Lots of spoilers below, although this might be a refresher for many of you, as I can only assume that you were unable to re-read this issue, as you tore it to shreds upon finishing it.
Open in space, on a figure in the distance, barely a blip, really, visible only by some shining light he/she is holding. The captions are this person’s thoughts:
“I really needed this.
“THIS feels right.”
“This is what I always wanted anyhow.”
Who could be saying this, you wonder (you don’t, actually, as the answer is revealed on the same page, but just pretend). This is Guardians of the Galaxy #1. You’ve seen the cover. You’ve read the solicitation text. The inner monologue sounds like it could be the original Star Lord, Peter Quill. He’s supposed to be away from the group now. Perhaps he’s happy about that, about no longer being a glorified thief.
Or maybe it’s the new Star Lord, Kitty Pryde. Maybe she’s happy to finally be able to travel through space, free from having to worry about all those whiny mutants and the “rights” they’re always going on and on about, because it totally makes sense that she would leave that behind, right?
Heck, maybe it’s Venom aka Flash Thompson, who’s been with the team for a while now, but who is basking in the joy of being away from the problems of the world, just out in space enjoying the adventure.
It could be any one of the three because that inner monologue, it sounds like something any of them might say. Groot wouldn’t sound like that, of course. Rocket wouldn’t sound like that. The Thing sounds like that.
Oh, right, this is a comic book written by Brian Michael Bendis, so even Groot might sound like that because they all sound exactly the same.
Lo and behold, it is in fact, the Thing, or someone who looks just like him but sounds nothing like him. But hey, he’s only been around for 50 years, his voice is really still a work in progress.
But wait! Someone, perhaps the editor (ha! Just kidding, Marvel doesn’t have editors, they have project managers), must have said something to Bendis about the Thing sounding un-Thing-like, so we get this:
“And call me crazy – everyone has – but I am everlovin’ lovin’ it!”
He said “everlovin!” It MUST be the Thing! I believe the original version of that line was “This is more fun than clobberin’ time!”
The Thing is being followed, chased, if you will, by the Chitauri. He’s in a flight suit holding a small rocket in his hand, they are in one of their crazy mutant whale ships from the Avengers movie. This does not seem like it will turn out well for Ben Grimm (or whoever this really is).
But he’s rescued! By the new Guardians of the Galaxy!
…who have all gotten out of their ship to meet him. Chintauri – big mutant whale ship. Guardians of the Galaxy GET OUT OF THEIR SHIP for some reason.
And yet they still apparently manage to sneak up on the Chitauri, who not only missed another spaceship showing up, but also didn’t notice as the ship sat there and five people got out of it and flew to the Thing.
This is so shocking that the Chitauri are unable to get off even a single shot while the Guardians banter. Which is too bad, because the Guardians of the Galaxy are GROUPED TOGETHER, so a single shot would have been the end of this series (which, at this point, could only have been a blessing).
Instead, the Guardians talk like they’re in a Dan Brown novel (drink when someone deliberately uses a vague term for something there’s a term for!) and Kitty Pryde shows off some crazy power. So there’s a legit reason for Kitty to be out of the ship. Everyone else? I guess they needed to pose?
So why WAS the Thing being chased by the Chitauri? Well, he stole something from them. The big orange guy. Made of rocks. He went on a mission to steal something. Not the woman who can walk through walls or the amped up raccoon, but the Thing.
The Guardians don’t know what they’ve stolen, though, just that the Chitauri had it so it must be bad (I wonder if the Chitauri have toilets? What if they just stole a toilet? Like King Chitauri’s fancy new diamond encrusted toilet with a solid gold bidet). They don’t want to open it in case it’s a bomb. They need someone really smart that they can trust to take a look at it. Thankfully, Ben used to be a member of the Fantastic Four, and they counted the smartest man in the world as their leader.
Ha! No, that would make sense. Instead they take it to Star Lord Classic (in defense of this story, we don’t know what has happened to Mr. or Mrs. Richards post-Secret Wars, so maybe there’s an explanation for their decision, but I’m not holding my breath). Peter Quill is the king of an empire now, so bringing a potential bomb to the main planet of that empire is probably a good idea, particularly after the Thing actually says “I say we open it on an abandoned moon….” But that might not really be the Thing, so we shouldn’t trust him, anyway. Hey, the real Thing would have mentioned Reed Richards! I think I’m on to something here.
And then Gamora falls from the sky and Hala shows up but, really, by this point I’m thinking about what a great job the Project Manager did in getting this comic together on time. Getting rid of editors has really streamlined the process, so much so I’m amazed that Marvel ever releases a book late.
Now, I have a friend who used to be an editor at one of the Big Two and he’s made it very clear to me that the job can be a nightmare. Most editors have too much on their plate with deadlines that make it nearly impossible to get their work done in time. I totally understand that. Let’s face facts, setting art to a monthly schedule means the creative process is going to be limited; the time for back and forth between writer and editor is finite. So I don’t place all of this on editor Nick Lowe.
But you can’t tell me that there’s no one in Bendis’ family or neighborhood or weekly book club that couldn’t have taken a rough pass over this script and said “hey, why did they get out of the ship?” or “hey, this sounds nothing at all like the Thing.”
And this, this system that allows/forces the Big Two to produce 50 to 60 comics every month, is the problem. It’s why the majority of their titles struggle for mediocrity.
It’s why the majority of the first issue of a franchise comic can make no sense and no one bats an eye.