Friday, August 22, 2008

Guardians of the Galaxy #4 Review

Written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art by Paul Pelletier

Gah, so much wasted potential. How could the Guardians of the Galaxy have a Skrull centric issue and no guest appearance by the Super Skrull? After the two Annihilation events, it just screamed Super Skrull guest appearance to me.

First thing I have to mention is that this issue drastically cut back on those annoying reality tv narration boxes DnA had been using for the first three issues of this arc. They only show up once or twice, but it's still better than the once every other page format they were using.

As for the story, it's just a simple 'who do you trust?' Skrull story setup. An excellently crafted 'who do you trust' story, but a 'who do you trust' story, nonetheless. We've seen this a dozen times now over the course of the Secret Invasion event and for the past year or so in New and Mighty Avengers. Should I be judging this story based on the fact it came out later than those early versions or should I let it stand on its own?

It's hard to justify letting it get away with telling the same story with different characters that I've read so many times before, but everything about this issue was done so much better than just about every other version of this theme that I find it hard to knock it for it.

One aspect I really liked about this setup was the use of the Knowhere setting. It adds a claustrophobic feel to the story and the simple act of limiting the number of possible suspects to this small population really ratchets up the tension. Add the destruction of the teleporters, which are the only way off the station, and it's hard not to beleive these character's reactions to the thoughts of Skrulls in their mist.

I think the biggest development of the issue, though, has to go to the revelation that Starlord and Mantis telepathically induced everyone on the team to join together without any objections. While they didn't force anyone to join, they lowered any inhibitions they may have had and it appears Drax overheard this conversation, which should lead to a major falling out in the near future.

Furthermore, like the previously three issues, unlike other comics, this 22-page book felt jam packed with story and character development. It's hard to believe it's only been four issues, but I feel like I've gotten more out of this book than a year's worth of story on some other titles.

In the end, however, this is just the beginning of this storyarc and, with everything that happened, it's hard to believe this was just a setup issue and the real Skrull infiltration story doesn't start until next month!

Verdict - Must Read. Abnett and Lanning fixed my biggest complaint this issue - the narration - and I think it made a huge difference in my enjoyment of the book. While a cliched 'who do you trust' themed story, the setting and characterization elevate it above the rest of the rabble and make this a standout must read story.

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