Heroism and Revenge in All-New Guardians of the Galaxy 8

by Michael DeLaney

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

A ship in peril! A hero on a quest to save his friend! A space raccoon who is dying of an alien disease! All-New Guardians of the Galaxy 8 is a heroic race against time as Star-Lord tracks down The Raptors, who have infected Rocket with a deadly pathogen.

So far, All-New Guardians of the Galaxy’s storytelling pattern has been the ensemble story separated by issues dedicated to one particular character. It’s odd that I find myself preferring the issues focusing on Drax or Gamora to issues like All-New Guardians of the Galaxy 8.

Though this is a Star-Lord-heavy issue, Gerry Duggan has some fun writing a dying Rocket Raccoon. At death’s door, the smarmy creature says he would’ve preferred to die in bed by a “sentient venereal disease.” One of the greatest moments here comes when (Baby?) Groot attempts to use his branchy fingers and heal his friend.

I was expecting a Groot ex machina: the ever-loving magical vegetation within Groot would heal the friend who understands him the best. Maybe it would work, who knows? Instead, Duggan gives Rocket a hero moment by sparing Groot from becoming infected himself.

Along with drawing Rocket in a Baby Bjorn, Marcus To draws some Super Saiyan-type action in the battle between Star-Lord and Raptor Talonar.

I really like Talonar’s character design: he’s got a little bit of a Boba Fett/Samus vibe going on but he’s also got that regal furry cape so you know he’s full of himself.

Once Star-Lord gets the cure from Talonar he gives him back his nega-bands — sort of.

Peter is a hero for saving his friend’s life. But he also traps Talonar on an Ultron-ruled world so, less of a hero.

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

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2 comments on “Heroism and Revenge in All-New Guardians of the Galaxy 8

  1. I think this issue is proof of just how valuable the at this in this book. The true strength of this book is how art has been used to create the strongest visuals ever. Kuder is essential. This book lives and dies on the idea of Kuder as the beating heart, with specifically chosen artists doing the alternate issues.

    Here, To isn’t chosen because his style specifically matches the content of the issue, but because he can do an easy approximation of Kuder’s work to get an issue pushed out in time. And unfortunately, he isn’t up to the task. At first, I wondered whether Duggan’s script was lacking the cosmic weirdness that makes the main story so strong. But honestly, there should be more than enough in this issue, especially with the Ultron planet (I wonder if the Ultron stuff is related to his old rule of the Phalanx, the threat that led to the creation of the proto Guardians, and who the Guardians of the Galaxy were formed in the aftermath of)

    Quite simply, To very clearly is a fill in artist that can’t measure up. And this issue is disappointing because of it. A real shame

  2. Got surprised with the release of the third episode of Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy, More than a Feeling.

    As I said last time, what seemed like a promising start suffers after the release of the second movie, that ended up being very similar in theme. And with this episode, in some ways, the similarities become more apparent as a big idea is to give attention to introducing new characters to the team, with a major focus on Nebula and Mantis.

    Nebula is done well. This episode’s flashback story belongs to both Gamora and Nebula, as we see the same event from two different sides. Where the movie went for abandonment, Nebula’s issues with Gamora are about betrayal. Which is the right choice, playing into the strength of the flashbacks. While in the movie, the lack of flashbacks on Nebula and Gamora’s past help root us in Gamora’s perspective, placing us in the same ignorance that she has, in this game, the use of flashbacks depicting life changing moments suggests the need of a different dramatic engine than ignorance. And Telltale are smart enough to complicate the feelings of betrayal. Seeing the story from both sides, we understand how both felt betrayed by the other’s actions, while also seeing how Thanos has puppeteered the situation for his own abusive ends. Thanos’ presence is interesting. While Telltale make a point at making his manipulations very obvious when required, they also commit many lines to controlling language, showing the abuse in small, cruel ways that give things more depth than the obvious parts would initially suggest.
    Seeing Gamora and Nebula’s relationship break, and slowly start coming together is a highlight, and it is both incredibly satisfying emotionally and just great fun to have her join. It feels so meaningful to Gamora, and Nebula’s personality conflicts with the Guardians in humorous ways. She wants to be seen as aloof and above it all, which conflicts brilliantly with the Guardians ability to yell at anything. Honestly, if people don’t make the decision to have her join the crew, I think they’ll have lost something. On the other hand, Nebula’s ending in this episode ends up being a bit vague. I wish Telltale gave a moment in that very final scene to clarify, to really set the stakes up for next episode.

    Mantis is a bit more complex. Part of the problems are from a design and performance perspective. Unlike Pom Klementieff’s fantastic performance, Telltale struggle to truly get that sense of true innocence across, and the character feels a little off. A put too detached for a character who should never be. With Mantis, they are leaning more on the whole Celestial Madonna side (I believe. Those words are never spoken, nor is it suggested she herself is important. But lots of other stuff surrounding her suggests that is her place in the mythology).
    One advantage that Telltale has with Mantis is that she is the centrepiece of this episode, and doesn’t have Ego crowding her out. And while this all means she gets to spend a bit too much time as an exposition spout, she gets to constantly interact with the team and is given plenty of moments to be front and centre. The fact that we get scenes of her, for example, innocently asking for Peter’s gun five minutes after meeting him or a chance to listen to his music, create fantastic moments that the movie struggled to have. And the Shambala sequence is honestly amazing, the perfect choice of song, focus and gags, built around the whole team but focused on Mantis.

    Still, major structural problems have become apparent. This is the third temple in three episodes, and we had to enter one temple twice. We need more variety. Guardians is a franchise with the potential of some of the most insane and diverse environments around, and when Rocket starts complaining about temples, it stops being a meta joke and starts repeating the frustrations of the player.
    But worse is the villain, Hala. Hala is an incredibly well written villain, who just happens to be all wrong for the story, at least so far. Both her high level goal to revive her almost extinct race through monstrous means, and her personal goal to revive her son through the same means creates a compelling characters. But the fact that Hala is there, as the villain, creates a massive problem the game can’t get past.
    When I first read the description of the game, I loved the idea of the Guardians stumbling on an artefact so valuable, it brought out the worst in the Guardians and turned them against each other. But with Hala, the moment the dramatic potential in the concept is about to get realised, she turns up and the Guardians unite again. Every time there is a threat of real drama, Hala ruins it. Great villain, but the last thing this story needs is someone to force the Guardians to put aside their differences. The fantastic Nebula stuff and the stronger half of the Mantis stuff means little when Hala keeps screwing things up just as things get interesting. I would love to see Telltale’s version of Hala in a completely difference story, but this particular story is too focused on the Guardians’ internal dilemmas to benefit from a villain like Hala. I hate to constantly compare the game to the recent movie, but considering the very similar themes, it is hard not to. And it is worth noting that the villain of Vol 2 spent most of the time pretending to be benevolent, whose presence helped divide the Guardians, until the ending.

    After such a strong start, it is a shame that the next two episodes have struggled so much. Especially as this felt like the story that Telltale, with their previous catalogue, would knock out of the park. But there is hope, in that this episode was AN ending, setting up a very different story. Hala may have been a problem before, but with the Eternity Forge stuff reaching a major turning point, Hala may finally no longer be in the way. Quite simply, the story is going to have to change, and change in a major way because of the plot. Which may be enough to get this story back on track

    (honestly, the next episode will be very interesting. As the final choice seemingly leads to two very different outcomes. Will be interested to see how they create a narrative that fits both decisions)

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