When we last left our intrepid heroes, they were just heading back out to space after the Trial of Jean Grey crossover event with Brian Michael Bendis’ other title, All-New X-Men. The Trial of Jean Grey in particular showcases a lot of political maneuvering on the part of Star-Lord’s father and it’s been a general subplot throughout the whole series, making this third volume in the series, which collects issues #14-17, the Free Comic Book Day 2014 Guardians of the Galaxy issue, and then part of Amazing Spider-Man #654 and issue #1 of Captain Marvel as well for good measure and some much needed backstory and grounding for Venom hopping on board and appearing in the volume from the very beginning.
The opening bit throws us straight away into the action, and the Guardians end up disassembled in fine fashion within a few pages. Issue 14 of the series marks the 100th issue of Guardians of the Galaxy (all together since it was published) and includes a couple stories in the back having to do with Groot’s homeworld and a sneak-peak at the new Guardians 3000 series that recently launched.
Though perhaps not quite such a bad thing, the art has the tendency to change a bit too suddenly for my taste within the same issue. It might help play up the fact that the protagonists are themselves also disoriented and the story line a bit disjointed, but it doesn’t work for me and isn’t something I enjoy even between issues, let alone within the pages of the very same issue. Speaking of art between issues, if you’re coming to the title having already read the previous issues, which I highly recommend, you may find yourself a bit disappointed if you enjoyed Stuart Immonen’s work throughout, and Sara Pichelli & David Marquez’s art throughout the Trial of Jean Grey. Not that Nick Bradshaw is anything to sneeze at, the man is a master and has a lot of great detail, but the style felt like a major departure that was further emphasized with bigger stylistic changes throughout with Cameron Stewart and, in particular, Michael Oeming.
While we end up having to sacrifice one of the biggest strengths of the series, namely how the team interacts with one another and Bendis’ usually-great dialogue that goes along with it, what we get instead is a ton of action that is thrillingly paced, some interesting character and cosmic history development with the addition of Venom when he finally gets off of Earth and starts to learn more about his alien symbiote, and we even get some swash-buckling pulpy action on Spartax and space battles throughout.
For some, that’s going to be more than enough. For others though, who are coming to the title wanting to spend time with the whole family (Groot especially gets the short end of the stick here if you’re a fan), and still others who care about art presentation and cohesiveness, you might want to head into this one with eyes open. I did find it a lot of fun and I can’t wait to see the Original Sin tie-in and all that comes from it.