The Guardians are back with writer Donny Cates and artist Geoff Shaw at the helm. Guardians of the Galaxy #1 takes place after the events of Infinity Wars, which saw the breakup of the cosmic team following betrayals, universe bending hijinks and very notably, the death of well-known Marvel villain Thanos. Also, Wolverine was there for some reason.
This comic book is set after Infinity Wars and focuses on the aftermath of Thanos’ death. It turns out that the villain had a contingency plan in case he was ever killed, which sends the cosmic heroes into a state of panic and concern. Everything that occurs as a result of Thanos’ post-humous machinations brings a new team of Guardians together to stop the mad titan.
Readers don’t need to have any familiarity with Infinity Wars prior to reading Guardians of the Galaxy #1, even though it deals with that story’s aftermath. All readers have to know is that Thanos died and that the Guardians split up. Cates coveys that information through the story rather than a blatant exposition dump. This makes Guardians of the Galaxy #1 a good entry point for readers who are new to the franchise or Marvel Comics in general.
Cates establishes a tone and narrative that really grabs the reader’s attention. There’s a sense of desperation in the script because of Thanos’ contingency plan. As a result, some of the characters reveal the lengths they would go to in an effort to stop Thanos which creates tension among them. This is because Cates writes Thanos as an intimidating presence, whose evil and ability to instill fear transcends death itself. The villain’s reputation for destruction sets the mood for this story and provides an atmosphere of lingering terror felt by all those present. Cates also makes the conflict time-sensitive, which adds a sense of urgency to the story.
The plot moves very quickly, allowing Cates to cover a lot of ground narratively, laying down the foundations for the larger story. The drawback to this is that the writer doesn’t spend too much time on character development. Most of the central characters play a small role in this first issue, though Cosmic Ghost Rider does get one moment to stand out amongst the crowd. That being said, there is a page where the writer and artist Geoff Shaw succinctly and effectively establish Peter Quill’s emotional state after Infinity Wars. It’s very well done and a good sign for what’s to come in Guardians of the Galaxy, now that Cates has finished setting the stage for his latest cosmic epic.
Geoff Shaw’s linework and character expressions are excellent. This series brings him back to the territory he covered in his Thanos work with Cates, though the story’s scope allows him to draw a numerous Marvel characters and explore the more colorful sides of the larger Marvel Universe. He does a great job with both the explosive actions sequences and the smaller character moments, such as the page mentioned earlier that focuses on Peter Quill.
There is one splash page where the figures in the foreground look great, but the background figures are drawn without faces. The figures are drawn large enough that this is bothersome and lowers the quality of an otherwise beautiful page.
Marte Garcia is the colorist on Guardians of the Galaxy #1 and his colouring work is good, but it doesn’t suit Shaw’s inks. A more subdued color scheme would better compliment Shaw’s black and white art. Garcia and Shaw are great individually, but their work doesn’t mesh well.
The story is perfectly paced and Cates sets up the basic foundations of his story early on. While this does lead to an absence of character work in Guardians of the Galaxy #1, Cates does establish what Peter Quill’s character arc will be going forward. The art is top notch for the most part. It’s a good read that will satisfy any Guardians of the Galaxy fan and serve as a great entry point to the Marvel Universe.