August 3, 2013

Marvel Comics Review: Guardians of the Galaxy #5

imageGuardians of the Galaxy #5
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Sara Pichelli
Publisher: Marvel

What Brian Michael Bendis has done with Guardians of the Galaxy is nothing short of amazing; he’s taken a property of which I had no previous knowledge and/or interest, and made it one of my favorite books currently published by the House of Ideas. Issue #5 adds another solid issue to the win column, though its not without its faults.

As someone who hasn’t yet read Age of Ultron, this issue was a mite confusing as it deals with the aftermath of AoU‘s conclusion. Still, the gist is simple (relatively speaking); the space-time continuum is broken, meaning that multiple universes and realities are now potentially open to one another. Bad news, right? Unfortunately, this is not common knowledge among the Guardians, as only Star Lord felt the full ramifications of the event. These cracks in time allow Bendis to finally introduce the main draw of the issue; Angela, making her Marvel Now! debut. Again, not having read AoU made her entrance more puzzling than exciting (as I have no idea who she is), but it’s clear by issues end that she’ll be a major player in the current arc.

Aside from Angela’s introduction, everything is business as usual as Bendis again focuses on the dynamic between Iron Man and the Guardians. Last issues awkward…dalliance between Stark and Gamora continues here, and it’s great to see the normally emboldened Tony a bit cowed. The banter between Tony and Rocket remains a highlight, as their budding friendship is comprised entirely of good natured ribbing. Though only five issues in, Bendis has done a great job of making each character unique and interesting, no easy task given their limited page time. On the ground, Quill’s pilgrimage for answers is helpful, as it answers many of the questions I had raised when first reading. Still, this issue of Guardians feels like it would be best enjoyed if you’re up to speed with all the surrounding material, and as such I felt a bit left out. Gotta read more funny books!

On art, Sara Pichelli continues to deliver as she introduces Angela in grand fashion. When I first heard that Pichelli was replacing Steve McNiven on art duties I was a bit bummed, but after seeing her last few issues I honestly think she’s a better fit. Her strong characterization works well with Bendis’ amusing subplots, as her subtle facial quirks and mannerisms enhance the narrative. Some artists rely too often on “stock” faces, but Pichelli is able to convey a multitude of emotions in a number of ways. Not gonna lie, even I felt like crawling under a rock after seeing Gamora’s disdain. Pichelli seems to be getting better with every issue, and with the HUGE reveal on the last page I’m excited to see her tackle what comes next.

Guardians of the Galaxy #5 may not be as accessible as earlier issues in the series, but it’s still just as fun. Bendis and Pichelli are crafting one of the more entertaining super sagas of 2013 and, as Rocket would say, I don’t know how we survived without it.

Jeff Lake



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