REVIEW: Guardians of the Galaxy #5 Helps its Heroes Become Better

Cover of Guardians of the Galaxy #5, showing the two Moondragons clashing.

Guardians of the Galaxy under Al Ewing and Juan Cabal has taken the beloved underdog team and refreshed them into a new, exciting direction: proper big-time superheroes. Trading in the mercenary, scrappy niche that the group had found itself locked into since the debut of the Marvel Studios film adaptation for genuine character growth and exploring the boundaries of their space-faring corner of the MU, the series has found great success. The latest issue, Guardians of the Galaxy #5, continues this journey and spotlights one of the most underserved characters in the cosmic Marvel Universe: Moondragon.

Guardians of the Galaxy #5

Frederico Blee (colorist), Juan Cabal (interior artist), Al Ewing (writer), Cory Petit (letterer), Ivan Shavrin (cover artist).
Marvel Comics
August 5, 2020

Cover of GotG #5 for review.

The issue picks up where #4 left off, with the two rival Guardians teams (the first team led by Rocket Raccoon and the rival mercenary Guardians led by a spiteful Gamora) facing off over a power-generator that is draining a planet of its life energy. This conflict is spurred on by Castor Gnawbarque, a filthy rich business tycoon first introduced in Ewing and Adam Gorham’s Rocket miniseries. The primary action and comedy beats come from a fun fight scene between Hercules and Gamora’s heavy hitters, but the real highlight of the issue comes when Moondragon meets her doppelganger.

The two Moondragons meet and touch eachother's minds.

For the unaware: the Moondragon of the Marvel Universe lost her wife, Phyla-Vell, during her first tenure on the Guardians of the Galaxy and has spent the last decade-plus being mostly unused in the various Marvel cosmic books and has fallen into a deep depression fueled by both her loss and the ancient cosmic entity to which she is a host. The Moondragon who has been starring in the series, as a member of Rocket’s team, is from another reality. A more heroic and noble Moondragon, she was left stranded in the Marvel Universe along with her still very much alive wife as they try to bring their heroic home’s values to the Marvel Universe. The twin Moondragons’ psychic clashes are breathtaking to behold, with Juan Cabal proving he is one of the most talented and inventive artists on the market today. His mind-bending layouts and stylistic flourishes are only amplified by Frederico Blee’s colors, which run the gamut from clean and modern to hyper-intense and eerie depending on the situation.

One thing that sets Guardians of the Galaxy apart from many of its peers in the superhero ensemble market is that none of its characters appear elsewhere in the Marvel Universe. Because of this, they are allowed to go through substantial growth and progression where other titles, such as Avengers, are often beholden to the events of their members’ solo series and cannot lead to any significant growth or development. Ewing uses this strength to great effect and treats every member of his roster with respect and care. By the end of this issue, Ewing’s mission to carry the Guardians of the Galaxy into the future, both as individual characters and a team, is more apparent than ever and is deeply exciting.

Hercules showcases his new outlook on life.

Guardians of the Galaxy #5 pushes both its plot and characters forward in unexpected and exciting ways, delivers laughs and heart-wrenching emotional blows all in a gorgeous package. It’s hard to ask for more out of a superhero team title, and you would be hard-pressed to find a better choice for your money.

Zoe Tunnell

Zoe Tunnell

Zoe is a 29-year-old trans woman who has been reading far too many comics for most of her adult life and can't stop now.