Review: Guardians Of The Galaxy #18

by

Or – “Time, Time, Time…  See What’s Become Of Me…”

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When Pete Quill’s ragtag group of cosmic-types took on the name Guardians of the Galaxy, there was already a team in the Marvel Universe by that name…  Or at least there will have been one, in the 31st Century.  The original GotG were a group of oppressed Freedom Fighters under the rule of the Badoon, a race of what seemed to be barbarian space-lizards.  Since they won’t be around for about another thousand years, give or take, who exactly do you suppose the people in that picture are?

GG2.jpgPreviously, on Guardians of the Galaxy:  The Guardians have taken a few serious hits in recent months, with the death and resurrection of Moondragon, the strange heel turn by Phyla-Vell, a series of epic failures during the War of Kings, and Adam Warlock’s decision last issue to tether the team’s reality to the future in which he, as the evil Magus, takes over the entire universe.  Both Vance Astro/Major Victory and the enigmatic Starhawk (from the original incarnation of the Guardians, more or less) showed up in our reality, and ‘Hawk transported Star-Lord (from old issues of Marvel Preview), Jack Flag (from old issues of Captain America), Mantis (the former Celestial Madonna from Avengers), Bug (from the Micronauts), and Cosmo the telepathic Russian space-hound (from planet Freakin’ Awesome!) into a far-flung future, where they discovered that the aftermath of War of Kings would lead to the death of the entire universe.  They sent a message back to their comrades in contemporary times, but before they could tell whether it was recieved, the timeline  they were in ceased to exist, and all the Guardians were blown to shreds and completely annihilated.  The End.

Which, of course, it isn’t.  We return to reality on the same day we left it, as the Guardians of the Galaxy (Nikki, Charlie 27, Starhawk, Killraven and Hollywood) fight against the Martian oppressors that have taken over their world, and looking damn impressive while doing it.  (This reality is apparently a merging of Killraven’s future with the original Guardians future.)  When all seems lost, though, several figures appear among them and quickly engage the aliens in battle.  Problem is, each of our reality’s Guardians has been torn free from their temporal moorings, agind and de-aging along their own personal timelines.  In a very clever bit of business, Star-Lord becomes an old man, Mantis a baby, Bug a teenager, Cosmo an excitable puppy, and Jack Flag…  seems perfectly normal?  The twin teams make short work of the Martian tripod, combining their forces to overturn the alien invaders.  When Killraven reveals that his team is called ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ Star-Lord replies, “Good name.  My comrades and I are known as the…  The Butt-Kickers Of The Fantastic.”  Heh.  I love the dialogue throughout this segment, especially Cosmo’s yapping about wanting to run and play and fetch.  Telepathic dogs crack me up…  Starhawk suddenly gets a burst of knowledge (he is the “One Who Knows,” after all) that explains virtually everything, a telepathic gift from his recently dead alternate-self. 

At the Guardians hideout, all is revealed, with Starhawk explaining that time is damaged, and the Guardians’ journey through realities is causing time to treat them as foreign elements in the world, aging and de-aging them out of existence like some sort of temporal antibodies.  Even Jack Flag isn’t immune, as Starhawk reveals that he is not being aged or de-aged, but is instead being spread across dimensions, evaporating into the multiverse.  “You are the chosen one,” reveals Starhawk to a confused Flag.  “Your destiny is to reshape the universe.”  Not bad for a guy whose only previous claim to fame was getting arrested first when the revolution came, eh?  The future Guardians have a possible solution, though:  Doctor Doom’s time machine, still safe within the basement of Avengers Mansion.  Of course, Avengers Mansion is the headquarters of the Martian warlords, and is protected by an impenetrable forcefield.  Jack Flag’s rapidly fading body proved able to short out the alien force-field, and the combined Guardians break into the mansion to find the hidden armory.  Just as our Guardians reach the time machine, though, reality shifts again and they’re shunted into another alternate future, the one in which the Magus rules supreme.  Star-Lord’s failing vision catches sight of something disturbing.  “The giant evil statue that looks distressingly like an evil Adam Warlock?” asks Bug sarcastically.  “Or the evil Adam Warlock carvings covering every inch of this place?”  As the soldiers of the Magus threaten to overwhelm them, the Guardians realize that they’re under attack by the Universal Church of Truth…  That can’t be good.

I’ll tell you one thing for free:  Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning know themselves some space epic.  This is not in question.  What surprises me is how well they’re using their scattered cast, the ties to nearly every era of Marvel history through the Guardians (a team which is threatening to rival the LSH in sheer members) and how cohesive the storylines are, and how wonderfully the various personalities mesh.  Everyone has surprises here, and even a C-Lister like Jack Flag is given due respect and a mysterious prophecy.  Wesley Craig delivers an art job pleasantly reminiscent of Michael Avon Oeming’s work on ‘Powers,’ and offers a streamlined design for the alternate future Guardian team that’s almost better than their regular uniforms.  Overall, there’s a great deal going for this title, but I’m somewhat worried about a lack of press and/or a seeming lack of excitement about it.  It’s easily as well-done as Nova, as well drawn as Mighty or Dark Avengers, and is as entertaining a read as any of the Dark Reign tie-ins thus far.  Guardians of the Galaxy #18 earns a time-tossed 4 out of 5 stars overall, and I have to highly recommend this title to anyone who loves a good comic yarn.

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