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.


Guardians of the Galaxy #18 – Comic Review

Peter Quill has lied about something important. Gamora won’t let the Star Lord walk away without the truth. The question: when Star Lord and Nova teamed up to stop Thanos once and for all – a finale from a while ago – how did he escape? And how did Thanos return to threaten the galaxy?

  • Detailed artwork, filled with danger, and good design in terms of composition and colour choice.
  • An exploration of how power affects characters in dire circumstances.
  • Sacrifice, courage, and oblivion appear as themes.

Splash pages with great attention to detail and design appear, in addition to an opening scene that is filled with darkness and danger, and narrated by Gamora.

Gamora narrates the opening scene. Danger is established quickly here with darkness. Gamora’s voice floats out of the shadows. Then she appears, wrapped in a hood and cloak. If establishing her as dangerous is a goal of the opening pages, it works.

The opening splash pages of this comic has the moment Thanos faces off against Star Lord and Nova. The subsequent pages of the comic don’t let upon terms of design, colour, and ink. There is such intensity and detail in these pages. The attention to detail in these pages is clear.

The comic leaps between the present moment where Gamora interrogates Peter Quill about details of his battle with Thanos, and Quill’s memories of the battle. Trapped in the parasitic, toxic Cancerverse, which is a bubble universe that actively destroys anything that crosses it’s boundaries, Thanos was pushed back by Nova, and Star Lord. The artwork also depicts Quill’s anxiety as he confronts the truth.

Power, and how the characters react to power, plays a large role in the character interactions here. Thanos taunts Star Lord, and expertly manipulates him in an attempt to preserve his own life.

The comic explores power, it’s effects, and how desperate characters will resort to all kinds of manipulation to gain it.

The other theme here is sacrifice – The comic explores who in the cast is ready to sacrifice themselves for a cause, and who isn’t. Characters are tested. Courage and selfishness appear.

Thanos taunts Star Lord. He says Star Lord’s desire to save the universe at the expense of his life has worn out quickly. He correctly guess Quill wants to use the power of the cube to return home. Star Lord says that Thanos’ words and manipulation was “right on the money”.

Power and sacrifice in this comic form a theme: Courage in the face of oblivion, and selflessness. This theme allows the comic to show Star Lord’s character. He has human failings, with a desire to do good, but weaknesses that he must try and overcome.

The comic is largely about power. That’s where the cosmic cube appears. Followers of Marvel Studios films would be familiar with the cosmic cube as the Tesseract – it’s explosive blue energy is present here as it was in Marvel’s The Avengers.

Sacrifice wavers in the face of ultimate power, and the chance to escape from oblivion. It’s a strong theme here: courage in the face of oblivion, and selflessness It’s interesting to see a well constructed character in Star Lord, who has a desire to do good, but falls short, and has real human failings. The comic ends on a cliffhanger, and leaves the story unresolved. This is part one of a longer story that would no doubt explore these themes more deeply.

A Popular Culture reference made by Star Lord confuses Gamora: Star Lord describes himself and Nova as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid since they are going out in a blaze of glory against Thanos.

Guardians of the Galaxy #18 is published by Marvel comics ($3.99 USD). Brian Michael Bendis (W.) Ed McGuinness (P.) Mark Farmer (I.) Justin Ponsor (C.) Cover artwork by McGuinness, Farmer, and Ponsor.