Guardians of the Galaxy #21 – Comic Review

Tony Stark recommended that Flash Thompson – a soldier currently wearing the alien Venom symbiote – join the Guardians of the Galaxy. Possibly, Stark believed the alien should be sent back to space where it came from.

Guardians of the Galaxy #21 offers:

  • Good sequences of panels during action and conversation scenes
  • Different designs for the villain Venom
  • Themes of control, and compulsions

Venom’s character design changes several times during this comic, and is suitably alien. At one stage, the symbiote can compare to Big Chill, an alien from Ben Ten.

Art choices for the appearance of Venom in this comic book are suitably for science fiction. This is because the hood and cloak design Venom shows off when stalking Kree on the Planet Spartax looks alien.

It resembles Big Chill from the Cartoon Network animated series Ben Ten. Both Venom in this comic and Big Chill wrap moth-like wings around themselves, which creates a cloak and cowl look.

Later, fight scene between Gamora and Venom showcase good choices of background colour and inking. Lines drastically add to the flow of action, as the pencilling renders Gamora’s acrobatic skills in avoiding the Symbiotes’ flurry of strikes. Venom’s appearance shifts again here, becoming even more like an insect for a moment.

A sequence of panels where Star Lord describes his past, brief relationships shows Kitty Pryde becoming more concerned across a series of panels. Each panel captures her facial expression changing with each second she hears more of Peter Quill’s past “hookups…[and]…meaningless stuff.”

Venom and Flash Thompson conflict over control, while Star Lord and Kitty Pryde’s continue their new, long-distance relationship. Rage and violence dominate Venom’s behaviour, while Drax the Destroyer has quiet, but similarly violent moments.

Flash Thompson moans that he was not in control of the Symbiotic alien Venom. He can control it on Earth, he argues. Alongside this central conflict rests Peter Quill and Kitty Pryde’s new relationship, in which Peter struggles to control his behaviour.

Rage is common for him. Thompson screeches in angry, short outbursts. He violently dispatches with aliens who cross his path, or cannot give him what he wants: a way back to Earth.

Drax the Destroyer does not have more than a few lines in the comic book, but does stage a lengthy, violent battle with an alien beast.

Control appears often in this comic. Venom and Flash Thompson form the centre of this theme since Thompson constantly struggles for control with the alien symbiote . Parallel to their relationship is an altogether different one, between Star Lord and Kitty Pryde. Star Lord makes a point to Pryde that he is controlling his past reactions to high stress and changing.

The comic is largely about control. In Flash Thompson and Venom’s struggle, control between the symbiote and the host is a clear. The conflict represents the struggles with addictions and compulsions. Violence and drinking appear in the comic, with scenes in a bar on the planet Spartax. Placing Venom with the Guardians of the Galaxy – a team know for their disfuctions, as Star Lord states when speaking with Kitty Pryde – highlights struggles with control and compulsions.

Starlord does not wish to fall back into habits he relied on to relieve tension and stress in the past. Instead, he talks to Kitty.

Later, after the confrontation between Gamora and Venom, the Guardians discuss what to do with Thompson and the Symbiote. Star Lord says that like the Guardians, the Symbiote is “broken”.

It’s not completely clear, since calling something dysfunctional broken is not specific, however Star Lord has observed that Thompson’s weaknesses and compulsions are difficult to handle in day-to-day life, just like his own, which he discussed with Kitty Pryde earlier in the comic.

The Guardians believe they can help Thompson regain control by taking him back to Earth, where he has more friends and support, and feels safe.

A space-propaganda message about the dangers of heroes and Terrans from Earth. The message delivers a more chilling call to destroy Earth, rather than simply control or corral humans from spreading out into the wider-galaxy. Whether this conflict expands into a larger plot thread remains to be seen.

Guardians of the Galaxy #21 is published by Marvel comics ($3.99 USD). Brian Michael Bendis (W.) Valerio Schiti (A.) Jason Keith (C.) VC’s Cory Petit (L.) Cover artwork by Schiti and Ponsor.

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