“Peter? It’s Phyla. Listen to me. Drax just temporarily murdered everyone on the station.” Peter Quill, Star-Lord replies in disbelief, “He what?" In the far reaches of space is a floating decapitated head of a Celestial called Knowhere. On board this makeshift space station all Hell has broken loose. The Skrulls have landed and the Guardians of the Galaxy must break house arrest to stop the invasion.
Abnett and Lanning take the momentous hysteria of Secret Invasion and simmer their characters to the boiling point. Drax, whose suspicious activities we interpreted as traitorous last issue, was actually trying to locate the hidden Skrulls by temporally killing everyone on board Knowhere. It’s an ingenious deux ex machina that not only fits the Drax’s cruel personality, but also develops his resolve to be a good guy. He wants to find the Skrulls and stop them just like the rest of the team. He simply is less pedantic and forthcoming about his methods than his teammates.
Pelletier depiction of Drax reflects this desire to do the right thing. Of all the main characters, Drax is the most shadowed. As Drax and Phyla awake from their temporary death, the big green guardian is cast in black, while she is not. As she realizes what Drax has done, she blasts him with her quantum bands. He is till shadowed in black until he finally explains the noble reason why he temporarily murdered everyone. The liberation of this truth frees him from the darkness visually, as he is bright and green throughout the rest of the book.
Another visual motif is repetition. Pelletier has used repetition of the same panel previously in the video playback scenes of issues #1 -- #4. The purpose of those was to intensify the dialogue in delivering a subtle plot point or a funny joke. Pelletier does this again to do deepen a crushing plot development in a humorous way. When disaster has been averted and the team reposes in their common area, Star-Lord is confronted by his fellow guardians for using telepathic suggestion to bring the team together. Pelletier repeats the panel of the team scowling at Peter and creates a cold, dead stare that effectively expresses the character’s grave dissatisfaction with their leader.
Every issue of Guardians of Galaxy thus far has been a wild adventure, exploring the far reaches of sci-fi fantasy and group dynamics. It embraces the rich character interactions of classic X-Men and Avengers without irony or an overbearing sense of nostalgia. It is a series with a primacy for developing its characters and enjoying that growth. In short, its fun.
Final Word: Marvel’s best team book.
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