There have been a lot of grand Marvel cosmic space wars over the years. The Kree-Skrull War. Operation: Galactic Storm. Maximum Security. Annihilation. The War of Kings. Infinity. The recent Empye event was only the latest in a long line of great big fights between superheroes and alien supervillains, trying to conquer the Earth or wipe out some other type of alien. It was not exactly anything new, to a seasoned Marvel reader. Or, honestly, even someone who had watched the MCU.
But Guardians of the Galaxy #7 isn’t about that. It’s about a grand Marvel cosmic space talk. After the conclusion of Empyre, and the former Young Avenger Hulkling taking over the Kree-Skrull Alliance, the delegates of the various alien races have come to talk and discuss over what will happen next. It’s Yalta or Versailles, except in space. From the Guardians, Noh-Varr – who is dating Hercules now – is called as the emissary of one of the Kree factions, while Nova is there are the representative of Earth. There are Kree and Skrulls and Shi’ar and Chitauri, and honestly basically any alien species you can think of. A Z’nox is even present, and the last time anyone cared about the Z’nox is when they were drawn by Neal Adams.
Anyway, events transpire, there is a murder, and Rocket Racoon is called to investigate. Nothing too special about it. What makes Guardians of the Galaxy #7 so interesting is the relationship and emotional dynamics that underpin the characters. Take Hercules. Herc appears on maybe four pages in the whole issue. But those four pages and just a couple of lines portray a character who, while totally in line with the previous characterizations and while remaining recognizably Marvel’s version of Hercules, is kinder, more open with emotion and feelings, and a do-gooder not just in the sense that he wants to stop crime, but that he wants to do good in every possible way.
Or, take Nova. It’s all subtext, and it’s never portrayed on the page, but the way that Richard Rider remains deeply affected by his PTSD, and the deaths, both his own and that of his friends, that he’s experienced throughout his tenure as a superhero are clearly immense influences on the character. Ewing is telling enormously complex stories in very few words.
And this is true for every single member of the cast who appears here. Phyla and Moondragon’s conversation of all of one page is extremely layered, and says a lot with very little. This is some of the best Guardians comics since, well, ever.
And the art! Wow. Rafael Albequerque’s cover should be in a museum somewhere. The use of color to portray motion, the washed out yet still almost psychedelic color scheme – it’s really fantastic, both as a piece of art in its own right, and as a piece of storytelling. Marcio Takara’s interiors are just as good, portraying a great sense of emotion on the faces of the characters, while keeping the aliens recognizably alien. Even if you haven’t been reading the series, this issue is worth buying.
If there’s a flaw in the comic, it’s that the book spends too much time with the space politics. The space politics are interesting, to be fair, but the book has been at its strongest when it revolves around the issues of the heart – how do Noh-Varr, Herc, Nova, Gamora, Moondragon, Phyla, etc. actually feel about each other? One of the big themes has been about the characters opening up over time. Had the book spent more time interrogating that, and less trying to get me to care about the Z’nox, it would have been even stronger.
Guardians of the Galaxy #7 is not just good, it’s great. Every issue of Ewing’s Guardians is better than the one before.
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