me; I’d like to welcome guest writer Kevin to the show! Hi there Kevin! What do you think of this issue? Why do you think Tony keeps insisting Angela looks familiar? Is there some previous Marvel/Image crossover that I don’t know about, or do you think Mr. Stark is just a big fan of Todd McFarlane’s work?
Kevin: First of all, thank you for having me as a guest this week, it’s a pleasure to gab about comics with you all. Now for the fun stuff…I am a big fan of Guardians, and this issue in particular. I also think it’s heading in a very grounded direction, following in the footsteps of some of the bigger comics like Avengers and X-Men, which seem to be living in a world filled with consequence by holding someone accountable for the aftermath of the superhero lifestyle. I think it’s very smart and hones in on what the readers really want: as much reality in a comic book as possible. This issue puts a telescopic lens on the aftermath and consequences of the actions of the superhero community, and I like it a lot.
Shelby, I am very pleased you asked about this all-too-familiar “Angela”. They did a great job keeping us interested in just who it could be, especially if it’s Tony Stark who recognizes her. I honestly have no idea who it could be, this is simply what first popped into my head on the first read: red equals Jean Grey. Now this could be a stretch, but Jean Grey, also the Phoenix (among other things) often times represents duality in the Marvel Universe: the good and the bad, the old and the transformed. If you notice from the beginning of the issue, we see three mirror images of Angela fighting Gamora, switching sides each panel, representing both sides. They lunge, they jump, they hold.
Their portion of the fight ends with Angela standing in the reflection of Gamora’s mask (shown above) and then the cavalry in sword, two more very clear mirror motifs. This and the fact she is a force to be reckoned with leads me to believe this could be Jean Grey, once again returning to cleanse the Earth of its sins. The Phoenix is a force that continues to challenge Tony Stark and other Marvel characters, so maybe she’s simply a physical manifestation of the Phoenix in a familiar yet new form?
I will say I find it exciting to see a character like Tony Stark, who is so iconic at this point, being stuck in a situation where he feels less than confident. This is something we rarely see from Stark, ever the leader, the swinging d*** if you will. So I loved the moment when Rocket yells at him to “take the shot” and Stark replies: “I don’t have it! Gamora is all over her and this isn’t my usual gear.” Great moment to revert Stark to something like his early days when his tech wasn’t so invincible and he didn’t have the answers to everything.
Kevin is an actor/writer/director in the Los Angeles area and really likes comic books. He is proudly imported from Detroit and likes Eminem, too, just not that much.
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Kevin, that’d be quite the twist. The Marvel suits made such a big deal about Angela coming to the universe, it’d be mega weird for them to backpedal on it. “JK guys, it was just Jean Grey.” Also, you’d think that Bendis would have his fill of writing the character, as he’s currently writing two of them in the pages of Uncany, All-New and Battle of the Atom.
I like the Guardians quite a bit, but I’m starting to get a little nervous about their impossible power levels. As far as I can tell, tactically, there’s really just two of them: the hulkesque, stoppable brawlers (Drax, Gamora, Groot) and the teched-out gadget users (Starlord, Iron Man, Rocket). There’s a wealth of personalities in there, but I can even start to see them developing along those same lines — as far as I can tell, Gamora and Drax are written identically, for example.
Totally see where you’re going; hopefully as the story progresses everyone will get a chance to really shine on their own, distinctive merits.
What has me worried at the moment is that I still don’t know where this story is going, at all. I love the banter between the characters and the art is always gorgeous but I find myself wondering when the Guardians will truly have an objective.
I’m sure that’s a note that Brian Bendis gets ALL THE TIME. He’s so good at character voices and ultra-patient world building that narrative thrust tends to get lost. All-New X-Men is a great example of this: he justified bringing the original X-Men to the present and then explored the ramifications thereof incredibly well, but wasn’t until this Battle of the Atom stuff that there was any sense that the series was driving toward anything.
Actually, I dropped ANXM and UXM a while back simply because I did‘t feel like they were going anywhere. This series has kept me coming back because of how fun the character interactions are, and I‘m not on the verge of dropping it, but I am still eager for a clear purpose to emerge.
Also, is it just me or does this series come out with alarming infrequency? I generally forget it even exists between issues, there’s so much time that passes.
I noticed this as well, I don’t know what it is with Marvel, but it seems very hard to get an exact release schedule for anything. For all its faults, DC’s books come out almost like clockwork, on the week I expect them to, yet every month I have to scour their crappy website to find out when Guardians is coming out, and some months it doesn’t come out at all with no explanation whatsoever.
In response to myself; I understand that Bendis must be fucking busy, he’s writing like half of Marvel’s ongoings, but worst comes to worst, just TELL US the book will come out week 4 every two months, don’t just go skipping around all over the place and keep people guessing. /rant
Gino, represented here by three different avatars.
I totally know what you mean. When I was just reading DC, I had an innate understanding of the kind of stuff I’d be reading from week to week. There was a while where the weeks were very clearly: 1) Rotworld 2) Batfamily 3) Ladies week and 4) Flash and All-Star Western (the quirky, visually striking titles). Much of that has been disrupted, but things were so simple then.
I don’t know what’s up with that, one post is from my phone but the other two are both from my laptop and connected through facebook. Anyhow, I hope it straightens out and we get a more steady schedule going forward; I’m already having enough trouble keeping track as it is since I’m more regularly dropping titles now and adding more than I should take on because I can’t help but give things that look interesting a try, even though I have no time/attention span left for so many books.
Hawkeye’s another frequent offender in this area; when’s the last time we had a new issue? It’s even been a while since that Annual now, or at least it feels like it.
Gino, if you’re having a problem remembering when books come out, is there some sort of newsletter or site you can check on Tuesday nights to see what’s coming out? I know Patrick uses DC and Marvel’s websites to keep track, but my LCS sends me a newsletter every Monday by e-mail which includes a list of all the new books they’ll be getting in on Wednesday; which is especially useful because sometimes Diamond doesn’t bother to send them a book on time, and at least I get a heads up.
Might be worth looking into.
I also use comiclist.com – which is a fucking amazing resource.
I’ll check out this comiclist.com site, I’ve been using DC and Marvel’s (and Image’s) sites as well, but a) as my pull list grows and now includes Dynamite too, it’s getting bothersome to go to all the different sites, and I find Marvel’s release calendar is a real pain in the ass to use.
Marvel’s isn’t super great or super accurate, but Image’s is ATROCIOUS. Also, IDW’s is unusable. I’m surprised Comixology doesn’t make it easier – I am certain I would buy more comics if I knew what was coming out when.
There should be a site where you could select all the titles in your monthly pull and you get an email each week telling you which of those titles is coming out. If that exists, somebody please link me (or create it and I’ll love you for it).
I agree–I am enjoying this title quite a bit, but I would like to see more development/differentiation in the characters. Starting with Starlord–why do the others follow him around? Is he a reckless, charismatic Han Solo/Robin Hood type character that creates loyalty and camaraderie among the rest? Is he secretly a brilliant tactician and smarter than everyone else? Does he just have all the cash? I want to know!
I think as a general rule, if you need to elect a leader and don’t have an obvious stand-out choice, going with the dude with “Lord” in his name seems like a pretty solid solution.