Friday, August 29, 2008

Gamora: Guardians of the Galaxy #1

Guardians of the Galaxy is easily one of my top five favorite Marvel comics right now. (Thinking quickly, I'll fill the other spots with Captain America, Incredible Hercules, X-Men: First Class, and Wolverine: First Class.) There's a lot to like about Guardians: the steampunk design of the team leader's costume, the talking raccoon, the grumpy little treeman, the ferocious battles, the witty banter, and oh yes, the cute alien precog in the Hawaiian skirt.

One of my favorite things about it though is Gamora, a former assassin.

I've seen Gamora a few times during my years reading Marvel books. She usually showed up around Adam Warlock though, and since I never liked him much, I'd dismissed her too by association. My problem with Adam Warlock - and the rest of Marvel's pre-Annihilation cosmic stuff, frankly - is the focus on the mystical. I mean, Marvel's never referred to Adam Warlock, Silver Surfer, Thanos, and all those guys' stories as "scifi" or even "outer space adventure." It's "cosmic," with the implication being that these are huge, grand sagas meant to explore metaphysical questions about the universe and humanity's role in it. Yawn.

With Annihilation, all that has finally changed and we're getting some great space opera with some really cool characters I've only marginally been aware of until now. Adam Warlock is one of them, and though he's still this spiritual kind of character, there's far less focus on his mysticism than there is on his shooting laser blasts out of his hands. And that's all for the better, says I.

Gamora used to date (or whatever the outer space kids are calling it these days) Adam Warlock. She's not anymore though, even though both of them are now Guardians. That's cool too, because the few times I'd seen her before, her role as assassin was far subsurvient to her role as "Adam's girlfriend." Now she gets to just be herself and I love what I see.

I don't know for sure, but I get the feeling that past writers haven't really been sure what to do with Gamora. Maybe they were torn between those two roles I just mentioned. Whatever the case though, in Guardians of the Galaxy #1, writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning introduce Gamora as a character who's lost her way.

It's a cool way to reboot her. I don't have to know the ins and outs of her history because she's starting fresh. But knowing that she's confused and conflicted right now makes me want to know how she got to that point, so I'm immediately connected and interested in her. Drax too, to a lesser extent, but he's got a lot less personality than Gamora. Witness, for example, Gamora's reaction when Nova approaches her about joining Starlord's new team.

Abnett and Lanning are great writers (I've been a fan of theirs since discovering them on Legion Lost), so it's no surprise that they inject some humor into Gamora.


There's plenty of fighting and shooting and sword-slinging in the first issue, but it all involves the entire group and Gamora doesn't get the spotlight much. It's her sense of humor and screwed up way of seeing things that makes me like her so much. I'm very curious to read her early adventures and see how much of Abnett and Lanning's take is based on previous stuff and how much is them fixing her.

I'll be writing more later about the next issues of Guardians. They're up to I think #4 and Gamora does get the opportunity to show how tough she really is. So stay tuned.


Christian Zamora said...

The new Guardians of the Galaxy is a book I keep wondering if I should jump into it or just skip it. I love Abnett and Lanning's writing. I read their Legion stuff and I completely embraced it. But I'm entirely lost with Marvel's new "sci-fi" branch. I tried to get into one of the Annihilation books but couldn't figure out a thing. So, I was wondering if I needed to know a lot of stuff to figure out this new book as well.

Since you seem to really like this series, what's your opinion? I'm a little fed up with books that you need to know years and years of stories to fully enjoy them. Is this one of those books?

Michael May said...

I'm not all that familiar with these characters either and I haven't felt lost. I'm sure I'd get more out of it if I knew everyone's individual backstory, but I don't feel at all like a visitor at someone else's reunion.

That said, they're four issues into a story arc, so I wouldn't just jump in with the most recent issue. If you can find all four that have been released, you should catch up that way.

Christian Zamora said...

Thanks for the heads up. These days comic books a little over complicated and it's a tough to find a new storyline to jump into, but this one was really getting my attention, I was just too afraid to make the wrong choice, lol.


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