This review contains spoilers!
You know how sometimes Brian Michael Bendis crafts really average work with superhero teams and other times he creates something absolutely brilliant? Well, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY isn't legendary like his early material with NEW AVENGERS (at least not yet), but it's still an incredibly solid and totally satisfying read.
Bendis has yet to really dive into the core of these characters (except for Peter Quill, of course), but he's still doing an able job giving new readers enough to get a decent grasp on the cast's unique personalities -- except for Gamora, she's really dull here. Long time fans, however, will probably feel like there's something to be desired with this aspect. Also, hate to break it to ya, but at the moment, it really seems like they're glossing over his death and just hoping you'll get with the program.
While this chapter juggles between an intergalactic conference and the battle in London, the highlight isn't the meeting between powerful forces or the lasers ripping the city apart. No, ultimately it is Rocket Raccoon and his lovable banter that stole my affection. I can't help but wonder how much of an influence Marvel Studios has over this title (don't be silly, we all know the movies impact the industry) and whether they've specifically asked Bendis to put a strong focus on making the space animal so darn lovable (merchandising, yo). Regardless, Bendis is quickly turning me into a fan of the little dude. Yes, Groot gets no love in this one, but that's because it's blatantly obviously he'll be the one to save the day in the near future or at least serve as a big factor. So, if you're one of the Groot fans upset by his lack of appearance, I say fret not because his time will surely come.
A few small issues aside, Bendis deserves credit for producing a sharp script. From the first page to the last, this is definitely a hugely entertaining sci-fi tale with tight pacing. There's nothing out of the ordinary here, it's just done really, really well. As for the art, there's a lot of people involved. Usually, that can make for a jarring experience, but that thankfully isn't the case here. There's an appropriately different style for the two drastically different set pieces (the meeting / battle in London) and the result feels organic instead of distracting. There's a praiseworthy splash page with a hologram, and, just like any CNN exec will tell you, we all love good looking holograms. My only tiny gripe with the art is Drax's face. Occasionally, he looks like he's smelling something absolutely fierce -- it's as if Galactus cut the cheese and he's forced to smell it.
Like they even state in the issue, this isn't a good representation of Drax the Destroyer. The killing machine/powerhouse is really lackluster in the combat department, and seeing as he's my favorite character out of the entire batch, this was a tad disappointing -- especially after he barely had a role in the first issue. Clearly, there's something wrong with him -- be it physically or mentally -- so hopefully this will be expanded upon in the next issue. Additionally, I thought it was really odd Drax called out he "has a shot" when he was about to attack the ship (way to have great aim with a giant axe, buddy), yet later tells them not to talk to him while he's fighting. Nobody likes a jerk, Drax.
While Rocket Racoon was hilarious, I could have done without the final use of his catch phrase. The one prior to that was pure comedic gold. Adding it again immediately after really took away from the impact.
Finally, if their boots have jets, why'd Drax need Gamora's aid? I get he's tired and all, but why would using those boots require energy?
It doesn't take a genius to see the King has set everything up from the get-go and Grood will save the day since he's currently left behind, but I'd be a total liar if I said I wasn't pretty excited to pick up the next issue. I was never big on cosmic stories and honestly, I was skeptical because Bendis is on roughly a gazillion other titles, but GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is some mighty amusing stuff.