The second half of the run seems a lot less focused, much like the title of these Bendis reading orders, but it only has five arcs to get through and one is completely skippable if you want. Still, there’s some good character stuff in there and is worth reading. Especially if you’ve gotten this far.
We begin the second part of Bendis’ run with there being no galaxy to guard. In Secret Wars, a big event comic by Jonathon Hickman and Esad Ribic, the entire multiverse was destroyed and the remains were reconstituted as one patchwork planet ruled by Doctor Doom. It is one of my favorite comics of all time, I recommend reading it and if you need the Guardians connection, it has a couple big Star-Lord and Groot moments.
Guardians of Knowhere
Even with no Galaxy, there are still Guardians. Battleworld has only one thing in its orbit. Knowhere. The head of a celestial that dared defy God Doom. Gamora, Drax, and Rocket serve as the outlaw protectorates of the head, converted into a space station. I don’t know why I’m explaining Knowhere to you. You’ve seen the first movie.
Anyway, they’re hunted down by Yotat the Destroyer, who wants revenge on Drax. After that battle, they’re confronted by Angela, who is a Thor (the cops of Battleworld). They’re also attacked by a woman calling herself ‘Hala’ (the name of the destroyed Kree homeward, which doesn’t exist in this universe), anyway it’s mostly fighting and nonsense until Star-Lord shows up and recruits them to fight Doom.
None of that matters as the universe is reset in the aftermath of Secret Wars. Mike Deodato Jr. is on art duties and it’s pretty alright, but while Bendis and Deodato have done good work before, he doesn’t mesh as well as Schiti’s with this book.
All-New All-Different Guardians
After Secret Wars, The Marvel Universe relaunched with all-new series taking place eight months later. With a new series, there’s a new status quo. The trades are listed as Guardians of the Galaxy: New Guard on Amazon to differentiate it from the first series, but I don’t believe the physical copies have that distinction.
A note I want to make is that I was buying this series in single issues and they mostly felt unsatisfying. As single issues anyway. When I reread them as story arcs to write this, they felt a bit better, so if you’re reading them for the first time in graphic novel, you’ll probably appreciate it more.
When we return, Peter has taken over the Spartax empire from his father. And he’s not loving it. He’s bored out his skull wishing for adventure. The Guardians are still continuing without him, but the line-up has shifted drastically, Rocket, Drax, Venom, and Groot stick around from the previous line-up. Ben Grimm, the ever-loving blue-eyed Thing, and a new Star-Lord, Kitty Pryde, join the team.
After recovering some alien tech, they turn to Quill to get it analyzed. Gamora falls from the sky and the Guardians fight *new* threats. Hala and Yotat.
As usual Schiti’s art is great and all of new designs are really cool looking. Just not a really remarkable story.
The Guardians split up, save some people, and take down a Badoon prison camp. It’s kind of a collection of single issues taking place at mostly the same moment in time, cool in concept, but nothing really new from the series. There are actually some really good character moments with Kitty and Venom. But mostly, it’s what you’ve seen before. It seems a bit like a filler arc, I can’t say too much about it.
Civil War II
It’s a tie-in to a big Marvel event, but mostly it serves to set up the next arc. It has very little impact on the Guardians overall and less on Civil War II. I specifically read Guardians because it mostly stays away from crossovers like that. It has it’s own cosmic crossovers, sure, but not usually the hero v. hero big event ones. It’s fine, Gamora has a really good character arc in the end, but mostly forgettable.
It also has a story drawn by Kevin Maguire. The Skulls kidnap Spider-Man in an attempt to get their hands on the Venom symbiote. It’s really a Venom character study and one of the better Venom stories as part of this series. Fun read, that one.
After their ship was shot down, the Guardians are stuck on Earth. What’s a cosmic team of badasses to do? This arc is made up of one-shots going into just that. The Thing decides to go hunt down Doctor Doom. Groot gets a Dr. Seuss style story, it’s really cute. Gamora faces down S.H.I.E.L.D. to hunt down her father. Angela finds her girlfriend missing.
The finale is really, really satisfying though. Thanos and the remainder of the Galactic Council invade Earth and it’s up to the Guardians to stop it. IT’S ACTUALLY REALLY GOOD AND I HAVE A LOT OF EMOTIONS ABOUT THE FINALE AND DRAX KICKS THANOS IN THE NUTS!!!
So yeah, that brings us up to the present in terms of graphic novels. If you want a good place to jump on single issues now, All-New Guardians of the Galaxy issue 1 by Gerry Duggan and Aaron Kuder, just came out the Wednesday I’m writing this. It looks fun, and this Saturday is Free Comic Book Day, there’s also a free ANGotG book by them just for that day, go pick it up. Support your local comic chops.
Next time: The Guardians; Team-Ups and Solo Outings!