Guardians of the Galaxy: Tomorrow’s Avengers – I’m sure I’m not the only one who was introduced to the Guardians of the Galaxy through the movie, but they actually had a different line-up before that. That is, the comics came out before, but took place after, as this team primarily operated in the thirty-first century. This is a time when the galaxy has been conquered by lizard-people known as the Badoon, and they’ve wiped out Earth’s colonies on the other planets in our solar system. The Guardians consisted of Vance Astro, a twentieth-century astronaut kept alive by his suit; Charlie-27, a giant-sized militiaman from Jupiter; the crystalline Martinex T’Naga from Pluto; the flame-haired Nikki Gold from Mercury; the weapons master Yondu Udonta from Centauri IV (okay, he WAS in the movie, but his personality was pretty different); and Starhawk, a mysterious being with the powers of an ancient hawk-god.
Since team-ups are a staple of superhero franchises, several stories either involve the Guardians going back in time or heroes from the present journeying into the future. The stories collected in this book have Captain America, the Thing, the Hulk, and Dr. Strange fighting alongside the Guardians. Since many of the Marvel heroes have their home bases in New York City, it’s not surprising they’d run into each other pretty often, but that becomes a bit less likely when other planets and thousand-year time gaps come into play. The stories are kind of silly, but the characters are fun and have interesting designs. Although it ended up being destroyed, I liked Starhawk’s rustic cabin on an asteroid, a clever mix of the futuristic and archaic.
By the way, if Starhawk’s children consider Stakar their father and Aleta their mother, and the two of them are adopted siblings who share the same body, how did they reproduce?
The Mighty Thor: Gods, Gladiators & Guardians of the Galaxy – When this collection of Thor comics from the mid-to-late 1970s was published as a book in 2013, the description on the back referred to “Marvel’s soon-to-be Silver Screen stars the Guardians of the Galaxy,” but it’s actually Vance Astro’s team that shows up here. Together, they battle computer technician turned supervillain Michael Korvac. Also featured are a battle between the Norse and Greek gods that the former win, only to find that they have no power in Greece; and Thor and Iron Man fighting yet another sentient supercomputer.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Legacy and War of Kings – This 2008-2010 series features the team that would appear in the film, as well as a few extras: the telepathic martial artist Mantis, Mar-Vell’s daughter Quasar, the Insectivorid Bug, the Soviet space dog Cosmo, and the powerful magician Adam Warlock.
Cosmo did make a non-speaking cameo in the Guardians movie, but I like how the comic version speaks in a somewhat comic Russian accent. He serves as chief of security on Knowhere, and frequently argues with Rocket Raccoon.
The story brings in a lot of previously established characters, some of whom I knew and many of whom I didn’t. The Inhumans play a role, as do the original Guardians. It can be a bit difficult to parse the various Marvel storylines, but it looks like there’s one more volume in this series, which brings back Thanos and leads into the Infinity War.