“Rocket, turn this ship around or I am going to take it from you.”
Because Bendis’ contract would be up if he wasn’t writing a book with Kitty Pride in it, Marvel Comics proudly presents the All-New, All-Different GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. . . Oh and Agent (of the Cosmos!!) Venom is in these books too. . . kinda. . . sorta. . . not really. . . Well, at least the train wreck that was Guardians of Knowhere is finished and forgotten though, right? . . . right? *whimper*
WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTIST: Valerio Schiti
COLOR ARTIST: Richard Isanove
LETTERER: VC’s Cory Petit
COVERs by Art Adams & Dave Stewart
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Kathleen Wisneski
ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Jake Thomas
EDITOR: Nick Lowe
STORY with commentary: With J-Son having been deposed from Spartax, the Supreme
Intelligence’s death with the destruction of Hala (during “Black Vortex”), and Gladiator’s refusal to heed their summons, Annihilus and the Brood Queen hold a meeting of their secret galactic counsel in order to decide amongst themselves how to divide up the galaxy. Meanwhile, the Guardians (along with their 5th Wheel, Agent Venom) intercept the Thing (the newest member alongside Kitty, who no longer has her “Black Vortex” powers and is now going by “Star-Lord” in Peter Quill’s absence) who has stolen an unknown artifact from the Chitauri. Realizing the danger posed by possessing an unknown cosmic MacGuffin, the Guardians decide to take it to Spartax for safe keeping, where Quill is ruling in his father’s wake. Their reunion is cut short, however, when Gamora crashes into the city at their feet, broken, bloodied, and also missing her fancy new cosmic powers. She barely has time to warn the Guardians before the blue amazon who butchered practically half the team in Guardians of Knowhere shows up to finish the job.
Venom is taken out immediately as the Kree woman, the “last” of the Accusers (what about Black Vortexed Ronan? We forget about him already? Cool.) who blames the Guardians for the destruction of her homeworld and calls herself “Hala,” starts to make short work of the team, until the Thing knocks her out with one punch. King Quill asks a medic to take care of Gamora and Groot. But not Flash. He’s probably fine, but who cares really? Hala wakes up, proceeds to b*tch-slap the Guardians once again, and maroons Quill on a space pod in Spartax’s orbit to watch as she destroys his planet, and Earth’s next.
Oh joy, another survivor from Guardians of Knowhere: Yotat wanders into Drax’s weapons dealer on Knowhere looking for the Destroyer, then kills the dealer in a rage when he cannot find him. But then Yotat figures out their location when a Brood emissary shows up and turns on the TV for him. Sure enough, Hala has made short work of Spartax’s defenses. But while she cuts a swathe through Quill’s royal guard, Kitty fazes the Guardians into Spartax’s sewers. She and Rocket coordinate an escape, and totally use the Venom symbiote as a living shield to do it, but before the Guardians can break orbit, Hala catches up to them. Gamora leaps from the ship to meet Hala in battle as the Guardians escape Spartax. Hala one-hits “the most dangerous woman in the galaxy,” then flies into orbit to destroy Quill’s space pod, only to find that our retreating “heroes” have already rescued him.
The Guardians debate whether to turn around and defend Spartax as Gamora gets slowly beaten to death. They reach the tipping point when Quill reveals Hala’s plan to destroy Earth. They return to Spartax just in time, as Hala is about to finish Gamora off. Quill distracts Hala by imploring her to turn her wrath to the true destroyer of Hala, his father J-Son, but when this fails, Kitty fazes her into the ground up to the knees (ouch), and Thing cannonballs onto Hala from the top of a skyscraper. (When the Guardians debate what to do with her, Ben calls Flash “stretch.” Nice touch, but I don’t think Flash quite deserves that title) Quill starts to coordinate a relief effort, but we’re not allowed to put Guardians of Knowhere behind us just yet because, before the dust settles from their battle with Hala, the Guardians must now face the threat of the unstoppable, painfully under-motivated Yotat.
ANALYSIS: So. . . how about that art? Schiti’s definitely gotten a lot better over his Secret Wars break. . .
That’s all I got.
Seriously, for Venom fans, there’s just not much to say. Flash has no distinct character voice and seems to be little more than a talking prop. For all intents and purposes, Venom’s sole reason for being in this book seems to be so that this book can tap into Spider-Man sales and be that idiot in every war movie who gets killed at the beginning of the heroic charge scene.
To be fair, it’s not a bad book by any stretch. I mean, it far from recaptures the charm of the Starlin-esque glory days of 70’s Marvel cosmic books, as well as the love letter to fans of those early books that was DnA’s Nova and Guardians run, but Bendis’ Guardians has its own charm. However, like most of his comics, this run is best enjoyed through binge-reading. It has all the advantages and drawbacks of decompression (the latter of which, in my opinion, far outweigh the former, but that is an article in and of itself).
And considering Bendis’ usage of Venom’s character, at least Flash isn’t stuck in another hot mess of a book like the most recent volume of Thunderbolts (seriously Marvel, keep Daniel Way away from Venom). And speaking of Way’s run, whatever happened to the agenda that that machine race of aliens had for humanity which Eddie Brock embraced at the end of that run? I know I said I wasn’t a fan of Way’s Malibu Venom, but Cullen Bunn did manage to mine something enjoyable from it in the later part of his Venom run. But I just don’t trust Bendis’ track record when it comes to continuity and character research. If the 0 issue of his last Guardians volume is any indication, he seems to prefer reinterpreting the characters in his books through his own lens rather than building on what came before and telling the next chapter in their ongoing stories. Maybe Robbie Thompson will pick this up. And justify how the “Planet of the Symbiotes” story meshes with Bendis’s approach to the Klyntar homeworld. And finally tell us whatever-the-heck-Senator-Ward’s-alien race-was did with the Venom symbiote. And why the 1000th generation of a symbiote’s line goes “insane,” as suggested in Venom and Carnage. I know these aren’t exactly stellar examples of in-demand plot thread resolutions, but in the hands of a good writer any story can be salvaged (except, well, you know). Bendis is certainly a capable writer, but he could definitely benefit from some tighter editing when it comes to the handling of his character’s voices and his liberal approach to continuity.
Below average (a textbook “Bendis” set of books complete with the fun, yet decompressed writing, underwhelming handling of the team’s dynamic and direction, and frustratingly little usage of Venom’s character typical of his last volume of Guardians of the Galaxy)