Today, Drew and Scott are discussing Guardians of the Galaxy 10, originally released December 31st, 2013.
Drew: We may lament the way crossover events tend to hijack otherwise enjoyable series, but it’s an unfortunate way of life for comics published by the big two. Once the crossover is over, the series can return to the conflicts and situations that defined the series up until that point. Usually. Guardians of the Galaxy 10 is committed to the fallout of it’s most recent events (still reverberating from Infinity, which saw the “living death” of Thanos, AND Age of Ultron, which saw the introduction of Angela to the Marvel Universe), which is great for legitimizing the stakes of those events, but may alienate fans who liked the series before all of that started.
The issue opens with Angela and Gamora deciding (somewhat idly) to single-handedly attack a batallion of Badoon to A) rescue the aliens the Badoon have enslaved and B) find out where Thanos is. They succeed in the first count, but laugh off the information they get that suggests Thanos is still on Earth.
It’s a painful moment of dramatic irony that threatens to turn Gamora’s motivations into a wheel-spinning sideshow, but it’s hardly the focus of the issue. Indeed, Angela takes the center stage when one of the Badoon suggests that he knows where Angela comes from. That Badoon immediately dies of an advanced case of being too convenient to the plot, but it’s enough to refocus the series on helping Angela find her way home.
Unfortunately, there’s a bit of dramatic irony there, too. Barring some unforeseen reversal of whatever copyright deal brought Angela to the Marvel Universe, she’s here to stay. It’s entirely possible that they could give her some kind of non-Spawn origin that she could return to (inside the head of the Neil Gaiman of Earth 616, for example), but my bets are on her staying in the Marvel Universe for the foreseeable future, which effectively hobbles her subplot as well.
By my count, that leaves Peter’s motivation to protect the Earth as the only viable plot engine (assuming Drax’s motivation to destroy everything, Rocket’s motivation to not be called a raccoon, and Groot’s motivation to be Groot aren’t enough to carry much of an arc). There’s certainly nothing wrong with a team dedicated to protecting the Earth — that accurately describes most superhero comics — but it flattens out two of the more interesting character motivations to more background, stereotyped stuff (basically, Gamora’s desire to kill Thanos and Angela’s desire to get home will become about as important as Rocket’s desire to have a really big gun).
Of course, any motivations may be a bit moot for the next few issues, anyway, as GotG seems poised to be hijacked yet again by another crossover event (albeit a much smaller one, written entirely by Brian Michael Bendis): The Trial of Jean Gray. I’m a big enough All-New X-Men fan that I could probably get behind this crossover, but it’s hard not to feel a little bad that Guardians barely got a chance to catch it’s breath before being pulled into the next crossover.
But maybe crossovers aren’t as inherently bad as I’m making them out to be. I appreciate that my perspective is largely shaped by how many comics I read and how much attention I pay to the comics world in general (that is, somebody who skipped Infinity or who hasn’t followed the copyright battle that lead to Angela’s move to Marvel might not feel the same way about their subplots), and that may reverberate out to my own crossover fatigue. I mean, a back-and-forth between two series I’m reading anyway can’t be that bad, right?
Ugh. Scott, I’m really at a loss for evaluating this issue. Am I just too focused on the plot? Ultimately, it seems like the only thing we really got out of it was a half-tease that the Badoon might know something about Angela, but maybe I’m ignoring some of its other charms. Did you get anything more out of this issue than I did?
Scott: Anyone focused on plot will come away from this issue feeling short-changed. Nothing really happens, if we’re talking plot development. But there are other factors to consider, and it’s hard to ignore the impetus behind this issue: showcasing Guardians two strong female characters. There came a point, maybe eight or ten pages into the issue, when I realized that it going to be all about Gamora and Angela, and I got excited. This series has relied heavily on the antics of goofy male characters, so the fact that this issue is dedicated entirely to two seriously bad-ass women makes it significant, if not substantive.
Gamora and Angela are worthy and capable of carrying an issue on their own. The problem, in this case, is that they only get enough story to fill half the issue. As a result, there’s a lot of filler before Peter and Rocket show up to remind us this title is still a comedy. Take a look at this full-page exchange between Angela and a dying Badoon.
I don’t know what’s more excessive- the five panels where she asks the same exact same question or the two-in-a-row where neither character says anything at all. The layout of the page only reinforces the repetitiveness of the writing.
Kevin Maguire’s art looks good but suffers for the lack of plot. He winds up drawing too little action over way too many panels, with a strange over-reliance on close-ups of faces, often in adjacent, static panels (like in the above example). Justin Ponsor’s colors are lush and pretty, and just pink enough to serve as a constant reminder that, hey, this issue is about chicks!
Drew, I have to agree with you, this is a tough issue to evaluate. If Bendis is just treading water before diving into another crossover, I’m glad he at least used this opportunity to feature the title’s most mysterious characters. It’s a bit of a wasted opportunity, since we only learn what we already knew, which is that they love to fight. This issue could have easily been about Peter and Rocket shooting everything in sight and cracking borderline inappropriate jokes, which would’ve probably been a safer but equally uninspired choice. I’ll give half credit for trying something different.
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?