Review: Guardians of the Galaxy #20 (Bendis)
It appears that Bendis has not read the history of the Nova concepts in general or The Thanos Imperative in particular. Or he did – and he just doesn’t care enough about the Rider character or his fans to make the effort to get anything right. Either way, he knows that zombies buy brands, and right now, because of the movie, the GotG brand is selling. So he doesn’t have to go to the effort to get anything right. He can continue to ride the zombie-buyer wave until it inevitably crests – then he can move on to drive something else into the ground.
Pretty much nothing was right about this issue. The characterization was completely off for (the real) Nova, Star-Lord, Drax, Gamora, and Thanos. Let’s start with (the real) Nova and Star-Lord. After a promising start two issues ago where we caught a glimpse of the old magic interaction between (the real) Nova and Star-Lord, Star-Lord quickly degenerated into the gibbering, buffoonish idiot Bendis has morphed him into since he hijacked the GotG concepts and watered them down for consumption by the lowest common denominator of comic book reader. Bendis’ dialogue between Star-Lord and (the real) Nova is simply atrocious. This isn’t the banter of two old war veterans who were comrades in arms during the Annihilation War. It’s the forced humor of a bad network situation comedy. Completely wrong for both characters. And (the real) Nova would never have uttered a soliloquy about his regrets and his love for Gamora in the heat of a battle. Hey Bendis, that’s just dumb, and it reads like the hackneyed pseudo-drama that it is.
Poor Drax. Under Bendis he isn’t the bad-ass/smart-ass Wolverine-ish character he was in Volume II; nor is he the bad-ass/socially clueless sociopath from Gunn’s movie. In Bendis’ sub-par characterization, he comes across panicky at times and overly reasonable/solicitous at others, with only a brief glimpse of his proper characterization when he attacks Thanos. Gamora comes across less her best warrior- woman characterization, and more a “pouty female” stereotype. And Thanos? I don’t recognize this character who looks like Thanos and talks/behaves any way except the way Thanos would behave. You just have to shake your head and mutter “Bendis” when you read hack writing like GotG #20.
Of course, Bendis also didn’t bother to acquaint himself with any of the concepts of (the real) Nova. For one thing, Rich’s arm couldn’t have been lost in the way depicted. The Nova Prime is way tougher than that. Secondly, even if it was, his uniform would’ve acted to stop the bleeding and his enhanced healing factor would’ve begun to regenerate his arm. It would never have been a mortal wound or a lasting loss of the arm. He’s survived much worse.
Apparently Bendis either didn’t know or didn’t care that (the real) Nova had re-united with Namorita during The Thanos Imperative – and save for a one night stand at the beginning of Volume II of GotG - had broken off the romance between him and Gamora. So this talk of him being in love with Gamora simply doesn’t make sense. It makes even less sense for (the real) Nova to want to deprive a woman he’s supposedly in love with of any and all information about his disappearance. Hey Bendis, that’s just dumb, and since you don’t know anything about (the real) Nova’s history and personality – I can tell you that Rich Rider, the real Nova (as opposed to Loeb’s Nova In Name Only), would not be that cruel to Gamora or Namorita.
Un-surprisingly, the ending is un-spectacular for (the real) Nova and his fans. As was predicted months ago by this very writer, Rich opens a door back to the 616 Universe, seeming to sacrifice himself in the process – with Thanos sneaking through the door at the last minute.
Frankly, this whole arc has been nothing but another insult to the (real) Nova character and his fans. No surprise there as Brevoort, Alonso, et al, are desperately determined to shove their favored but failed character, Loeb’s NINO, down everyone’s throat by shoe-horning NINO into every event possible and keeping the superior character, Richard Rider, out of the public eye.
For most of the run of this book, the art/coloring have been its only saving graces. Not so this time out. The art/coloring took a major nose-dive. The styles of the two artists do not mesh well – and it is a jarring experience to have the appearance of the characters radically change from one page to the next. From continuity errors to spelling errors (Ryder changed to Rider changed to Ryder), the editing is as lackluster as if it had been the responsibility of Brevoort or Wacker.
At least (the real) Nova’s fate can be easily changed for an easy resurrection at some point in the future. To paraphrase my friend, Drakeon, I prefer to think of Rich as stranded in limbo waiting to be rescued by a competent cosmic writer. That’s clearly not going to be the current rogue’s gallery of so-called “cosmic” writers including Bendis, Duggan, Humphries, and Young. Face it, those guys need to hang it up and go back to writing street-level stories.