Graphic Novel Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2: Angela

09:12 20 March 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy: Angela

Guardians of the Galaxy: Angela

Archant

Neil Gaiman’s avenging angel arrives in the Marvel Universe...

(Panini Books)

It’s difficult to know where writer Brian Michael Bendis is going with this series. Unlike his concurrent work with the X-Men, there doesn’t appear to be an overarching plot for the Guardians, and they drift between battles with disparate alien races without any real sense of purpose.

Oh, there’s plenty of different stuff going on here, from the introduction of Neil Gaiman’s celestial bounty hunter Angela (removed from Image Comics’ Spawn titles following a protracted legal battle) to Star-Lord’s encounter with Thanos to discuss the implications of recent meddling in the time stream and the team’s subsequent involvement in the Infinity event, but there is an overwhelming feeling that the book is biding time while Bendis finds his feet...

The arrival of Angela in the Marvel Universe probably isn’t as big a deal as the powers-that-be would have you think, as she had drifted into obscurity in recent years, and her lack of personality and unnatural dialogue displayed here will do little to endear her to new readers.

The addition of Tony (Iron Man) Stark to the team’s ranks was in part to set him off in a new direction in his own title rather than for a specific mission with the Guardians. As a result Stark frequently finds himself out of his depth due to his inferior technology, and often serves as little more than comic relief, which does no favours to such a well-established character.

The characteristic Bendis dialogue tropes are all present and correct here, but just as in his previous work with the Avengers there is a tendency for him to overlook plot development in favour of scenes of witty banter, which can grow tiring after a while.

The art is primarily by the remarkable Sara Pichelli, who does a fantastic job in portraying the otherworldliness of the Guardians’ adventures, but unfortunately even she can’t save Bendis’ script from its inherent ordinariness.

With a movie version of the Guardians of the Galaxy set to hit cinema screens this summer, the comic book it is based on really needs to up its game in the next few months, as at the moment it’s really more pedestrian than warp speed.

Memories of the far superior Guardians book by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning are still fresh in many people’s memories, and comparisons are of course inevitable. At the moment Bendis is coasting on the strength of his past reputation, but that will only last for a finite period before the audience grows frustrated or bored.

The next volume of GotG is a crossover with Bendis’ All-New X-Men title which sees the teenage Jean Grey forced to go on trial to account for the sins of her elder self’s incarnation as the Phoenix, so hopefully we’ll start to see signs of where this particular series is heading.

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