A Beginner’s Guide to The Guardians of the Galaxy

Since the release of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), interest in Guardians related comics has skyrocketed astronomically (pardon the pun). With the upcoming release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and a seemingly endless stream of Marvel cosmic comics, it may be hard for new readers looking to get into the space-faring defenders to find the best books. Here is a list of classic and acclaimed galactic tales for anyone looking to read about Star Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, Groot and the rest of the Marvel cosmos.

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Thor #227-228
Writer: Stan Lee
Penciller : Jack Kirby

The first appearances of Ego the Living Planet occur in this arc of the classic Stan Lee/Jack Kirby run. Kirby is at the height of his game here, with his signature bold line work, figuration, and bombastic backgrounds; they really don’t make comics like this anymore. Lee is no slouch either; his dialogue is appropriately Shakespearean and introspective. This mix of absurdity and authenticity is what saves the animated celestial body from being a completely campy concept.

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Guardians of the Galaxy: Tomorrow’s Avengers Vol. 1
Various Writers
Various Artists

Few people may realize this, but before the modern incarnation of the team, the Guardians were actually a group of ragtag superheroes from the future! Consisting of familiar face Yondu, the team also features Charlie-27 (enhanced human from Jupiter), Martinex (ice-powered plutonian) and Starhawk (cosmic powered Arcturian) all of whom appear in GotGv2. This volume details the first appearances of the classic version of the team, as well as a few time-travel team-ups with the classic Marvel staple. A must read for those interested in the earliest Guardians stories, as well as learning who the core characters will be in the inevitable Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.

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Annihilation Classic
Various Writers
Various Artists

This is the book that got me interested in the Guardians. This collection reprints old-school cosmic tales. It includes the Lee/Kirby era first appearance of the Groot, the “secret origin” of Star Lord by Doug Moench, and the classic Rocket Racoon 4-issue mini-series by Bill Mantlo and Hellboy’s own Mike Mignola. The real treat here is the Drax vs. Thanos story “The Final Flower” by writer Scott Edelman and artist Mike Zeck. It has a surprisingly profound ending that has (to my knowledge) only been reprinted in this edition.

Annihilation: Conquest  Books One & Two
Various Writers
Various Artists

This massive cross-over event reveals the origins of the contemporary versions of the team as they defend the universe from Ultron and the Phalanx. The Starlord mini-series by writer Keith Giffen and Artist Timothy Green II serves as the inspiration for the first GotG film. That snappy back-and-forth between Peter Quill and Rocket, Baby Groot, Drax being the ultimate badass are all present and accounted for here. It also serves as background to…

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Guardians of the Galaxy (2008-2010) Vol. 1-4
Writer: Dan Abnett/Andy Lanning
Artist: Rick Magyar, Paul Pelletier & Brad Walker

This is it, folks! When it comes to must-read Guardians material, you can do no better than the Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning run. Spanning 25 issues, witness the triumphs and tribulations of the universe’s mightiest heroes! Anything you could possibly want out of a Guardians book is in here, from interpersonal struggles between the main cast to quantum crises in space-time.

Hopefully, this primer into the four-coloured lives of the Guardians of the Galaxy proves helpful for interested readers. In addition, last week’s “Jack’s Stack” features a review for the All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #1, which is in stores now, and also worth picking up.

Happy Reading!

(Featured Image courtesy of Marvel.com)

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