Guardians of The Galaxy: Where Do I Start?

If the Avengers are Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, then who is responsible for everything else in the universe? That limitless duty falls to the closest thing we have to the Cosmic Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy. Originally created by writer Arnold Drake and artist Gene Colan back in 1969 as a team from the 31st century, the original iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy (GotG for short) had numerous adventures in their own time and in time-spanning adventures into the modern day. In 2008, an all-new GotG sprung up in the aftermath of Annihilation as a modern-day team, made like a space-age Magnificent Seven of space-faring heroes.

The Guardians of the the Galaxy mantle has two distinct eras —  three if you count the blink-and-you’ll-missit Guardians book featuring a group of kids fighting aliens, Goonies style. Between all of that, it might be hard to get a firm understand of who the team is. In light of this confusion and the impeding major  motion picture, we’ve pulled together a list of four easily available comic book collections that’ll give you the gist on both eras of this superhero squadron.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Legacy: In the mid 2000s, Marvel’s cosmic playground had a series of upheavals and wars, with heroes living, dying, returning, and turning evil. In the midst of that chaos, Star-Lord calls together a team of interstellar heroes to patrol the galaxy and to root out problems before they get too bad. Star-Lord’s team was comprised of cosmic A-listers like Adam Warlock, Drax the Destroyer and the new Quasar, as well as some surprising choices in the tree alien Groot and the gun-toting Rocket Raccoon. This trade paperback collects their earliest adventures, showing their first team-up, their first headquarters and their first major threat.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Earth Shall Overcome: How can the original GotG be from centuries in the future? In the free-wheeling 60s the enterprising duo of Drake and Colan dreamt that up, creating a team that would band together and rise up against an alien race called the Badoon that was attempting to enslave the Earth’s solar system. Comprised of a futuristic Captain America stand-in named Vance Astro, a crystalline alien named Martinex, a muscle-bound soldier named Charlie-27 and a Vulcan-like blue skinned warrior named Yondu, this original GotG rose up against their alien oppressors and find surprising allies along the way.

The Korvac Saga: The 31st century GotG had a host of adventures in their own time, but perhaps their finest hour was chasing the Benedict Arnold of 31st century Michael Korvac back to our modern times and team with the Avengers to put a stop to him. First thing Korvac does? Sap some of Galactus’ power and inheriting the power cosmic. As one of the first major time-spanning cosmic-level stories in the Marvel U,this really set the template for cosmic battles from Secret Wars and Crisis on Infinite Earths on down.

The Thanos Imperative: Flipping back to our modern-day GotG, this miniseries showed the space-faring team use one of their most feared villains, Thanos, as a doomsday device against an even greater threat: an alternate reality invasion from a place known as the Cancerverse. This mirror universe has some of our best heroes gone bad, all led by a tainted evil version of the original Captain Marvel. Even after calling in the reinforcements with Silver Surfer, Nova and the Gladiator, the GotG are left wanting when it comes to turning the tide and repelling the invasion. Some people win, some people lose, some people die, and some are changed forever.



  1. RE Guardians of the Galaxy: Legacy: “This trade paperback collects their earliest adventures, showing their first team-up, their first headquarters and their first major threat.”

    Er, not quite…the first team up was in Annihilation: Conquest, which serves as a great introduction to all of the major characters. If you wanted to read about the modern day GotG, I’d start there instead.

  2. comicBOOKchris: I’d consider ANNIHILATION: CONQUEST a prequel of sorts to that line-up being GotG; the possibility of them teaming up formally (in what would become GotG) is only mentioned at the end by Adam Warlock. As I said in the piece I think LEGACY is the best representative book to showcase the formulation of that team.

  3. I really enjoyed the Guardians run in the 90’s. Gave a great feel of the Marvel Universe’s distant future and how it tied in with the current day.
    I looked it up and they only collected the first 6 issues of the run in trade but it’s worth checking out…”GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: QUEST FOR THE SHIELD”

  4. Like RobotZombie, I really liked the 90s run. (I still have almost the whole run in decent condition.) The believability gets a bit strained when they start re-hashing popular 90s characters (Punisher, Ghost Rider, etc), but was fun when I was young.

    That said, I’ve been confused with the new crew full of anthropomorphized trees and raccoons. This article was really helpful. Thanks!

  5. Not a suit upgrade, he got out of the suit. Sorry, it’s been awhile.

  6. And once you’ve started with the above… you MUST read Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s fantastic run ” Guardians of the Galaxy.” REally, really good work.

  7. All I can say is….give me more Rocket Raccoon!!! The world would be a better place. 😉

  8. I picked up Legacy & Imperative & I thought those two were the perfect introductions to the characters IMO.

  9. must say I have always wanted to read all of these but could never figure out the order of the series to read in.

  10. Can anyone tell me why there’s a new Nova?