Friday, November 16, 2012

Guardians of the Galaxy





In the wake of the wildly successful Avengers movie, Marvel Comics made an announcement.

One of their next comics-to-film adaptations will be The Guardians of the Galaxy.  This series was an old favorite of mine, a fun play on the science fiction idea of superheroes in space, somewhat akin to DC's Legion of Super-Heroes.  The movie, however, will not be my Guardians of the Galaxy.  No, this team ensemble will consist of (reportedly) characters called Drax the Destroyer, Star-Lord, Gamora, Groot, and Rocket Raccoon (Don't ask.  I tried reading that last character's comic and found it to be about as lucid as Yellow Submarine.)  Doesn't seem like Bug from The Micronauts will be involved.

The version of the Guardians that I truly enjoyed debuted in 1969, although I first picked up with them during their 1990 re-launch under the writer's pen of Jim Valentino.  This series took place in the 31st Century, a future timeline of the Marvel Universe.  In this setting, humanity had already moved outward into our solar system to establish colonies.  The people who lived in these colonies all developed abilities and characteristics indicative of their chosen planet.  For more on that, let's take a look at the cast of characters:

Starhawk/Aleta: one man, one woman, sharing a body.  They flip back and forth as the situation warrants.  Starhawk had light-based powers, embodying cosmic energy.  This was a fairly common device found in science fiction comics of the time.

Nikki: she is the last survivor of the colony on Mercury.  As one might expect, she is fast and agile.  She's rather anime-like in appearance and her head is always on fire.

Charlie 27: a man from the colony on the planet Jupiter. Yes, they somehow lived on a gas planet.  Being that it is the largest planet in our solar system, Charlie logically (it seemed at the time, anyway) developed incredible super strength due to the high gravity.

Martinex: the scientist of the group.  He's from Pluto.  In order to survive the harsh conditions there, his body is entirely encased in silicon, giving him an appearance somewhat like that of Iceman from The X-Men.  Funny, one of his hands even shoots ice while the other fires...well, fire.

Yondu: is from the planet Centauri IV.  Given the name of his point of origin, his creators must have thought that it would only be logical that he be a centaur.  A blue-skinned centaur at that, one with a red fin that goes up the back of his neck and head.  He's very good with a bow and yaka arrows.  He is also the most spiritual of the Guardians.

Major Astro: leader of the team.  He is thousands of years old and kept alive only by the all-over, metal bodysuit he wears.  He has the power of telekinesis and a bird-dog fixation on the legend of Captain America.

Ok, so maybe there's not a whole lot of science going on in this science fiction. But that latter point with Astro may be one of the qualities that I enjoyed so much in the series.  It had strong ties to the Marvel Universe of the past and every month I wanted to see what other stand-by Marvel characters would show up in future incarnations.

For example, one of the first enemies that the Guardians of the Galaxy fought was a guy called Taserface.  I'm not kidding, that was the character's name.  Yes, he shot taser bolts from his face.  Dumb as that might be, he wore red and gold armor that looked quite familiar.  In issue #2, we learn that Taserface is of a race called the Stark; aliens who, you guessed it, acquired Tony Stark's Iron Man armor and based a civilization upon it.  Later, the Guardians even fought Galactus!

I would say that this science fiction book is worth it for about the first 20 issues or so.  After that, you're looking at a steep slide downhill.  But it's a fun slide. 

Kinda like a curly slide on the playground only its been in the summer sun too long so it burns you on the way down.


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