Things start off with a decent enough sci-fi mystery steeped in the history of the Marvel Universe. The Guardians, with Captain Marvel along for the ride, are cruising along on their merry way when suddenly a S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier appears right out of the ether! If that weren’t surprising enough, it’s being commanded by none other than Nick Fury and crewed by the likes of Dum-Dum Dugan, Jimmy Woo, and Jessica Drew. Though their stated reason for being out here is to make sure the Kree-Skrull War never happens again, most of the people onboard are either dead or have had their standing in the Marvel Universe dramatically altered over the past few years. Bendis plays up the confusion in an effective manner for most of the story and most of the interaction between the two groups is fun. Especially when Rocket Raccoon and Fury mix it up. However, the revelation as to what’s really going on is fairly underwhelming and I was left wondering what the point of all this was at the end of the story. Was it just to have Frank Cho draw these characters and show us how well he can draw a firefight in space? If so, then I guess the results make it all worth it in the end.
Valerio Schiti illustrates the rest of the volume and, even if he’s not quite as detailed as Cho, shows why he’s a great fit for the book and Bendis’ style in general. Not only does he great variety of alien species and locations look fantastic under his pen, but the conversation scenes have a fitting energy with the expressiveness with which he gives the characters. It’s not enough to get me to care about the two chapters of “The Black Vortex” included here. Then again, I’m not sure any artist could manage that. At least Schiti and Bendis work together well enough to send the volume off on a high point as Peter Quill and the rest of the cast get dragged back to Spartax after it’s finally revealed to him that he was elected to be its new ruler. They get a taste of the high life and have to deal with a threat that wants Gamora’s head on a platter. It’s a good dose of adventure that’s in line with the more entertaining parts of Bendis’ (very uneven) run. The writer has shown that he’s not the best fit for the characters or their adventures, but there’s enough good stuff here to get me to stick around for another volume to see if “Emperor Quill” is the angle he needs to really click with them.