So there’s this Marvel movie coming out next week that’s probably not a big deal because it’s not poised to be the biggest coolest thing this summer (or anything) What’s it called you ask? Why Guardians of the Galaxy of course. What the hell is a Guardian of the Galaxy? Well you sir/ma’am, have come to the right place.
What this article is going to attempt to be is a friendly introduction into the world of Marvel Cosmic. You aren’t going to be a pro by the end of it by any means but you should at the very least be able to catch some cool easter eggs and have SOME sort of understanding of what your friends are freaking about post film stinger.
What exactly are the Guardians of the Galaxy? Think the Avengers in space but with a lot less social acceptability. People don’t love Peter Quill (Starlord) or Drax (Drax) like they do Iron Man or Captain America. So note that while I may not have seen the film, PLEASE be aware that I will be discussing some stuff in the comics that may or may not finds it’s way into the movie. So if you really want to go in totally pure I’d advise against reading, enjoy the movie and come back later for any questions.
What I’m going to be describing is the core GOTG team. So why yes the Nova Corps are in the film as is Korath, Yondu and even Ronan. I’m going to be mainly discussing the core team and maybe I’ll revisit these character’s for their own articles.
First things first however and that is to become familiar with what I would deem the modern age of Cosmic Marvel and the event books that essentially blasted these characters into mainstream Comics.
Annihilation (2005) written by Keith Giffen
This is the Marvel Event book that brought Marvel Cosmic back into relevancy. At the same time there was this little thing called The Civil War going on in comics and it was so big that Annihilation was overshadowed but was just as good if not better in terms of entertainment.
This book is where we get reintroduced to a ton of big deal players in the comics today. Peter Quill pops up, Thanos, Drax, The Nova Corps, Gamora, Richard Rider and TONS more. Essentially a power so massive and dangerous it forces the denizens on Marvel Cosmic to come together and interact with each other. It’s a great jumping on point starting with the 4-part mini Drax The Destroyer and the Annihilation: Prologue.
Annihilation: Conquest (2007) written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
The follow up that is just as great as the first, and really the lead in point for the reboot of The Guardians of the Galaxy book and all the craziness that follows. Without going into too much detail some more bad stuff happens in space and we are left with events that reintroduce us to characters like Rocket Raccoon, Groot and Peter Quill becoming Star Lord and wearing that awesome mask. Annihilation and Annihilation: Conquest are two great event books that eventually lead to…
Guardians of the Galaxy
The team we’ll be seeing in the movie is not the original team that was conceived in the comic. Hell, it’s not even the original team conceived in the most recent reboot. What reboot? Well there is the book that is currently being written by Brian Michael Bendis and this is the one that has the core team from the movie intact. But the REAL reboot came at the hands of three writers back in ‘06-’07. These three gifts to comics were Keith Giffen, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. There’s was an event in 2007 called Annihilation: Conquest and if there’s one thing we know about event comics, it’s that they have about a million spinoffs. One such spinoff was the title “Annihilation Conquest: Starlord” and this is where we see the Starlord as we know now and how he find himself on a team with the likes of Rocket Raccoon, Groot and a few other characters that are fun but didn’t make the cut to film. The mini ran for 4 issues that tied directly into the main book but was well received and eventually did spin off into the book that became Guardians of the Galaxy.
Coming out in 2008, this is what I would say is the version that most resembles the film. Starlord’s mask, the outfit and the team are all fairly similar to its cinematic counterpart. This book was great but unfortunately hampered by the constant start and stopping of plots due to crossovers and lasted only 25 issues. It had great additions and big time cosmic players like Adam Warlock and Thanos showing up.
Finally we come to the aforementioned Guardians of the Galaxy written by Brian Michael Bendis. This came out in 2013 and was essentially created as a introduction to the characters to new fans and is clearly the book they made to coincide with the upcoming film.
Yes, there is the earlier run from the 90s and before and no we won’t be discussing them here because it’s just going to confuse and upset you. Needless to say it takes place a 1000 years from now and has none of the core cast in it…. except for Yondu, because Yondu is awesome.
Peter Quill AKA Starlord
The first time we are introduced to Starlord in modern day comics he isn’t even that. He is the hero formally known as Starlord because he gave up the title due to some unfortunate collateral damage and is actually rotting away in space jail called the Kyln as a result. In the 2006 book Annihilation Peter is essentially a side character that helps out the main players and it’s not until the events of Annihilation: Conquest that he goes back to being Starlord (because the universe needs him back dammit!)
The Bendis book, while not ignoring the events of Annihilation or the events that followed essentially streamlined him where he’s always been this devil may care smuggler/thief that also happens to be the heir to a galactic empire called Spartax. Not sure where the movie is taking most of their cues from but I’d expect a healthy mix.
Drax The Destroyer
Drax has a long and frankly, silly history in the comics. He was once a human named Arthur Douglas who was, along with his family, killed by Thanos (big deal purple guy at the end of the Avengers c’mon work with me here) pretty much as an afterthought. Then some space gods were worried that Thanos had destroyed one too many mini vans and resurrected Arthur’s spirit into a being that had the sole purpose of kill Thanos. This body was basically the Hulk in a purple cape that could fly with the intelligence of an acorn. It was dumb but he was around for years.
Fast forward to the Events of Annihilation and we see Drax pop up and due to some clever writing, we find ourselves with a re-imagined version of Drax. This guy was clever and jacked up aliens with duel knives and pretty much kept the interesting bits about how he was created solely to kill Thanos and all that.
Pretty easy to see why they decided to go with this version in the movies. It also seems like movie Drax was never a human who drove mini vans and it seems like maybe his beef is with Ronan the Accuser as opposed to Thanos.
Gamora: The Deadliest Woman in the Universe
Raised from birth to become an assassin, Gamora is no joke. She has a lot backstory as a side character from the 90s and prior but the reintroduction we get from her is during the events of the first Annihilation book. She carries the title of The Deadliest Woman in the Universe and isn’t the most trustworthy character in large part due to the fact that her adopted father, the man who raised her is none other than POSSIBLE MOVIE SPOILER (highlight to view) Thanos.
So maybe that will be a factor in the film but who knows.
Groot: His Divine Majesty King Groot the 23rd, Monarch of Planet X, custodian of the branch worlds, ruler of all the shades, flora colossus
Such DEPTH! Really though OG Groot was kind of a dick and is some sort of tree alien royalty. When he was brought back during the events of Annihilation: Conquest he was just a giant “talking” tree alien that was buddies with a talking Raccoon. I wrote talking in parenthesis because all he can really say is “I am Groot” in various cadences but for some reason everyone can understand him. I couldn’t really tell you where the movie version could differ. Groot is pretty great .
First appearing in as a character in Marvel Preview #7 that came out in 1976, Rocket’s origins are…. a product of the times when it comes to Comic Books back then. He worked in an insane asylum in space that also housed other animals that could talk for some reason.
Even the modern introduction of Rocket doesn’t really explain if he just an alien who looks like a racoon or an actual raccoon from earth that was experimented on. His old insane asylum job is brought up from time to time but so is that fact that he may be from earth. The movie version is sticking with what works in the books essentially. He’s a raccoon named Rocket that can talk and is kind of an ass. It works.
So there you have it. A quick rundown of the main characters in the upcoming film. Clearly this is not a end all be all for source of information of the characters but I hope it’s enough to get by and maybe even get you interested in the comics. In a perfect world you end up seeing Guardians of the Galaxy and love the movie so much that you just can’t WAIT to dig even deeper in these character’s back stories. What is going to follow is a list of relevant titles and events for you to get the most out these characters and Cosmic Marvel that we know today. Or at the very least bring in the list to your local comic store and see if they can help you out.
Thanos #7-12 which is a precursor to Annihilation which shows Peter in prison.
4 part Drax the Destroyer run (leads in with Annihilation) teams up with Nova in a 4 part mini which leads up to annihilation
Transformation from Peter Quill back into Starlord in the precursor to Annihilation Conquest
(Event) Annihilation: Conquest
A 4 part mini Annihilation Conquest: Starlord where he meets and goes on a suicide mission with with some members eventually forming the Guardians of the Galaxy
Spans into the Solo run GOTG Vol. 2
(Event) War of Kings (King Wars: Game of Thrones style but in space)
(Event) Thanos Imperative (A nice bookend to the Cosmic Marvel universe brought to you by Giffen, Abnett and Lanning)
Brian Michael Bendis Guardians of the Galaxy 2013 (Same team as the movies, more integration with the Marvel Universe characters on earth ie. Avengers, X-Men)