Writers: Donny Cates (“Faith”), Al Ewing (“A Long Time in Politics”), Tini Howard (“Advent Horizon”), Zac Thompson & Lonnie Nadler (“You’re Only Young Twice”)
Artists: John McCrea (“Faith”), Yildiray Cinar (“A Long Time in Politics”), Ibrahim Moustafa (“Advent Horizon”), Filipe Andrade (“You’re Only Young Twice”)
Colorists: Mike Spicer (“Faith” & “You’re Only Young Twice”), Rain Beredo (“A Long Time in Politics”), Jay David Ramos (“Advent Horizon”)
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Cover Artists: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Jean-François Beaulieu
Editor: Darren Shan
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Donny Cates’s Guardians of the Galaxy has been a welcome return to the vibe of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s seminal 2008 run on the title, and this week’s annual expands the epic scope to other characters on the fringes of Cates’s story.

Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1 functions as a “catching-up” issue for some characters who were unsuccessful in joining the new Guardians after Thanos’s death in Infinity Wars — specifically Cosmo, Adam Warlock, Quasar (one of them, anyway), and Darkhawk. Framed as Cosmo locating his allies from his mission control, each story shows us what they’ve been doing since the Black Order disposed them into a black hole at the request of their new leader Hela. As is the case with these sorts of annuals, some stories are better than others.

My favorite one is probably the Darkhawk-centric story “You’re Only Young Twice,” which is really bolstered by Felipe Andrade’s stylized art. Andrade’s aesthetic isn’t for everyone — his work on Captain Marvel years ago was polarizing — but I think it really works with Darkhawk, who’s already a fairly strange figure in the Marvel Universe. I also really enjoyed Andrade’s Rocket Raccoon and Groot, so it seems the common denominator for him is weird alien stuff.

The Quasar story “A Long Time in Politics” is also worthwhile, if only because it’s mainly comprised of superheroes (Wendell Vaughan’s Quasar and Richard Rider’s Nova) catching up and shooting the shit. The superhero-y stuff also works well, with some fun details spread throughout, e.g. a sect of Skrulls who masquerade as old-timey mobsters. And for fans of the newest Quasar, Avril Kincaid (who sacrificed herself during Secret Empire), let’s just say they’ll be very pleased about a certain development revealed in there.

The Adam Warlock story, “Advent Horizon,” isn’t bad, but I’m just not the biggest fan of the character, so it didn’t really stick with me in a way it might with some of his more die-hard followers. It’s a pretty standard savior narrative wherein Adam helps a downtrodden alien race, but it’s elevated by writer Tini Howard (currently of Thanos) and artist Ibrahim Moustafa’s work.

The Cosmo-centric “Faith” is more of a book-ending series of pages than a full story, placed at the beginning and end of the issue, but it’s not lacking intrigue. It seems our favorite talking (Russian) dog is being controlled by a shadowy Cabal seeking to unite the others for less-than-savory means, and we’re told it’ll be followed up in next month’s issue of Guardians. TBD! John McCrea’s brief art is worth a mention, if only because of how cute he renders Cosmo. Never underestimate the power of a cute animal.

Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1 Review

7.2

Premise

7.0/10

Execution

7.0/10

Script

7.0/10

Art

7.0/10

Marvelness

8.0/10

Pros

  • Expands the scope of Donny Cates's run
  • Consistently good-to-great art throughout

Cons

  • Feels like setup for the main title
  • Dependent on personal taste for the spotlighted characters
Nico Sprezzatura
nicofrankwriter@gmail.com
Nico Frank Sprezzatura, middle name optional. 24. Schrödinger's writer.

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