Guardians of the Galaxy (Vol 1) 1

When I first came up with the idea of doing a GOTG blog, this was what I wanted to look at. When I started  collecting comics at the start of the 90s, visiting comic shops and going to comic marts, this was one of the first titles that really hooked me. A lost little gem amongst the comics of the time, it put the Guardians of the Galaxy in  their own eponymous comic and gave them the chance to shine. A large part of that shine was the writer and artist of the first two years of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Jim Valentino. Valentino’s pencils defined the look of this sci-fi superhero series, giving it a distinct visual style, much of which remained for the rest of the series. It is as a writer however, that Valentino made the largest impact. With different writers writing them in different years and for different purposes, characterisation was something of an afterthought. But here in their own title Valentino allowed the characters to grow and change from their first few guest star appearances..

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Vance Astro was bitter and self pitying, trapped in his preservation suit, but over time, Valentino brought out his nobility and a commanding presence.

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Charlie-27 went from being a clichéd team bruiser to a military thinker with a gentle heart and a thirst for adventure.

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Martinex was  a cautious thinking man, ill at ease with the leadership role he’d been thrust into.

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Nikki was no portrayed as an angry girl, who lept into swashbuckling adventure to escape the trauma of her past.

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Yondu stopped being some kind of savage and was now seen as a spiritual and almost mystical warrior who had his own principles and ideas, not always lining up with his team mates. Far from the bitter harridan of the past,

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Aleta was a gentle and caring character. Starhawk changed both the most and the least. By using a more faded colour palette and distinct dialogue boxes, Starhawk is made to feel more alien and almost comes across as a hologram. This along with the secret of his being “One Who Knows” didn’t make him a more likeable character, but like the rest, he became a fully formed and interesting one.

Guardians of the Galaxy 1 was cover dated June 1990 and was on sale April 1990, sharing the spinner racks with Atlantis Chronicles #3, Black Knight #1, Captain Atom #41, Fantastic Four #341, Green Lantern #1 and New Mutants #90

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But are they ready for Taserface.. Was written and pencilled by Jim Valentino, was inked by Steve Montano, lettered by Ken Lopez, coloured by Evelyn Stein and edited by Craig Anderson, with Tom DeFalco being editor in chief. The story opens with the Guardians of the Galaxy visiting the planet Courg a low tech world in the Bledsoe system and being almost immediately fired upon by some kind of automated weapons installation. The Guardians are each showcased dealing with this attack, giving those who hadn’t seen the Guardians before a quick guide to who they are, where they’re from and what they can do. The team make quick work of the automated weapons, but an alert is raised off world.

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The crisis seemingly over, the Guardians begin to explore Courg. They try to get information from a group of natives, when one of them attacks Yondu crying murderer as he does so. Yondu safely disarms the Courgan and mentally shaken by this event teleports to their orbiting ship, the Freedom’s Lady, along with Martinex.

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Charlie-27 tries to get Nikki alone, with her pointing out that his burns from last time haven’t healed, which Starhawk exchanges with Aleta. Back on the ship, Yondu prays to his people’s God, Anthos. When Martinex is ready to go back down to Courg, Yondu ask him to join him in a vision. What follows is a brief history of the Guardians of the Galaxy, including their origin, their 70’s marvel appearances, the Korvac Saga and their return to the 31st Century. He reveals that they  decided after it all to stay together and they found the Centauri artifact, the book of Antag. Inside the book was reference to a disk shaped device that Vance recognises as Captain America’s shield. This started the team looking for it on several different worlds and as yet, had no success. Martinex and Yondu return to the rest of the team and Vance suggests that the reason they found nothing is that others are on the same search and are ahead of them. This would explain the natives’ response to Yondu.

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As they debate this an armour creature with purple skin appears from nowhere demanding they leave Courg or die at the hands of Taserface. No, that wasn’t a typo, he’s called Taserface. He quickly blasts Vance across the floor. The rest of the team doesn’t fare much better and it’s not until Martinex asks Aleta to change places with Starhawk and the tide turns.

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Once Taserface is on the floor, Vance notes that his armour is kind of like Iron Man’s and they wonder who or what he is. The answer is quickly forthcoming. Appearing as quickly as Taserface did are a group of similiar creatures calling themselves the Stark.

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Immediately it’s noticed that Yondu, Nikki, Aleta and Charlie-27 are all in new costumes, mostly an improvement.

Martinex has now become team leader and the team is on a quest to find something and this something links them once again to the 20th Century.

Nikki is no longer pursuing Vance and seems to be being pursued by Charlie-27.

Aleta seems quite upset when Vance is hurt.

The team seems to be more cohesive than in the past, but there is still tension between the members, most of which are the last of their respective races. Valentino’s pencils and words are what makes this issue shine in my eyes.  His versions of the characters are to me their definitive looks.

I loved this issue and am glad that I’ve got to this point.


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