Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Marvel Presents #3 - The Guardians of the Galaxy.

Marvel Presents #3, the Guardians of the Galaxy
I'm not sure what it says about me but the upcoming Marvel movie I'm most excited about is The Guardians of the Galaxy.

Admittedly, the only other Marvel movie I can think of that's in the pipeline is Ant-Man, so it's probably not that great an achievement on behalf of the space-bound adventure. But, still....

As the film features a talking raccoon and a talking tree, this excitement probably suggests I've blown some sort of fuse and succumbed to a madness brought on by decades of breathing in ink fumes.

But, of course, whatever it's appeal, the movie features a totally different cast from the set of characters the comic possessed in my youth.

As that comic was one of my favourite strips when I was a lad, that suggests it's time to take a look again at the very first issue of their short-lived run in Marvel Presents.

The thing that first strikes you upon reading Steve Gerber and Al Milgrom's tale is that it's an issue of two halves. Clearly, like anyone with any sense, Gerber can't wait to get the Earth/Badoon War out of the way, as he brings it to an end in short order, with the Sisterhood of the Badoon showing up to take away their reprehensible menfolk for a fate that's clearly going to be worse than death.

The second half of the tale deals with the various guardians then finding it impossible to fit into peacetime society until they have to be whipped away by Starhawk to fly off into space, looking for suitable punch-up opportunities.

To be honest, it's not a totally compelling start to the series. For me, the reptilian Badoon were always the worst alien species in the Marvel universe, being even less impressive than the Krylorians who were so bad that they themselves were barely more than stand-ins for the Toadmen from Outer Space.

It's in the second half of the issue that things get more interesting. We get Yondu deciding to kill himself but then changing his mind, when stabbing a caveman makes him realise he still has a self-preservation instinct and therefore must have a reason to live. Martinex, meanwhile, encounters racial prejudice against those made of carbon. Charlie-27 quits his job as a construction worker, after getting fed up of his boss. In the most emotionally-charged section, Vance Astro's inevitably still tormented by having to wear a glorified gimp suit at all times if he doesn't want to be reduced to dust.

This in mind, Starhawk beams them all up to the spaceship and they set off into space in a scenario that no doubt owes nothing at all to Star Trek.

Bearing in mind my affection for the strip, it'd be easy to bemoan the fact that the original characters aren't going to be in the movie but the truth is, with their sheer absurdity, the characters in the film seem to have far more potential to hold the audience's interest than the originals would have. For all their appeal; with his bitterness, sense of isolation and short temper, Vance Astro is the only genuinely compelling character amongst the originals.

So it's not a great story but it does at least get rid of the less-than-majestic Badoon nonsense and sets things up for the series' far stronger and quirkier tales to come.

Having said all that, if there's no mention of the originals at any point in the movie, I shall be even crosser than Vance Astro always was.

And that's saying something.



Longbox Graveyard said...

We have Steve Gerber to thank for rescuing the Guardians of the Galaxy from obscurity, and indirectly spawning another potential multi-million dollar Marvel movie franchise (that sound you hear is Steve spinning in his grave!) It was Gerber (likely aided by Tony Isabella) who brought the Guardians back from their one-and-only appearance to guest in Marvel Two-In-One, and it was Gerber who first wrote the further adventures of the team, both in this series and in the pages of the Defenders.

I think he made a mistake in putting paid to the Badoon and bundling everyone off into space, though ... the Badoon WERE terrible but Steve didn't replace them with anything better. The Giant Space Frog is terrible and by the time the team lands on the planet that just happens to be an exact copy of Brooklyn, it's clear that Steve's enthusiasm for this concept was not matched by his ideas for plotting.

But there is some good characterization here, and I, too, warmly remember the books ... and look forward to seeing an entirely different team on screen when the movie debuts later this year!

Doug said...

Just saw the newest Guardians trailer ahead of viewing X-Men DoFP. Of course you know I've been listening to Blue Swede's Hooked On a Feeling ever since!

This Marvel Presents series has some of Al Milgrom's finest art, and I say that with all honesty. His run on the Avengers, however, shows a decline akin to that of Don Heck's fade. Wow. But these were some fun stories!


Anonymous said...

I liked this series too.
This incarnation the Guardians just had a lot of interesting characters who Gerber played off against one another very well.
The plotting was terrible or non-existent, and I couldn't figure out what the hell was happening sometimes, but the book had a certain weird charm. Gerber's dialogue makes it a fun little stack of comics to read during an idle hour.
On the other hand, that story about the galactic insane asylum resembling mid-seventies New York City was inspired.
I can't help but laugh when I think of that one.

John Pitt said...

I only ever read the first GOTG in Marvel Super-Heroes back in '69 and I can't remember anything about it. Look forward to the first though.

John Pitt said...

Oops, predictive text changed film to "first"!!

Phil said...

I have to be honest. I thought Starhawk was the same guy as Starlord. I was thinking why is his costume so different in the movie?

I don't even know these new guys.

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