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 Post subject: Guardians of the Galaxy
PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 4:55 pm 
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Jim Valentino’s retrospective on Guardians of the Galaxy
(Originally posted on imagecomics.com starting 3/25/05)

Introduction

The Guardians of the Galaxy first appeared in MARVEL SUPER-HEROES #18 (January, 1969). Written by Arnold Drake and illustrated by Gene Colan, the team consisted of CHARLIE-27, MAJOR VANCE ASTRO, MARTINEX and YONDU against the invading reptilian horde, the Brotherhood of the Badoon.
At the time, MSH was a “tyro” book, each issue showcasing a new feature. Since the Guardians didn’t make their second appearance until six and a half years later (in Marvel Two-In-One #5 – July, 1975), it’s safe to assume they fired no one’s imagination, save, perhaps, MTIO writer, Steve Gerber.
Gerber masterfully took the team through it’s first revival, guest-starring them in Giant-Size Defenders #5, Defenders #26-29 and, finally, winning them their own short-lived series in Marvel Presents #3-12 (February, 1976 through August, 1977).
Although the group had several guest appearances (mostly in Gerber penned tales) in various other titles, they pretty much disappeared again for several years.

In 1989, I was desperately trying to find a steady gig (and paycheck) at Marvel. Encouraged by my then-wife, Diane, and two buds, Rob Liefeld and Brian Murray, I came up with several pitches for some new series to show Marvel EIC, Tom DeFalco and Executive Editor, the late Mark Gruenwald, both of whom would be appearing at Wondercon that year.
I had worked slavishly on a new Defenders concept and Rob and I had co-created (and would have done together) a concept called The Young Avengers (we were unaware that Tom himself had already created the New Warriors, a team similar to ours), plus several other concepts that I no longer recall. Then, a few days before the show as I was perusing the Marvel Universe Handbooks, I came across the entree for the Guardians of the Galaxy. We all agreed that they were a cool looking group, but there was no “hook”—nothing that would bring a new reader into the series.
Two days before the con it hit me like a bolt out of the blue: Why not place them in the Marvel Universe of the 31st century? The series would be a cross between a What If…? and a team-up book. It could show who survived, who didn’t, who was remembered and who wasn’t. And it would allow me extraordinary freedom to play with virtually any Marvel character I chose, and since it would depict only one possible future, it couldn’t interfere with any current continuity.
It was the proposal I gave the least amount of time and thought to, and naturally, it was the one they chose to go with.

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 Post subject: Re: Guardians of the Galaxy
PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 4:58 pm 
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When I first pitched it at Tom, he told me that he had also been thinking of the Guardians of late, but his idea was to set them in the 35th Century, 500 years after Charlie, Nikki, Vance and the rest, where they would be a truly galactic organization not unlike the Green Lantern Corps if they were the Legion of Super-Heroes. I told him that I could set that up for him within my series--and I did, beginning in issue #8 when Marty began musing about the Galactic Guardians.

Guardians of the Galaxy debuted in June 1990. It was not a huge seller, by any means, my art was not flashy enough to be a fan favorite and it didn’t meet with either critical or fan acclaim. But, it did have its fans and it did have a positive sales slope during my entire run. And I had a ball doing it.

What follows is an issue-by-issue retrospective of what happened in the series had I continued on it (for all three of you who are interested) also, for those who may have felt cheated by my “leaving” the book—a breakdown of what WOULD have happened had I remained, as planned, until issue #50 and finished out my story. I’ve also cross-referenced all of the “sign-posts” that I could think of—that is, the events that preceded or foretold things to come in the series.

ANNUAL #1 (June, 1991)

“Some Other Time.” (This story takes place immediately before issue #1, so I’m placing it here, the rest of the annuals will be covered below). Part Four of the four-part “Korvac Quest” which ran through Fantastic Four Annual #24, Thor Annual #16 and Silver Surfer Annual #4, this story concerned itself with the Guardians going back in time some forty years to Korvac’s birth, there to return the power he stole from Galactus.

Hints were given in the story about the fate of the Inhumans (elaborated upon in issue #27), there was a cameo appearance by the Legion’s R.J.Brande (here called Ambassador Jacques) which went unnoticed, the team met the Watcher and the 31st Century Ancient One (Dr. Strange) and the current Sorcerer Supreme, the alien, Krugarr (named after my mentor, Ken Krueger).
They also managed to create their greatest foe, Korvac, whose mother blamed the team for the death of the baby’s father.
Two other significant events were chronicled in this story, the first being the official induction of Aleta (introduced in Defenders #29) into the team, the second being that Yondu found a strange tome among his belongings called the Book of Antag, a book that Vance would realize was a galaxy-spanning puzzle that would lead them to the location of Captain America’s shield! (It should be noted, herewith, that it had been well established that Vance idolized Captain America, a fact which would have enormous repercussions for him in issue #20 and, later, in what would have been #’s 30-34).

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 Post subject: Re: Guardians of the Galaxy
PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 5:01 pm 
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#1 (June, 1990) “But Are They Ready For Taserface?”

The story opens on the planet Courg. The Guardians, in search of the shield, seem to have been beaten to every locale by a yet unknown adversary (revealed in issue #5). On this planet, they find a race of canine humanoids that have been conquered by an alien race called The Stark. One of their greatest warriors, Taserface, oversees the planet, and he is whom the Guards must battle.
The team’s entire history is recounted and the stars they wear on their uniforms are revealed communicators and transporters (and, yes, I nicked the idea from Star Trek: Next Gen, but the stars actually showed up first in the aforementioned MTIO #5)

NOTE: My son, Aaron, had created the character Taserface when he was 5 years old. I knew the name was lame, but justified it by likening it to the old Dick Tracy villain, Prune-Face or the Batman villains Clayface and Two-Face. At any rate, it gave the kid a thrill to say that he was the youngest person to ever create a Marvel character. (Okay, so I’m a doting parent, sue me).

#2 (July, 1990) “The Stark Truth”

The Guardians battle the Stark, a Matriarchal society in Iron Man drag. The Watcher explains (to the reader) that Tony Stark had launched all Iron Man armor and specs for same into space, rather than let them fall into Martian hands during the War of the World (yeah, the logic escaped me too, it was all I could come up with at the time). Vance’s protective suit was slashed open during the melee, exposing his thousand-year-old skin to air. Firelord, the former Galactus herald, was noted as being the current Protector of the Universe on a quest for the missing Quantum Bands, and Starhawk and Aleta, only one of whom who could be corporal at any time, were fired upon in mid-body switch.

#3 (August, 1990) “Split Decision”

For the first time ever, Starhawk and Aleta appeared in the same place at the same time, and though it looked like he was abandoning the team in the midst of battle (as he was wont to do), he was actually sending a flare into space to summon Firelord, who himself was being watched by the mysterious second group that was after the shield, Force.
The Guardians’ ship, Freedom’s Lady, is destroyed in this issue.

#4 (September, 1990) “…And Then Came the Firelord”

Firelord, as the title suggests, joins the fray and helps the Guards beat the Stark, incinerating Taserface in the process. Force is introduced officially and one member, Photon, is revealed to be (as hinted at in previous issues) a Centaurian female, one of Yondu’s race.
The Guardians appropriate a Stark star-ship christening it the Captain America II, and Firelord agrees to join the team as their first honorary member, and tells them that the shield can be found on a world encircling the Pleiades.

#5 (October, 1990) “A Force To Reckon With.”

Force and the Guardians finally meet face-to-face on a world run by a planet-wide sentient computer called Main Frame.
The world-wide computer pits the two teams against one another, Charlie VS Broadside, Brahl VS Martinex (who is critically wounded), Nikki VS Scanner (wherein we learn of her deep hatred for reptiles) and Yondu meets Photon, a Centaurian female whom he refuses to fight, believing that the two of them are spiritually obliged to propagate. She rejects both him and their peoples’ religion (something that would have serious effects on him, most notably in issue #Eight).
I established that Yondu's race, the Centaurians, were not mammals, but
rather, Marsupials. If you look closely, you'll note that Photon has no breasts and within the context of the story she refers to her pouch.

#6 (November, 1990) “And To the Victor—the Shield”

Continuing the contest between The Guardians and Force, Starhawk faces off against Tachyon, Aleta against Eightyfive (who is revealed to be Kree) and Vance faces Interface.
The Guardians win the shield, through Vance, who claims his childhood hero’s weapon as a rallying cry for freemen everywhere. Force, banished from the planet, plan to steer clear of the Guards (all except for Brahl, a major rift that will play out in the issue #16 and later in Annual #2) and Main Frame is revealed to be the Vision.

Two facts are revealed that will play a role in future stories; the first is that Main Frame tells the Guards that the inhabitants of this world were relocated by The Keeper in an effort to save them from Galactus. The second is that Charlie mentions an abandoned base the team found on Europa shortly after forming (reference to a story that would appear in Annual #1).

NOTE: These six issues were collected into the trade paperback: The Quest for the Shield (February, 1992).

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 Post subject: Re: Guardians of the Galaxy
PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 5:06 pm 
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#7 (December, 1990) “That’s No Lady, That’s Malevolence”/”The Secret of Knowledge”

This book was split horizontally into two separate stories that came together at the end.
The upper tier featured the team encountering a crimson-hued alien succubus named Malevolence, who kept screaming about a child. The Guardians had no idea what she was talking about. When she encountered Aleta, she brutally attacked her, calling her “The Rival”—again, no one knew what she was talking about. (All would be clear in issue #15).
In the bottom tier, Starhawk used his healing powers on Marty, who had lost a great many of the crystalline shards that composed his epidermis. During this process, Starhawk finally explained how and why he was “The One Who Knows.” He explained that he was NOT a precog, as the Guardians had always assumed, but was re-living his life over-and-over in a moebius strip. He told Marty that his soul would re-inhabit his own infant body during a visit the team would make to the 20th Century (This would have happened in #32 or 33) and, even though he was with them, he would no longer be a Guardian, having been expelled for something he must do. (This would happen in issue #16).
In the end, Starhawk excuses himself, having cured Marty (who emerges with a sleeker skin) and confronts Malevolence, telling her that the Child had not yet arrived she had awoken too early. She splits screaming for guidance from her mysterious father.

#8 (January, 1991) “Down Time”

This issue explored the Guardians’ relationships with one another as they travel toward the Lost Colony of Free Earthmen (their original goal in Marvel Super-Heroes #eighteen--I have to write these out due to the emoticons).
Yondu is revealed to be Habuktu (warrior-priest) and is deeply disturbed by Photon’s rejection of him and the religion of his people. Starhawk finally manages to calm him, telling him that his life will hold great meaning for the future of his people. (Issue #25)
Starhawk, who is growing physically weaker due to his premature separation from Aleta, uncovers evidence of a brutal Church, sweeping a deadly path across the cosmos.
Vance and Marty discuss the leadership of the Guardians and the latter muses on creating a truly galactic team with thousands of members spread across the breadth of the galaxy (Marty left the main group to form this team in issue #17 and they would first appear in Annual #2. My plan was to do a Galactic Guardians mini-series set 500 years in the Guardians' future, so circa the 35/36th Century).
It’s revealed that Vance can take off his containment suit in his own quarters (thanks to Marty) and Aleta, who reveals that she is a being of light, and not flesh and blood, visits him. Vance turns down her amorous advance, much to his own disbelief, but the seeds are set for their eventual romance.
Nikki’s hair is actually revealed to be fire, Charlie proposes to her, but she prefers their relationship remain a casual, sexual one.
Finally, the ship arrives at Haven, the planet that houses the Lost Tribe of Free Earthmen…and the descendants of Earth’s Mutants.

#9 (February, 1991) “And Rancor Is Her Name-O”

(Okay, okay, really LAME title, I know, I was having fun with it, sue me).
The Guards land on Haven, which they discover is ruled by the mutant Rancor (fifth generation descendant of Wolverine) and her Lieutenants (Blaster, Blockade, Mind-Scan, Shaddo, Side-Step, Bat-Wing and Rhodney—and, yes, the last two were a joke). They meet Giraud (a tribute to Jean-Paul Giraud aka Moebius) and a young shape-shifter named Replica (who swore she was not a mutant). They also learn the fate of Earth’s mutants after the War of the Worlds while Starhawk begins a conversation with an enigmatic entity that has lain dormant on the planet for half a Millennium.

#10 (March, 1991) “Tell Them the Overmen Are Here”

The Guardians battle Raven and her Lieutenants in an effort to free Haven from their tyrannical rule. Blaster is killed, Replica helps the Guards, and Giraud agrees to host the Phoenix entity (whom Starhawk had awoken in the previous issue).
Meanwhile, on the Stark home world, Taserface is reborn as Overkill. (A much better name. Todd renamed one of his characters OverTkill out of respect for Aaron having created this character).

#11 (April, 1991) “The Once and Future Phoenix”

Giraud is reborn as the new male Phoenix, Rhodney is killed, much to (his lover) Bat-Wing’s dismay and Blockade is blinded in the final battle between Rancor’s Lieutenants and the Guards. The Phoenix destroys the planet Haven, but rescues the populace, transporting them to Main Frame’s world. No one notices a tiny “insect” hovering around Marty’s shoulders as they leave the destroyed planet. The Guardians receive a distress signal from honorary member, Firelord.
And, in another part of the galaxy, Force detects a human sized object, flying toward them in space.

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 Post subject: Re: Guardians of the Galaxy
PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 5:10 pm 
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#12 (May, 1991) “Nothing Like A Little Overkill”

In space Firelord is attacked by a “super-Stark,” the immensely powerful Overkill while the “insect” from last issue is revealed to be Replica, stowed away on the Guardians’ ship. Nikki takes an immediate and inexplicable dislike to the young girl, which irks the rest of the team (especially Marty, who feels very fatherly toward the young shape-shifter). The Guards help Firelord to defeat Overkill, a battle that does not go unnoticed on the nearby planet, Sarka, a world converted by the mysterious Church Starhawk first encountered in issue #8. (The Church’s symbol, an Ankh, had appeared all over Haven as well and is worn by Replica as it is by all devotees).
Firelord is called away by his mentor, Eon, to continue his search for the Quantum Bands. Realizing that Nikki’s heartbroken by Firelord’s departure, Charlie gives her a fiery flower that he claims is a parting gift from the Protector of the Universe.

#13 (June, 1991) “The Spirit of Vengeance”

Starhawk, progressively weakened by his premature separation from Aleta is becoming immaterial. Meanwhile, Wilyeadus, a Sarkan resident introduced in the previous issue, is revealed to be the Spirit of Vengeance, an alien Ghost Rider hell-bent on destroying the Church. He attacks Starhawk whom he critically wounds. Aleta sues the alien for peace, convincing him that the Guards are not acolytes, but when he sees the Ankh around Replica’ neck, he vows to destroy them all.
In another part of space, Brahl makes a pact with an unseen accomplice and the two of them manage to defeat Force.

NOTE: Wilyadeus’ name was inspired by the character, Autoclycus, from Jim Starlin’s Warlock saga (he is even mistakenly referred to as Autoclycus in one panel this issue). The names are play on phonetic pronunciations “Ought-To-Like-Us”, “Will-He-Aid-Us.” Also, on the penultimate page of this issue, Replica, who has sworn she is not a mutant, shows us what she is in a transitory stage of shape-shifting (which several sharp-eyed readers caught).

#14 (July, 1991) “Hallowed Be Thy Name”

The Guardians battle the Spirit of Vengeance, who slashes Charlie’s left cheek (the scar from which he would keep during my entire run) before they’re surrounded by a fleet of Church warships. Replica, a devotee of the Church, manages to save the team.
Brahl is revealed to be in league with Malevolence, who intends to use Force to help her become the Protégé’s Matriarch. Aleta tries to help the ailing Starhawk (now almost translucent), but he attempts to absorb her back into his body. Replica commits a mortal sin by disguising herself as the Grand Inquisitor and freeing her teammates from a torture chamber. Aleta informs the Guards that they must go to the Church’s home world, when asked why, she will only say, “Accept the word of one who knows.”

ANNUAL #1 (June, 1991)

NOTE: The lead feature, “Some Other Time” was reviewed at the beginning of this article. Besides some old-school-style Marvel “Feature Pages” this annual also contained two other stories; the 3-page “Origin of the Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Encounter On Europa.” The later was first mentioned in issue #6 and takes place shortly after the group’s formation. Seeking a space ship to find the lost colony of free Earthmen, they travel to Jupiter. Escaping the Badoon, they crash land on Europa where, under the ice, they discover a huge base that runs on magnetism. The team uses the base as their headquarters for a full year while they make a starship space-worthy. They will christen the vessel the USS Captain America, their first starship. The Guards will learn in issues #9-11 that this base was built by Magneto and was the first stopping point for Earth’s mutants prior to their leaving for the planet Haven.

NOTE: Mount Morabito was named after Linda Morabito, who discovered volcanoes on the Jovian moon, Io. Also, it is revealed that it was here on Europa that the Guardians got their second costumes (first seen in MTIO #5).

#15 (August, 1991) “The Power of the Protégé”

Vance proposes to Aleta, Mephisto is revealed to be Malevolence’s father and the Guardians head to the Homeworld to stop her from becoming the Matriarch (she who will be the teacher/nanny to the Protégé). The Protégé (the “child” to whom Malevolence was referring in issue #7) is revealed to have the ability to “learn” any power or ability he sees in use. Interface stops Force from using their powers, lest the child “learn” them and relates to his teammates how the Church “converted” (read: destroyed) his home world, Uloc. We learn Photon’s origin and Replica is revealed to be a Skrull, while Aleta faces off against Malevolence for the right to be the Matriarch, thus fulfilling the latter’s identification of her as “The Rival.”

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 Post subject: Re: Guardians of the Galaxy
PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 5:11 pm 
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#16 (September, 1991) “Should One of Us Fall”

When Yondu critically wounds Photon, Interface uses his transmutation powers to evaporate the Guardian’s hand and the battle between Force and the Guards comes to an abrupt halt, much to Brahl’s chagrin.
The Protégé, who wants to learn more about Aleta, halts the battle between her and Malevolence. The 8 year old explains to the Golden Guardian that he is a god and offers to kill his subjects for her. She impresses on the child that a god must be benevolent to his subjects.
The Guards and Force join forces to help Aleta against Malevolence, but when Replica sees her living god, she falls to the ground in prayer, placing herself and both of the teams in danger from the black knights that surround them. Marty seeks to protect her and all hell breaks loose when the knights attack and force the teams to use their powers, powers the Protégé immediately “learns.”
Pressing her advantage in the confusion, Malevolence viciously attacks Aleta. Aleta asks Starhawk for help but, instead, he absorbs her back into his body and takes off screaming into space (thus fulfilling one of his predictions in issue #7).
The child-god demands Aleta be returned to him. When he discovers that she cannot be, he orders both the Guardians and Force killed. It is Replica, once again, who saves them by pleading with him to spare their lives. Recognizing her as a shape-shifting Skrull, the Protégé commands her to stay and be his playmate.
Replica agrees and says good-bye to the Guardians. Malevolence becomes the Matriarch by default. Force is allowed to go free and, in the end, heartbroken over Aleta’s fate, Vance demands to be returned to Earth and quits the team.
In the epilogue Eternity and the Living Tribunal discuss the Protégé, incorrectly believing that they will have plenty of time to deal with the child (This was to have been resolved in issue #50).

NOTE: The Protégé was modeled after my then 7 year old son, Aaron

#17 (October, 1991) “Homecoming”

As predicted (by Starhawk) in issue #7 the Guardians, led by Vance, expel Starhawk from their ranks. Arriving on Earth, they discover that New York is over-run by a street gang called the Punishers (who, it turned out, were modeled after Vance’s docu-chip accounting of 20th Century heroes, in this case, Frank Castle). The Guardians re-meet Tarin (whom they met for the first time in oft-mentioned MTIO #5) and meet the Commandeers (see below), with whom they join forces to “clean up Dodge.”
Meanwhile, it is Marty, not Vance, who decides to quit the team. He intends to go to Main Frame’s world where he will explore the creation of a larger, more expansive team of Global Guardians (which he began thinking about in #8. This storyline would come to fruition in Annual #2 ).

NOTE 1: The Commandeers were modeled after Sgt. Fury’s Howling Commandoes:
Tarin=Nick Fury, Old Redd=Dum-Dum Dugan, Inez=Izzy, Belle=Reb Ralston, Hollywood=Dino, Gabrielle=Gabriel and Crazy Nate (who was originally supposed to be an alternate Cable until the rug got pulled out from under us) was Junior.

NOTE 2: The Guardians returned to being a four-person team this issue consisting of Charlie, Nikki, Vance and Yondu.

#18 (November, 1991) “Punished”

Unbeknownst to them, the Guardians are being watched from the shadows by a mysterious cat-like man. When the Punishers attack, Vance is shot in the head and rushed back to Commandeers HQ (beneath what once was Avengers Mansion) by Hollywood, despite his own misgivings about Vance and the shield he wields (won in #6, remember?).
Inez is killed; Crazy Nate has an eye shot out, Nikki swipes one of the Punishers’ sky-sleds and the mysterious cat-man goes to Dr. Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum to enlist the aid of his former mentor, the Sorcerer Supreme, Krugarr, to help save Vance’s life.
The feline hero then introduces himself to the Guardians.

#19 (December, 1991) “The Gentleman’s Name Is Talon”

Talon leads the Guardians away from the Punishers. Charlie takes an immediate disliking to the irreverent cat-man, while Nikki thinks he’s hot (focusing, as she does, on his prehensile tail). Meanwhile, the Ancient One (Dr. Strange) appears to Krugarr and Hollywood and tells them that they will need some of the formers ionic blood to cure Vance.
At more or less the same time, in the remnants of the Shi’Ar Galaxy, Rancor and her Lieutenants find one of Wolverine’s broken claws in a museum and in the “non-space” Stakar tries to convince Aleta that he is a different entity from Starhawk and that their children (killed in Marvel Presents #11) are still alive.
Back on Earth, the Guardians and Commandeers discover that the Punishers are in league with the last remaining Badoon on Earth; Belle is revealed to be a spy and orders the heroes to stand down on threat of Charlie’s life unaware that the entire scene is being viewed from above by Hollywood, Krugarr and what appears to be Captain America.

NOTE 1: Originally, this story was to feature the 1000 year old Wolverine. It was one of two times during my run that a character was nixed (then X-Men editor, Bob Harras, did not want it said that Logan could survive for that long). I considered it a reasonable request and scrambled to find a solution to my problem.
Rather than attempt to re-create Wolverine, since we already had Rancor, I decided to create a new character based on the Beast as he was during his days as an Avenger, which is with the “party hearty” personality Steve Englehart had given Hank McCoy.
Talon immediately became my favorite Guardian.

NOTE 2: This issue marked the first time the Badoon appeared in this series.

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 Post subject: Re: Guardians of the Galaxy
PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 5:13 pm 
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#20 (January, 1992) “Major Victory”

The “Captain America” seen at the end of the preceding issue turned out to be Vance, now out of his containment suit, cured by a mixture of magic and Hollywood’s ionic blood, and calling himself Major Victory (a temporary change of identity that would have been resolved in issue #34). Our heroes route the Punishers, kill the Badoon, destroy the mind-controlling television they were operating and otherwise save the day. Regrouping at their shared HQ, Vance explains to the Guards how he was freed from his containment suit and tells Hollywood that he knows he is Simon Williams, the Avenger formerly known as Wonderman. Hollywood is offered membership in the Guards, but declines. Krugarr accepts an honorary membership and Talon becomes an active member of the team.

NOTE: Major Victory was named after an old Timely character from the 1940’s.

#21 (February, 1992) “The Return of Rancor”

Believing her ancestor to still be alive, Rancor and her Lieutenants travel to Earth to find Wolverine. Meanwhile, Talon rebukes Nikki’s sexual advances, believing it’s not wise to get involved with someone you work with (not because he was gay, as some mistakenly believed). Hollywood discovers his long lost “brother”, the Vision, is still alive as Main Frame. Yondu rebukes Tarin’s advances for both religious and biological reasons (his is a Marsupial species), and on a prison world called Stockade, a former member of the Minions of Menace (Thor Annual #6), Teju, is broken out of jail by a mysterious benefactor (this storyline would come to fruition in Annual #2).
And Starhawk, unseen since issue #18, is revealed to have metamorphed into a much darker version of himself.

#22 (March, 1992) “Re-Enter: Starhawk”

The Guards mix it up with Rancor’s Lieutenants again, while out in space, Galactus decides to break his ages old vow to the long-dead Reed Richards and consume the Earth. Two more erstwhile members of the Minions of Menace, Dumog and Tork are rescued while Replica, in her biggest sin against the church to date, disguises herself as the Protégé and calls off the search for Aleta/Starhawk (whom the acolytes have been hunting for since issue #16). A deception Malevolence is witness to and one that will have dire consequences for the young Guardian.
Starhawk joins the fray against Rancor’s team and, much to his former teammate’s surprise, is now speaking with Aleta’s voice (and, wielding a dark force instead of his former light powers)!

NOTE: Originally, this story was to be called “Enter: Shadowhawk,” the name I’d come up with for the new dark Starhawk. Marvel Editor-In-Chief, Tom DeFalco, who encouraged me to come up with a new character using that name, nixed the name change.
As always, I followed his sage advice. ☺

#23 (April, 1992) “War of the Guards”

The Guardians, with Starhawk’s help, manage to defeat Rancor’s Lieutenants. We learn, to no one’s surprise, that it is Brahl (late of Force) who is reforming the Minions of Menace. Dr. Doom is not only revealed to be alive, but it is also revealed that it was he who sent the Mutants into space during the War of the Worlds The War of the Worlds story was slated to be told in issues #35 and 36, while Doom’s story would continue in #44). Despite his assistance, Starhawk (as predicted in #7) is not allowed to rejoin the Guards and the Keeper (first mentioned by Main Frame in issue #6) is revealed to be the Quantum Band wearing Silver Surfer…and he’s heading toward Earth.

NOTE: After 22 issues, including one double-sized (#16), an entire Annual and the start of Image Comics, my own company and the ShadowHawk book plus another double-size issue (#25) on the horizon, I took a break and had old friend, Mark Texeira draw this issue. It was the only fill-in during my run.

#24 (May, 1992) “The Coming of the Keeper”

Vance and Aleta have a discussion about the future of their relationship (needless to say he’s a bit disturbed by the fact that she currently inhabits Starhawk’s body), Talon and Yondu get to know one another a bit better and it is revealed that Talon does, indeed, posses some minor magical abilities (but was let go as Krugarr’s apprentice for being a screw up), the Guards attack the Surfer/Keeper (the last time they met, Silver Surfer Annual #4, was not friendly), more is told about the War of the Worlds and what happened to the Marvel heroes (it was revealed that an adult Franklin Richards would fight alongside Doom and Captain America against the invading horde) and the Surfer’s transformation into the Keeper is revealed. The Keeper also warns them of the imminent arrival of Galactus.

#25 (June, 1992) “And Now…Galactus!”

The Guardians follow the Keeper through space to the Alpha Centauri system (Yondu’s home system) to aid Firelord in confronting an ailing Galactus. Talon lets loose the Crimson Bands of Cytorak to contain the giant world-eater, but being only a novice in the mystic arts he cannot control them. While the Guards hold Galactus at bay, the Keeper, funneling his own Power Cosmic through the Quantum Bands transports the entire underwater city of Arima to the only other inhabitable planet in the tri-sun solar system, Centauri IV. Yondu, knowing what the Keeper would do and realizing his people were still alive, went with them to his home world.
The Keeper then confronts Galactus, having used his power to grow as large as the world eater, but is stopped by Eon. Galactus consumes the now uninhabited world of Arima, while Yondu finds a long lost tribe on Centauri IV, for whom he will serve as Habuktu, their Holy man (thus fulfilling Starhawk’s prediction for him in issue #8☺)
With inter-space communications interrupted, Vance asks Firelord to go to Main Frame’s world and inform Marty (now convening his group of Galactic Guardians) that they’re all right. Meanwhile, Eon suggests that both Firelord and the Keeper remain as Protectors of the Universe. The former to be a free agent and the later to assist Galactus in finding uninhabited worlds to consume, thus Galactus and the Silver Surfer are reunited, but this time as peers rather than master and servant.

The Keeper/Silver Surfer is seen flying away with a Guardians star pinned to his sash, indicating he has accepted honorary membership.

NOTE: The Silver Surfer was, from issue #1, the single most oft requested guest star. I wanted the story I finally used him in to be worthy of it and felt the resolution with Galactus, bringing things full circle, would do it.

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 Post subject: Re: Guardians of the Galaxy
PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 5:15 pm 
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ANNUAL #2 (July, 1992)

“Riders On the Storm” (Part Four of “The System Bytes” which ran, unbelievably, through Punisher Annual #5, Daredevil Annual #8 and Wonderman Annual #1 all of which I mostly and, I believe wisely, ignored).

Martinex convenes the Spirit of Vengeance, Hollywood, Replica, and Firelord as the Galactic Guardians as Main Frame, infected by a virus, systematically begins to destroy his planet. Meanwhile, the Minions of Menace, now re-named the Intimidators, resurrect their former leader, Korvac. It takes the power of the Phoenix (held in thrall since issue #12) to defeat the Man-God. All of the above named heroes agree to join Marty’s new team.

“Faith No More” features Replica shortly after events in issue #22. Betrayed by Malevolence to the Protégé (whom she disguised herself as), the young Skrull steals a shuttle in an effort to rejoin the Guardians. The Protégé, who became quite fond of his playmate, stops Malevolence from destroying her, allowing Replica to meet up with Firelord whom she goes with to Main Frame’s world in the lead story.

“A Time for Farewells” takes place immediately after the events in issue #25 as the team visits Yondu on his home world, Centauri IV. Yondu says goodbye to his teammates, electing to stay behind as Habuktu (warrior-priest) to the lost kinsmen he discovered there. Before they leave, the Guards replace the hand he lost in issue #16.

NOTE: I always hate to criticize another artist, but I have to say that the art on this Annual made me unable to look at, let alone enjoy it.
I have no idea what they were thinking...or smoking.

#26 (July, 1992) “The (Secret) Origin of the Guardians of the Galaxy”

A re-telling of the origin story that appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes #18, but with a twist. This tale reveals that it was Starhawk, behind the scenes and unbeknownst to any of his future teammates, that caused all of the “coincidences” that first brought Charlie-27, Martinex, Yondu and Major Vance Astro together. Many scenes and much of the dialogue were taken directly from the original Arnold Drake/Gene Colon story.
Nikki tells this tale to Talon, but not even she knows of Starhawk’s involvement. After she finishes Charlie and Starhawk join the pair. The later suggests a preemptive strike against the Brotherhood of the Badoon in the 20th Century. When the others say that Vance would never go for it, Starhawk convinces them they need not tell him until it’s too late (fulfilling yet another of his “prophesies” in issue #7—that he would return with them to the 20th Century, but not be a member of the team).

#27 (August, 1992) “Back From the Future”

Vance discovers his teammate’s plan to stage a pre-emptive strike against the Badoon, but while he’s chewing them out Talon interrupts—deathly ill. He tells them he’s suffering from Gral’s disease and has to be taken to the moon for treatment. The Guards arrive in 20th Century Attilian (home of the Inhumans) shortly after Four-Freedom’s Plaza, the Fantastic Four’s HQ was blown up (this story was part of the Infinity War cross-over). Misunderstanding their intentions, the Inhumans battle the Guardians. The battle is halted, Talon, revealed to be an Inhuman here for the first time, is cured and he rejoins his teammates as they transport to Earth to help the FF and the rest of earth’s heroes.

NOTE: This was the first time the Guardians had gone back to the 20th Century in this series.

ASIDE:
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our “All-Star-Inker-Squad.” This came about because I had penciled five covers (including the one for Marvel Age) prior to our choosing an inker for the series. The inker was to be one of the four that inked me in What If? #12 ("What If the FF All Had the Same Power?”). The editor and I disagreed on the choice, but since he was the editor, he won. So, we had four different inkers ink a cover and we just decided to continue that.
We would try, when possible, to get an inker who was associated with a featured character on the cover (Thus, Ron Lim inked the Surfer cover, Javier Saltares the Ghost Rider one, Jim Starlin the Protégé one, etc.). One very nice one for me was the cover for issue #7 inked by my old buddy, George Perez. It was George’s first Marvel work in something like 6 or 7 years and I was real proud to be a part of his return, however small.
So, anyways, here’s the who’s whom of the cover inkers (you’ll note several future Image partners in and amongst them): Marvel Age #88-Terry Austin, #1-Tom Christopher, #2-Mike Zeck, #3, Mike Machlan, #4-Scott Williams, #5-Todd McFarlane, #6-Joe Rubenstein, #7-George Perez, #8-Steve Lightle, #9-Rob Liefeld, #10-Jim Lee, #11-Bob Wiacek, #12-Art Thibert, #13-Steve Montano, #14-Javier Saltares, #15-Jim Starlin, #16-Randy Emberlin, #17-Al Willaimson, #18-Tom Morgan, #19-Erik Larsen, #20-Danny Buliandi, #21-Dan Panosian, #22-Al Milgrom, #23-Mark Texeira (with Rob Liefeld-corner box), #24-Ron Lim, #25-Hilary Barta, #26-Steve Montano, #27-Michael Bair and Steve Montano inked the covers for Annuals #1 and 2. Whew!

BEHIND THE SCENES:
Due to an increasing workload from the formation of Image and the fact that my editor and I were not getting along (he had told me that in his opinion, the colorist was more important to the book than I was). I requested that after this issue I step down as penciller and continue to write the book so that I could finish my storyline. My editor then requested me to send in one year’s worth of plots. Not trusting my job security after the comment above, I sent in bogus plots that Liefeld and I had cooked up in a day’s worth of brainstorming.
This is why, although credited, I have a hard time counting issues #28-29 as part of my run. The two issues, as I originally envisioned them, would have had the Guards face off against the Masters of Evil, albeit a different team of villains than the losers I was saddled with (I believe the only characters I received that I requested were the Absorbing Man and Yellowjacket II, whom I did intend to join the team). The plan called for YJ to betray the MOE and side with the Guardians, and for the team to strand Vance at Avengers Mansion and take off into space. I also planned to have an appearance by the New Warriors within these two issues (thus getting Major Victory and Marvelboy—the two Vances—together).
As it was, I turned in a lackluster script for issue 28 and a barebones plot for 29. Shortly thereafter, I was relieved of my duties on the book.

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 Post subject: Re: Guardians of the Galaxy
PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2011 8:10 pm 
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Wow! This is a terrific read, and I'm not even halfway through it. I know Jim's a busy guy, but I'd love to see a retrospective/commentary like this for ShadowHawk one day. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Guardians of the Galaxy
PostPosted: Tue Aug 02, 2011 4:06 pm 
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I think I did one in The Return of ShadowHawk...or somewhere.

Guess I'll have to look.

:twisted:

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