Comic Review: All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #1
At my most cynical, I would have to say that All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #1 is a pretty transparent attempt to bring the tone of the comics to that of the movie. Peter Quill is back as Star-Lord, The Thing and Kitty Pryde are nowhere to be found, Groot is a baby, and a character from Thor Ragnarok makes a key appearance. (And looks nothing like Jeff Goldblum, sadly.) However, writer Gerry Duggan, artist Aaron Kuder, and colorist Ive Svorcina mess with our expectations about how the Guardians work after a cold open heist sequence that has just as much slapstick as action with Rocket, or Groot being the perfect, adorable decoy turns into awkward arguing and general mumbling. There’s a dark undercurrent to All-New Guardians as they are making deals with Cosmic Elders and generally acting like they’re in their own little worlds with not much to unite them beyond doing heists together. It hits a nice sweet spot behind comedy and melancholy.
Aaron Kuder has definitely switched up his art style for All-New Guardians compared to his work on, say, Action Comics with a looser, free wheeling line that works well with a team of petty criminals with hearts of gold compared to his cleaner work drawing the adventures of the Big Blue Boy Scout. His layouts and figures are the artistic equivalent of a meandering 70s pop prog rock single with a keyboard breakdown and overlong drum solo from a player, who really needs to go solo. (Looks at Phil Collins and Peter Quill.) There’s a lot of fun, and Ive Svorcina brings the cosmic colors when Galactus makes an early cameo, but there’s also a sense that the Guardians aren’t on the same page. Darting from character to character and situation to situation does that better than any expository dialogue from Duggan.
The Guardians of the Galaxy are closer to criminals than heroes in All-New Guardians #1. They’re more like the crew of Serenity at this point than the Space Avengers, and they’re not even resisting an evil empire through their petty crimes and heists ,but doing dirty work for fickle, cosmic beings. With the exception of Rocket and Star-Lord, whose roles are to keep the plot moving, crack jokes, and keep the team together, Gerry Duggan seeds in one huge question about Drax, Gamora, and Groot. Groot’s is the most intriguing as him staying in his baby form isn’t treated as joke or something adorable to coo over (Or Marvel’s equivalent of a Cabbage Patch Doll or Hatchimal.), but something worrisome. Duggan and Kuder dig into the darker side of his infantile form with Svorcina adding some extra shadows to his smiling face. Also, leaning on the Guardians’ most popular character for the hook of the opening arc is flat out, smart storytelling.
All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #1 is perfectly timed with the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and is worth picking up for old, new, or lapsed fans of the best swashbuckling, space super team that isn’t the Starjammers. Deadpool writer Gerry Duggan has knack for the uproariously funny (Rocket doing a little coitus interruptus during the cold open) and just plain sad (Rocket wondering why no one has noticed that Groot is growing back from baby form.) All-New Guardians also looks like the next stop on Aaron Kuder’s artist star tour as he plays around with Moebius-like planetary cityscapes in the early pages, but can also execute the quick, funny moments like Rocket’s sad, little tail flapping when Star-Lord says they have to ditch the Galactus mech.
Overall: 6 (out of 7)– All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #1 is kind of funny, kind of dark, and opens a whole of bag of mysteries about these characters that we’ve come to love in comics and movies. Also, artist Aaron Kuder makes the transition from lantern jawed superhero to “hazy cosmic jive” (Featuring talking raccoons and mechas) with style, grace, and a funky new inking style.