Editor's Note: Guardians of the Galaxy #22 arrives in stores tomorrow, January 27.
Plot: The fate of Moondragon's very non-hysterical pregnancy is decided, as is the latest madness of the Universal Church of Truth, but forces behind the scenes continue to conspire against the Guardians.
Comments: DnA are pulling on a lot of classic Marvel referents to enrich their cosmic tapestry. Moondragon's pregnancy speaks both to her earlier possession by dark forces in the Defenders, and her long-gone status as a potential Celestial Madonna, a role she played in Steve Englehart's classic Mantis story that unfolded in the Avengers years ago.
This time what she may give birth to is evil, and the Universal Church claims it will be their new god. That's where the other side of this tapestry comes into play, as the writers of Realm of Kings are using the classic Starlin-inspired cosmic archetypes from his seventies Captain Marvel saga. Moondragon's origin was told there, and we also first met the creature that is orchestrating many of these setbacks on the Guardians, the Magus. His goals may not be clear, but we do find out what cards he holds this issue, and they are major.
The cast is large in this book, even though half recently sacrificed themselves fighting the Rift, which is the extra-dimensional Macguffin that is driving much of the plotting of the Realm of Kings maxi-crossover. It's surprising to note that the cosmic over-arching series is already halfway through, and the Guardians have less direct roles to play in those battles for supremacy among alien races.
Jack Flag, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Star-Lord, Drax … it's a very motley crew, and since they often face armies and the populations of whole planets, focusing on all the political machinations of alien races can be slow-going. But DnA do their best to keep the characters distinct, and this month they're aided greatly by the art of Brad Walker. He doesn't really have a Starling-esque quality, but he has some good fashion sense and also draws nice space-tech, a rare skill-set that more comics need.
Walker also keeps the Luminals (DnA's answer to the Green Lanterns of DC, apparently) distinct despite their shared costuming motifs, and keeps up with the title's established practice of summarizing some events in recorded logs as each of the major players are debriefed. These scenes can be a bit formulaic, but Walker does a lot with facial expression, expressive shadows and posture.
The Rift idea isn't a very new one (basically a haunted doorway to hell), but in Guardians the writers keep the focus squarely on the interesting cast of characters they've assembled. This issue is a satisfying conclusion to several recent plots, and promises more significant battles to come for fans of the Realm of Kings.
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