Vogonian Rhapsody 1
Who the Hell are the Guardians of the Galaxy?
In this, the post-Avengers era, we nerds find ourselves in interesting times. For many years, there were characters, concepts, tropes, and ideas from comics that no non-comics fan would get. After the epics ofnAvengers and Chris Nolan’s Batman, we find ourselves in a key role to society-at-large, in that we now have to explain ideas that appear in films to those who are uneducated in the realm of comicdom. I can remember during the early moments of Avengers, Loki is speaking with a disembodied voice in a weird asteroid field. I had looked for no spoilers and even avoided many of the ads for Avengers, but I knew the look of the place, the instant I saw it. I leaned over to my date and said one word:
She gave me a confused look, but continued to watch the movie. However, I noted that I said it loud
enough that several people around me heard it. Of course, we all know that, at the end of the film after
the first round of credits, Thanos physically appears. At the moment they started that sequence, my fists
were raised in victory. The reveal was simply validation for something I had already deduced.
On the way to the car, several movie-goers who had been sitting around me, approached and asked
about the guy at the end. I proceeded to tell them a brief description of the Mad Titan. My guess is that
anyone reading this blog, by this point, has done the research and learned the background on the
character of Thanos.
However, the next round of Marvel Movies includes an extremely unusual one in Guardians of the Galaxy.
Most of these characters are virtually unknown, even to many comic book fans. All of them have been
around for a while, but have barely encountered other heroes of the Marvel Universe. And yet, they have
saved the entire universe time and time, again.
The original Guardians of the Galaxy were created in 1969 by writer Arnold Drake and Gene Colan. 1000
years in the future, Earth and the Earth’s Solar System was held by an alien race called the Badoon.
Earth had reached out across the galaxy and settled the other planets of the system by bio-engineering
humans to survive unusual conditions. However, after the Badoon invasion, many of the colonies were
left devastated and the human race was scattered. A small band of heroes rose up, most, the last survivors of their respective peoples. They fought against the invaders, eventually managing to defeat the Badoon with the help of heroes from the modern era. They also fought the cosmic, time-traveling threat of Korvac, alongside the Avengers.
In 2008, a brand new team of Guardians was introduced. As opposed to the original team, this new team
was not made up of all original characters. Frankly, the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, there were way too many
damn teams that premiered which were made up of original characters. At some point, some executive at
Marvel or DC said, “Rather than trademark and copyright a whole bunch of new characters, let’s just grab
a handful of characters that we already have and throw bad stuff at them.”
The new Guardians of the Galaxy actually came about a bit more organically. Some jerk named Annhilus
from the Negative Zone decided to try and take a portion of the main universe and ended up sending his
attack force, called the Annihilation Wave, to destroy multiple worlds. In order to stop the Annihilation
Wave, every available cosmic character was gathered together. The small band of heroes and villains
stood against Annihilus and managed, after much sacrifice, to push him back.
Note: Annihilus only knew about the positive universe because Reed Richards decided to play god and
punch a hole into the Negative Zone.
After the threat of the Annihilation Wave was defeated, a race of alien cyborgs called the Phalanx (who
were actually bigoted, anti-mutant humans merged with an alien technovirus), led by Ultron (an evil robot
created by Ant-Man) took over the Kree Empire. Remnants of the defenders against Annihilus managed
to subvert the Phalanx and free the Kree.
By the way, the whole time this was going on, the heroes of Earth were involved in the Marvel Civil War,
fighting one another to determine whether or not a single, small Earth government should register
So, while the heroes of the universe could have used the help of the Avengers, the X-Men and the
Fantastic Four against threats that were, ultimately, their fault, the heroes of Earth decided to fight one
another, instead. Dicks.
Anyways, in the aftermath of these events, a man named Peter Quill, also known as Star-Lord, gathered
a group of these heroes and they became known as the Guardians of the Galaxy upon hearing of the
time-traveling group of heroes that would exist in the future.
And that is the group that is featured in the coming movie.
The Guardians from the teaser image, above, from left to right are:
Drax the Destroyer
Created by Jim Starlin in 1973, Arthur Douglas was killed when a beam of energy fired by Thanos’s ship
destroyed his car. His daughter, Heather, was saved by Thanos’ dad, Mentor, who taught her to tap into
her psionic potential. Mentor also raised Arthur and, calling him Drax the Destroyer, gave him the sole
purpose of destroying his son. Drax has been through many variations and has died several times, but his
most recent incarnation actually managed to succeed in killing Thanos, tearing out his heart (he got
Groot (a.k.a. King Groot)
The oldest character in the group, Groot was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1960, half-a-year
before the premiere of the Fantastic Four. Groot is a wood creature who can communicate in an
incredibly complex language that only a few can understand. To those who cannot, it simply seems as
though he is repeating “I am Groot!” He is, in fact, a king of his people, but has taken to battling alongside
the heroes of the galaxy. He was also a member of S.H.I.E.L.D., at one point.
I recently got my hands on the original Star-Lord story from Marvel Preview #4 (1976) and I have to say
that it is fantastic. Steves Englehart and Gan do an excellent job of presenting a very unusual character. I
wish they could have done more with him. Anywho, Peter Quill is half-human and half-alien who was
orphaned when aliens killed his mother. He forces his way into the mantle of Star-Lord and then tracks
down his mother’s murderers. Eventually, he becomes known as an excellent tactician and warrior. Think
Batman or Captain America, but able to think on a cosmic level.
I wrote an article a long time ago that was about the five best characters in comics. Rocket was #3 on that
list. This was before his recent, triumphant return to the forefront. Created by my personal heroes, Bill
Mantlo and Keith Giffen in 1976, Rocket was further defined by a mini-series in 1985 by Mantlo and a new
kid named Mike Mignola. It was, in many ways, Mignola’s first big shot and it is HIGHLY recommended.
Rocket is a raccoon that was evolved, along with all the animal species of Halfworld, into the hybrid,
anthropomorphic creature you see above. He defended the insane humans of Halfworld until he was able
to help cure their madness. Afterwards, he set out to travel the universe. Eventually, he encountered Quill
and joined him on a suicide mission. Since they both survived, Rocket agreed to join the Guardians as a
secondary leader and tactician.
Another Jim Starlin creation, Gamora first appeared in 1975. She is the last of her species, the rest of
whom were exterminated by the Badoon (remember them). She was taken in by Thanos who, rather than
being a kindly father figure and teaching her to be a respectful young lady, decided to mold her into a
weapon. She became his assassin and known as “The Deadliest Woman in the Galaxy.” She eventually
decided to get it on with Adam Warlock, whose space hippyism must have worn off on her because she
has been, mostly, a good guy since. She once beat up Galactus… sort of.
So, that’s the ones that are pictured. There are other members of the team, but I don’t see them
appearing in the film.
As a note, the Chitauri from the movie more resemble the Badoon than the Chitauri from the Ultimate
Marvel Universe or the Skrulls from mainstream Marvel. It may be possible that the plan is to use the
Chitauri as a replacement for both Skrulls and Badoon and tie them all together with the Guardians.
Maybe I’ll write a whole thing on that, someday.
Annihilation Classic - Collects Rocket Raccoon #1-4, along with Bug #1, Tales to Astonish #13, Nova #1,
Quasar #1, Marvel Spotlight vol. 2 #6, Logan’s Run #6, and Marvel Premiere #1. This has key stories for
all but one of the Guardians in the teaser pic.
Infinity Abyss Collected Edition – Once of the best of all the “Infinity What-Have-You” series, Abyss also
features Gamora in a major role. Also, Thanos kicks a lot of ass in it. Maybe check out Marvel: The End,
Essential Warlock – This has some of the earliest Gamora and Thanos stuff. Also, fantastic, classic stuff.
All the Annihilation and Annihilation: Conquest Collected Editions – It’s a lot of stuff, but it is a phenomenal
story. It was at the point that this was all coming out that I fully embraced the Marvel cosmic stuff because
it was either this or the Civil War.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Legacy – The first collected edition sets up the rest of the series and introduces
one of my favorite characters: Cosmo, the Psychic Russian Dog!
Thanks for reading and check back to DFAT next time, for another Vogon Poetry Slam.