How Do You Solve A Problem Like Guardians?
I want to love Bendis’ Guardians of the Galaxy series. I really do. I generally enjoy Bendis’ writing and hell after the movie, who isn’t a fan of the Guardians? You may remember a while back I read the first three issues to familiarize myself with the characters. The story was good enough, but it didn’t leave me dying to read more. After I finished it my curiosity was quenched. I’ve followed the series on and off, but most recently was able to re-read everything and catch up to the latest issue (which at the time of this writing is #21).
Brian Michael Bendis is known for his decompression style, where a storyline that could have been written in an issue or two (and most certainly would have back in the day) will end up being stretched out over four or five. I use to hate when people would say they don’t like reading his books because “nothing ever happens”. It wasn’t until this reading of Guardians as well as the current Last Will & Testament of Charles Xavier storyline that’s going on over in Uncanny X-Men that finally made me agree.
Maybe I was kind of spoiled because retrospectively a lot did happen in those first 3 issues of Guardians. By the time we get to the third arc where the entire team is captured I was upset by how circumstantially it seemed that Star Lord was rescued. The rest of the team followed in suit and what took 3 or 4 issues to build towards was resolved in about 5 pages. Surely, Bendis is a better writer than that?
This series has also suffered from crossovers. Issues #8 and 9 were Infinity Tie-Ins, #11-13 were part of the Trial Of Jean Grey that also ran through Bendis’ X-Men books and #18-20 were part of Original Sin. Nearly half of the current issue output has been a victim of crossovers. Now if that wasn’t bad enough, Guardians #24 is part of the Black Vortex a new crossover with the X-Men (again). Recently, Bendis has also brought his All New X-Men book into the Ultimate Universe for a crossover with Ultimate Spider-Man for the last 4 or 5 issues which is fine but it looks like they are getting one issue to go back to normal before jumping into this Black Vortex crossover. That’s insane! I get the idea of Bendis wanting to have the titles he’s writing cross paths, how could that not be fun for him? The fact of the matter is that this is incredibly fatiguing to the average reader.
I do like that Bendis isn’t keeping the team lineup static by bringing in both Captain Marvel as well as Agent Venom, both seem to be interesting and natural fits for the team. The problem though is that we’ve got to spend virtually no time with them. Agent Venom we see a little bit of since he joined first and is thankfully the focus of the current storyline (#21-23) but Captain Marvel joined the team and the next 3 issues were the Original Sin tie-ins that specifically dealt with a period of time prior to the start of the series. Even Anegla who joined the team when the book was in the single digits has barely had any screen time. It’s downright maddening.
After catching up, I decided to dive into the Abnett & Lanning’s 2008 Guardians series and reading the first trade (issues #1-12) I was extremely satisfied with it. It’s just that Guardians is such a fun property and Bendis is so capable, it’s sad to see it not panning out. I should also add that I don’t think the series is bad, it’s just a bit boring and lacking something. I read the first three issues of the Star-Lord series as well and I couldn’t wait to give up on that book. I don’t understand how you wouldn’t be giving these characters the best of the best , A+, top quality production teams when you have a movie that was an insanely successful box office smash. I haven’t read the Rocket Raccoon series, but soon there will be a Gamora title, Angela and a Guardians team up book. I know these will be successful at first coasting on the film’s momentum, but if they don’t step things up these are going to fade into oblivion.
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