When it comes to titles that lean heavily on science-fiction and cosmic adventures, more times than not said titles fail to live up to the hype. Luckily, for fans of Star-Lord and company, Guardians of the Galaxy continues obliterating any and all expectations. In a post-2014 world, the property was dangerously close to becoming a laughing stock within the Marvel mythos—the House of Ideas saw how goofy the live-action film was and subsequently tapped into that... pretty unsuccessfully.
When it comes to this issue, in and of itself it's 27 pages of complete non-stop action as it works to tie up the loose ends introduced in the previous five issues and it does an adequate job of that. While a few more strings are left dangling to set up future arcs, "Final Gauntlet" is nicely concluded.
The thing that has made "Final Gauntlet" such a spectacular story arc is that it takes the group back to their roots. Gone are the days where every panel had an unnecessary shoehorned dad joke and back are the days of examining the characters individually. And I think that's something that makes the Guardians so attractive to many people: sure, they're oftentimes the source of comedic relief, but they're all deeply flawed. Each and every member of the team is far from your picturesque Captains America or Supermen.
Throughout the previous six issues, Cates and Geoff Shaw have put characters like Star-Lord, Gamora, Cosmic Ghost Rider, and, hell, even Groot, under an intense amount of scrutiny and it's apparent that's a ploy that's paid dividends. Not even a year ago, Gamora thrust a sword through the chest of Star-Lord and, finally, this issue gives readers some closure—in the most Guardians of ways.
Despite being inter-dimensional beings, aliens, trees, or a mixture of the above, each of the Guardians has a very human story within and, once exposed, makes the group one of the most relatable in the entire Marvel mythos. The team is best when their human stories are told and Cates and Shaw have done just that over the course of the past six issues. When it comes to the Guardians of the Galaxy, this group's never been in better shape.
In fact, the biggest criticism I have of this run is that Shaw is moving on from his current art duties. It's no secret that he and Cates are the peanut butter and jelly of Marvel Comics and, admittedly, there'll likely be an adjustment period heading into next month's issue.
Six issues into yet another volume of Guardians of the Galaxy and it's pretty apparent the cosmic team is in the right hands. In fact, "Final Gauntlet" is one of the finer complete cosmic tales that have come out of the Guardians title. While it still might be a bit too early to say a writer like Donny Cates is one of the best writers to have laid their hands on the group, he's certainly providing a convincing argument. If you like human stories and cosmic tales intertwined, it doesn't get much better than this.
Published by Marvel Comics
On June 18, 2019
Written by Donny Cates
Art by Geoff Shaw
Colors by David Curiel
Letters by Cory Pettit
Cover by David Marquez & Dean White