Publisher: Marvel/Turnaround Publishing
Writers: Steve Englehart, Chris Claremont, Doug Moench, Timothy Zahn
Artists: Steve Gan, John Byrne, Carmine Infantino, Bill Sienkiewicz, Gene Colan, Tom Sutton, Dan Lawlis
I can safely say I have never taken so long, or had so much trouble reviewing a book.
‘Star-Lord: Guardian of The Galaxy’ isn’t really a definitive guide to the character. His origins have been told again in recent years, and the Star-Lord we know and love today is a pretty different guy to the one we see in these pages. But back in the day, Peter Quill only popped up occasionally in his own stories in the ‘Marvel Preview’ anthology title. No Groot, no Rocket Rackoon, just Peter and his sentient companion ‘Ship’ going on classic Star Trek-style space adventures.
These 1970’s stories have recently been re-released as one-shots by Marvel, but this collection reprints them together, as well as the Timothy Zahn-penned Star-Lord miniseries from 1996.
Aside from the fact this book is pretty bulky (494 pages), the reason it is a tough book to review, is that story-to-story, the collection moves from fantastic classic science fiction, to almost unreadable filler, and back again, and trust me when I tell you that the filler can feel like a real chore to get through.
When it’s good though, it’s great. Steve Engleheart and artist Steve Gan introduce us to Peter Quill, providing the titular hero’s origin, and while newer readers will recognise the largely unchanged beginnings of Star-Lord, this is a darker, more tormented Peter Quill than the one we see nowadays.
The collection hits its peak early when comic book legend Chris Claremont takes the writing reigns on a couple of stories, with art by John Byrne and the simply untouchable Carmine Infantino respectively. Infantino’s work alone is enough to sell me on a book, but Claremont’s flair for science fiction really shines, as his grand, space opera stories mostly dismiss the clunky exposition and wordy thought bubbles prevalent in so many 70s titles, opting instead for narrative boxes to set the scenes, as Byrne and Infantino effortlessly help carry things along. The corny thought bubbles do make an appearance occasionally, but only when Star-Lord is lacking a supporting character to interact with.
From here, Doug Moench takes over writing duties, with various artists including Gene Colan, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Tom Sutton. The change of writer sadly marks the weakest part of this collection. ‘World in a Bottle’ is standard sci-fi fare which sees Peter travelling through a black hole, copping off with an alien, and liberating an entire alien race, but it is a painfully bad tale to read, with huge, unnecessary narrative boxes almost immediately bringing things to a near-standstill. Gene Colan’s artwork is strong enough, and this is also the first Star-Lord story printed in colour, and the next few issues do raise the game slightly. Moench also gets to finally – albeit briefly – tell the story of Peter’s father’s visit to earth and his relationship with Peter’s mother Meredith Quill.
The final reprint is the 3-part Star-Lord miniseries, written by Sci-Fi stalwart Timothy Zahn, with art by Dan Lawlis, in which new character Sinjin Quarrel finds ‘Ship’, and assumes the mantle of Star-Lord after the lengthy disappearance of Peter Quill. Zahn fills the pages with wordy thought bubbles and awkward exposition, and switching out the lead character really means this isn’t necessary reading for anyone wanting to clue themselves up on Star-Lord. Lawlis’s art won’t be to everyone’s tastes either, but his work definitely sets itself apart from the ’70s-ness’ of the rest of the stories herein.
All in all, this collection is, at best, mediocre, with Chris Claremont’s stories being the saving grace. As a character who only appeared every now and again under various creators, Star-Lord’s early tales retain a continuity, but ultimately the stories are all too similar.
You’ll buy this book for the art. Carmine Infantino, John Byrne, and Bill Sienkiewicz’ work is outstanding in the short time they all have, and Dan Lawlis and Tom Sutton are different enough in their styles to bring a more modern feel to the pages they worked on, but for a price tag in the region of £20 (likely due to the page count) you may be left disappointed.
You can purchase Star-Lord: Guardian of The Galaxy TP (who generously provided the review copy for this title) via their official website.
The writer of this piece was: Alan Shields aka (Al)
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