Guardians of the Galaxy Annual 3 was cover dated 1993 and was on sale in July 1993, sharing the spinner racks with Deathmate Prologue, Metamorpho #1, Night Thrasher #1, Peter Cannon Thunderbolt #1, Savage Dragon #1 and X-Force #25.
The Old Sod Beckons was written by Michael Gallagher and inked by Steve Montano with Colleen Doran guest pencilling for the annual and opens with Major Victory receiving a message from President Tarin that Earth has a 90% illiteracy rate and with no books and little computer records they are great need of any books, one book with a mystical heritage is the Irish Book of Kells.
The team head to Ireland to find the book, but are battled by an ancient Celtic warrior called Cuchulain, the Irish Wolfhound. The fight is fierce, the Guardians have numbers and powers, but very little to match the strength of Cuchulain.
Just as it looks like the Guardians might be holding there own, a freak accident takes out all the Guardians at one when Vance uses a psychokinetic blast on a rock and each fragment hits square on a Guardian’s head. Vance quickly deduces the presence of Shamrock. Shamrock was an obscure hero with probability altering powers from Vance’s time, who appeared during the Contest of Champions and faded into the background not too long after it, but not before finding out that her power was due to the souls of victims of torture and war that were inside her. Just as the fight looks ready to kick off again, a blur appears before them and delivers a bone shuddering upper cut to Cuchulain, knocking him out. The blur is revealed to be Simon (Hollywood) Williams, this leads to a bit of background, with Simon telling them about Shamrock fighting during the War of the Worlds and Shamrock telling them that Dr Druid and three Celtic goddesses charged her with protecting the Book of Kells for the last thousand years and to aid her, the Celtic goddesses restored Cuchulain, a figure of Irish legend to flesh and blood to act as companion and as protector.
Since for there to be a story, there must be a villain, we are then introduced to Samhain, Celtic spirit of death, with an army of blue banshees. After making light work of the Guardians, she corners Shamrock and the Book of Kells and prepares to simply take the book to destroy it for in all honesty spurious reasons. Samhain points out that Shamrock’s souls are simply borrowed and Samhain should have them. Shamrock agrees and lets them out. All of them.
Samhain flees and when the sun rises, the Book of Kells is revealed to the Guardians and Shamrock hands it over, knowing that this is the book’s destiny.
Back in America, Tarin and Old Redd look at the book and it’s remarked that Old Redd and Old Skull from the Killraven stories set during the aftermath of the War of the Worlds look almost exactly alike. In Ireland, Shamrock and Cuchulain, now freed of the 1,000 year task embark on a quest to bring Europe back to a more civilised way, just as Tarin is trying to do for North America.
When alone with Hollywood, Tarin describes the fall of the Commandeers and Dr Doom’s role in it. Incensed, Hollywood flies off to get revenge on Doom and I’m sure that this isn’t the end of that little story. Before they leave, Vance takes a second with his former shield while the rest of the team school Talon on it’s importance to Vance, to the team and the a humanity trying to rebuild.
Notes: To be honest, this is a weird little story, which is only worth reading because of the Doomquest subplot and the eventual return of Cuchulain. The whole getting an ancient book to help people read McGuffin really doesn’t sit well, but the story is entertaining.
Colleen Doran’s pencils are different from Kevin West’s, but it’s a pleasant change which suits this story well and it’s a shame we don’t see more of her work.
Talon makes the exclamation “For Crystal’s sake” which makes a lot of sense, history making the Inhuman royal family into figures of legend and worship by the enslaved Inhumans.
Hollywood starts a quest that will be followed up in a later issue.
We also get some Kevin West art, with the mention of a returning Yondu and a War of the Worlds double page splash.
Overall an ok issue, but one that leads in to other stories.
Next time: Inhumans and Asgardians.