Friday, August 22, 2008

Guardians of the Galaxy #4 review

Damages (Secret Invasion tie-in)

Major Victory's fight with Starhawk has managed to piss about everyone off. Knowhere's continuum cortex, the system that allows everyone to come and go, was damaged, but it was fixed in short order. However, a bomb sends the whole thing up in smoke and killing 38 people to boot, including many cortex engineers. Among the bodies are also found two Skrulls. Not normally a problem for Knowhere, except that they were disguised. During a team meeting, while everyone is blaming everyone else for all their problems and accusing everyone else of being a Skrull, two members of Knowhere's Administrative Council show up, Gorani and Cynosure (A Luminale and successor to one of the one's that fought Nova in Nova issues #8 and #9). The Council is concerned with the Guardians and the trouble they seem to have brought with them. While arguing with the Council members, they get word of another disturbance involing Major Voctory. Some thugs decide to take their frustrations out on him. He beats them down rather easily, but Cynosure gets in on the action taking down Major Victory. Cosmo manages to keep things from escalating out of control, but is forced to confine the Guardians to their quarters. On the way, we see Starhawk rematerialize. Something's up! Adam Warlock is super pissed that Starlord is acquiesing to the Council's demands for an investigation and that their dawdling is allowing mor fissure anomolies to open. After Warlock storms off, Mantiss walks in informing Starlord that since the bombing of the Cortex, radiation is slowly leaking into the lifesupport systems. Mantis warns Starlord that if they submit to the Council's investigations, then the truth will come out that Mantis, at Starlord's behest, used her telepathy to gently coerce the team together. Unfortunately, neither realize that Drax is listening in on the entire conversation. We then turn to the Investigation with Quasar and Starlord present. Evidence is presented against Drax who has been making many unauthorized visits to the cortex chamber. Seems Drax is their first suspect. Pete calls Gamora, who's watering Groot, to fetch Drax so that he can answer the accusations against him but his room is empty and we see him elsewhere arming himself to the teeth at issue's end.

You can cut the tension with a knife in this issue. It's a solid change of pace and I totally dig it. While it starts off with a bit of a mystery with Major Victory and Starhawk, it quickly switches gears with the subsequent bombing of the continuum cortex. From there, and with the reveal of the Skrulls, it's a slow burn. Accusations flying, fingers pointing, shit's really hitting the fan. The strained relationship between Rocket Racoon and Cosmo, especially, really adds nicely to things. I mean, one's a dog and the other's a racoon so it's not like they'll get along. The stuff with the Council is an interesting touch. Since being introduced to Knowhere in Nova, it was kind of left up in the air with how that place worked. We were introduced to a floating severed Celestial head and a talking Russian dog. I enjoy seeing Abnett and Lanning flesh the place out a little more (It's a sort of international science facility).

While there is some action in this issue, it's not really an action issue. It actually, in its way, feels kind of like an episode of Law & Order. Here we have this criminal act, the cops are investigating before it's all turned over to the prosecuters. The conflicting interests of all the parties, Warlock and Starlord, the Guardians and the Knowhere Administrative Council, all come into play very, very nicely in this issue. All that and the revelation about Starlord's and Mantis's manipulation of the team set things up very nicely for this very cool ending with Drax. It's not a slam bang ending, but a slow burn issue ends with a character who himself is on a slow burning fuse. Just what is this guy up to?

Gamora is still healing after what happened to her in the last issue. She's the T&A factor of the book, so seeing her still burnt to a crisp and covered in a shroud was a nice touch. The whole running joke with Groot.....if it's possible to keep Groot as the team mascot/potted plant, I'd recommend Abnett and Lanning stick with it. It's very funny. Also, one thing that Pete LaPage has complained about, the debriefing box narrative tool? Isn't hardly used in this issue at all. Only once, after the bombing of the cortex, but that's it otherwise. It's a cool narrative device, but it's good to see Abnett and Lanning turn it off when needed. It would have really interrupted the flow of this very well paces issue.

I came this close to not picking the book up this month. I figured, it's Secret Invasion, it's probably gonna derail the story and won't add much to the book, they shouldn't be part of this crossover, it's gonna suck.....incredibly wrong! It deals minimally with Secret Invasion only using it as a way to expose the massive cracks in the team's facade. I was really surprised by how well this issue turned out to be. If you're not picking this book up, missed the first three issues, it doesn't do too bad a job of serving as a jumping on point.

Lovin it.


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