Guardians of the Galaxy will relaunch with a fresh #1 in January 2019, helmed by writer Donny Cates and artist Geoff Shaw, who have previously collaborated on the publisher’s Thanos Wins comic as well as on the creator-owned hit God Country (soon to be adapted into a movie). Marvel made the announcement Friday with an image of the team online drawn by artist David Marquez.
Starting in the upper left and going clockwise, we have Silver Surfer, Moondragon, Groot, Nova, Adam Warlock, Guardian, Phyla-Vell, Star-Lord, Darkhawk, and Beta Ray Bill, with the Cates’ creation Cosmic Ghost Rider in the center (he’s actually Frank Caste from an alternate future timeline, because: comics).
Two things jump out at me about this lineup right away: one, it’s massive, which makes sense given that the titular mission here is to guard the ENTIRE galaxy; and two, as I noted above, this is a significant departure from the most-recent and famous iteration of the team, the one brought to life in the hella popular Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In fact, of this new bunch, only Groot and Star-Lord have so far appeared in the film franchise as members of The Guardians. This (for my money) is maybe an effect of The Guardians film future being in flux, with the writer/director of the first two films, James Gunn, controversially dismissed. Gunn has since gone off to work on Suicide Squad 2 for Warner Bros. and DC.
The big lineup also gives Cates room to tinker with his team via the giant sweeping plot twists that have marked much of his Marvel work. There’s also a precedent for this—after Marvel’s Inhumans TV show flopped and was essentially sidelined in live action until further notice, the publisher gave the comic to Cates, who promptly wrote a mini-series entitled Death of the Inhumans.
UPDATE: Another image released later in the day noted only six of the heroes would be members of the final lineup. Check it out, there’s a new line beneath the creative team and the comic logo…