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Guardians of the Galaxy #11 Review (Bendis)

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Posted by: Timelord, Columnist
02/02/2014 - 2:29pm | Updated: 37 weeks 3 days Ago
Writer: 
Brian Michael Bendis,
Art: 
Sara Pichelli,
Cover: 
Sara Pichelli, Dale Keown, and Chris Samnee,
Publisher: 
Marvel Comics
Price: 
$3.99
Release Date: 
January 29, 2014

There were two high points in this issue.  First, a Gamora imposter was beautifully portrayed in Gamora’s Annihilation-era costume by artist, Sara Pichelli.  Second, Rocket and most of the rest of the team hang-up on an annoying “phone-call” from Tony Stark – thus ending Stark’s involvement in Guardians of the Galaxy.  Aside from that, this issue drove right off a cliff and landed squarely in a pile of boredom.  Basically, Bendis uses this issue as one long commercial for his X-Men series and advances the saga/characterization of the Guardians not one iota.  If I was a new reader, I’d be wondering why the Guardians were such a big deal because they don’t do much of anything and are portrayed as marginally competent second-fiddles to everyone else in the Marvel Universe – especially any Avengers or X team.  They have “B-List rapidly slipping to C-List” written all over them in Bendis’ characterization.

Bendis’ continued fascination with the lackluster “Galactic Council” is beyond comprehension.  They come across as a bunch of incompetent, scheming, generic, cardboard villains who never agree on anything and work at cross purposes to each other.  Why do they bother to meet?  How come this bears no resemblance to the Galactic Council as portrayed in the past?  If these heads of state are all so incompetent, how do they keep from being deposed?  I know this is Bendis’ ham-handed attempt to set up and advance stories – but frankly it’s bad writing and a bad technique reminiscent of some of the worst examples of storytelling from 50’s-70’s-era popular televised juvenile science-fantasy.  And that’s the problem with Bendis writing cosmic.  His entire understanding of cosmic seems to come from watching TV as a youngster.  That much is obvious from his handling of Guardians of the Galaxy thus far with its obvious turn to the juvenile and the implausible.  Add to that that, Bendis has written implausible super-heroic fantasy for so long that he has no idea how to write science-fiction or even science-fantasy that must by definition contain a modicum of plausibility to earn the “science” brand – and you get the mess that is his Volume III of Guardians of the Galaxy.

I really hate it that Star-Lord is portrayed as a bumbling, skirt-chasing, 25-year-old easily taken down by an obvious Skrull imposter with the old “drug in the drink” trick.   I much preferred the colder, more mature, more calculating middle-aged manipulator who chased the occasional skirt.  DnA’s inspiration for Star-Lord came from a softened version of his original portrayal with some Han Solo mixed in.  Bendis’ inspiration is apparently Adam West’s portrayal of Batman with some young Charlie Sheen mixed in and dumped into the body of a 25-year-old.   I don’t see this version of Star-Lord as anyone to be respected, feared, or admired.  In fact, his “leadership” in Volume III has been lackluster at best.  If I was the Galactic Council, I’d just ignore him and let him self-destruct via his own incompetence.

Knowhere (complete with a barely noticeable cameo from Cosmo) is now inexplicably portrayed as a dirty spaceport on a planet with a binary star system (i.e. a rip-off of Star Wars’ Mos Eisley).  When did Knowhere move out of the Celestial head floating through the Big Rip?  Did Bendis just decide to ret-con the whole Knowhere mythos?  What gives?

Though Pichelli gets kudos for her portrayal of Gamora in the Annihilation-era costume and for her portrayal of Angela – the rest of the team leaves something to be desired – especially Rocket and Drax.  Rocket looks like a dog’s plush toy and Drax is portrayed as a generic, barely-defined muscle-man.  Ponsor does  his usual fine job with colors – but admittedly he doesn’t have much with which to work.

I’m reminded of what William Shatner told J. J. Abrams about the new Star Trek.  Shatner told Abrams that it portrayed all the classic characters and had some whiz-bang special effects – but it lacked the real heart of Star Trek.  I agree with Shatner, and I’ve said the same about Bendis’ Guardians of the Galaxy Volume III from the start.  Look back through my reviews.  Bendis writes characters who carry the name and image of DnA’s version of Guardians of the Galaxy, but Bendis has excised their hearts and souls.   Bendis writes caricatures of the Guardians of the Galaxy aimlessly wandering around inexplicably/implausibly obsessed with one miniscule fraction of one galaxy (i.e. Earth-space) acting like inferior versions of any of the way too many Avengers teams – that is, when he’s not using the Guardians of the Galaxy as butlers for The Avengers and now the X-Men.

Just as I’ve said from the start, Bendis doesn’t understand science-fiction, and he lacks the talent to capture the heart and soul of the characters that made Volume II of Guardians of the Galaxy a modern day classic.   The best thing he could do is step aside and let a better writer – preferably one with SF street cred – take over.  Sadly, we already know that’s not in the cards as the Avengers-zombies (and the old Volume II Guardians of the Galaxy fans who vainly hope for a glimpse of the past glory to seep into Volume III) keep the sales up around 60K.  Sadly, we also know that Bendis didn’t learn from the stupid and disastrous addition of Iron Man to the team as Cable is slated to join the team soon in a shameless ploy to attract X-zombie dollars to the book as is Venom in a shameless ploy to attract Spider-zombies.  This Bendis-led integration of Guardians of the Galaxy into the greater Marvel Universe to attract more (juvenile and casual) buyers has really weakened the concept and is not a good lead-in to the upcoming movie.  Cosmic was substantially better when it was niche-audience oriented and adult-oriented. Sadly, the powers that be in Marvel Editorial show no signs of waking up and correcting their bad decisions.