Saturday, 27 April 2013

Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel are making a movie about the Guardians of the Galaxy, unfortunately not the Silver and Bronze Age version but an update from 2008.  Whilst never stars, the Guardians did appear in some excellent Bronze Age comics.  Re-reading the stories what struck me was the contrast between the Silver Age trappings of the debut tale from 1969 and the Bronze Age stylings of their next appearance in Marvel Two-in-One in 1974.  Arnold Drake and Gene Colan brought us the origin tale in Marvel Super-Heroes #18 (January 1969).

Marvel Super-Heroes #18 (January 1969)
Pencil Art by Gene Colan, inks: Mike Esposito

Drake had recently come over to Marvel from DC where he had created and written the excellent Doom Patrol, probably the most Marvelesque of all the Silver Age DC books, and the highly original Deadman.  So it comes as a bit of a surprise that the story epitomises the most staid aspects of contemporary DC and could easily have appeared in DC's Showcase try out title as it doesn't feel like a Marvel book at all. Obviously Marvel fandom was underwhelmed with this issue as we had to wait until July 1974 for the team's next appearance.  Luckily for us the superb Steve Gerber was scripting and the Guardians we know and love emerged.
Marvel Two-in-One #4 (July 1974)
Pencil Art by Gil Kane, inks:Joe Sinnott
Marvel Two-in-One #5 (August 1974)
Pencil Art by John Buscema, inks: Mike Esposito
Gerber, one of the Bronze Age's premier writers and Sal Buscema, one of Marvel's quintessential Bronze Age artists, brought us a two parter in Marvel Two-in-One #4 (July 1974) featuring Thing and Captain America and #5 (August 1974) headlining the Guardians of the Galaxy.  Gerber gives the Guardians personality and Dave Cockrum redesigned the costumes.  Gerber and Buscema produce a story that emphasises Vance Astro's similarities to Captain America's predicament as a "man out of time" and we actually begin to connect with these characters.  Gerber  and Buscema would bring the team back in the Defenders and continue to expand  their back story.  There will be more about Gerber's seminal run on the Defenders in future posts.


  1. There's no doubt that the original story by Drake and Colan is a universe apart from what the Guardians would become. It's pure sci-fi with a nod to superheroes while when they eventually get blended into the great Marvel mythos they have to reinforce the superhero aspect, to the detriment of the concept.

    I adore the debut comic!

    Rip Off

  2. High concept sci-fi certainly and if advertised as such fine but this appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes! If Drake and Colan had been given an opportunity to develop the series I am sure they would have made the most of the concept. As it stands the differences between the origin tale and Gerber's take are quite jarring!