This week, Marvel welcomes their preeminent space-faring team back to its own ongoing series with an all-new Guardians of the Galaxy #1! Writer Al Ewing and artists Juann Cabal and Federico Blee are pitting the band of misfits against the recently-returned Gods of Olympus—can they possibly stand a chance?

We’ve got reviews of that big release, plus a weekly Rapid Rundown of other new releases from Marvel, all ahead in the latest installment of The Marvel Rundown!

Guardians of the Galaxy #1
Guardians of the Galaxy #1

Guardians of the Galaxy #1

Written by Al Ewing
Illustrated by Juann Cabal
Colored by Federico Blee
Lettered by VC’s Cory Petit
Cover by Juann Cabal & Dean White

Hussein Wasiti: It’s been an unusually long wait for the return of Guardians of the Galaxy since Donny Cates and Cory Smith concluded their run: a whole month. Honestly, I didn’t think we’d ever see this iteration of the team again.

All joking aside, I believe this is writer Al Ewing’s first big ongoing launch post-Immortal Hulk, so immediately my attention was drawn to this. In all honesty, I approached this issue with a great deal of cynicism. I know that Ewing and Dan Slott are writing a cosmic event to debut this April, so I probably rather childishly assumed that Guardians would tie heavily into that event. It likely will down the road, but this read as a very straight-forward, new reader friendly, self-contained story. Ewing introduces a new wrinkle into the Guardians, that of finally acknowledging that they’re a family and their star wars days are done; they’d rather use their time to be together than to save the galaxy for the umpteenth time. It’s a solid place to start, but some of these people can never change and thus they’re thrust into a new adventure, the origins of which had me giggling at the fun cosmic ludicrousness that is the idea of reincarnated Greek gods taking over an entire planet.

The choice of artists intrigued me. Juann Cabal and colourist Federico Blee partner up here, I believe for the first time, and I thought this was a pretty nice issue to look at. Cabal goes all-out in a few sequences, but ultimately I find his strength lies in his characters and he really nails the more personal scenes that Ewing lays out. This is particularly the case in the relationship between Peter and Rocket, which is given a nice emotional layer that I was never really looking for when I read Guardians comics.

This is a really charming and fun debut, but the black cloud of future tie-ins hangs over my head and thus dampened the experience a little bit. Despite that, I’m going to give this a BUY. It’s immediately more engaging than last year’s relaunch, and the choice of artist is inspired and fresh.

Joe Grunenwald: The cosmic side of Marvel has never really appealed to me. It’s not that I have anything against non-earthbound heroes and stories. It’s just not what I go looking for when I pick up a Marvel book. Guardians of the Galaxy #1 may have changed that, though. The double-sized debut issue establishes a new status quo for the team, and pits them against an unexpected group of antagonists in breath-taking fashion.

Writer Al Ewing and artists Juan Caball and Federico Blee set the tone for the series immediately with a pair of epic double-page spreads that convey both the scope of the series and its willingness to dive into crazy concepts. The creators do a nice job of bringing in new readers with the familiar characters from the MCU Guardians, before introducing what appears to be a new lineup for the team. That new lineup includes Noh-Varr, aka Marvel Boy, and Ewing and co. acknowledge all of the insane aspects of that character in a way that’s entertaining and feels very much in the spirit in which the character was created. The interactions between the rest of the team is equally enjoyable, as is their first mission, which goes about as well as could be expected for a new team on their first go-around.

If there’s any weakness to this first issue, it’s in the antagonists. The Gods of Olympus are introduced quickly, but with no real explanation for where they’ve been or how they returned. I would’ve expected at least an editor’s note directing me to read Avengers: No Road Home for more. I’m aware of some of the circumstances around their return, but not all of them, and while it’s unclear at this point if their backstory is important at all beyond ‘gods of Olympus,’ a bit more information would’ve been nice. Perhaps that’ll come in future issues, though, especially given the final-page character reveal.

I absolutely loved Guardians of the Galaxy #1. Even if you’re not into Marvel’s cosmic side, Ewing, Caball, and Blee have crafted a book that’s an instant must-read, and definitely a book worth BUYing.

Final Verdict: Hussein and Joe both call the Guardians of the Galaxy‘s latest outing a BUY!

Guardians of the Galaxy #1
From Guardians of the Galaxy #1

Rapid Rundown!

  • Amazing Spider-Man #38
    • Iban Coello joins Nick Spencer for this latest Amazing Spider-Man arc, where J. Jonah Jameson begins his new job while Spider-Man and Teresa Parker are picking up the Chameleon’s pieces from the 2099 storyline that I’m sure we’re all glad is over and behind us. This was a fantastic and really clever issue, framing Jameson’s new position as the complete inverse to his old Daily Bugle days. The vitriolic and toxic reporting he perpetuated against Spider-Man is what has inspired this new generation of journalists, and he’s reaping what he sowed. Now he’s concerned with telling the truth about Spider-Man while his employees are thinking about clicks. This is a great start to what looks to be a fun arc. — HW
  • Atlantis Attacks! #1
    • New Agents of Atlas writer Greg Pak is joined by artists Ario Anindito and Rachelle Rosenberg for what is essentially a continuation of the previous NAoA miniseries. The team does a nice job introducing the team and, perhaps more importantly, the setting for newcomers. They also do a great job getting across that the reason for Atlantis doing the titular attacking is actually a pretty good one, and their reaction is totally in-line with what we’ve come to expect from Namor and his people. The timeline of the issue is a little fuzzy, which made some of the later pages a little confusing in the face of the earlier pages, but hopefully that will be resolved in future issues. — JG
  • Excalibur #6
    • Apocalypse’s grand master plan has been revealed… and it’s a hell of a twist. I won’t spoil it, but I’m pretty happy with Apocalypse’s new role as puppeteer extraordinaire. In addition to that, there’s some fantastic Braddock family drama expertly presented by Marcus To and Tini Howard. To’s work continues to blow me away with each passing issue. The way he manages to balance these bombastic action scenes with these sexy, personal character moments proves that he’s probably the best artist working on the current Dawn of X books. The ending proves that this series has legs post-Otherworld, so I’m looking forward to seeing what Howard will cook up for the next arc. — HW
  • Marauders #6
    • The first arc of Marauders reaches a spectacular conclusion in an issue that illustrates Gerry DugganMatteo Lolli, guest-artist Mario Del Pennino, and colorists Erick Arciniega and Federico Blee‘s versatility as storytellers. This series has, in my opinion, been the most fun first wave Dawn of X title, and the latest issue continues that trend (assuming you think racists getting beaten up is fun, which I most definitely do) before taking a turn for the dramatic that is both unexpected and wholly satisfying. Duggan has also consistently used the text pages remarkably well, and he continues to do so here. It’s not too late to jump onto this book, friends. — JG

Next week, Peter Parker’s former coworkers headline their own miniseries in Amazing Spider-Man: Daily Bugle!