I must be going crazy, because even though Guardians of the Galaxy #18 has both Thanos and Richard Rider (and it’s a “continuation” from Abnett & Lanning’s Thanos Imperative) I cannot endorse this issue. If you haven’t picked it up yet, DON’T!
Now you’re probably saying: “JR, these are two of your favorite Marvel characters. I mean you’ve been demanding an answer to what happened to Rider for a while now, and you seem to have an unhealthy obsession with Thanos. Is this book really that bad?”
To which I say, no it’s not. It’s worse than bad. It’s a lie. We, at least I, was sold on the fact that this would be the definitive answer to what happened to Thanos, Star-Lord and Nova at the end of The Thanos Imperative. What we get is some nice double page spreads and 20 pages of stalling only to get a "TO BE CONTINUED" at the end. I am calling bullshit on that.
I’ll tell to you why, but first I’m warning everyone who hasn’t and still wants to read this issue that there are SPOILERS after this sentence. Okay, ready?
The book begins with Gamora tying up Peter somewhere and forcing him to explain what happened that day in the Cancerverse. Right away all this is unnecessary. Gamora and Peter’s scenes take up 4 pages and it adds nothing to the overall story. You could have easily used those pages to flesh out the story and used narration boxes for them instead.
Now the rest of the issue is basically Thanos trying to convince Peter to give him the Cosmic Cube because he says he can save them from the Cancerverse with it. Rider and Quill both say no. Which is perfectly logical. But Thanos keeps asking over and over to point where I’m like "just give him the damn cube so we can move this story along!." .
Then suddenly Drax returns from the dead (I told ya, SPOILERS) but he wasn’t really dead and Bendis doesn’t really explain why he’s back (I’m assuming it’s because he died in the Cancerverse or something). Once again this added nothing to the story and Bendis could’ve easily cut Drax’s part out entirely and focused on the three characters we really care about! So Drax and Thanos fight. Then Nova and Star-Lord take turns beating on Thanos. Then Thanos tries to convince Peter again to let him have the Cube. They fight some more. Wash and repeat.
Then some Cancerverse bugs ruin the party and attack everyone. Peter uses the Cosmic Cube “accidentally”? Then the cube ends up controlling him and..then it ends.
Final thoughts: Although I regret buying this issue, there were some things I liked. Richard and Peter’s chemistry from Annihilation and Thanos Imperative is here in spades and I hope Richard (the one true Nova) will join the Guardians instead of Venom or whoever the rotating member is atm. Unless he can’t be on the team, which would make me very sad. The other good is Ed McGuinness’s line work, which is superb as always. Also, kudos to Mark Farmer & Justin Ponsor (on inks & colors respectively) for making this book, if nothing else, a pleasure to look at.
The criticisms are obvious. What should have been a one issue story to fill the gap between TI and Marvel Now, becomes another mini-series. Also, this book made it very clear to me that BMB can’t write for Thanos and I hope when this story-line is over, he leaves him to writers who can write for him.
If I didn’t love Richard Rider so much I wouldn’t even bother with GOTG #19. But I do and I want to know what happens to him and if he’ll be a major player again in Marvel Comics. So I’ll probably end up flipping to the end to make sure there is a real conclusion before I buy it. 1/10