Guardians of the Galaxy #23 was cover dated April 1992 and was on sale February 1992, sharing the spinner racks with Armageddon: Inferno #1, Cage #1, Justice League Spectacular #1, What If #36, X-O Manowar #1 and Youngblood #1.
War of the Guards was written by Jim Valentino, but the art was by the first guest artist on this volume, Mark Texeira and opens with the last scene from issue 22. Starhawk blasts the ground in front of the Guardians of the Galaxy, giving Rancor and her mutants time to escape into the house of Madripoor’s leader. Starhawk battles internally with Aleta while Major Victory and the rest of the team use their star badges to teleport to Rancor’s location where the two teams battle once more, Talon taking on Rancor directly.
There’s another scene with an alien being recruited, this time the diminutive Grott the Manslayer. Now we learn that the person collecting these aliens is Brahl of Force. This brings all of Korvac’s Minions of Menace back together, last time these guys were together was Thor Annual 6 (covered on this here Blog) and there’s also a scene with Hollywood deciding to leave Earth to visit Mainframe. Both of these threads will get picked up in the next annual.
The battle between Rancor’s team and the Guardians of the Galaxy is brief and brutal with Talon in particular acquitting himself very well against Rancor. Before the fight is decided for good. Rancor’s mutants are teleported away, by someone with a familiar looking faceplate.
The Guardians then chase after a fleeing Starhawk and somewhere, the Silver Surfer, now known as the Keeper is heading towards Earth, following the course of Galactus.
Notes: This is the first of the art fill in issues and sadly one of the best. Mark Texeira has a distinct style that doesn’t fit as well with Valentino’s Guardians. But taken against issues 28-29 and Annual 2, this is lovely stuff.
Not much happens outside of the action, but the action is fast and intense and Texeira’s panels flow well one into the other and it has a fantastic visceral quality that suits Rancor better than Valentino/Montano’s art.
Talon has a great hero moment, embarassing and disarming Rancor with aplomb and enjoys this hard won victory as most people would.
The set up for Annual 2 is now done and we leave the issue continuing the idea of Galactus coming to Earth to devour it, pursued by the Silver Surfer, bearer of the Quantum Bands.
Next Time: Valentino and Montano return to the art team for the Coming of the Keeper.