A Beginner’s Guide to Guardians of the Galaxy
The one comment I’ve heard the most about Marvel’s upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy film is “I don’t know who they are, but I really want to see that movie.” Well, I’m here to try and remedy at least the first part of that statement by introducing you to the rag-tag group of “heroes” that make up this team of Guardians…as well as some of their allies. This could be considered spoiler territory, as I’ll be briefly discussing the backgrounds of the main characters, so you’ve been warned!
First up we have Peter Quill, the self-appointed Star-Lord, and leader of the group. The son of an Earth woman named Meredith and the Emperor of the Spartax (it’s this whole other planet) empire, Quill barely knew his father and lost his mother to an attack from an alien race called the Badoon when he was 10. Growing up in an orphanage, he eventually found his way to his way to his father by becoming a US astronaut, uncovering his heritage, as well as his destiny. Turning his back on the man who once did the same to him, he now uses his sarcastic wit, his element gun and a few new nasty friends to keep the rest of the galaxy in check…and maybe make a few dollars on the side.
Next we have one of the anthropomorphic residents of Halfworld, Rocket (he’d prefer it if you left off the Raccoon bit). Though he’s easily the fuzziest member of the group, he might also be the fiercest. An expert marksman and tactician with an affinity for heavy artillery, Rocket joined up with Star-Lord to help stop an invasion of the Kree homeworld (another planet!) and eventually signed up to be one of Quill’s self-appointed Guardians. It’s there he met his best friends and bodyguard, Groot. Outside of the Guardians the duo have had many adventures together, usually ones that go completely awry. Still, odds are good that by the time you hear his catchphrase (“Blam, I kill you!”), it’s already too late.
Never have three words come to mean so much. When the Flora Colossus from Planet X utters the only phrase he can muster, “I am Groot,” it could mean anything. Literally a walking, talking giant tree, Groot is incredibly strong and resilient; the wood that composes his body is so dense it’s resistant to most conventional weaponry. Possibly the last remaining member of his species, Groot joined up with Quill and Rocket to stop the previously mentioned invasion of the Kree. Staying on as the muscle of the group, he’s seemingly died several times over the course of their adventures, only to grow back from the tiniest of splinters.
Another member of the team who happens to be the last of her species (the Zen Whoberi, ironically a peace-loving race), Gamora is arguably the most dangerous woman in the galaxy. Possessing incredible superhuman abilities, as well as regenerative healing factor, she’s an expert in just about every form of combat there is. She’s also the adopted daughter of Thanos, the Mad Titan (that guy you saw at the end of The Avengers). Brought up and trained to be one of his assassins, Gamora eventually saw the error of her ways and turned on her “father,” making it her mission to bring his brand of madness to an end once and for all. To that end she has agreed to aid Star-Lord and his Guardians, so long as it still benefits her.
The last piece of the puzzle that makes up the Guardians is a man known as Drax the Destroyer. It’s a surname that he’s certainly earned. Before we dive into who Drax is, let me say that whatever past they reveal in the upcoming movie is likely not anything that will be familiar to comic book fans. See, Drax has an extremely complicated origin. An Earth man named Arthur Douglas, his family was killed by Thanos, leaving him alive only to have his spirit put into a powerful new body by a being named Kronos. Past that point it becomes pretty messy. All you need to know is that Drax is a man of few words, he’s incredibly dangerous, and is willing to take down anyone he has to in order to get his vengeance.
THE intergalactic police force of the universe, The Nova Corps helps prevent (and also engages in) all manner of interstellar wars, as well as going after the criminal element of the galaxy. Each member posses an array of powers and abilities granted to them by their helmets, which also serve as a sort of super-computer allowing them access to the Nova Corps Database. Flight, speed, super-strength, energy blasts, and many other enhanced skills aid this galactic military in their sworn duties, led by their highest ranking officer, Nova Prime.
Where to start reading:
While every one of these characters has a history in comics dating back to the ‘70s, the best place to pick up with the Guardians is in their latest series, titled Guardians of the Galaxy of course. Written by Brian Bendis, with a somewhat-rotating team of artists, the book began in April of 2013 and requires very little knowledge beyond what I’ve provided above. There are currently three volumes out in stores collecting all of these latest adventures, as well as a crossover with the X-Men from earlier this year, with a fourth hitting in November: Vol. 1: Cosmic Avengers, Vol. 2: Angela, Guardians of the Galaxy/All-Nex X-Men: The Trial of Jean Grey, Vol. 3: Guardians Disassembled,or you can track down the single issues via your local shop, buy them digitally, or check out MyComicShop.com, which has a number of them in stock.
Those looking to dive a little deeper into the mythology, and who don’t mind an absolutely massive reading list, may want to check out Marvel’s cosmic crossover event from a few years ago titled Annihilation. That in itself led to another series, Annihilation: Conquest, as well as The War of Kings, Realm of Kings, Annihilators and The Thanos Imperative, and somewhere in there was a 25 issue series actually titled Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s a huge undertaking, and one that requires a bit bigger knowledge of the Marvel cosmic universe, but it’s also one of the best stories the Marvel U has seen in the last decade. Unfortunately a lot of those collections have gone out of print, making them a bit expensive to get your hands on. BUT, for those that don’t mind reading digitally, they can all be found on Comixology.