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Guardians of the Galaxy: Tomorrow’s Avengers
by Robert Greenberger
To the general public, there’s been a lot of head-scratching going on, with the announcement that Marvel’s 2014 movie entry will be something called Guardians of the Galaxy. To comic book afficianados, there was some jaw-dropping as they pondered that of all the characters to choose from, why this cosmic team of characters few care about? The answer is clearly surrounding Thanos, as hinted in the final minutes of this summer’s Avengers film.
Marvel is making certain we know plenty about these time-tossed, parallel worlds-jumping freedom fighters. There’s already a box set of action figures for the current team and now they are beginning to collect the vast, sprawling, messy saga that is the history of the team, beginning with Guardians of the Galaxy: Tomorrow’s Avengers volume One (subtle, huh?).
What’s interesting is that the first few volumes (volume two is already announced for a March release) have little to do with the characters that have been announced as being in the film and much to do with the marvel universe in general. So really, the collections are being aimed purely at comic book fans while getting the team’s profile raised in general.
The team was conceived way back in 1968 when recently arrived writer Arnold Drake partnered with gene Colan to produce the first tale, set in Marvel’s 31st Century. There, we met major Vance Astro, an astronaut from the 20th century who spent a millennium in hibernation, headed for Alpha Centauri. Upon awakening, he finds a vastly different and well-populated universe. His accomplishments proved futile as improved technology meant future astronauts beat him to Alpha Centauri. Adrift and feeling lost, he encountered a handful of people, each the sole survivor of their race: Martinex T’Naga, from Pluto; Captain Charlie-27, a soldier from Jupiter; and the sexy, blue-skinned Yondu Udonta, from Beta Centauri IV. Survivors of a galactic conflict, they are an underground force for liberty and Astro joins their ranks. In a nice touch, the threat was the Badoon, the reptilian aliens Stan Lee invented to use in Silver Surfer just two years earlier.
The one-shot story from marvel super Heroes #18 clearly didn’t ring anyone’s bells so they went missing for seven years before resurrected to guest-star in marvel Two-In-One #4-5, coming back to the present and hanging out with the blue-eyed thing and Captain America. the time travel is ignited by Tarin, a human who is accidentally sent back in time. When Ben Grimm and Cap return her to the proper era, they stick around to help the Guardians free new York City and much of earth from the Badoon.
The Guardians began to appear more regularly, perennial guest stars until they finally landed a berth of their own for a time, in marvel presents #3-12. Their ranks grew to include others, notably Starhawk, he of the failed never-published title from the 1960s, and flame-haired Nikki.
Through these stories you begin to see the growing number of futures that would eventually denote many different Earths and timelines until the day came that Astro was really named Astrovik and on Earth-616, he was the teen hero Justice (yeah, it can really make your head hurt).
But these early stories also feature some fine work from the decade’s premier writers including Chris Claremont, Gerry Conway, Len Wein, and Steve Gerber, who is never dull to read. Sal Buscema, Don Heck, and Al Milgrom are among the visual stylists in addition to Colan, who got it all started. Of course, since this collection includes giant -Size Defenders #5, Defenders #26-29, you will also be seeing doctor Strange, the Hulk, and the Surfer, so there’s plenty of wall to wall heroic action.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1: Tomorrow’s Avengers SC