“The Negative Zone. We’re full circle. It’s just rock-solid storytelling.”
We’ll see, Bendis, we’ll see. Let’s not ride off into the sunset just yet. . .
WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTIST: Valerio Schiti
COLOR ARTIST: Richard Isanove
LETTERER: VC’s Cory Petit
COVER by Arthur Adams & Jason Keith
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Kathleen Wisneski
ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Jake Thomas
EDITOR: Nick Lowe
STORY: In the rubble of their battle with Hala, the Guardians recuperate while Quill distracts Yotat from killing Drax by begging him to show mercy. Venom gets the drop on Yotat, holding him with his symbiote tendrils long enough for Rocket to shoot him in the face (which only dazes the bruit). While Thing and Drax pound Yotat, Rocket picks up Groot’s respawn-twig, and Venom deals with Yotat’s goons, Kitty explains Yotat’s Prime Marvel Universe origin to Quill via flashback sequence.
Three months before now, the Guardians were showing Ben Grimm around Knowhere, when Yotat burst onto the scene amidst a quarrel he was having with a sentient-trafficking merchant. Drax kicks Yotat and thus begins a rivalry that I’m sure will one day reach the heights of the Parker-Osborn blood feud. Seriously though, all of the All-New All-Different Guardians attack Yotat, and yet he singles out Drax as his nemesis? Whatever. Don’t really care. Anyway, a new team comprised of old Guardians (Mantis, Cosmo[yay!], Bug, Moondragon, and some hooded dude with big glowing hands) shows up, calling themselves the “Knowhere Corps,” and arrest Yotat. Things seem to be strained between Guardians old and new however, as their reunion is rife with tension.
Flashback to the present, as relief for Spartax finally arrives, Quill arrests Hala and Yotat, and gets Gamora to a hospital. However, a few weeks later, he is outraged when not only does the Spartax Council plan to release Hala back to the Kree, but they blame Quill for her rampage. Peter predictably quits his position as king and runs off with the rest of the Guardians back into space to gallivant anew.
Meanwhile, in the Negative Zone, Annihilus and the Brood Queen twirl their moustaches as they revel in how easy it was to ruin the Guardians’ reputation and scheme on how to further step on their funk.
ANALYSIS: I mentioned in my previous Guardians review that Flash’s character doesn’t really seem to have much of a purpose in this book, and that still stands. Case in point, during the flashback sequence, when Flash recognizes Bug from their adventure in the Microverse during “Minimum Carnage,” he can’t even finish his thought before Rocket silences him. It was like Br-ocket Ben-coon was telling him “Shh! You’re not aloud to have character history, you Spider-Book sales-mooching talking prop!” Maybe Bendis was trying to move the story forward, and while I appreciated the (miniscule) nod to Flash’s back story, it was way to little of a reference to earn back any good faith that he has a plan for Flash’s role in the book moving forward, not to mention the fact that it was abruptly and annoyingly interrupted.
Regarding Flash’s visual, Bendis and Schiti have him fighting like Mr. Fantastic, which is fine, but a symbiote character’s visual style should balance that elasticity with some power. Think of the way Bagley drew those Spidey/Venom fights back during the Michelinie run: Venom had some weight back then. Now, he functions as the shape-shifter, support character of the team. And this is honestly fine, considering that we also have Drax and Thing functioning as the bruisers of the group, but it would be nice for Venom to display his considerable strength in a fight or two. Where’s the strength that stunned the Juggernaut back in Venom: the Madness? Where’s the power that made a weakling like Angelo Fortunado able to punch straight through a dude’s chest and rip out his heart? (Fatality!) It was nice to see him flex a bit of muscle when he restrained Yotat, but, again, this was more about applying some physics to take leverage from his foe, rather than putting on some raw power. Oh well. Yotat is way overpowered anyway.
The book, overall, is really not that bad, albeit very repetitive. We’re still dealing with Spartax? Quill fake-begs another overpowered villain so his team can recuperate? The “Street-Vendor Glarkin” gag again? Although, it does successfully capture some of the sassiness and swagger of the movie, which is extra cool when you consider that we’re getting to see Thing, Kitty, and Venom together with MCU properties like the Guardians. And it is nice to get a sense that something bigger is brewing here with Annihilus and the Brood Queen. Schiti’s art improves with every issue, and really excels when he captures that Immonen-esque energy in certain panels, although in others the art leans a little too far into anime-territory for my taste. Worth picking up if you’re a Bendis or Guardians fan. Probably skippable for a Venom fan.
average (a predictable, if well-drawn finish to the opening arc, with the usual minute justification given for the presence of Agent Venom)