Exclusive Guardians of the Galaxy Review: The Legendary Star-Lord #1

Marvel Comics's The Legendary Star-Lord #1 is about as good a first issue for an existing character as you're likely to find.

Written by Sam Humphries and featuring art by Paco Medina, Juan Vlasco and David Curiel, the series deftly balances the needs of introducing the character to new readers and not talking down to people who already know Star-Lord.

It's a bit easier, of course, becuase the character has morphed full-on into the movie version; he's a thief and a con man who begins the issue stealing from an orphanage and looks suspiciously like Chris Pratt at various points in the story.

They get around the redundancy of telling an origin story by tying in the death of Peter Quill's mother Meredith and his family heritage with J'Son of Spartoi (plus his tense relationship with The Badoon, a race seen in the Thor: The Dark World comics tie-in but said by Guardians director James Gunn to be owned by someone other than Marvel Studios for films and TV.

If there's a drawback to the story, it's arguably that the big twist (well-executed and a genuine surprise, although it was seeded early in the issue) feels a bit like this should have been an Original Sin tie-in before someone thought better of it. It's a surprising retcon and one that has big potential implications for the future of both this title and potentially Guardians of the Galaxy.

Medina's art is a great fit for this issue; the sleek, finished look of his work is reminiscent of artists like Paul Pelletier or Darryl Banks, artists who have made their bones on contemporary cosmic stuff.

There's not a lot of plot here, save for the big twist at the end of the issue. It's mostly character development, helping to shape this somewhat reinvented Peter Quill for Marvel NOW! with relationships. Unlike Rocket Raccoon #1, which focuses on Rocket as a ladies' man by showing (or at least implying) his army of sexual conquests, here we get a similar impression of Peter, but it's done by virtue of a conversation with one specific woman at the center of his attention.

One thing it does well -- in fact, it seems to be the debut issue's mission statement -- is that it does a good job of explaining Quill's love for space, and why he's not (like most Marvel superheroes) headquartered out of New York City. They build the issue around it, and it's well done -- which is good, because his space-based adventures will help to distinguish him from other Marvel heroes.

Distinction is important; there may be some fans who are upset about the fact that Star-Lord seems so much more movie-based...but the "traditional" space-cop Star-Lord is a character who has a more well-known analogue over at DC (Green Lantern) and at Valiant (X-O Manowar). Of course, that would be if it were just about the plot. The characterizations, which drive this issue, are not going to be mistaken for anybody else.

There's also what seems to be a pop-culture reference in the issue that, if I'm not reading it wrong, is clever and hilarious. Star-Lord reinvented as the sci-fi version of one of the heroes of one of my favorite films of all time? Sold.

The bottom line: While the super-modern coloring is a bit distracting in some spots, the art is beautiful on this title, which sees Star-Lord reinvented a bit to more closely match the hugely-anticipated film adaptation of Guardians of the Galaxy. The plot unfolds at a decompressed speed that will make for a great collected edition, even if it feels a little thin...and you don't notice the thin plot becuase there's plenty to like about the character work and action. It sets up what promises to be a really interesting series and, like Booster Gold, match humor and heart beat-for-beat while establishing a surprising new mythology for the character. This is a really great first issue. Run, don't walk, to your local comic shop to get a copy on Monday. 9.5/10