The Guardians of the Galaxy may be grounded on Earth for now, but you can't keep a band of cosmic outlaws away from the stars for too long.
This May, Star-Lord, Rocket, Groot, Gamora and Drax will return to the cosmos in All-New Guardians of the Galaxy, with the all-new creative team of writer Gerry Duggan (Deadpool, Nova), artist Aaron Kuder (Death of X), and colorist Ive Svorcina (Secret Wars).
All-New Guardians of the Galaxy brings some changes for the Guardians. The team's roster has shrunk down to the core five Guardians, Groot is stuck in his tiny form and no one can explain why he isn't regenerating, and Drax the Destroyer is now Drax the pacifist.
The series will pick up some time after "Grounded," the final arc of the current Guardians of the Galaxy series. All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #1 kicks off with the Guardians on a job and embroiled in a war between two of the Elders of the Universe, the Collector and the Grandmaster.
ComicBook.com spoke to Duggan, Kuder, and editor Jordan D. White about what fans can expect from All-New Guardians of the Galaxy. You can also see Kuder's cover art for All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #1 and some of his character sketches in the gallery below.
What is the situation for the Guardians of the Galaxy as the new series kicks off?
GD: They are back in space after "Grounded.” I don't have to do a lot of legwork to introduce these characters because of not just the films but the great work that Brian Michael Bendis, DnA (Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning) and their collaborators have done.
We want to put these guys into new cosmic situations. We're right in the middle of a heist in the first issue. I think, even though they're functioning well as a team, they're each looking forward to handling their own business, so they might be feeling gravity's pull apart. They have a lot going on individually and I'm really excited to explore that.
Aaron and I have a really fun introduction to this team in the first issue cooked up, and we'll see that they are handling this heist as best they can, that it’s complicated, and it gets very cosmic.
AK: One of our mantras has been, "the weirder the better."
GD: I think regardless of what's going on for you on Earth now, it's always fun to get away from it. We’re putting Earth in our rear-view.
It's a different era in the Marvel cosmic universe. There hasn't been a Nova Corps in a long time, and we're going to find out that that has caused some problems. Pretty quickly, we'll find that there are new sheriffs in town. As the Nova Corps gets reconstituted out there, it's going to present us with fun opportunities to get these guys into a lot of trouble. That's another of our goals, to always to be putting them into trouble.
They're not necessarily the most altruistic group. It's not the Avengers, and that's not why people are buying the book, and we know that. There's this element of them being scoundrels that's a lot of fun to play with.
JW: They definitely have a lot of heart, but that doesn't mean they always do the right thing.
AK: You might say that they only have heart. They don't have the moral compass of maybe other superheroes, they just have the willful ignorance of wanting to do what's best at the moment.
GD: We have some mysteries brewing out in space. When our story picks up, Groot is small and doesn't seem to be growing large. We don't quite know why. The Guardians don't know why. The readers won't have very long to find that will be a problem moving forward, in a fun way, I hope.
Drax is done destroying. Something has happened to him to that has made him leave his swords down. Drax is still Drax. He wants to destroy, he's just holding back for now. It's a fun turn for him as he struggles with pacifism like an alcoholic might struggle in a bar.
For many years now we've heard about the Collector's collection and how that's the best collection of the galaxy, and it has the most valuable and unique and wondrous things. That's true to a point, but the Grandmaster also has another collection. By giving the Collector a rival, we now have an opportunity to really make trouble for the Guardians. And so, this first arc is very much a war between the Collector and the Grandmaster over artifacts that they both want for their collection, and there can only be one winner. It feels right to open up in a big way with those amazing Marvel Universe cosmic entities. It's going to be a lot of fun.
The story begins as the team is mid-job. They're initially hired by one side and then compromised. They each have their own reason for wanting a big score.
The Guardians’ escape from that arc, too, is going to be something I don't think anyone will see coming. It's very “Guardians.”
Guardians of the Galaxy is a relatively young franchise compared to the X-Men or the Avengers, but so much has already been codified through the movies and the runs of DnA and Bendis. What do you see as being essential to the Guardians, and how do you hope to differentiate your All--New Guardians of the Galaxy stories?
GD: Whenever you're lucky enough to jump into this position, we always talk about character inheritance. You’re often inheriting decades of stories that can actually be encumbering. That's really not the case in this instance. We have years of wonderful stories that have added so much depth to these characters, that I think you're right. It's very interesting that, for characters that haven't been a team and haven't been around as long as some of the others, we already have this crystal clear voice in our head about who they are. We've got a great catalog of Marvel story threads to pull, and not just from Bendis and DnA but also, there's been Marvel cosmic stories for a long time. Groot was a Jack Kirby character.
So, I think it's fun to be able to reintroduce some of these new stories that we're telling, that have some DNA (no pun intended) from our predecessors. It feels really fun going through Marvel Unlimited, re-reading a lot of the great cosmic stories that I remember from a kid, the things that I loved about the Nova Corps, and being able to find places and jobs that the Nova Corps would love to have done but that are a little too dirty for the Nova Corps.
There are going to be whole pieces of space that don't recognize the Nova Corps, and they have their own law. The Shi'ar have the Raptors and why are they less legitimate than the Nova Corps? Depending on what quadrant you’re in, that’s a complicated space in ways that make it feel like a cool little Western. Those will be really fertile places to tell stories. The hints of that in the Free Comic Book Day story. You'll see that it's a little bit more complicated than we've seen.
AK: For me, it's such a great project for the nostalgia's sake, but also it's not encumbering by nostalgia. We have this pool of resources from the past, but we're not encumbered by it. This can create such a great synergy. Already, the fact that we're not laden down this huge amount of history is such a relief at this time in making comics. With so many characters you can get so overburdened with the idea of the chance for retcons and things like that. We can play and we can really just do what we want.
When I was growing up reading comics, the cosmic books were not the cool kid books, not that there were cool kid books in comics anyway. They were the comics you held in the middle of your pile, but I always loved them and getting to do this stuff is kind of like coming out of the closet.
There’s an insane amount of positive energy starting up with this and being a part of this team. Being in the same vein as when you were a kid and you could think of these stories and you let your imagination go and the potential that was there for that. It feels like it's here, that same energy you have as a child, just going forth with this thing and being like, "I'm going to do everything I want!" We're going to make space weird again.
You’ve compared space to a Western and stated that you’re going to make it “weird” again. Is “weird western” the overall feel you’re going for?
GD: There are elements of Westerns in almost everything I've written. I really grew up on a steady diet of them, and to me, imagining space and undiscovered planes that way makes a lot of sense. This is a group of adventurers now who are very comfortable with each other. We want to be able to preserve the sense of weird exploration. On a page-turn, we're going to be seeing things that we've never seen before. We come out of the gate with that. I really want to maintain that, if we can.
We talk about Marvel's Manhattan a lot. Sometimes Spider-Man will swing around a corner and there will be something there that wasn't there before and that's the basis for adventure, but more often than not, you know what you're getting on Earth. I think I'm very aware that these are stories that people are going to want to plunk down their hard-earned cash for and go, "Hey, what have we not seen before? What's out there? Who have we not seen before with these characters?"
We have big plans. Long plans. Jordan and I are used to telling longer stories, and now because we've been a success on Deadpool, we have been able to plot pretty far out in advance and I think you will get that sense immediately too.
With the Groot story, I loved the Walt Simonson Thor run and he spent some time building up the Surtur. We saw him building that sword before we even knew who it was, or what he was doing. We'll crib from that a little bit but we have a story to tell there.
There's a Gamora story that I'm just wrapping up now that I think will have a lot of blow-back later on. We're telling stories that are digestible. Sometimes they're one-and-dones, and sometimes they're a four or five issue arc but that are part of a larger, mapped out pace.
I'm super excited to have Aaron with me on this journey. I can't wait for everyone to see what he's doing. It's the work of his career, and that’s no offense to anything he's drawn before.
AK: I'm trying to lean more visually towards space opera, and tapping the elements of my brain that have always wanted to come out. Giant sweeping landscapes that you just would never see. The beauty of the comic book medium is that you don't have a special effects budget. That is never more crucial than when you're dealing with the space stuff. That's the thing that's really so fun for me.
GD: Aaron is bringing so much stuff to this that I'm sure I will get credit for.
JW: So much of Marvel Comics talk about the world outside your window but obviously, when we do Guardians stories they are often a totally different realm and in a totally different universe. And then it turns that whole concept on its head, because instead of being the world outside your window, it makes us focus on, "Well who are these people and what makes them relatable to us even though they are not in the world outside our window? Even though they're in the strangest world? Why am I now still able to connect to these characters?" And that's such a wonderful thing, and I think they're doing a great job touching on that.
The Guardians are back in space, but they’re roster if smaller than it has been in a while with the loss of The Thing, Kitty Pryde, Agent Venom, and Angela. How has this, and the team’s time on Earth, affected the team’s dynamic?
GD: It gives me more page count to be able to really focus. Some of our issues in the first year are going to specifically even get a little bit more narrow in focus. We'll have entire issues focused on one character, which is great. But the opportunity to be able to just focus on our cosmic characters will help us differentiate what we're offering versus what the rest of the books on the stands are.
It's not like we're not going to be meeting some of those other characters. We will. I'm always excited to be able to expand things, and we will. In the second arc, we are going to enlarge our cast a little bit, and beyond that, I think we have plans for new characters that are potential Guardians characters that are new and you will never have seen before. And that feels really fun too, to be able to start slow and then ramp up. It's like when they’re out in space and somebody hits the hyperdrive and the stars bend? This is the stars just beginning to bend. We're starting slowly with the mainstays before we slowly branch out.
I discussed with Brian [Michael Bendis] the possibility of Ben being a pilot and sticking around, but he had much better ideas for Ben on Earth. I was very happy to say goodbye to Ben, but you're going to get to see more cool new things and more cool new characters because we've said goodbye to some of those other characters that I know are fan favorites, like Agent Venom and Ben.
AK: For the record, I was not happy to say goodbye to Ben, but I was very happy to find out who we probably will be adding to the cast later on. We're going to add a stowaway, and I think that might be the perfect sort of tease for that character.
Is it Deadpool? Are you bringing Deadpool with you? Gerry does have a history after Uncanny Avengers.
GD: It's funny you mention that. I'm actually very grateful to be able to flex a muscle group that isn't Deadpool-related. I will miss Deadpool in space, but if that sounds like a great idea to you…
In the same month that we're debuting All-New Guardians of the Galaxy, I do have a “Deadpool in space” story in Deadpool #30. It's like Deadpool's reaching for the stars but he doesn't quite have what it takes to stay there.
Deadpool, for me personally, in almost any situation you can make that work, but Deadpool is that powerful ingredient in any recipe. You risk overwhelming the entire dish with just a little Deadpool.
AK: You never know. In year three of our run, you may be saying, "Guys, who misses Deadpool?"
Guardians of the Galaxy is going to be double-shipping with character-centric stories featuring guest artists bridging the longer story arcs, not entirely dissimilar to the Deadpool 2099 schedule. What can you say about the schedule and those character-centric bridge stories?
GD: It's an aggressive schedule but it won't feel so aggressive behind the scenes because a lot of it is in the can or in the process of being completed. You mentioned Deadpool 2099. Some of what we were doing is sort of applying what we've learned from Deadpool. While we were making a future for Deadpool, we also were telling some flashback stories that we're able to then pull into new arcs.
We are doing that a little bit, especially with some of the stories in the gap between Bendis's conclusion and where we pick up with the team. So we'll be answering the question of, "Why did Drax turn away from violence?" with a flashback to the recent past. Gamora's solo story in that particular part of the publishing plan is one of my favorite scripts, with a lot of potential for future exploitation. Even though it is an aggressive schedule, hopefully, we've hidden that cost. We've been paying that down for a while.