The Guardians of the Galaxy are now one of Marvel’s premiere super teams, thanks to the success of a certain blockbuster film that came out this past summer. Now every kid in America knows the names of Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Gamora, Drax and Star Lord, and the Guardians are a name on par with the likes of the X-Men and the Avengers. But for the better part of the last three decades, the Guardians were a C-list team, essentially Marvel’s answer to DC’s Legion of Super-Heroes, a team set over a thousand years into the future of the Marvel Universe. The original group debuted in 1969, and made sporadic appearances throughout the Marvel Universe until 1990, when they got their own book which lasted several years. It wasn’t until 2008 that Marvel decided to use the dormant name for a spacefaring team set in the present, and it was that group that went on to Hollywood fame, while the original Guardians of the Galaxy team were sent to the shelf to collect dust.
But now thanks to the success of both the comic book series and the film, Marvel has brought back the team that originated the name Guardians of the Galaxy in a new series called Guardians 3000 (although technically, the book should be called Guardians 3014, but why nit pick?) The original conception of the team was that each member was the last survivor of their respective races- Martinex T’Naga, a crystal like creature was from Pluto (that I used to always confuse with Iceman from the X-Men as a kid) Charlie-27, a soldier from Jupiter; Yondu Udonta, a blue-skinned archer from Centauri-IV, Nikki, a genetically engineered young girl from Mercury, the husband and wife team of Starhawk and Aleta, and Vance Astro, a former astronaut from 20th century Earth who carries Captain America’s shield (he was also former Avenger Justice in the regular Marvel timeline.) Together they form the Guardians of the Galaxy, and fight off the invasion of the alien Badoon empire. (See what this cast might have looked like in an ’80s movie) All of those elements still seem to be in play in this series, at least so far.
Writer Dan Abnett, who along with his then-partner Andy Lanning, helped created the “modern day” Guardians series, returns (minus Lanning) for Guardians 3000. The book begins in the middle of the action, as the team is fighting off the Badoon, as is their standard M.O. Although the first several pages are standard action-y splash pages, after about nineteen pages, some plot developements actually begin to happen, and we get into the concept of the Hideaway Parliament, a secret meeting place shut off from regular space. It’s here the Guardians meet with representatives from various Marvel universe alien races-the Shiar, the Kree, a former herald of Galactus (who seems to be slumbering in the 31st century) and others. The Guardians are trying to rally everyone together to fight the Badoon, but no one seems to want to go down that road again, as it seems to lead to defeat over and over.
It is then that everyone realizes that the reason it all seems like it’s so futile (and why it feels like they’ve gathered together to fight the Badoon a million times before) is because they have; some kind of temporal distortion is taking place, making everyone live these moments again and gain, in what seems to be a riff on this year’s Tom Cruise sci-fi movie Edge of Tomorrow. And much how Tom Cruise’s character was central to the time repeating events of that movie, in this book, the events are centered around one person- a human girl by the name of Geena Drake, although the hows and why’s of how she became a member of the team remains a mystery, at least so far.
I have to say, as a first issue, this one didn’t really work for me. It’s been so long since I read the original Guardians series (since the Jim Valentino series of the early nineties) that I needed a proper reintroduction to these characters, and instead the first twenty or so pages of the book are big action beats with little or no character development, or even just character moments, to speak of, just a lot of running and dodging laser blasts. This being only a 28 page book, a lot more needed to be spent on making me care about these characters. I will say that the art by Gerardo Sandoval is good; very, very reminiscent of Joe Madureira, so much so that I thought Joe Mad was drawing the book before looking again at the book’s credits. Sandoval’s work is strong, even if that particular style isn’t really my cup of tea.
Although the premise of the mysterious time loop is kind of interesting, and Dan Abnett’s particular strength as a writer I would say is for the big, cosmic epics, a first issue has to suck me in …and this one didn’t. Could a second issue improve on the first? Sure, but right now I think I’m sticking with the new/old Guardians and letting the future Guardians remain in the past.