REVIEW: Guardians 3000 #1

The popularity of the modern Guardians of the Galaxy franchise both on movie screens and in comic shops has paved a road for the return of the original team. Although the original Guardians have remained a cult favorite among comic fans, they haven’t maintained a regular presence in comics since 1995. In Guardians 3000 #1, Dan Abnett and Gerardo Sandoval reintroduce the team and try to show off its promise.

The extended absence of these characters at Marvel allows the issue to function with very few constraints. The entire team and their purpose has to be introduced to a brand new audience. Abnett includes Geena - a rescued Badoon prisoner - to function as the readers eyes and ears. She narrates the story and provides explanations for what is occurring, although she notably ignores the origins of her previous captors.

A lot of explanation isn’t necessary though. Sandoval does an excellent job of visually narrating the issue and showing what is occurring, so that the telling is often redundant. He uses big panels and splashy poses in order to show off each team member and their personality. His storytelling makes it clear what each Guardian is capable of, even Starhawk whose super powers often defy explanation.

Sadoval’s style has evolved while working on Amazing Spider-Man. There he refined his work to show off exaggerated figures in kinetic poses. For a diverse set of characters with excellent designs, like those present in Guardians 3000, it makes for an excellent fit. Charlie-27’s frame bears the power of his extra dense body, while Vance Astro moves with the gymnastic grace and muscle of Captain America. Sandoval’s cartooning makes for a fun, fast paced read through all twenty pages.

That quick pacing is slowed by the narration and dialogue though. Abnett doesn’t appear to trust readers to pick up on many details and includes a lot of exposition. A lot of the text in this issue is extraneous. Super powers are explained when being used in the same panel, making the text redundant. Sandoval’s work is capable of conveying a lot of information and the exposition distracts from his art. The amount of text throughout the issue slows down the sleek design of this introductory story. Rather than flying along with Geena and the Guardians, readers will be stumbling over the words. The design of the story is great, but overwritten. Trust in the readers and Sandoval’s storytelling would help to reveal the comics strengths.

The futuristic dialect proves problematic as well. There is a lot of slang being tossed around. While the meaning of most is not hard to uncover, their ubiquitous nature creates a constant start-stop rhythm where readers must pause every few seconds to puzzle out what is being said. There are complete sections of dialogue that I realized I had not understood after finishing them.

The flaws of Guardians 3000 #1 are not integral to Abnett and Sandoval’s story. They are fixable issues that cover up the fast-paced, superhero romp they are trying to tell. That story holds a lot of promise and is one I look forward to reading.

Grade: C+