Secrets, Surprises and Criminality in All-New Guardians of the Galaxy 4

by Patrick Ehlers

All-New Guardians of the Galaxy 4

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Liars. Thieves. Con men. They’ve all got secrets. It’s no wonder that the Galaxy’s rascally Guardians, who are more criminals than they are heroes, have a whole host of surprises and secrets up their collective sleeve. Writer Gerry Duggan and artist Aaron Kuder keep the reader in the role of the mark, setting us up to be as surprised as everyone else in their story. It’s a little frustrating to be kept at such a distance, but it is perfectly in-line with what it must be like to know these guys.

The first big surprise comes when Rocket straight-up blasts the Collector’s head off with teeny-tiny space derringer. Duggan only offers hints at what’s about to happen as Rocket freely gives up the name of his client to the man he assumes is going to be dead in a matter of seconds. Here’s how Kuder portrays the action:

We don’t get to see Rocket draw – the first evidence of his gun is the resultant head-explosion. I love this quick camera reversal, revealing Rocket with a literal smoking gun. As the action on the page continues, we stay locked into this two-shot of Rocket and the corpse. We get a little more information, like the body disappearing and the door opening, but the real surprise comes on the next page when — ta-da! — The Collector is still alive. BUT WAIT THERE’S ONE MORE SURPRISE LEFT. The gun itself is some kind of bomb, and Rocket was only ever trying to get said bomb in The Collector’s hands to nuke him at close range.

It’s a dizzying tornado with a reversal of fortune on every single page, and that is characteristic of Rocket’s specific brand of criminality. He’s the crazy dude with the short fuze and the hair trigger. Let’s compare that to Gamora and her secrets. She’s got the uber-confidence of a trained killer choosing not to kill and fucking walks right in to The Collector’s pocket dimension regeneration chamber. Duggan writes Gamora as a woman of few words and it’s hard not to find her combination of assertiveness and secrecy as appealing as The Collector does. She’s holding her surprises, her traps, her secrets – every bit as duplicitous as Rocket, but in her own way.

It almost seems like Duggan didn’t want to be left out of his own criminal line-up, and tossed in one more big surprise that can’t be credited to any one character, but to the universe he commands. There’s a grove of killer Babies Groot out there? Hey: surprised me.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

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One comment on “Secrets, Surprises and Criminality in All-New Guardians of the Galaxy 4

  1. I think the use of surprise is essential to this book, using quick reversals to provide the kinetic pace that makes this exciting. From the beginning, the key idea of the Guardians has been a ragtag bunch of misfits against an infinite cosmic scope. And such kineticism is key to selling that idea. The Guardians can never feel prepared, or in control. So instead, everything must move like a runaway train that every character does everything they can to control it. The fact that everyone has secrets, surprising us and keeping us off balance, just as much sells that ragtag band v cosmic threat vibe as Kuder’s always amazing cosmic weirdness. The Collector’s birthing chambers was amazing.

    Also, I really think this book wants to remind everyone that Gamora is the most dangerous woman in the universe, and I am so fine with that. She is quickly becoming the book’s stand out character, the combination of her dangerous badassery, her complex motivations and constant surprises is making me fall in love with what I’ve generally seen as the weakest Guardian.

    The way this book combines epic scope, strong characterization across a large cast of characters and sheer kineticism is amazing. A mile a minute masterpiece, do literally everything we should be asking from our big blockbuster stories. Sensational

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