All-New Guardians of the Galaxy: Riders in the Sky

All-New Guardians of the Galaxy: Riders in the Sky
Alternative editions:
Guardians of the Galaxy Riders in the Sky review
Alternative editions:
  • UK publisher / ISBN: Marvel - 978-1-84653-865-0
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Marvel - 978-1-3029-0545-3
  • Volume No.: 2
  • Release date: 2018
  • UPC: 9781302905453
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: yes
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no
  • CATEGORIES: Superhero

Although the second volume of Gerry Duggan’s All New Guardians of the Galaxy, these stories don’t immediately continue from Communication Breakdown. As originally published the first four chapters, in effect solo stories of the team members Gamora, Star-Lord, Drax and Groot, slotted between the earlier material, informing as to the mysteries regarding the cast.

Rather than taking a similar tone to the lighter material of the team stories, those now reflecting the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, these chapters are truer to the essential characters. Gamora, for instance, is always a woman of few words and not many in the Marvel universe match her intensity. Unfortunately, anyone who read Communication Breakdown already knows what she discovers in her solo outing, which goes a long way to explaining an existential condition.

Star-Lord’s solo is the other end of the emotional scale, being light comedy as he concentrates on backing up his music collection. It’s ingeniously worked out to transmit the joy of the physical format, and contrasts the brooding Drax solo that follows. His renunciation of violence had been frequently referenced without being explained in the previous book, and we learn why here. It’s suitably grim. So strangely, is the Rocket Raccoon and Groot spotlight, where we learn why it is Groot remains small, and that Rocket is also hiding something. In all stories Duggan is making a point about the Guardians’ fragility as a team when each of them conceals something fundamental from people they depend on to watch their backs. The Guardians are absent from a look at the Rider brothers, from whom the contrived title generates, although the restored Nova Corps have been running in the background of the series. It’s a clever spotlight with Duggan dropping the surprise connection with Communication Breakdown on the final page.

Each chapter is drawn by a different artist, and they’re all excellent, although as different as the tone of the stories. The sample spread pairs Frazer Irving’s gloomy expressionism on Gamora with Mike Hawthorne’s detail, but Chris Samnee’s comedy and Greg Smallwood’s action art are equally good. Roland Boschi has a flow to his lines, and likes crowded, dark pages, which wouldn’t have worked on some stories, but is right for the tragedy he illustrates. Rod Reis is the only artist not entirely at home on the feature, his fine art approach creating some great individual portraits without being strong on telling the story. There’s a Bill Sienkiewicz influence in there somewhere.

By that final chapter the plot catches up with the end of the previous volume as the Guardians search for information about the infinity stones, dangerous in anyone’s hands, and that continues in Infinity Quest. This isn’t as much sheer fun as Communication Breakdown, but that wasn’t the intention. Duggan cleverly fills in some gaps and moves the cast forward while providing some viable motives and surprisingly adding to the team.

Duggan’s entire Guardians output is also available in hardcover as Guardians of the Galaxy by Gerry Duggan.