Written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art by Brad Walker
Finally! Guardians of the Galaxy is back to its high quality self after a few months of what, honestly, felt like filler stories thrown together to fill the gap while waiting for the War of Kings tie-ins.
Everything about this issue was leaps and bounds above the past few months of output. The characters were vibrant and the book was littered with witty dialogue. Even the small things, like naming the bar on Knowhere Starlins, in honour of legendary cosmic writer, Jim Starlin, were perfect in this issue - something we haven't seen, literally, in months.
From the get go, you could just tell this issue was going to be good based on the aforementioned Starlin reference and casual way the team was introduced and reunited in the opening pages of this issue. The lack of a real team feel to this title was probably one of the major problems I had with the title over the past few months and it was great seeing everyone interacting and addressing past grievances, as seen with Adam Warlock's and Starlord's conversation over putting aside their trust issues to get things done or Bug's constant questioning of why he wasn't included in the original roster of the team or even Drax's casual "what's new?"-like conversation with Groot. These little things all add up to an enjoyable reading experience and are easy to overlook until they're gone, as was the case for the rocky past few issues.
The rest of the issue is devoted to explaining why the Guardians are getting involved with the War of Kings event and showing what they do about it. Warlock brings the reasoning and explains it as an extension of his need to fix the various rips in the fabric of space that he's been tracking down since the series began. He contests the Shi'ar's use of the Nega-Bombs on Kree worlds has aggrevated these tears and the war must stop or risk tearing the universe apart. It's as good as any reason to get the team involved and it's more an excuse to get them in the event moreso than something they'll be following up on outside of the brief closing of a rift in this issue.
Once the reasoning behind entering the fray was established, the real fun began. Starlord and Rocket Raccoon held a meeting where the two divvy up the various team members into two separate teams - one to confront Black Bolt and the other to speak with Vulcan in an attempt to negotiate peace between them. The meeting was hilarious and I loved how Rocket Raccoon called first dibs on all the heavy hitters for his team.
After the teams are picked, both set off to see their respective 'kings' with Peter's team off to see Black Bolt and Rocket and co off to confront Vulcan. Things obviously don't go as planned. Black Bolt outright dismisses any hope of peace in light of Starlord's pleas while Vulcan's ships are teleport shielded, which only allowed Warlock's magic based self-teleport in, resulting in Vulcan immediately attacking Adam. The rest of the team had to be saved by the Starjammers, who have past experience working with Rocket Raccoon (we need an miniseries off this asap!).
Verdict - Must Read. Personally, I couldn't find a single thing wrong with this issue outside of maybe some stretching behind the reasons for getting involved in the event. It's just good old fashioned fun and I just hope the title continues with this return to form and puts those last few substandard issues behind us.