Guardians of the Galaxy 18 was cover dated November 1991 and was on sale in September 1991, sharing the spinner racks with Black Canary #1, Conan the Barbarian #250, Doom Patrol #48, Excalibur #43, O.M.A.C. One Man Army Corps #1 and Quasar #28.
Punished was written and drawn by Jim Valentino and inked by Steve Montano and opens with a quick recap of recent events and then Vance gets shot.
The two teams (Guardians and Comandeers) find themselves under fire from the Punishers who shoot at them and a furred individual who fired some kind of dart at the lead Punisher, the main reason it seems that Vance’s head wasn’t removed, as it is, the bullet penetrated the adamantium sheath that has covered Vance’s body since the early issues of this title. Taking the initiative, Charlie-27 orders everyone to fire back, his own cannon destroying the building that the Punishers were firing from, giving the team room to escape and seek medical aid for Vance.
The scene shifts to Courg, the planet from issues 1-4 of Guardians of the Galaxy, where teleported down from the Captain America II, Martinex T’Naga views the scene of a massacre that seems to have occurred since the Guardians were last there. He is set upon by a native of Courg who only shrieks “Murderer. You Killed Us All!”
Back in New York, a Punisher squad ambush Yondu, Old Redd and Inez and Inez is shot and killed by a smirking Punisher, who comments on it being worth a “Double Bonus”. Yondu goes bezerk and summons a battleaxe from his new weapons stump and (partially off panel) decapitates the Punisher. While Nate & Nikki plan to take out a flying Punisher, a furry man with a tale lands in the window of a building in Greenwich Village.
The furry man (called Talon by the house’s resident) tells the man inside that he needs help for the Guardians and Comandeers. Then back to action. Charlie-27 has caught up with the original shooter and batters him into the wall, while Nikki has taken out the flier and flies on a captured flying device and helps Nate, who is shot at and his eye is damaged. As Charlie is finishing punching Vance’s assailant through the wall, a tank called the Ultimate Punisher arrives on the scene and Charlie quickly fires at it using his cannon, with zero effect.
The team retreat as Tarin comments on how badly the last two issues have gone, giving a nice segue into looking at Vance Astro, now lying in a vacuum chamber guarded by the Commandeer named Hollywood. Hollywood thinks about how Vance is quite conceited to wear Captain America’s shield into battle, but says that if it was in his power, he would not let Vance die. Then as if answer, Krugarr the sorcerer supreme appears before him and announces that he is there to help Hollywood save Vance Astro’s life.
As the remaining heroes gather together and wonder how to get out of all this, help arrives in the form of Talon, the cat man from earlier in the issue, who in a very Mad Max way points out that they need to talk to him to get out of there.
Notes: This is the first full appearance of Talon, who will stick around for quite a while and the welcome return of Krugarr.
This is a fun issue, very much a middle of the action story, with the heroes seperated and under threat, kinda reminding me of Empire Strike Back in a way.
Both Yondu and Tarin have prosthetics and it looks like Nate’ll need one by next issue.
Yondu shows a great degree of savagery in his dispatching of one of the Punishers. Yondu is considered a primitive, or a barbarian, with his aversion to technology and his acceptance of lethal force in combat, but he’s always been shown as a very civilised and calm person, so this savage beheading is very much out of character as Old Redd notices.
One thing that bothered me was that it’s the 31st century, so why are people still using bullets? Even after the fall of human civilisation in the wake of the Badoon, howcome lasers aren’t the norm?
Next Time: The Gentleman’s name is Talon, the Punishers and some old enemies.