On the comic books shelves this month is Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1–one of those rare issues that matches a stellar cover artist with a stellar interior artist. In this case both of those people are Frank Cho. When Frank Cho creates a complete end-to-end book, he always provides something to attract readers, both with his stunning characters, action-packed panels, and subtle visual humor. We saw this last year with his exciting run on the Savage Wolverine series. That same quality of artwork is matched here with the comparable writing prowess of Marvel’s Guardians scribe, Brian Michael Bendis. And the result is a fun, powerhouse read, and a darned-near perfect book.
Often annuals are quick stories that don’t offer much memorable. They’re gimmicky efforts to sell another issue behind a monthly series. The Guardians’ first annual is not like that. It will stick with you as a story you want to know more about, with ramifications you would love to see play out in future books.
The standard Guardians of The Galaxy team is here. It’s a team both readers of the series and film fans will be familiar with, both in look and via their dialogue and mannerisms: Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket and Groot. Added here for great fun is Ms. Marvel/Carol Danvers and Spidey-verse superhero Venom. They encounter a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier in space, which prompts them to meet up with the likes of the classic Nick Fury, Dum Dum Dugan, and a team of other familiar heroes, who introduce a dark menace to the Guardians team.
For a creative team to pull off so much and tie up a new, compelling story in a single issue is a welcome feat.
Ms. Marvel should always look like Frank Cho’s version of the character. Although she may come off a little emotional here, she’s a completely realistic and developed character. Rocket is drawn–and written–as both Frank Cho’s monkey Frank and pig Dean from his University² and Liberty Meadows series, and this story is a book long-time Cho fans will love. And his Jim Steranko/Wally Wood-inspired Nick Fury is perfect–that 1960s middle-aged tough guy with the eye patch that Silver Age comic fans long for.
Bendis is probably the best Guardians writer that ever took on any of these players. He really knows the Guardians and can convey their characters in merely a few words or actions. Or put another way, the stories he writes make us think he’s chronicling their story like it’s always been there. It’s a plain good pairing of universe and writer.
Grab Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1 from your local comic book store now. We also expect it to be included with a future trade paperback compilation of the monthly series.