Editor's Note: Guardians of the Galaxy #2 arrives in stores tomorrow, June 18.
Previously… Assembled in the aftermath of Annihilation: Conquest, Starlord, Adam Warlock, Gamora, Quasar, Mantis, Drax, and Rocket Raccoon set out to clean up the galactic garbage before it becomes an intergalactic waste management crisis. After saving a Universal Church of Truth (UCT) temple-ship (a vessel powered by the faith of its passengers) from floating into a fissure in space, and thereby letting loose a whole bunch of nasty things into our universe, the team discovers a mysterious floating anomaly where along the surface of its frozen body is the undeniable image of Captain America's Shield.
And Now… The Guardians of the Galaxy investigate this frozen anomaly and discover beneath the ice the "A" from the front gate of the Avengers mansion. Suddenly temporal beasts (really nasty looking parasitic worms) attack the team and they scramble into action. Out of nowhere Cap's Shield comes flying in to save the Guardians. They turn to see the Shield glide back into the hands of the man who is their past… and their future!
Meanwhile, the UCT's evil Matriarch hatches a plan to ambush the Guardians of the Galaxy and "test" them for some unknown purpose.
On Story and Dialogue: Abnett and Lanning are spinning an charming yarn. I'm already interested how this past/future character (who I won't spoil by revealing) will affect the team, especially the pre-cognitive telepath Mantis. She sifts through the character's jumbled memories trying to uncover his/her purpose in this timeline. Presumably, Mantis will allow the character to act out this purpose even if she discovers that it would mean disaster for the team. Mantis has on two occasions already revealed that she knows things but has chosen not to disclose them to anyone else: (1) The naming of the team "The Guardians of the Galaxy," and (2) the knowledge of a traitor in the group.
As for sexual tension, the relationship between Quasar, Adam Warlock, and Gamora is building to a possible love triangle. As the other heroes escape the frozen mass, Adam stays behind to destroy the anomaly. Adam notices that Quasar remains and orders for her to go. "Not without you," she replies. As for Gamora, she reveals that Adam, whom she once had an affair, used to aggravate her with his "pretentious philosophical comments," but now she finds it strangely sexy. Although nothing may happen between any of these three, Abnett and Lanning are letting the characters interact with one another and develop, thereby letting the reader know that Adam is a selfless hero, Quasar is a loyal friend, and Gamora is a complex sex kitten, without clunky exposition or needless narration (see review of Perhapnauts Annual #1).
As for the dialogue, the writers do get a little joke crazy. There are recurring jokes and there are smack-in-the-head jokes. A recurring or running joke is a single punch line that occurs a multiple of times despite different setups (i.e. a man walks in the street and falls down a manhole; walks unto the sidewalk and falls down an open basement door on the sidewalk; walks into a grocery store, sees a construction sign above a hole that says "Caution: Construction! Watch out for this Hole!," makes a left turn, falls down another hole with a sign above it that reads "And This One Too!"). A smack-in-the-head joke is the same setup and punch line repeated without irony or awareness of its previous utterance. Therefore, the latter is like being repeatedly smacked in the head in order to garner a response (i.e. laughter). Conversely, I wanted to beat Rocket Raccoon senseless for repeating the same damn joke about the name of the team. It wasn't funny the first time, it's not any funnier the second or third or fourth or fifth time!
On Art: Pelletier dutifully captures the intimacy of the characters and grandeur of space. Make a scene with Drax and Quasar at the market seem appealing, filling the streets with goofy alien creatures and playing with light and shadow. The action scenes are as energetic as his layout, which makes use of diagonal and overlaid panels a lot. Overall, Pelletier does a good job, but he services the story and for whatever reason does not go beyond it. There is no subtext in his art, and that is not necessarily a bad thing, but I simply remark upon it because he has the talent to do so and certainly enough narrative to play with in the background. He plays with shadows on Drax's face in order to exemplify the character's cold and insensitive emotions. This is a great moment, but there are many other scenes where he could be doing more of this.
Final Word: Although this isn't the epitome of adventure comics or the must-read-comic-of-now, Guardians of the Galaxy is a space adventure that is fun and engaging, and definitely worth your three bucks.
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