Guardians of the Galaxy 9 was cover dated February 1991 and was on sale December 1990 sharing the spinner racks with Action Comics #661, Death’s Head TPB, Legends of the Dark Knight #14, Mighty Mouse #5, New Gods #22 and Sensational She-Hulk #24.
Rancor was her Name-O was written and drawn by Jim Valentino and inked by Steve Montano and opens on Haven with the expositional musings of a Haven native called Giraud. Giraud the grandson of one of the first rebels feels resentment towards the ruling Nine and their dominion of their human subjects. He thinks of the Overman (who were mentioned last issue) and hopes for them to come. He is then harassed by Rhodney, a green skinned man with a spikey shoulder-pad and Batwing, a white haired man with as you can imagine Batwings running from his under arms to his calves. Rather than submit to their arbitrary executions, he attacks and flees, before being saved by a voice coming from a shining light, who idenitifies itself as one who knows and I think we know where the scene cuts to next.
On the Captain America II, the Guardians are looking over Haven, noting the massive geological turmoil. Yondu comments that the planet screaming in pain. Starhawk arrives with Giraud who gives the Guardians a brief history of the planet. It turns out that Magneto offered to take the mutant population of Earth to another world to escape persecution and death at the hands of sentinels. They stopped on Europa where they faced Apocalypse of all people. Magneto battled and defeated him at the cost of both of their lives. Wolverine of the X-Men took the leadership role and the mutants fled to find Haven, it was a harsh and unforgiving place, but the mutants tamed it and made it home.
Wolverine declined to lead, his descendants lacked only his restraint, not his vicious nature or his longevity, either out fighting or out living any opponent and soon taking command of Haven and it’s growing human population. Mutants traits are not always passed on, so a greater and greater portion of those born were only human, making the mutant elite more and more powerful, until the Nine rule with an iron fist.
The scene shifts to an underground base and a resistance group, including a mutant known as Bear. They are planning against the Nine, when they burst in, one by one killing the resistance and leaving their bodies where they lay. Only a girl in pink seems to survive by hiding in the wall.
After hearing this story, the Guardians agree to help resolve the situation. Starhawk suggests splitting up, Yondu and Aleta are to accompany Martinex to meet with Rancor, the current ruler, whilst Nikki, Charlie-27 and Vance meet with locals to determine the state of the resistance. Starhawk will do whatever he knows he needs to do and the teams depart.
The scene shifts to a Stark world where a cyborg scout complains about TSFKAT being reconstructed. The Stark leader scolds him and tells him that the creature will end up far more powerful.
Arriving at Rancor’s tower palace, the team are met with an imperious and snarling Rancor who knowing their number immediately asks where the rest are. Diplomatically, Martinex tells her that they are among the local populace, making enquiries there. This incenses Rancor who realises that this means the resistance and orders her mutants to attack.
There is a fight, which the Guardians lose and then Rancor demands their surrender.
Inside a volcano, Starhawk stands above the lava, in conversation with a disembodied voice. The voice tells Starhawk that after half a millennium dormant, it is going to rise and that is all there is to it.
Vance, Charlie and Nikki arrive at the resistance base with Giraud, to see the dead bodies all around, hidden from view is a girl from earlier who can either change shape, or cast the illusion of doing so. She sees Giraud and believes that these strangers are the prophesied Overmen.
Over the tv monitor, Rancor is seen to declare that the Guardians must surrender, else the other team, already captured will die, one per hour. Charlie-27 picks up Bear’s gun and declares “Surrender? Not Bleedin’ Likely
Notes: After over a decade, the Guardians of the Galaxy arrive at the last free colony.
The relationship between Vance and Aleta has progressed, but he’s still being very cautious about being public with it all. Aleta, not so inhibited.
We’re back to Starhawk just wandering around and adjusting events to being things into line with either what he remembers, or what he wants things to end up being. His bringing Giraud up seems almost arbitrary, but you can already guess it isn’t.
Despite it being a world of mutants, the only ones we meet are: Rancor, a sort of female Sabretooth. Mind-Scan: A telepath. Side Step: A teleporter, who uses expandable portals, so more can travel with her. Shaddo: With a living cape of darkness. Batwing: We mentioned him before. Rhodney: Ditto. Blaster: A generic energy caster. Blockade: A big guy, who gets bigger and bigger. Bear: Another big guy, with a big gun, who changes sides before being killed.
There are mostly quite forgettable and bring very little to the story, but this story did need mutants.
The Stark subplot continues, but there’s only an issue or two left before that comes back to the fore.
This storyline answers a question that comes up in my head from time to time regarding the X-Titles. During the days of future past timeline, the X-Men’s focus changes from integration to simple survival. So here’s the question, with the Shi’ar owing them favour’s by this point and some characters able to teleport others (one I think can do it across interstellar space) why didn’t they just leave Earth? Here they did, not that it went any better.
I liked the splitting the team idea, with a more peaceful minded team meeting with Rancor and a more combat ready team meeting the resistance, it’s a better in-story reason to split the story than the several tasks/ several locations that you normally get. It feels more like a real team with each having different skills and preferences.
Once again, the art is top notch, with each character being clear and distinct in their own appearance and identity.
One difference between the early 90’s and what came later, can you imagine any writer killing Wolverine off now? Even after centuries, or making his descendants the villains?
Charlie-27 ends the issue ready for war, with a BIG gun and next ish, the fight begins.