May 27, 2013

Back Issue Ben: Guarding the Galaxy, Part 15: The Breakup!

Back Issue Ben is a column written by Ben Smith for the Comics Cube! See his archives here.

Part Fifteen: The Breakup!

After thrilling readers in the pages of Annihilation and Annihilation: Conquest,Starlord, Adam Warlock, Drax, Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Mantis, and Phyla-Vell teamed up to form a new version of the Guardians of the Galaxy. The result mixed high octane action with humor and a touch of humanity.

The galaxy has been damaged following two massive wars that shook the foundation of the universe. Cracks in space-time have started appearing, fissures that the Guardians work to close before the creatures that exist outside our dimension come clawing their way in.

Last time, we saw the formation of the team, but could a team with individuals like this ever last?...

Guardians of the Galaxy #4. Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning; Pencils: Paul Pelletier; Inker: Rick Magyar; Editor: Bill Rosemann

(This story takes place at the same time as Secret Invasion.)

Starlord and Cosmo are on their way to the continuum cortex, to see if it has some record of the energy profile of Starhawk’s personal teleport system. Behind them, Mantis frantically tries to push her way through the crowd and warn them not to go in.

A massive explosion rings out, originating from the continuum cortex.

Later, in the sickbay, Cosmo shows Starlord and Adam the bodies of three dead Skrulls, one an enhanced Super-Skrull, and all of them living undetected onboardcharred to a crisp. The Guardians discuss the discovery soon after.

Rocket starts the ball of paranoia rolling, wondering if there are more, and even if any of them might be Skrulls. Gamora, still disfigured, explodes in anger, and points out how every one of them is so very different from the way they used to be, that any one of them could be Skrulls if they head down that line of thinking. Adam and Starlord try to calm everyone down.

Two individuals representing Knowhere’s administrative council enter (one of which is a female Cynosure of the Luminals), and proceed to accuse the team of bringing trouble down upon the station by living there. Cosmo tries to speak up for the team, but is accused of becoming too involved with the team. 

Starlord offers the full cooperation of the team in any investigation the council would like to conduct, enraging Adam Warlock, who feels the team should not be restricted by mundane protocols.

All parties are alerted to a disturbance on the marketplace level, where Major Victory is trying to avoid being jumped by a mob of people. He defends himself against their irrational attacks. Cynosure hits Major Victory from behind, but Starlord stops her from hitting him again, and warns her not to do it again. Cosmo breaks them all up, and sends everyone back to their respective quarters.

Major Victory apologizes to Starlord for getting into a bad situation, while Starhawk observes them, hidden in the rafters above.

Mantis and Starlord confer secretly. Mantis is worried that an investigation might uncover that Starlord had her tamper with the minds of the Guardians in order to get them to join the team more readily. Drax is secretly listening in on the conversation.

Phyla and Starlord answer questions from the council. First up, Drax’s character is called into question, based on his past as a wanted killer. They also show them video of Drax making repeated unauthorized and unlogged visits to the continuum cortex Cosmo reminds Phyla of how they saw this for themselves a few days ago, after he returned from one of his visits.

Somewhere within Knowhere, Drax uncovers a hidden cache of weapons, and arms himself.

My brain thoughts: This is a great way to do a tie-in to an event comic. It acknowledges the overall story, without directly tying itself into the crossover and throwing off the momentum of the book. Gamora calling out how much all the characters have changed was a clever in-story way to acknowledge just how much all the characters were changed when they were reinvigorated for the modern era.

Guardians of the Galaxy #5. Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning; Pencils: Paul Pelletier; Inker: Rick Magyar; Editor: Bill Rosemann

The council has sent the Luminals out to apprehend Drax and bring him in. This does not end well for the Luminals.

After he puts three of them in intensive care, Cynosure and Starlord argue over Drax. Cosmo has had enough of everyone arguing, and orders them all to stay in their respective quarters.

The rest of the team wants to sneak out and look for Drax, but Starlord insists they keep playing by the rules. Rocket meets with him, and warns him that the team is on the verge of a breaking point.

Gamora covers for Phyla as she sneaks out to find Drax.

Mantis mentally contacts Adam Warlock, who is in the cerebellum of the dormant Celestial, trying to determine a way to reactive the continuum cortex so they can continue their important work.

Phyla finds Drax, who is in the middle of setting up synaptic distruptor charges all over Knowhere.

Back at the control center, Starlord and Gamora argue about her letting Phyla leave to look for Drax. They are interrupted by the arrival of Starhawk again, this time, as a female.

She warns them that the threads of time have become tangled, and that the future tense is in flux. She says that they originally thought the problem was just Major Victory, but now she thinks that all of the Guardians are the problem. For the sake of the future, she must destroy all of them.

Down in the delegation habitat levels, Adam Warlock discovers Cosmo secretly hiding Skrulls.

They move to attack each other.

Phyla asks Drax what he’s planning. The only fool-proof way to reveal who is a Skrull is when they revert to their true form after dying. So, to find the Skrulls, he’s going to kill everyone on board.

My brain thoughts: Female Starhawk makes me feel funny things inside.

Guardians of the Galaxy #6. Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning; Pencils: Paul Pelletier; Inker: Rick Magyar; Editor: Bill Rosemann

Everyone on Knowhere lies dead, as a result of Drax activating his synaptic charges.

Drax releases the button, and Phyla slowly comes to. In a rage, she attacks him, but it worked, he located the Skrulls.

Cosmo takes advantage of Adam Warlock’s momentary disorientation to use his mental powers to make him understand why he’s harboring Skrulls. Starlord wakes up in the control center, to find the team still struggling with female Starhawk. He walks up and takes her down with one punch.

Drax leads Phyla toward the location of the Skrulls, while she contacts Starlord about what’s happened. She asks Drax why he had been making unauthorized trips to the continuum cortex. He has been looking for Cammi, who is still missing following the Annihilation War. (Awww!)

Drax busts in on Cosmo, Adam, and the Skrulls. This time, both Adam and Cosmo try to stop him from harming the Skrulls. Cosmo again uses his mental powers to make Drax and Phyla understand.

These Skrulls are refugees that reject the aggressive tendencies of their own kind. They had been using the continuum cortex to help others like them escape from the oppression. The continuum was destroyed by the Super-Skrull after their operation had been discovered, dying in his attempt to shut it down. The Skrulls had been desperate to keep the separatists quiet, since they have just launched an invasion against the planet Earth.

The Luminals bust in, not listening to reason, at the same time Starlord and the rest of the Guardians arrive. In all the confusion and fighting, one of the innocent Skrulls is injured, causing Cosmo to lose his temper, and put everyone down for the count.

Starlord puts the council in their place, and Cosmo promises to keep them off their backs in the future.

Starlord returns to the control center, pleased with himself for finally standing up to the council, only to find the rest of the team is not so happy. Drax had told them about how Starlord had Mantis tamper with their minds. Starlord tries to justify it, but the rest of them aren’t interested.

The team goes their separate ways.

Meanwhile, according to a captive Starhawk, they continue to move further and further into the wrong future.

My brain thoughts: And just like that, the fun was over. Guardians of the Galaxy was cancelled after just six issues, leaving all of us…no, I’m just kidding. The team has broken up for now, but the book would go on.

Guardians of the Galaxy #7. Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning; Pencils: Paul Pelletier; Inker: Rick Magyar; Editor: Bill Rosemann

In the future, the Earth is on the brink of extinction as a result of the alien Badoon. Only the original Guardians of the Galaxy stand in their way. Charlie-27, has enhanced bone and muscle mass. Martinex is a silicon being able to channel thermal radiation. Vance Astro is a man out of time, with powerful psychokinetic powers. Yondu is a Centauri bowhunter of elite capabilities.


But no matter what they do, they lose to the Badoon every single time. An error has occurred in the pattern of time, and the future tense is doomed.

The female Starhawk is telling all of this to Cosmo in the present day. She needs to speak with the modern day Guardians of the Galaxy, but unfortunately, they have split up.

In the Spartoi dependency, Rocket Raccoon leads a new team of Guardians into battle, composed of Bug, Mantis, Major Victory, and a fully re-grown Groot.

Major Victory recognizes their opponents as Zom slave troops, meaning that the Badoon are in Spartoi. The Badoon haven’t become a major threat yet in present time, but Vance knows they will eventually conquer the galaxy and exterminate the human race in his future.

On the other side of the galaxy, Gamora joins Adam Warlock on his new mission to learn all he can about the Universal Church of Truth.

On the other other side of the galaxy, Drax and Phyla track down clues to the location of Cammi. A local soothsayer forsees them on a painful quest to find a girl, but the girl’s name is not Cammi, it is Heather. (Moondragon! Daughter of Drax, and Phyla’s lover.)

Back to the battle, the Badoon release a “monster,” which is a giant battlefield bio-construct.

Meanwhile, a shackled Starlord finds himself in the Negative Zone, in the presence of the self-proclaimed King Blastaar.

My brain thoughts: As much as I like them all working together on the same team, I think separating them out might be even better. Even the pairings make sense, with Gamora and Adam Warlock sticking together, while Drax and Phyla partner up. Plus, it opens up a spot for Bug on the Guardians, which I am obviously all for. The only downside is you have to have Starlord leading the team, annoying everyone and being a big jerk about it. He’s good on his own too, but he’s magic with the rest of the group. I just know they’re going to have Drax and Phyla abandon their search for Cammi to start looking for Moondragon, which makes me sad. I miss Cammi. The people demand the return of Cammi! (While we’re at it, we need a Colleen Wing solo book too! Get on it Marvel.)

My final brain thoughts: Nice Skrulls, angry telepathic dogs, Drax kills everyone, confusing feelings about female Starhawks, time unraveling, and the return of the Negative Zone.

As entertaining as all the characters are together, it’s probably a smart move to spread them out into separate missions throughout the galaxy. It provides a little more variety than the “fissure of the month” stories that could have wound up happening. Plus it provides a sense of scope that a book about intergalactic protectors should have. I really like the pairing of Drax and Phyla together, even though they’re going to abandon Cammi to search for Moondragon. Something about those two characters playing off of each other is just interesting. Gamora is always interesting, so send her off with Adam Warlock. That leaves the rest of the team, Rocket, Groot, Mantis, and Bug, who are arguably the four best characters anyway. Now all we need is Starlord back in charge, after having a fun little adventure on his own, and we’ll have a full spectrum of fantastical-ness to enjoy.

Part fifteen and still going strong. Join me next time, as the awesome continues.

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