Grew up reading comic books in the 90's. Marvel fan at heart. Hulk, the Midnight Sons, and Marvel's cosmic universe are my favorites.
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Guardians of Infinity #4 landed this week in comic book stores everywhere. The most cosmic Marvel heroes ever assembled find themselves facing certain death as countless homicidal Highbreed warriors descend upon them from all sides. ComiConverse Contributor, Mitch Nissen, is here with all the details.
The Earth has the Avengers.
The galaxy has the Guardians.
Who is going to save all of Infinity from total annihilation? Only the coolest cast of heroes in the universe: The Guardians of Infinity.
Dan Abnett and Carlo Barberi deliver the next chapter in this unprecedented new saga that brings together three teams of Guardians of the Galaxy from three different eras.
Dan Abnett has written many cosmic and wild stories in his extensive history of storytelling. Here the writer is showcasing something completely new and wonderful the likes of which has never been seen or done before!
The Story so Far:
Rocket Raccoon, Groot, and Drax enter a massive structure at the edge of space. There they encounter Vance Astro, Martinex, Nikki Gold, and Charlie 27 of the Guardians of the Galaxy from the year 3016 ce. The Guardians 3000, were investigating the same structure in their era. They learn that the Structure exists outside of time and space.
A legion of Highbreed warriors, the Structure’s resident army, force both teams of Guardians to retreat. Fleeing into another section of the Structure they find themselves on Earth in the year 1016 ce, face to face with another team of Guardians of the Galaxy. The Guardians 3000, nor Rocket and his crew, have ever met these Guardians 1000 before. The Highbreed attack again and all three teams unite. The enemy captures two of the Guardians and returns to the Structure.
Unable to leave their captured comrades behind, the three teams of Guardians join forces and reenter the Structure. They discover a whole army, billions strong, waiting to be deployed.
For what purpose?
With a trans-temporal base like the Structure these troops could be sent anywhere and anytime. Cryptic messages scrawled into the walls depict a godlike being named Hermetikus who the Guardians assume to be the army’s leader.
The Guardians’ presence on the Structure does not go unnoticed and they are again beset by, in Rocket’s own words, a “kajillion” enemies. Through a miracle the Guardians escape only to find themselves face to face with Hermetikus himself and certain death.
The cover by Gary Choo is an homage to a scene from the 2006 story Annihilation in which Drax the Destroyer, faced with insurmountable odds, dives head first into the enemy. The imagery is just as powerful now as it was then. This is possibly a nod to the 10th anniversary of Annihilation. If you haven’t read that epic story you should.
This issue is narrated by Rocket Raccoon in what appears like an interrogation of sorts. Rocket is recounting the events, how they were facing certain death, escaped, only to end up some place worse. This narration reminds readers of the video-logs the character Mantis made the Guardians team members conduct during Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s 2008 volume of Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s a fun throwback to that era of Guardians while also serving multiple purposes. The action continues without sacrificing plot.
Through this narration we are given a clear and concise rundown on all the characters which, with so many, is much needed. Since the end of issue #1 Abnett has not given the reader time to breathe. The pace of these stories is brisk, and the action is intense. Rocket, Groot, and Drax need no introduction. Longtime fans of the Guardians (pre-2008) and readers of Abnett’s last Guardians book, Guardians 3000, should be familiar with the team from the future.
No one is familiar with the Guardians 1000. Until now all we had were a bunch of unfamiliar names and unfamiliar faces being thrown out in the middle of chaotic action scenes. In this issue each member of this new team is given their own scene where Rocket tells us exactly who they are and why they’re awesome. We also get a fuller breakdown of the Guardians 3000 too which is nice because without them there would be no Guardians of the Galaxy at all. They are well represented and even revered in Rocket’s eyes.
One of the most endearing qualities of Abnett’s writing is his three R’s: Research, Respect, and Reverence. He cares deeply for the characters and the world he is writing. These seem like prerequisites for anyone writing for Marvel or DC or any preexisting universe with a history of stories. Sadly, nowadays, this due diligence by writers is hard to find. Even with many of the big name writers in the medium, the comics become more about the writer than the writing.
This is not the case here. Abnett treats each of the characters with respect. His love for these characters and how he envisions them translates on the page and, in turn, makes the reader feel the same way about them. This is why Guardians of Infinity is my favorite book from Marvel.
Yet other problems keep this book from true greatness. The book feels short. There is a huge cast of characters, all of whom, with the exception of Rocket, Groot, and Drax, are only featured in this book and five of them are completely new. Not to mention, the stage is entirely new and unfamiliar, as is the new group of antagonists. With the action front and center, the story barely gets going before it is over. With each of the four issues released so far I have found myself left wanting more by the end.
How does this happen when the book is bigger and more expensive than the average comic book?
Guardians of Infinity is an oversized book with a price tag of $4.99. There are a total of thirty comic pages in this book. Only fifteen of those pages are the Guardians of Infinity. The other fifteen pages are a “back-up” story of equal length to the feature story. This extra story has no bearing on the Guardians of Infinity at all and sometimes features no Guardians at all.
The second story for issue #4 by Gerry Duggan and Leonardo Romero features the Human Torch and Venom. There are some hurt feelings between the Thing and Human Torch. Torch was going to meet up with Thing at a space station for a joint mission. Thing is too angry to actually show and sends Venom in his stead. Torch brought some sandwiches from Thing’s favorite deli in New York as a peace offering.
It’s a story about sandwiches.
Venom has his own book and is featured in the main Guardians of the Galaxy book. Human Torch is featured in the Uncanny Avengers. Yet, here they are taking up half the book from characters featured nowhere else in a story unlike any other. And this back up story is about sandwiches. Marvel has even ceased promoting these second stories on the cover of the book leading one to believe they will be receiving a full book of Guardians of Infinity when in reality they’re getting half a book.
These self-contained second stories are a waste of time and space. They’re fun stories but they do a disservice to the book as a whole. Three of the four back up stories were, in essence, Fantastic Four stories. Only one of these stories was an actual Guardians story, featuring Drax and a group of (in name only) Space Knights unrelated to Rom, Ikon, or Galador.
Personally I wouldn’t read these stories if I wasn’t reviewing this book. The content and subject matter can be found elsewhere and should be featured in other books of a more appropriate nature. As a result o these secondary tales, it has taken two months and $9.98 to receive a full issue of Guardians of Infinity.
An Open Letter to Marvel:
To Whom it May Concern,
Please kindly give the full thirty pages of Guardians of Infinity to Dan Abnett and Carlo Barberi.
Why Abnett & Barberi’s Guardians of Infinity is great:
It doesn’t make a soap opera of its team, the threat level builds to a truly cosmic scale, and there are no Earth based heroes polluting its ranks. This is the only book where readers can experience these characters and this kind of story. Please, Marvel, give us the book with a cover that tells us what we are getting.
For readers of Guardians of Infinity: If you feel that the book should be 100 percent Abnett and Barberi PLEASE leave a simple “Aye” in the comments below.
Keep track of the Guardians of Infinity every month as I review each issue.
And if you missed it check out the review of Guardians of Infinity #1 by yours truly.
Mitch Nissen is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @NinjaMitche.
The book is titled Guardians of Infinity but it is only half of what we’re getting. The other half is targeted for Fantastic Four fans and Venom fans. The Guardians of Infinity half of the book is great! The other half belongs somewhere else. Until this book becomes 100 percent Guardians of Infinity it only gets two stars.