Graphic Novel Review: Guardians of the Galaxy: New Guard Vol 1 – Emperor Quill

Guardians of the Galaxy: New Guard Vol 1

Guardians of the Galaxy: New Guard Vol 1 - Credit: Archant

Back protectin’ the universe from the scum of the cosmos! Peter Quill has abandoned the Guardians and his role as Star-Lord to be Emperor of the Spartax. Rocket didn’t wait a single minute to take the reins and become team leader of Drax, Venom, Groot, Kitty Pryde (A.K.A. Star Lady?) and new Guardian Ben Grimm, the ever-lovin’ Thing! Collecting Guardians of the Galaxy 1-5.

(Panini Books)

In the wake of the devastation wreaked by the Black Vortex and the reality-warping events of the Secret Wars, the Guardians have also bid farewell to team leader Peter (Star-Lord) Quill after he was elected to rule the Spartax empire.

With his estranged girlfriend Kitty Pryde and former Fantastic Four strongman Ben (The Thing) Grimm now joining the Guardians, Quill has resigned himself to a life of tedious bureaucracy as Emperor, until a new threat emerges which threatens to tear Spartax apart…

The new line-up continues writer Brian Michael Bendis’ trend of adding Earth heroes to the team, and then failing to use them to their potential. Ben Grimm gets a brief character moment in the first issue collected here but otherwise is wasted, and Kitty seems to be here for no reason other than to act as Peter’s more grounded other half.

Exactly the same happened with Tony Stark, Carol Danvers, and to an extent Venom, and with so many strong characters already part of the Guardians’ world, you have to wonder why Bendis isn’t spending more time developing them instead of adding his flavour-of-the-week to the team?

The plot is very little more than a big fight, as the Guardians take on Hala and Yotat for the sake of Spartax, with the usual scenes of mass devastation and planet-quaking explosions that have characterised this series since Bendis took the reins, and coming immediately after similar storylines suggests he is ultimately treading water without really having any long-term strategy for the team.

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More of the same then, with only the cast changes distinguishing this new volume from its predecessor. If you’ve enjoyed what’s gone before, then this latest instalment will be just up your street, but this reader is still harking for the Guardians’ glory days under Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, when you actually felt they were doing something other than bum it around the universe getting caught up in increasingly violent fights. After all, who exactly are they meant to be guarding nowadays?