Guardians of the Galaxy 39 was cover dated August 1993 and was on sale in June 1993, sharing the spinner racks with Batman/Grendel #1, Battletide II #1, DC Trinity #1, Deadpool: Circle Chase #1, Harcase #1 and Prime #1.
Skeletal Remains was written by Michael Gallagher, drawn by Kevin West and inked by Steve Montano and opens with Rancor facing the brain of Dr Doom in her ancestor Wolverine’s skeleton. Doom admits that he killed Wolverine (although he doesn’t say how) and savagely attacks Rancor, pointing out how much he wants to see her in pain. As Rancor mutant lieutenants watch in horror, MindScan discovers the Guardians of the Galaxy have entered the complex and she wakes up Batwing and Blockade to battle them. To be honest, even with MindScan, Shaddo and SideStep on the team, the result doesn’t change, leaving Starhawk time to look for Tarin and Old Redd.
As she does so, she notices the mass graves from the slaves provided by Rancor, who were worked to death by the Karoshi program introduced by Dr Doom. Aleta/Starhawk declares that this Realitee-Vee must be destroyed and then we’re back to the fight.
In Rancor’s defense, she hold’s her own, driving the broken claw into Doom’s eye socket and then smashing his head with heavy equipment to drive it deeper into Doom’s skull. Deprived of full vision, he is unable to kill Rancor with a sweep of his claws and she finds a power cable where he missed her and uses it to eletrocute Doom’s skeleton.
We are then shown the moon once more. Composite, the Inhuman shows off four of his brethren to their master: Wormhole, Stupor, Phobia and Imprint are the survivors of gladitorial games and now comprise the army of the man who enslaved the Inhumans, the Norse god Loki.
Rancor’s team decide to flee the Guardians, despite Batwing’s complaining, but they are unknowingly followed by Yellowjacket, as the mutants bicker Rancor appears on the scream, wounded, but apparently victorious. This lasts about a second, before Doom rises and skewers Rancor. The mutants beg for the Guardians to save her, but what saves Rancor is Doom noticing that Starhawk has begun the destruction of the Saltex compound. Knowing his time is up, he leaves, giving Yellowjacket time to get Rancor to the Icarus and it’s Sickbay.
On the Icarus, Rancor recovers, possessing the same healing attributes of her family line and beats Yellowjacket, stealing a medical shuttle and teleporting her team aboard it before leaving. An embarassed Yellowjacket tells her team and with Tarin and Old Redd safe, they return to the Icarus while Aleta/Starhawk unleashes the power of the Hawk God on the Saltex Compound, leaving nothing standing.
Weeks later with the threat of the Badoon, Dr Doom, Rancor, the Punishers, Realitee-Vee and the Retox ended, Tarin and Old Redd along with the Guardians try to rebuild the eastern part of the United States of America. Tarin assumes the role of President of the North East Corridor and her running mate Old Redd is made Vice President. Their goal is to restore order, stability and literacy to the remains of the United States. At her inauguration Vance Astro/Major Victory fulfills his oath and uses the shield of Captain America as a rallying symbol of freedom, liberty and hope. The shield now stands as an icon of the beginning of new golden age for the people of Earth.
The End and in many ways, the Beginning.
Notes: This issue ends most of the subplots that have been brewing since Jim Valentino brought the Guardians back to Earth in issue 17. The Badoon, the Punishers and Realitee-Vee are dealt with. Rancor’s quest for Wolverine’s remains and Dr Doom’s attempt to consolidate his control over the Earth all brought to a conclusion. This leaves West and Gallagher room to move onto their own stories and ideas, many of which are hinted at already.
The fight with Doom and Rancor is wonderfully brutal, showing Rancor’s savagery and the ruthless determination of Doom. The claw in the eye bit is very cinematic and the whole thing looks like the terminator v predator film that was never made.
Once again, we are shown that without Rancor, her team is next to useless. Blockade tries to step on Nikki, who burnt his eyes beyond repair, by standing on her head.. WHICH IS ON FIRE!!! What did he think was going to happen?
MindScan manipulating Vance to save Rancor puts him in a very Captain America role, the code of honour line comes out of nowhere, but you can see he’s operating from a very What Would Cap Do? mentality and that is what Cap would do, he’d save everyone, even the bad guy.
The mass grave scene was effective, without being too gory and it gives the more reserved Starhawk reason to lose it and destroy the whole place.
Yellowjacket continues to try and prove herself to the Guardians, despite being accepted already and this leads to her feeling a lot of shame when Rancor (a fighter no one on the team has beaten one on one) beats her and escapes. No one but her feels that she let anyone down, but you’re always harder on yourself than anyone else is.
The Inhuman’s storyline heats up and the bad guy is revealed to be Loki. So I guess we’re off to Asgard at some point. Will be interesting to see what that’ll be like.
The first signs of reconstruction in nearly 15 years is a welcome sight and while Tarin becoming president is a little convenient, it’s closes the loop on her story, from helping free New York, to helping to save it, to trying to do the same for the rest of the country, it makes sense.
The moment where Vance hands the shield over is a heartfelt moment, it’s the scene I feel most suffers from Valentino’s absence as he put the shield with Vance and he always seemed to give Vance’s face more personality.
For the first time since Marvel Presents #3, the Guardians of the Galaxy leave Earth in search of new adventures, their war over and the future bright. Don’t worry, this is a marvel comic, that’s never going to last.
Next Time: Annual 3 and Cuchulain: the Irish wolfhound.