After the events of Empyre, the landscape of Marvel’s cosmic universe has gotten a big shake-up. The Kree-Skrull war is over, replaced with an impossible alliance, and the powers that be are forced to reassess old treaties and agreements. While an issue built entirely around galactic geo(astro?)politics and debates may not sound like the most thrilling book on the market, Al Ewing and Marcio Takara manage to blend tense debate, charming humor, and, yes, even a murder mystery to make Guardians of the Galaxy #7 one of the best issues in an already impressive run.
Guardians of the Galaxy #7
Rafael Albuquerque (cover artist), Fredrico Blee (colorist), Al Ewing (writer), Stefano Landini (inker), Cory Petit (letterer), Marcio Takara (interior artist).
October 21st, 2020
Continuing the individual character spotlight formula from GotG #6, #7 puts Noh-Varr, aka Marvel Boy, front and center in a much-needed refocusing for the character. After stints as a bland Avenger and a weirdly retro-chic focused himbo Young Avenger, Noh returns to his roots as a radical believer in the Utopian Kree faction he calls home. Also: kissing dudes, as his relationship with Hercules is confirmed to be more than just a simple heat-of-the-moment kiss, much to my delight.
Noh’s role as charming delegate for his people, and eventual murder suspect, provides an engaging and fun point of view for the meat of the issue: intergalactic politics. A council including representatives from the Kree, the Skrull, Earth, the Badoon, and other Cosmic Powers unite to lay out the exact terms of their new status quo while trying to avoid killing each other in the process. To Ewing’s credit, it is never dull. Legitimate political intrigue and long-held blood feuds simmering over melds beautifully with witty humor and newbie-friendly exposition to provide a fantastic start to the aptly titled New Age of Space.
While the rest of the Guardians (excepting Nova, who is Earth’s delegate at the meeting) barely appear in the issue, Ewing makes their handful of pages count. Hercules’ journey to becoming the Kindest Man in the Universe gets an excellent refresher, and Rocket’s barely hidden downward spiral tees up the next issue in a delightful way. Still, the real standout is a page-long psychic conversation between Phyla-Vell and Moondragon. Following Moondragon’s radical transformation earlier in the series, Phylla is left hurt and questioning whether the woman standing next to her is still her wife. The choice to present this debate in a clear typeface color-coded full-page dialogue with nothing but their still expressions to go off of makes each word land like a sledgehammer and is an impressive bit of stylistic flair. One that is much-needed with series regular artist Juann Cabal’s absence.
To be clear, Marcio Takara is not a bad artist by any means. He has a good grasp of expression-work, which helps make the various comedic punchlines land effectively, and does some lovely work designing the different formal diplomatic regalia for the meeting attendees. However, compared to the absolutely bonkers career-making artistic flexes that Cabal has been pulling out during his time with the title, it is hard to see the two as on equal footing. That’s likely not fair to Takara, who is doing good work, but it’s hard to shake as a regular reader of the title.
As a standalone issue, Guardians of the Galaxy #7 is a bit slight. It’s fun and shockingly breezy, given its heavy subject matter. Still, the time given to introducing the new post-Empyre status quo and the various politicians attending the debate makes the issue feel a bit rushed when it comes to the actual plot. Luckily, the ending makes it clear that there is more to be told here and, hopefully, the issue will be better served as a complete package in a shockingly consistent and entertaining run.