First things first: this book is gorgeous. Right from the opening two-page spread of an invasion armada of alien space ships encroaching upon the Earth, every page is a joy to look at. Francesco Francavilla’s thick, sketchy inks and subdued colours are a decided tonal shift from the more traditional art on Guardians of the Galaxy up until this point, and the effect is striking. There’s a panel early in the issue where Drax looks sorrowful, and it kinda made me feel bad for him. I felt empathy for a fictional character, not because he looked sad — I have no doubt that any of the previous artists on the title could make Drax look sad — but because the combination of simple lines and subtle colours allowed me to look past the fantastical elements in the story, and for that panel Drax ceased to be Drax the Destroyer and became an archetype for what sadness is.
Though Francavilla’s less detailed illustration does have some inherent issues as well. I was confused for an entire page before I realized that I was looking at Abigail Brand as opposed to series regular Gamora. Both are ladies with long green hair, and while they certainly have other distinguishing features, that’s the one which is most obvious. Had Polaris and Madam Hydra been in this issue as well, I would have been completely lost.
Also, even drawn by Francavilla, Star-Lord’s costume is still awful.
So, let’s talk about the story.
Guardians of the Galaxy finally gets in on the Infinity storyline. Which seems a little bit late to the party considering it’s a big cosmic event about aliens invading Earth, and this is a cosmic book where the characters’ stated intent is to protect Earth from alien invasion, but whatever. They’ve been busy integrating former Spawn character, Angela, in to the Marvel Universe for the last few issues, because that’s something people have been clamoring for.
Though ostensibly the focus of the story is dealing with fallout from Thanos’ invasion, a large part of the issue seems to Brian Bendis addressing some criticism Guardians of the Galaxy has received since it kicked off with the 0.1 issue. Specifically, the book begins with the characters sidestepping concerns about the continuity between this series and 2010’s The Thanos Imperative mini-series which was closely tied to the previous volume of Guardians of the Galaxy. That storyline ended with Star-Lord and Thanos trapped in an alternate dimension, and Drax dead. There’s been no explanation as to how all three have returned — or why Nova, who was also trapped, has not — and Gamora finally addresses it, though I suspect fans of the previous Guardians of the Galaxy who’ve been wanting answers won’t be satisfied with the lack of answers here.
Later in the issue, Abigail Brand voices a complaint that many fans have had with Rocket Raccoon’s new catchphrase, “Murdered you!” The response more or less deal with it, though it’s worth noting that Bendis has really toned down the usage a lot since that first issue.
The story itself is serviceable, though nothing particularly memorable happens. Bendis does seem to be finding his groove with this series and this issue is better than what’s come before, but the real selling feature here is, again, Francesco Francavilla’s amazing art.