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.
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.