Guardians of the Galaxy 54 was cover dated November 1994 and was on sale September 1994, sharing the spinner racks with Action Comics #0, Fantastic Force #1, Guy Gardner: Warrior #0, Psi-Lords #1, Timecop #1, Turok: Dinosaur Hunter Yearbook #1 and X-Factor #108.
The spiders of mars was written by Michael Gallagher, guest pencilled by Scott Eaton and inked by three inkers, none of which were Steve Montano and opens with Icarus orbiting the quarantined planet of Mars. There is some bickering on the bridge, including questioning of Vance by Yondu, who is still very disturbed by the idea of his god being Thanos.
As peace between the old friends is restored, the ship is attacked by Sentinels. The ship takes care of them fairly easily and the Guardians tele-port down to the surface of Mars.
The team find a museum for the War of the Worlds, as the aliens who attacked Earth had retreated to Mars. Vance finds a hall of fallen heroes, artifacts that have been there for over a millenium. Amongst these is the mask of Captain America, which crumbles as Vance reaches for it, to replace his lost Captain America memorabilia. At the end of the hall, they find a monument to the last to fall, Spider-Man. The display also includes his corpse, which was removed to help with plague immunisation.
The team then decides to search for Ripjak, there are two paths leading Vance to split the team. Yondu, Talon and Aleta take one path, whilst Vance, Charlie-27, Nikki and Yellowjacket take the other. Talon again butts heads with Vance over there and it’s only when Charlie steps between them, that this is ended and the teams split up.
Yondu’s team is being observed, just as the whole team was as they arrived. As Talon becomes more animal like, he can smell someone and heads off, the other two following. Their target, the armoured Ripjak, waits for them, they will be the next to die at his hands.
Notes: Now we’re very much inside the Ripjak saga which will take up this and the next four issues and is the last big story before the title’s end.
With a guest penciller and three guest inkers, the art is a little inconsistent as are the character’s looks and it would normally be a problem, but the tone matches the art and it all seems to work out.
The cracks are starting to show in Vance’s leadership and at least three of his team get on his back for his actions in this issue alone.
We have more mention of Yondu’s spiritual crisis and there’s also the start of Starhawk’s quest to learn his true history.
We’ve had FF villains, Avengers and mentions of the X-Men, but this issue is the first real mention of Spider-Man. Of all the heroes in the Marvel Universe, the one you would expect to last beyond the rest is Spider-Man, he’d never give up and would keep fighting long after it would cost him his life.
This mention of plague immunisation plays into the Ripjak story later.
The atmospheric nature of the story, makes it a bit like a horror story in space, I liked that idea, very Dr Who.
The design of Ripjak is…. not what I was expecting.
NEXT TIME: Guardians of the Galaxy vs Ripjak