Guardians of the Galaxy Annual 2 was cover dated 1992 and was on sale May 1992 sharing the spinner racks with Arion: The Immortal #1, Avengers #349, Eclipso: The Darkness Within #1, Excalibur: XX Crossing #1, Guy Gardner Reborn #1 and Terror Inc #1.
There are 4 stories in this, one main story carrying the theme of System Bites, two little mini stories and a list story, I’ll go through them one by one:
Riders of the Storm was written by Jim Valentino inked by Steve Montano, with pencils by Herb Trimpe. It opens with the 31st Century’s Spirit of Vengeance flying towards Mainframe’s world to follow a summons by Martinex to all Guardians stars, including the ones taken from the team in issue 13. The Spirit finds Martinex who tells him that Mainframe, the machine that runs the whole planet has gone insane.
We then move to nearby space where Firelord (fresh from GOTG 25) finds a ship being chased by the Universal Church of Truth. In this ship is Replica another former Guardian who is heading to Mainframe’s world too. The team gathers together on Mainframe’s world and Mainframe relates the tale of this virus he’s infected with.
It appeared in three previous annuals Punisher, Deathlok and Wonderman Annuals before infecting Mainframe. Just as this happened, there is a massive power drain caused by Brahl, Mr Teju, Groot the Manslayer, Tork and Dumog now calling themselves the Intimidators, who are trying to resurrect Michael Korvac. Martinex’s team, now including Hollywood find them and there is a brief melee.
To be honest, the Intimidators don’t do too well against the team, but they manage to resurrect an amalgam of Michael the Enemy, Korvac and Mainframe. In a side scene, Krugaar the Sorceror Supreme comments on how he can’t be in this adventure. There’s no real reason for this, but it does explain why he isn’t in this story.
Korvac 2.0 attacks everyone around him, while his mind struggles to contain itself. The Guardians come up with the idea of just overloading him until he can’t take anymore. The problem is that while Korvac 2.0 is connected to Mainframe, when his mind snaps,some of the stuff that Mainframe was keeping under control is stopped. The bad side of that is one of those things was Giraud of Haven, the new host of the Phoenix force.
The Phoenix escapes and launches himself at Korvac and consumes him in the raptor of fire effect, removing him from this reality.
With Korvac defeated, the team solidifies as the Galactic Guardians, ready for whatever comes next.
Notes: I cannot adequately explain how much I dislike this story. The idea of a spin off team isn’t really needed unless you actually do the large Galactic size team mentioned in issue 17.
That said, that’s not what I dislike this comic. That reason is Herb Trimpe. Herb Trimpe is one of the artists that made the Hulk into a quality mainstay comic in the 70’s. His work was iconic and in many places brilliant. This period didn’t give us a great Herb Trimpe and it does hurt this issue.
Story 2: Replica: Faith no more
Words by Jim Valentino and art by Kirkwood Studios
Replica faces the Protege to answer why she called off the search for Starhawk, Malevolence tries to stir the pot between the two of them as Replica gets the summons from Martinex, she escapes Homeworld by disguising herself as Jiltrin and comandeering a starship. Malevolence tries to get her shot down and is called off by Protege, who sees Replica leave and cries.
Notes: This fills in the gap between issue 22 and the first story in the annual, it’s not needed, but not bad.
Story 3: A time for farewells written by Jim Valentino with art by Matthew Jorgensen and Andrew Pepoy and tells the story of Yondu leaving the Guardians of the Galaxy to take his place as Habaktu (Priest) of this newly discovered tribe of Centauri.
The Guardians arrive and visit the cave where Yondu’s new tribe live. They see that the Yaka/Trillite hid the tribe from the Badoon invasion. The Centaurian tribe are amazed and frightened by the strangers in equal measure.
The Guardians help Yondu regenerate his lost hand and he and Vance have a last moment bringing closure to their long friendship, Vance points out his shame at his high handed and arrogant treatment of Yondu, the two hug and part as how they’ve always been, best friends. Drydock leaves Centauri IV’s orbit and Nikki walks away in tears to look at some holo-chips and try to forget the day.
Notes: This is a brief goodbye to founding member Yondu Udonta, weapon master of the Guardians as well as the team’s spiritual conscience. He was an integral part of the team and his leaving should be noted, but I don’t know if this is how they should do it.
Story 4: Guardians of the Galaxy Top Ten Thugs was a three page story written and drawn by Jim Valentino with inks by Michael Bair which gives you pics and a bio of the Guardians enemies both from this series and from their older appearances.
Notes: This is a bit of fluff to show some of the characters that have been in the title and link the annual to issue 26’s secret origin. It’s skippable, but a bit of fun if you’re not completely versed in Guardians lore.
Overall notes: I really don’t like this annual, but there’s something to like if you REALLY look at it.
Next Time: Guardians of the Galaxy #26 the secret origin of the team.