As much as we tend to adore his voice and writing, Brian Michael Bendis seems to be struggling getting into the heads of the Guardians.
His debut tackling the space-faring superheroes showed promise, but there’s something about the six issues collected here just doesn’t quite seem to gel.
If Volume 2 – Angela had been written by an inexperienced writer, perhaps we’d put any surface issues found in Guardians down to it getting caught up in the wider Marvel U. But Bendis is no stranger to dealing with event fatigue and so Guardians Of The Galaxy, spinning out of Age Of Ultron and tying loosely into the events of Infinity, should do better dealing with the slew of characters and events dropping in and out of play.
Somewhere in the world there’s a comic-book collector that’s been praying to Uatu since the dawn of the Noughties for the return of Neil Gaiman’s Angela. That wish has been granted, but we struggle to understand why. Gaiman was reportedly on board to co-write this story to help Bendis usher in Angela’s transition from Image Comics, but instead he’s credited as a ‘consultant’.
Her inclusion feels throwaway; the dialogue cheesy and forgettable. Angela is Bendis’ ticket to get the Guardians out of any trouble imaginable – her powerset seems unstoppable – and it’s going to take more than a consultancy role from Gaiman to sell us on her introduction to the Marvel U. Similarly, Bendis’ take on Thanos and SWORD’s Abigail Brand just don’t read right – it’s baffling to see Bendis struggle to get their voices down when he’s built his career around being such a versatile and prolific writer.
Some inconstancies in the art department don’t help matters much either. Sarah Pichelli and Olivier Coipel continue to impress, the duo do a wonderful job of bringing the Guardians – and their off world antics – to life, though Francesco Francavilla’s film-noir style is a little out of place. The guy can draw one hell of a beautiful splash; his pages should be catapulting the action forward, but the pacing simply isn’t there.
Guardians Of The Galaxy is still struggling to escape the large shadow cast by the exit of Abnett and Lanning all those years ago. Traditionally, the book has found its greatest success as a grand-space opera, and we are struggling to settle into Bendis’ quip heavy flow.
There’s plenty to be entertained by here, individual moments and certain set-pieces dazzle, but on the whole it feels inconsistent. That’s not to say it’s not worth giving Guardians Of The Galaxy a try, there’s nothing quite like it on the shelves, but it has a long way to go to before it becomes a ‘must-read’ out of Marvel’s wide variety of titles on offer.