The pride and joy of Marvel Comics, Brian Michael Bendis, has seen better days. He’s one of the most celebrated comic book writers of the last 20 years, but not everything can be gold. Bendis has been writing Guardians since 2013, his tenure now comes to a close in 2017. This messy Guardians Of The Galaxy run ends with another mess.
Star-Lord and his galaxy-guarding crew has been “grounded” since Civil War II, where their ship was destroyed. Thanos collaborates with his fellow cosmic villains and decides to invade Earth. Every hero on Earth is apparently busy, other than the Guardians. They defeat Thanos, Rocket puts a ship together, they finally get back to space.
The story here is boring and misguided, trying to get to the end as fast as possible. It’s full of half-hearted tying of loose ends and farewells that have no impact. The only purpose it serves is getting the core together and getting them back into space.
There are a total of eight artists on this one issue for some reason. Some of the pages are beautiful, including the best that “Space Venom” has ever looked. Other pages are as dull and uninspired as the story they’re telling.
One of the problems with Bendis’ Guardians is that instead of putting the team in cosmic situations and stories, he continuously forced Earth heroes into cosmic stories. It started with Iron Man in the very first arc Bendis wrote. From there the team included the likes of Kitty Pryde, Venom, The Thing, and Angela.
In the classic run by Abnett & Lanning, the lineup constantly evolved, but not until after the core was well established. It’s not that Bendis included non-cosmic heroes, it’s that the cosmic element took a back seat. The relationships between the core members were never fleshed out before they started crossing over with Iron Man and the X-Men. What readers will remember the most about these four years are “Space Venom” and that Kitty was engaged to Peter Quill (not a positive memory).
The best thing about this issue is that when it’s over, the core members of the team are leaving Earth behind. They’re also shedding the honorary members for good. I understand that without the Richards family, The Thing and Human Torch have to find something to do. It just didn’t work out the way Marvel wanted it to.
Brian Michael Bendis’ run wasn’t all bad, it got off to an okay start even with Iron Man being forced in there. It progressively got worse and worse, the biggest reason not even being his fault. After the success of the Guardians Of The Galaxy film, Marvel clearly wanted the tone and look of the comics to mirror the movie.
The characterizations for the entire team got farther and farther away from the Abnett versions the longer the series went on. Star-Lord especially has been almost completely morphed following the movie’s success. Every relaunch was another creative filter Marvel ran Star-Lord through, resulting in an annoyingly bored version of the one played by Chris Pratt.
Perhaps the issues with Bendis’ Guardians Of The Galaxy run aren’t even his fault. Marvel could have been limiting him from the start and pushing their MCU agenda into his ideas. Even so, halfway through his four years on the title, Bendis was clearly less interested and focused on the title and decided to eventually walk away.
Guardians Of The Galaxy #19 is a perfectly misguided ending to a messy run of comic book stories. There’s nothing carrying any weight, or worthy of note, outside of the team leaving Earth. Readers, along with these heroes, can finally move on.
If the taste left in readers’ mouths isn’t too overwhelming, we do have a new series to look forward to. Hopefully this will be the return to form for our beloved cosmic heroes we deserve.
What do you think of Bendis’ time on GOTG? Will you be reading the new series? Let us know in the comments below!