Guardians of the Galaxy (Vol 1) 39

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

Guardians of the Galaxy (Vol 1) 23

Guardians of the Galaxy #23 was cover dated April 1992 and was on sale February 1992, sharing the spinner racks with Armageddon: Inferno #1, Cage #1, Justice League Spectacular #1, What If #36, X-O Manowar #1 and Youngblood #1.

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War of the Guards was written by Jim Valentino, but the art was by the first guest artist on this volume, Mark Texeira and opens with the last scene from issue 22. Starhawk  blasts the ground in front of the Guardians of the Galaxy, giving Rancor and her mutants time to escape into the house of Madripoor’s leader. Starhawk battles internally with Aleta while Major Victory and the rest of the team use their star badges to teleport to Rancor’s location where the two teams battle once more, Talon taking on Rancor directly.

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There’s another scene with an alien being recruited, this time the diminutive Grott the Manslayer. Now we learn that the person collecting these aliens is Brahl of Force. This brings all of Korvac’s Minions of Menace back together, last time these guys were together was Thor Annual 6 (covered on this here Blog) and there’s also a scene with Hollywood deciding to leave Earth to visit Mainframe. Both of these threads will get picked up in the next annual.

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The battle between Rancor’s team and the Guardians of the Galaxy is brief and brutal with Talon in particular acquitting himself very well against  Rancor. Before the fight is decided for good. Rancor’s mutants are teleported away, by someone with a familiar looking faceplate.

The Guardians then chase after a fleeing Starhawk and somewhere, the Silver Surfer, now known as the Keeper is heading towards Earth, following the course of Galactus.

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Notes: This is the first of the art fill in issues and sadly one of the best. Mark Texeira has a distinct style that doesn’t fit as well with Valentino’s Guardians. But taken against issues 28-29 and Annual 2, this is lovely stuff.

Not much happens outside of the action, but the action is fast and intense and Texeira’s panels flow well one into the other and it has a fantastic visceral quality that suits Rancor better than Valentino/Montano’s art.

Talon has a great hero moment, embarassing and disarming Rancor with aplomb and enjoys this hard won victory as most people would.

The set up for Annual 2 is now done and we leave the issue continuing the idea of Galactus coming to Earth to devour it, pursued by the Silver Surfer, bearer of the Quantum Bands.

Next Time: Valentino and Montano return to the art team for the Coming of the Keeper.

 

 

Guardians of the Galaxy (Vol 1) 21

Guardians of the Galaxy #21 was cover dated February 1992 and was on sale December 1991, sharing the spinner racks with Agent Libery Special #1, Ghost Rider/Wolverine/Punisher: Hearts of Darkness #1, The Ray #1, Star Wars: Dark Empire #1, Warlord #1 and X-Factor #75.

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The Return of Rancor was written and pencilled by Jim Valentino and inked by Steve Montano and opens with Rancor butchering people on the isle of Madripoor looking for her ancestor Wolverine. No one on Madripoor has any idea what she is talking about. The leaders of the island, an un-named man and his assistant Rinquist evacuate and all of this is observed by a shadowy figure who does not warn Rancor to disrupt his balance of power, so he anonymously contacts Avengers Mansion to warn those there of Rancor’s presence.

 

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In Avengers Mansion, along with the Comandeers are the Guardians of the Galaxy who are enjoying a little bit of downtime. Nikki tries to flirt with Talon, who backs away from the idea as soon as he can, this is overseen by Charlie-27 who decides the best thing to do is do nothing, lest the wrong idea be gotten. Tarin of the Comandeers tries a more formal declaration of love with Yondu, who being a very strictly religious Centaurian explains that he cannot return these feelings, he is pledged. He does however try to comfort her as best he can. Vance Astro (Major Victory) trains with Simon Williams (Hollywood) and both sort of bitch about being long lived and cut off from their loved ones.

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The Guardians learn of Rancor’s return and rush to Madripoor to face Rancor, who is ready for them. Then we swap back to Aleta trying to free herself from the grip of Stakar and the Hawkgod. She rails against this new absorption, but to no avail. Now draped in shadows and stars instead of sunlight Starhawk has returned.

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Notes: This issue takes some time to get the Guardians and Rancor’s people together, giving the character moments room to breath and it’s a less exciting, but more interesting story as a result.

There is a scene where a lizard like alien called Teju is freed from Stockade, a prison planet. Both Stockade and Teju will come back soon.

The romantic subplots are more of a Legion of Super-Heroes and X-Men trope, but fit nicely into this story, threading together to create a larger narrative.

I’m not a fan of Rancor, but was intrigued by the enemy of Madripoor and how he will factor into the future.

I’ve no idea who Rinquist or his ‘Grace’ is and I don’t think we ever find out, nor do we know what happened to Vance’s sleeveless coat, which shrinks along the way to Madripoor.

Next time: Re-Enter StarHawk.

 

Guardians of the Galaxy (Vol 1) 9

Guardians of the Galaxy 9 was cover dated February 1991 and was on sale December 1990  sharing the spinner racks with Action Comics #661, Death’s Head TPB, Legends of the Dark Knight #14, Mighty Mouse #5, New Gods #22 and Sensational She-Hulk #24.

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Rancor was her Name-O was written and drawn by Jim Valentino and inked by Steve Montano and opens on Haven with the expositional musings of a Haven native called Giraud. Giraud the grandson of one of the first rebels feels resentment towards the ruling Nine and their dominion of their human subjects. He thinks of the Overman (who were mentioned last issue) and hopes for them to come. He is then harassed by Rhodney, a green skinned man with a spikey shoulder-pad and Batwing, a white haired man with as you can imagine Batwings running from his under arms to his calves. Rather than submit to their arbitrary executions, he attacks and flees, before being saved by a voice coming from a shining light, who idenitifies itself as one who knows and I think we know where the scene cuts to next.

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On the Captain America II, the Guardians are looking over Haven, noting the massive geological turmoil. Yondu comments that the planet screaming in pain. Starhawk arrives with Giraud who gives the Guardians a brief history of the planet. It turns out that Magneto offered to take the mutant population of Earth to another world to escape persecution and death at the hands of sentinels. They stopped on Europa where they faced Apocalypse of all people. Magneto battled and defeated him at the cost of both of their lives. Wolverine of the X-Men took the leadership role and the mutants fled to find Haven, it was a harsh and unforgiving place, but the mutants tamed it and made it home.

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Wolverine declined to lead, his descendants lacked only his restraint, not his vicious nature or his longevity, either out fighting or out living any opponent and soon taking command of Haven and it’s growing human population. Mutants traits are not always passed on, so a greater and greater portion of those born were only human, making the mutant elite more and more powerful, until the Nine rule with an iron fist.

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The scene shifts to an underground base and a resistance group, including a mutant known as Bear. They are planning against the Nine, when they burst in, one by one killing the resistance and leaving their bodies where they lay. Only a girl in pink seems to survive by hiding in the wall.

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After hearing this story, the Guardians agree to help resolve the situation. Starhawk suggests splitting up, Yondu and Aleta are to accompany Martinex to meet with Rancor, the current ruler, whilst Nikki, Charlie-27 and Vance meet with locals to determine the state of the resistance. Starhawk will do whatever he knows he needs to do and the teams depart.

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The scene shifts to a Stark world where a cyborg scout complains about TSFKAT being reconstructed. The Stark leader scolds him and tells him that the creature will end up far more powerful.

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Arriving at Rancor’s tower palace, the team are met with an imperious and snarling Rancor who knowing their number immediately asks where the rest are. Diplomatically, Martinex tells her that they are among the local populace, making enquiries there. This incenses Rancor who realises that this means the resistance and orders her mutants to attack.

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There is a fight, which the Guardians lose and then Rancor demands their surrender.

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Inside a volcano, Starhawk stands above the lava, in conversation with a disembodied voice. The voice tells Starhawk that after half a millennium dormant, it is going to rise and that is all there is to it.

Vance, Charlie and Nikki arrive at the resistance base with Giraud, to see the dead bodies all around, hidden from view is a girl from earlier who can either change shape, or cast the illusion of doing so. She sees Giraud and believes that these strangers are the prophesied Overmen.

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Over the tv monitor, Rancor is seen to declare that the Guardians must surrender, else the other team, already captured will die, one per hour. Charlie-27 picks up Bear’s gun and declares “Surrender?  Not Bleedin’ Likely

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Notes: After over a decade, the Guardians of the Galaxy arrive at the last free colony.

The relationship between Vance and Aleta has progressed, but he’s still being very cautious about being public with it all. Aleta, not so inhibited.

We’re back to Starhawk just wandering around and adjusting events to being things into line with either what he remembers, or what he wants things to end up being. His bringing Giraud up seems almost arbitrary, but you can already guess it isn’t.

Despite it being a world of mutants, the only ones we meet are: Rancor, a sort of female Sabretooth. Mind-Scan: A telepath. Side Step: A teleporter, who uses expandable portals, so more can travel with her. Shaddo: With a living cape of darkness. Batwing: We mentioned him before. Rhodney: Ditto. Blaster: A generic energy caster. Blockade: A big guy, who gets bigger and bigger. Bear: Another big guy, with a big gun, who changes sides before being killed.

There are mostly quite forgettable and bring very little to the story, but this story did need mutants.

The Stark subplot continues, but there’s only an issue or two left before that comes back to the fore.

This storyline answers a question that comes up in my head from time to time regarding the X-Titles. During the days of future past timeline, the X-Men’s focus changes from integration to simple survival. So here’s the question, with the Shi’ar owing them favour’s by this point and some characters able to teleport others (one I think can do it across interstellar space) why didn’t they just leave Earth? Here they did, not that it went any better.

I liked the splitting the team idea, with a more peaceful minded team meeting with Rancor and a more combat ready team meeting the resistance, it’s a better in-story reason to split the story than the several tasks/ several locations that you normally get. It feels more like a real team with each having different skills and preferences.

Once again, the art is top notch, with each character being clear and distinct in their own appearance and identity.

One difference between the early 90’s and what came later, can you imagine any writer killing Wolverine off now? Even after centuries, or making his descendants the villains?

Charlie-27 ends the issue ready for war, with a BIG gun and next ish, the fight begins.