Guardians of the Galaxy #5 might be the weirdest comic I’ve read in a long, long time. Of course, this is a book by Al Ewing and Juann Cabal, so maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised. Ewing is not a writer who makes comics that anyone could call boring, and Guardians of the Galaxy #5 is no exception to that rule. But even in an era where Marvel Comics has polyamorous superheroes on the moon and evil plants trying to eat Wakanda, quasi-incestuous make-out sessions involving eating yourself, and also maybe a dragon, is just … wild. In all my years of reading comic books, and I’ve read a lot of comic books, it’s among the weirdest stuff I’ve ever read.
In Guardians of the Galaxy #5, we pick up on the adventures of Moondragon – our Moondragon, the one originally from Earth-616 – and figure out what she was doing between the death of Phyla-Vell right before Thanos Imperative, and her reappearance a few months ago. Meanwhile, we continue the fight between Rocket’s Guardians of the Galaxy and Gamora’s Guardians of the Galaxy, the former trying to stop a knockoff Galactus hat from eating the planet, and the latter trying to stop Rocket’s team from stopping the hat.
It’s a very mean hat.
But the core of the book, however, is the fight between the two Moondragons. It’s a fight that’s really fascinating, at a conceptual level. Moondragon, the 616 one, is the flawed and human one, the one who struggles with her demons, and worries about her failures and defeats. Moondragon, the new one, is the superhero from the superhero universe, the refined and fearless one, who has never had the internal demons, the internal failings, as the other. And setting aside the magic superhero nonsense, can’t we all sympathize with that? I think we can all imagine seeing a version of ourselves that never made the mistakes we’ve all made.
Anyway, the Moondragons end up becoming just one Moondragon. As the superhero Moondragon says, “you trapped me the moment you needed my help.” With a kiss, the two – mysteriously now naked – Moondragons fuse into one, complete Moondragon, with the flaws and the heroism of both.
It’s insane, wild, and really, really, fun. It’s a comic of talking animals, cosmic duplicates, and giant evil hats manned by plutocrats who are also beavers. It’s really exactly what you want from a Guardians of the Galaxy comic.
And Juann Cabal’s art! Wow, it is spectacular. Plenty could be said about the expressiveness of the space faces, the way he draws the hair, and the fantastic coloring work by Federico Blee, but the greatest part of the book has to be the way that Cabal lays out the panels in the Moondragon scenes. He uses these overlapping circles, each for the different Moondragons, which then fuse into one as the two Moondragons do. But the scenes with the other heroes uses a standard, rectangular panel format, lending the Moondragon scenes a very distinctive sense of memorability.
Seriously, go ahead and read this book, even if you have never read a previous issue in the series. It’s very much worth buying.