If you cast your mind back to 2013, we lived in a world where hardly anyone knew the Guardians of the Galaxy. Hardly anyone was “Hooked on a Feeling,” but that didn’t worry Feige and co.. Not resting on their laurels following their record-breaking box office success that saw the Avengers assemble for the first time, the next new property being developed for the MCU had already been decided. As a result, Marvel Comics relaunched the rag-tag team with a stellar creative team to try to capture fans with an interest in “the next big thing” and that’s where I come in. I was one of those fans. I’d never properly read comics before, and had always liked familiarising myself with an adaptation’s source material, so “Guardians of the Galaxy” #0.1 seemed an ideal starting point. I tried comics and they stuck. As a result, “Guardians of the Galaxy” #0.1 holds a special place in my heart, but the question is, beneath that nostalgic glaze, is it any good?
Guardians of the Galaxy #0.1
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Pencilled by Steve McNiven
Inked by John Dell
Colored by Justin Ponsor
Lettered by VC’s Cory Petit
Move over Avengers…the Guardians got this. In this special prelude issue meet the man behind the Guardians: Star-Lord… and discover how this child of Earth became the leader of the rag-taggiest of teams in all the Galaxy.
To answer that question quickly; yes. With “Guardians of the Galaxy” #0.1 we get a superb quick-fire introduction to Peter Quill. There’s a combination of so many superhero tropes that render the origin story far from unique but the creative team squeeze in all of the crucial details to give us entertaining insight into who Peter Quill is and why he became Star-Lord nonetheless.
The first section of the issue is devoted to Quill’s parents. It opens thirty years from the 2013-present, with a woman speaking to her mother about a recent break-up, only for a spaceship to crash right next to her. Her phone flung to the floor, the woman quickly rushes to the pilot’s aid. She brings the pilot inside, patches him up and then holds him at gunpoint. This is, of course, Meredith and J’Son’s meet-cute.
Bendis establishes Meredith as a woman not to be reckoned with but a character who is oblivious to the cosmos. Unfortunately her naivety dramatically undermines her authority, but it feels like Bendis tried to develop Meredith’s character without altering the course of Peter’s upbringing. J’Son, as a result, feels a little condescending and stand-offish. There’s a sense of importance and responsibility to him that is lost during his time on Earth, which almost exclusively is shown through a montage. Perhaps, given their odd combination, it would have been better to have spent more time with the pair to further the chemistry between them but given that Bendis had already expanded on the story he wanted to tell, Quill’s origin would have ended up as its own mini-series if he had. Regardless, the silent montage that McNiven provides gives a strong enough indication of them working as a couple.
Getting McNiven onboard was not only a selling point for the series’ relaunch, but also a choice made for the story that was being told. McNiven’s pencils, with Dell’s inks, present the events of the entire issue crisply and clearly. There’s a realism that is gained in the thin ink lines that define each character. The artwork is plain and simple, which is not to belittle it in any way, as it gives us an uncompromised view of Quill’s grounded childhood. Our focus is supposed to be on the characters and McNiven furthers this with a limited use of larger panels and wide-shot compositions.
Ponsor’s color work in the book is what really stands out for the book’s visuals though, with much of the drama being generated through them. The scenes shared by Meredith and J’Son have ever changing light sources and shifting shadows that give a greater dynamism to them. The colors reinforce the humanity of the book too, with earthy browns, greens and oranges filling most of the panels. It is only the sharp red beams from the Badoon’s guns that go against the rest of the book, acting as a reflection of the damage done to Peter’s life with the death of his mother.Continued below
Petit makes light work out of the lettering for the book too, positioning the dialogue to allow for the conversations to flow smoothly. Moreover, keeping in mind that this is a potential entry point into comics, there’s never any confusion over which panel to read next; the lettering perfectly guides the reader.
Upon reaching the end of this revisit to “Guardians of the Galaxy” #0.1, there’s only minor story issues that I’ve picked up on. Firstly, why didn’t we get to hear the conversation between Meredith and her mother following J’Son’s crash? How did she explain that one if she didn’t want anyone coming up to the house investigating? They were right in the middle of a conversation, and I do not believe that her mother didn’t hear it. Secondly, I presume that Meredith’s mother had died before Peter became an “orphan,” hence she wasn’t able to raise him herself. Finally, I would like to know what it was the Meredith did for a job; early in the issue there’s a repeated sense of her being isolated and not wanting people snooping around her house and I can’t help but wonder why. Again, like my other questions, there’s probably a simple answer, but, hey Marvel, why have we never learnt the secret history of Meredith Quill?
On a serious note, “Guardians of the Galaxy” #0.1, whilst it is not groundbreaking, is a solid entry into comics as a whole (I’m proof of that) with it being a simple and easy to read self-contained story. Furthermore, at the time, it did exactly what it was meant to do which was prime the audience for “Guardians of the Galaxy” #1 a month later and Guardians of the Galaxy too.