Review: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1 by Brian Michael Bendis and Steve McNiven

Guardians of the Galaxy #1

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Penciled by Steve McNiven
Inked by John Dell
Color by Justin Ponsor

32 pages / Color / $3.99

Published by Marvel Comics

Add Guardians of the Galaxy #1 to your pull list!

There’s a better-than-average chance that you think you already know your opinion of Guardians of the Galaxy. In this way, the creators on the book are victims of their own success: Steve McNiven’s Civil War is one of the most widely seen series of the last decade, and Brian Bendis has been running the table over at Marvel for so long that his style is officially inescapable. With creators of this calibre and ubiquity, there is an inclination to assume you know what to expect; somewhere even now, someone is making a joke about the Guardians bantering around a table and interrupting one another’s sentences for three issues. That person will never know what he is missing.

Guardians of the Galaxy #1 is by no means a wild departure for writer or artist, but nor is it more of the same. Bendis manages to combine the small, personal storytelling he once brought to Alias and Daredevil with cosmic political intrigue of a vastly broader scope; we are drawn into the story of resentful prodigal son Peter Quill and his withholding, controlling father while nothing less than Earth’s place in the interstellar community hangs in the balance. It turns out that it’s time for the human race and Peter Quill alike to mature, and if Peter’s dad has to lay waste to our solar system to get his son to quit wasting time with his burnout friends and join the family business, then that may be what he is going to do.

Long-time fans of the team may lament the loss of writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, but the fact is that Bendis has given readers a better sense of who Peter Quill is and what drives him in the last six weeks than they got in the entire last volume of this series. So far, the team has been pared down to five members, effectively silencing any snark about twenty Space Avengers talking over each other in the kitchen. The rest of the team (Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, and of course Groot) get short shrift in this issue– in the first draft of this review, I forgot Drax even existed– but for heaven’s sake, it’s only the first issue.

Art by Steve McNiven

Art by Steve McNiven

The sixth wheel in all this is Iron Man. The book clearly lays out who he is, what he’s doing, and why, but if you erased him from the story altogether it would be essentially unchanged. Iron Man is basically out for a walk one day when he trips over a Guardians of the Galaxy comic already in progress, and even if he does become a vital part of the action it initially comes across as a clumsy way to hook readers who have never heard of the other characters. That’s no crime, but nor is it much of a first impression.

Speaking of first impressions, I think readers will take a liking to this artist. His work is somewhat reminiscent of Steve McNiven’s. Here again, the reader’s preconceived notions will be challenged; in the past, McNiven has favored a painstaking, excruciatingly detailed style which at its best was unlike anything on the shelves and at its worst gave the characters a plasticine dullness. The art on these pages has a rougher, more lived-in look, which if nothing else is a case study in what a difference an inker makes. For one thing, it makes a mean-looking tree monster, not to mention the first time in recorded history the Badoon have looked Badass.

Practically speaking, the book ticks all the boxes on the Good Start Checklist. In thirty-two pages, you have a feel for who Star-Lord and his team are, how they’re viewed by “respectable” types out among the stars, what the interplanetary political climate is like, and where Earth stands. The main characters are clearly introduced and each get a moment to shine. The conflict is established, and the cliff is hanged. It’s not going to be like The Wire, where you have to give it six months before you “get it.” After reading this issue, you will either care about the people involved and want to know what happens to them next, or you will be able to say with confidence that the book is not for you. Everything else is just nitpicking.

So let’s do that for a minute!

  • Is there a more toxic brain poison than Fake Sci-Fi Cursing? It’s a bunch of fracking shazbot. It turns any heated discussion into that old Bill Cosby bit about dads trying not to swear in front of their kids. There are several moments here where Rocket Raccoon will filthing flarn your foul flarn filth, and the editor might as well emerge from behind the scenery with a giant hook to pull you out of the story. No more of this, please. Use the Skrull font, or whatever, if you have to.
  • I do not know what happened to Star-Lord’s old outfit, but it is nice to see that he has joined the exciting world of competitive motocross. Everyone needs a hobby. I hope he finds his ticket and gets his real helmet back from the cleaners as soon as possible.

Never mind that stuff, though. It’s a good book.


Story: 4.5 / Art: 3.5 / Overall: 4

(Out of 5 Stars)



  1. I didnt expect much from Bendis after his long avengers run. But i enjoyed the 0.1 issue of this and he has been knocking All New Xmen out of the park.

    • Agreed. I found his Avengers stuff almost wholly insufferable… but his X-Men stuff has been GREAT. His dialogue is much better and, as with Ultimate Spider-Man, the characterizations have been so much clearer and more interesting, a real return to form. Having said that, I wasn’t THAT impressed with the 0.1 issue of Guardians… but I’m still going to give #1 a shot.

    • Ya Ultimate Spidey is one of my favs too.

    • I wasn’t thrilled when I heard he was taking the reigns on X-Men but definitely curious as many writers do they’re best work when in new territory (given its still superheroes in comics but the mutant landscape/structure marches to a different drummer) and he is killing it with everything he’s doing right now. I loved a lot of the 1st 4 yrs of Avengers material from Bendis and some of the last half but he lost me in the “Heroic Age” where other writers took the reigns such as Brubaker with Secret Avengers which started strong, quick nose dive, saved by Warren Ellis then closed out and the best of the Secret Avengers material for me was Remender with great rotating artists..Guedes, Noto, Scalera…but back to the point and that’s that Bendis is capable of more than people seem to be giving him credit for, his work on DD, Moon Knight, Powers, Hellspawn…so this surge of creativity from him doesn’t come as a shock but welcomed return to form and nuance, I just hope the rush doesn’t get spread thin here on Guardians with all these heavy titles in his hands.

    • Agreed JSAkid.

  2. As a fan of pre-Heroic Age Bendis and post Avengers Bendis, I’m excited. There was that couple years after Siege where he was just phoning it in (Heroic Age Avengers and New Avengers and Brilliant), but since then things have seemed a lot better. All New X-Men and Uncanny are both rad town so far. I like him when he puts effort into a project.

    • Ya bringing wolverine and spidey into avengers watered down the whole Marvel Universe; plus he brought so many characters at once into avengers that nobody seemed to have a unique voice. i heard that it was a bit of a gag/joke planning to stick wolverine and spidey in the avengers.. and then it turned into reality. It should have stayed a joke. Having said that.. Bendis is showing that he is a top 5 comics writing talent again and im loving it. Scarlet is one of my favs as well.

  3. Anyone who doesn’t like space/future cursing can Drokk right off.

  4. Grud damb you both!

  5. At the meeting of top Disney management, they decided that this “Guardians of the Galaxy” team had potential. Let’s face it, they agreed, we ain’t gonna get the rights to the X-Men back anytime soon, so we might as well try to build another team franchise. But the two lesbians have to go. We can’t have a bunch of six year-olds in the theaters asking, “Daddy, why are those two ladies kissing?” While we’re at it, get rid of the green Asian woman. Asians might think were making a racist statement by coloring her green, and there’s two green characters on the team already. As for this Glamora, Gommorah, character (whatever) can’t we give her more of a costume? One slip of the straps on that current outfit and the kiddies will be getting a real eyeful. Not to mention the fact that the feminists will be out in force accusing us of objectifying women!

  6. Miss the old costumes, and in the picture above, Gamora looks like She-Hulk in armor, with a sword. What the heck is up with all the lights on Groot? Did Jim Lee do the character designs?

    • Yeah my only dislike so far is the costumes, they’re look in the last run was excellent and an original instant classic band of space pirates, DnA knew what they were doing with these guys and the “motocross outfits” are my only gripe as well, lol…it won’t ruin the book and maybe with enough love for DnA’s designs and the fact that they’re Guardians are the ones the movie concepts are being modeled after, we’ll get em back here. Gamora is supposed to look like an alien Red Sonja and Star-Lords last outfit was one of the coolest in all of the sci-if pantheon.

  7. I’ve been saying this on my own podcast for a few months now. 2013 is the year that I rediscovered my love of Brian Michael Bendis. Can’t wait for this!!!

  8. As an insane fan of the DnA era, I am very excited for this book. Much as I love the size of the old team, a little streamlining can be a great thing.