Guardians of the Galaxy #21 was cover dated February 1992 and was on sale December 1991, sharing the spinner racks with Agent Libery Special #1, Ghost Rider/Wolverine/Punisher: Hearts of Darkness #1, The Ray #1, Star Wars: Dark Empire #1, Warlord #1 and X-Factor #75.
The Return of Rancor was written and pencilled by Jim Valentino and inked by Steve Montano and opens with Rancor butchering people on the isle of Madripoor looking for her ancestor Wolverine. No one on Madripoor has any idea what she is talking about. The leaders of the island, an un-named man and his assistant Rinquist evacuate and all of this is observed by a shadowy figure who does not warn Rancor to disrupt his balance of power, so he anonymously contacts Avengers Mansion to warn those there of Rancor’s presence.
In Avengers Mansion, along with the Comandeers are the Guardians of the Galaxy who are enjoying a little bit of downtime. Nikki tries to flirt with Talon, who backs away from the idea as soon as he can, this is overseen by Charlie-27 who decides the best thing to do is do nothing, lest the wrong idea be gotten. Tarin of the Comandeers tries a more formal declaration of love with Yondu, who being a very strictly religious Centaurian explains that he cannot return these feelings, he is pledged. He does however try to comfort her as best he can. Vance Astro (Major Victory) trains with Simon Williams (Hollywood) and both sort of bitch about being long lived and cut off from their loved ones.
The Guardians learn of Rancor’s return and rush to Madripoor to face Rancor, who is ready for them. Then we swap back to Aleta trying to free herself from the grip of Stakar and the Hawkgod. She rails against this new absorption, but to no avail. Now draped in shadows and stars instead of sunlight Starhawk has returned.
Notes: This issue takes some time to get the Guardians and Rancor’s people together, giving the character moments room to breath and it’s a less exciting, but more interesting story as a result.
There is a scene where a lizard like alien called Teju is freed from Stockade, a prison planet. Both Stockade and Teju will come back soon.
The romantic subplots are more of a Legion of Super-Heroes and X-Men trope, but fit nicely into this story, threading together to create a larger narrative.
I’m not a fan of Rancor, but was intrigued by the enemy of Madripoor and how he will factor into the future.
I’ve no idea who Rinquist or his ‘Grace’ is and I don’t think we ever find out, nor do we know what happened to Vance’s sleeveless coat, which shrinks along the way to Madripoor.
Next time: Re-Enter StarHawk.