While the modern version of the Guardians of the Galaxy has only been around for about a decade, there’s no denying that thanks to the Marvel movies they’re now some of Marvel’s most recognisable characters. If you’re a fan of the movies and you’re looking for some good Guardians of the Galaxy comics to read then this is the list for you. This list collates the comics you should read involving this lovable band of galactic characters.
Annihilation: Conquest – Starlord
Written by Keith Hidden. Art by Timothy Green II.
Before Dan Abnett and Dan Lanning put together the modern interpretation of the Guardians of the Galaxy (see the next point) this four-part miniseries acted as the prototype. It features Starlord leading a group of galactic misfits, a few familiar characters and plenty of science fiction action.
The Kree Empire, severely weakened by a war with Annihilus, is taken over by the Phalanx (Marvel’s equivalent to the Borg) and to make things worse, they’re developing a weapon which can assimilate on a planetary scale. StarLord and a ragtag group of familiar and lesser know characters are sent in order to stop the weapon from being used.
This story has a great mix of covert action, science fiction ideas and character building which makes you care about these characters. Over the four issues they will go from unknown to have you care for them and wishing they succeed, especially in the face of hardship.
QUICK TIP: You’ll enjoy this miniseries more if you’ve read the Annihilation Conquest Prologue one-shot.
Annihilation: Conquest – Starlord is collected in Annihilation: Conquest Book 1 and available digitally.
Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. Art by Paul Pelletier.
If you want to see the formation of the modern Guardians of the Galaxy, then look no further than Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s run. While the line-up may look a little different to what we see in the movies, this run created the template for what we know and love. Kicking off this run was a story called Legacy, which covers a lot of ground early on to establish the team and giving them purpose.
It spins out of back-to-back cosmic wars where the Guardians have been tasked with stopping all the associated issues of rips in time and space. Along the way they’ll also have to deal with giant aliens, mega-religions and shape shifting Skrulls. With all these elements it successfully walks along the edge of both science fiction and superhero comics with this unique blend that should appeal to fans of both.
Legacy runs through Guardians of the Galaxy (2008 series) #1-6 and is collected in Guardians of the Galaxy by Abnett and Lanning: The Complete Collection Volume 1 and available digitally.
Guardians of the Galaxy #0.1
Written by Brian Michael Bendis. Art by Steve McNiven.
Before Brian Michael Bendis and Steve McNiven kicked off their run on Guardians properly they kicked things off with a done-in-one story retelling and updating the origin of Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord. In it we see how Peter’s parents met and the tragedy which motivated him to go into outer space. While it transpires differently to the movie version, it still grabs your emotions tight through love and loss, both romantic and parental.
As always, Steve McNiven art is fantastic. In this he employs his clean, yet detailed, line work to show rich emotion and grounded characters. He also excels when it comes to the more science fiction elements too, with great looking tech and spaceships. Keep a look out for the explosive climax too, it looks fantastic.
Guardians of Galaxy #0.1 is collected in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 1: Cosmic Avengers and is available digitally.
Written by Brian Michael Bendis. Art by Steve McNiven.
2013 saw the Guardians of the Galaxy return to comics with a bang. After the conclusion of Abnett and Lanning’s 25 issue run the team had gone into hibernation for a few years, but with announcement of a movie fresh in people’s minds the time was right to bring the team back. And Marvel made a big deal out if it, bringing on big name writer Brian Michael Bendis and needle moving artist Steve McNiven.
Kicking off this series is a story called Cosmic Avengers, which sees a great mix of action, science fiction and even some space politics. Through a mutual agreement of the various galactic empires in the Marvel Universe, it is agreed upon that Earth is to become off-limits. No visiting and definitely no invading. But by doing so, it’s created an opportunity for one race to invade. It’s up to the Guardians to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Along for the ride is Iron Man, who is a regular in the early segment of this run. Whether you see that a gimmick or not is up to you, but I believe he is a good addition to the team as he helps introduce concepts to new readers.
If you want to know more about this story I’ve reviewed it in more detail a few years ago.
Cosmic Avengers is told through Guardians of the Galaxy (2013 series) #1-3 and collected in Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1: Cosmic Avengers and available digitally.
Written by Skottie Young. Art by Jake Parker and Skottie Young.
During Skottie Young and co.’s run with Rocket Raccoon was full of Rocket and Groot capers, full of fun and wild misadventures in space. Although this particular done-in-one story has made the list due to it’s sheer creativity. It all begins with Rocket, Groot and a bunch of scouts sitting around a campfire telling stories when Groot decides to tell a story to the kids. Yes, that’s right, Groot is telling the story. And you know what that means?
There’s a whole lot of “I am Groot.” But, it works so well. While you have no idea what anyone is saying (including signage, which also says Groot’s famous catchphrase), it doesn’t really matter what’s going on as it’s a wild ride and your brain kind of makes up the dialogue as you go along. Even better yet, the whole thing comes together with a hilarious punchline at the end.
Storytailer is told in Rocket Raccoon #5 (2014 series) and is collected in Rocket Racoon volume 1: A Chasing Tale and available digitally.
Beware, Beware, Beware The Blood Brothers
Written by Mike Friedrich and Jim Starlin. Art by Jim Starlin.
Iron Man on a Guardians of the Galaxy list?! Before you hit the back button, I can explain. You see, this particular issue features the first appearance of Drax the Destroyer and villainous Thanos.
In this story Drax is held captive in Thanos’ secret Earth fortress and must find a way to escape. Sending out a psychic distress, he is able to get in reach with Iron Man. Together their able to team-up to battle Thanos’ minions, The Blood Brothers, and free Drax.
Throughout this issue we are given background on Thanos, which builds him up as a big bad. Jim Starlin is able to build up the anticipation for Thanos by having his face concealed by darkness, waiting for the right time for a reveal. It’s a strong pay-off when he’s fully revealed towards the end of issue.
Beware, Beware, Beware The Blood Brothers is told in Iron Man #55 and is collected in Avengers Vs Thanos and available digitally.