COVER BY: Alex Garner
WRITERS: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
PENCILER: Wes Craig
INKER: Serge LaPointe
COLORIST: Nathan Fairbairn
LETTERRE: VC's Joe Caramagna
Warning: Contains Spoilers
Phenomenal. Absolutely, astoundingly phenomenal. With issue #23 of Guardians of the Galaxy, Abnett and Lanning prove once again why they are the Megalords of Cosmic Comics.
In a recent interview, I said that one of the reasons that Guardians of the Galaxy is consistently among the best comics on the shelves is that it avoids delving too deeply into standard superhero fare – instead focusing on epic science-fiction/fantasy concepts and storylines. Rather than re-treading the superhero concepts and storylines we’ve seen countless times before; Guardians of the Galaxy brings new twists and turns to the table. Never is that more evident than in issue #23.
DnA’s superb writing captivated me from the first page to the last page. Magus was written as insanely menacing – approaching “over the top” – but never actually going over the top and becoming a caricaturish villain. I liked it that he seemed to be genuinely impressed by the Guardians as foes who could actually stop him. That says something impressive about our heroes.
I’m not exactly sure how Phyla’s portion of the team was re-animated. Was it the power of belief resurrecting them or were new bodies created from belief for their souls to inhabit? Were they ever really dead in the first place? It wasn’t clear to me. This might be the weakest part of the storyline; but I was so happy to see them back I didn’t even care how it happened.
Magus’ psychological torture of Phyla was quite revealing of her inner struggles and conflicts – the selfsame struggles and conflicts fans have speculated about for quite some time. This torture sequence actually makes Phyla a more interesting and sympathetic character – bringing her some much needed character development and giving her a chance to shine as a heroine. I’ve always had mixed feelings about Phyla; but after this issue’s developments I’m beginning to become a fan of the character.
I was especially pleased to see the #1 fan favorite canine back in action. Cosmo fans are rejoicing! I hope we get to see some Cosmo-centric stories in the future because he is the next character just aching for some character development time.
Starlord’s team did security duty for the re-constituted Galactic Council. DnA made even this seemingly mundane task for our heroes into something interesting – with cameo appearances by some fan favorite characters as well as inclusion of some topical content regarding terrorism.
All-in-all this throw down with the Magus is shaping up to something that will likely make the Infinity Gauntlet saga look like a cake walk.
Just about everyone – myself included – acknowledges that Wes Craig is a skilled artist and I have to say that in this issue Craig delivers his best work yet on the series. The real debate is about artistic style. In other words, is Craig’s style a good fit for this particular book? Some fans think it is – and others think it isn’t. I think this issue’s art will create a much needed middle ground about the issue.
I’ve seen Craig’s style called impressionistic, abstract-tending, manga-influenced, and cartoonish – all with fans passionately debating what particular label is most accurate. Whatever you call his style – it certainly isn’t photo-realistic – the style that the majority of the fans seem to prefer if the feedback on the forums is any indicator. I personally prefer the photo-realistic style for a book that is telling serious, dramatic, epic, galaxy shaking stories. I think the more abstract style detracts from the gravitas of the storyline.
Fairbairn’s colors are well done as usual. Garner’s cover art is nothing short of astounding. I think it might be the best portrait of The Magus ever rendered. Thank you Mr. Garner. I’d like to see what you could do with some interior art for the book.
It almost – no, I won’t soft peddle this – it does make me angry that more people aren’t reading this top of the line book. It is a travesty that this book sells only 22K or so per month. Comics fans need to broaden their horizons, break out of the routine, and pick up something new and fresh. Guardians of the Galaxy is a veritable feast of new and fresh. Won’t you pull a chair up to the table?
Article by: Bill Meneese