Getting into comics after a movie can be a terrifying prospect. This is especially holding up true for Guardians of the Galaxy. Even if I just focus on everything from 2008 and beyond, you still have two Annihilation story arcs that totals about five volumes, one series by Abnett and Lanning that’s four volumes worth, the current series by Brian Michael Bendis that’s currently up to three and going on, and various other stories. Oh, and did I mention that they’re supporting characters in the current run of Kelly Sue Deconnick’s Captain Marvel? It’s kind of a nightmare because there’s so much I want to read and so little I actually make.
Marvel is no slouch though. They saw this coming and perfectly timed the releases of their two new Guardians of the Galaxy themed books: Rocket Raccoon and Legendary Star-Lord. These two books are only two issues in so far, but oh, are they life-savers for someone who may be a little intimidated by the backstory of Guardians.
Rocket Raccoon is a bit more of a stand-alone storyline that will be more focused on one shot stories versus big overarching arcs. It’s written and drawn by Skottie Young, who’s style you might recognize from his famous baby variant covers, and features Jean-François Beaulieu on gorgeous, eye-popping colors. It’s super cartoony, but it’s perfect for everyone’s new favorite fast-talking raccoon and the aliens he comes across on his adventures. I’m so very in love with the way Young draws Groot though. He’s so perfectly gnarled and friendly-looking that I just want to give him a hug.
It’s also just funny as hell. The first two issues have dealt with Rocket being framed for murder by another raccoon all while his ex-girlfriends band together under the name “The Ex-Terminators” to destroy him. Yes, that title got a huge groan from the Carol Corps panel audience at HeroesCon. AS IT SHOULD. It also features Rocket taking a girl on a date to a wrestling match Groot is competing in, riding in what can only be described as an alien pimpmobile, or dropping a gun to the sound of the Beastie Boys. Among other things. If you’re hankering for more Rocket, you’re definitely going to want to pick up this extremely fun book.
Legendary Star-Lord by Sam Humphries and Paco Medina deals a little more with current canon, but still stands alone enough that you can jump in without really knowing. It deals with Peter’s own adventures across the galaxy to stop Thanos from trying to destroy Earth again. Of course, being Peter frakkin’ Quill, he can’t do anything without getting into some sort of trouble. This time, it’s getting a bounty on his head from a mysterious man named Mr. Knife and getting caught robbing an orphanage of a priceless gem. It’s a bit more ‘space outlaw’ than ‘space cop,’ but since my major introduction to Star-Lord was through Chris Pratt’s characterization, I enjoy that.
The series also introduces Victoria of Spartax, leader of J’Son’s royal guard and Star-Lord’s half sister. She’s an intriguing character so far that I can’t wait to learn more about. It’s implied that she hates her dad just as much as Quill does and that she’s had to fight to get to where she is due to Spartoi racism.
It’s not all serious business though. Peter still has time to make a quip or two, reminisce on that time he did karaoke with Rocket and Groot and get his flirt on with Kitty Pryde. Not that I blame him though. Kitty’s damn adorable and awesome.
If you’re feeling intimidated by the massive canon of Guardians of the Galaxy, just take a deep breath and pick up the first two issues of Rocket Racoon and Legendary Star-Lord. While still in mainline canon, they are stand-alone enough that new readers can pick them up and enjoy without worrying of missing some detail from a book printed five years ago. Plus, they’re just a whole lot of fun in both writing and art.