Guardians of the Galaxy 15 was cover dated August 1991 and was on sale in June 1991, sharing the spinner racks with Deathstroke: the Terminator #1, Fantastic Four #355, Jaguar #1, Solar Man of the Atom #1, Wonder Woman #57 and X-Force #1.
The Power of the Protege was written and drawn by Jim Valentino and inked by Steve Montano and opens with Aleta and Vance getting engaged under the watchful eye of Mephisto. Mephisto, in his hell-like home monologues about the recent past, a nice bit of exposition and re-capping, with the added bonus of the little known fact that he assisted the Spirit of Vengeance in removing Starhawk’s memories.
The scene shifts to the homeworld of the Universal Church of Truth and the presentation of the Protege, he who will be the new Magus. The Protege is overseeing a process to choose a matriarch, a woman who can guide him in the use of his growing powers and his leadership of his chuch. This process seems to be a last man standing combat competition, with females from across the known worlds, battling for the right to stand at the Protege’s side, including a Stark and the demonic Malevolence.
While the Protege learns how to use the fire that Malevolence wields, Interface tells the rest of Force some of her history. She was born on Uloc, a peaceful world of intellectuals. The Universal Church arrived and forcibly converted the planet and enslaved it’s population. Interface was approached by the energy being Tachyon, who awoke in her the power of matter transmutation. They both left Uloc and she founded Force. As Eighty-Five questions her choices, Brahl returns and commands the rest of Force to prepare to attack the Guardians, whose ship is approaching.
On the ship the team is getting ready to get to the Church’s homeworld and Replica, in fear for her mortal soul, cowers on the bridge. Vance arrives to see Nikki carrying pistols again and they wait for Aleta and Starhawk to arrive. Starhawk gives Aleta his blessing over her engagement and just for a second, things for the majority of the team look good. Well it’s a Marvel title, so we know that won’t last. The ship arrives at Homeworld and Martinex is looking for answers from an amnesiac Starhawk and a cowering Replica, when Force attack.
Once again the teams pair off, most of the pairings matching the ones from Guardians of the Galaxy #6. Scanner goes for Nikki, Broadside grapples with Charlie-27 and Photon seeks out Yondu, who has yet to show up this issue. Photon finds Yondu, this time he is willing to fight. Photon tells of her life, how her eye-blast powers caused fear in the superstitious Centaurians and she was cast out, losing her mother and father to starvation and a mob respectively. Photon was found by Interface and Tachyon, who raised her and she rejoiced at the devastation caused by the Badoon and forever abandoned the spiritual side of her nature. Yondu is understandingly taken aback. Tachyon stands before Vance and Aleta, Aleta teleports down to Homeworld. Brahl reacts badly, as he was there to prevent Aleta leaving. Unaware, Brahl is struck down by an almost immaterial Starhawk, who is as incorporeal as Brahl.
Eighty-Five finds Replica and decides not to fight, uttering the words. “Take my soul if you will Malevolence, the Kree do not war on children.” Which is how we find out where Replica is from. She’s a Skrull. Skrulls and Kree have warred for millenia and in a fit of rage, attacks Eighty-Five. Aleta now arrives on Homeworld and challenges Malevolence, putting her life on the line to protect the Protege from her evil. Eighty-Five vs Replica, Scanner Vs Nikki, Aleta vs Malevolence and Photon vs Yondu. The Players are in place and the fight has just begun.
Notes: I love this issue as the stories interweave well and the action is on a knife edge. With the exception of Malevolence and Brahl, even the bad guys have an understandable point of view.
On the first page, it looks like Vance and Aleta are getting dressed, hinting at their relationship is getting more and more intimate, then Vance proposes.
Charlie-27 and Broadside make peace in a charming two panel scene, it’s a shame nothing ever really comes of it.
The Protege is the next Magus and is seeking a tutor, but only one good in a fight? He also seems to be able to aquire powers and abilities upon seeing them in action.
It has all come to a head, now what?
Next time: Double length issue 16.