Thursday, July 17, 2014

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning Now in Theaters!

Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude
by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning.
Paperback from [1]
Book Review by:
Sharon Powers.

     Everyone knows who Superman is. Likewise, we all know Batman, The Avengers, and, of course, the X-Men. But I've been asked, "Who the heck are the Guardians of the Galaxy?" It seems only fans of these comic book heroes have any idea who this bunch of miscreants are.

     The Guardians of the Galaxy have come to the center of the entertainment arena for the very good reason that their story is being brought to the big screen. Even after seeing the trailer(s) for the upcoming movie, people seem to know very little about the group.

     IMDb tells us that Guardians of the Galaxy "...expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe." [2] In the trailer we see Peter Quill (AKA "Starlord") stealing the "mysterious orb." But the orb is not the only thing that is mysterious. All the characters seem to be unknown quantities. All we know about them is what the trailer shows us. They seem to be a bunch of criminal misfits that somehow were elevated to the status of "Guardians of the Galaxy." But, why? and how did they get that lofty title?


Guardians of the GalaxyTHEN...

One of the many movie posters for
Guardians of the Galaxy. [4]
Guardians of the Galaxy.

     As IMDb indicated, Peter Quill stole the orb, which for some mysterious reason, other people want. After the theft, Quill is caught, arrested and thrown into prison. Joining Quill in a jail break, Drax, Gamora, Rocket and Groot, escape and join together to form a group, calling themselves Guardians of the Galaxy. The group works to keep the orb out of the hands of its primary pursuer, "Ronan the Accuser," in an attempt to save the universe.

     The synopsis, as I've indicated, is the movie synopsis--I've given you that synopsis first because that's what everyone has been seeing in on-line movie trailers, on television sets and at theaters. It is important to put the movie info. into perspective because the book (we're about to discuss) is actually what comes before the movie. It is a, "PRELUDE" to the movie. Basically, it is what Marvel wants us to know about the characters, their backgrounds, connections, and universe before we get to the big-screen story.

     If you haven't seen the movie trailer, yet, please take a quick look at (this youtube trailer) about what I've been talking about, so far. Then, we'll get to the graphic novel to discuss its pros and cons. [5]

     The movie is categorized as action/adventure/sci-fi, is rated PG-13, and will be released to the big screen on August 1, 2014. Writing credits go to James Gunn and Nicole Perlman and (comic book credits) to Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. Directorial credits go to James Gunn. Starring in the feature film will be Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Starlord, Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Bradley Cooper as Rocket Racoon (his voice), Vin Diesel as Groot (his voice), Karen Gillan as Nebula, Josh Brolin as Thanos (his voice), Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer, Dijmon Hounsou as Korath the Persuer, Laura Haddock as Meredith Quill, Benicio Del Toro as Taneleer Tivan (The Collector), Glen Close as Nova Prime Rael, Ophilia Lovibond as Carina, and Michael Rooker as Yondu. [2]

  I have mentioned in other posts that I am always interested in the adaptation of a novel or graphic novel to another media; here, we're talking about the big screen. Any adaptation of book to movie is a very interesting process and can have widely unpredictable results. Sometimes the story bears little semblance to the book, other times a real effort has been made to be true to the book. Since all we have to judge by is the trailer, we will just have to wait to see just how successful the adaptation has been. I will, most definitely, be at the theater on opening day to find out.
     First, (from the book) what's actually in the book: 
  • Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude #1-2;
  • Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Infinite Comic #1;
  • Iron Man (1968) #55;
  • Strange Tales (1951) #181;
  • Incredible Hulk (1968) #271;
  • Tales to Astonish (1959) #13
  • Guardians of the Galaxy #0.1 (2013)
     NOTE: Please note that to shorten this blog post, I've created a separate "PAGE" for the synopsis of each of the titles' publications, listed, just above. You can find them in two ways: (1) See the top of the blog on the right side bar and look under "SHARON'S PAGES," for the Guardians synopses, or (2) click on the direct link to them, here.

Left to right: Gamora, Drax, Star Lord, Groot and Iron Man.
These are all the heroes of the Guardians of the Galaxy. [7]
     The collected issues  include the characters and stories from Marvel's comic issues going back all the way to 1951 through to the present and comprise the beginnings of the Guardians of the Galaxy. The back cover explains that the book contains the stories of the members of the team and their earliest adventures.

"Who is Nebula? What tragic events forged her transformation? Then, when Rocket and Groot's latest bounty-hunting gig takes a deadly turn, they'll show everyone why those who underestimate them end up on the wrong side of a blaster. Finally, as Gamora begins her quest for the orb, learn firsthand why she's considered the most dangerous woman in the universe! Plus: relive the Guardians' solo debuts as Gamora and Star-Lord burst onto the scene. Drax and Iron Man take on Thanos, Rocket meets the Hulk--and Groot attempts to enslave the Earth!" [1]

The story must have three links:
a beginning, middle, and end. [8]
   What connects all the seemingly disparate stories? First, the stories show the team members' origins and their journey to the place where they all come together for a common cause. Second, the search for the orb by different factions is the primary link connecting the stories to create a chain of events that in total form an overarching story. That the authors have been able to pull together issues from different times with a common theme is important. What was once episodic in nature, chained together becomes a linked whole.

Who are the villains? Well,
Thanos, is certainly the most
mysterious, but in the movie, it
most likely will be Ronan the
Accuser; we may also see
Korath the Pursuer and Nebula.[9]
     To be a complete story, a beginning, a middle, and an end is needed. For example, Nebula's story of her beginnings, training, and shaping at the hands of Thanos to be used as a tool for Thanos to obtain the orb demonstrates not only the motivation of this villainous character, but how the story began. It continues on with the intermediary steps in the middle of the journey, with missions and armed conflicts, through to an end game by Thanos. Beginning. Middle. End...all together equals a chain of events resulting in a complete story arc. That is just the first thing we are looking for in a graphic novel. Let's see what else we need for our graphic novel.


     The very first thing we need in a graphic novel is a story arc, or sometimes called a beginning, middle and end. I also look at the physical attributes of the book, asking myself the following:

1. What kind of cover does the book have (hardcover, cardstock, or is it an e-book)?

2. How is the book bound together (is it sewn, glued, stapled, or spiraled)?

3. After reading, do the pages stay bound, or have the pages come loose or are falling out of the publication (are they secure)?

4. What kind of paper is used for the book (pulp paper-like comic books, heavier paper, is it glossy, what kind)?

5. How many pages does the book contain (Although it may vary, in the United States, the standard comic book is generally 22 pages plus another 10 for ads, while the graphic novel is approximately three times the size of a comic book, at around 100 pages. Many graphic novels tally 150 pages.)?

These two pages are all the advertising in the book--and all
are for Guardians. (see: "ANALYSIS," just below.)!
6. Does the publication have advertising? If so, how much and where is it located within the bounds of the book?

7. Is the book advertised or labeled as a "graphic novel?"

8. Is the publisher a U.S. publisher? (European publish- ers have different standards, practices and traditions.)

9. Overall quality and appearance: Is the cover appealing? Is the art well done?

10. Is the book episodic in nature (like comic books)? or, is the story one that has a beginning, middle, and end (a complete story from beginning to end)? This is actually the very first thing we covered, just above--since we've already covered this, I've placed it here at the end of the list.

This is a close up
photo of the stitch-
ing on the spine,
inside back cover.
     ANALYSISGuardians of the Galaxy Prelude has a beautiful glossy and full color card stock cover. I am pleased to say that this book is bound, first with stitching and appears glued to the heavy card stock cover with excellent adhesive. Please see the picture here (to the left) for a close up of the binding; these pages are securely attached and have not come loose--no loose pages at all. The paper used for the publication is beautiful paper, not the inexpensive pulp. Additionally, the publication has 168 pages, surpassing the minimal amount for a graphic novel.

     Advertising: The book does contain advertising, but only on the inside back cover for other Marvel publications relating to Guardians of the Galaxy. Although not promoted as a "graphic novel," it is being sold as a graphic novel at [11] And finally, the publication is a U.S. publication; furthermore, the overall quality and appearance of the publication is both sturdy and appealing, leaving a wonderful impression of a quality product.

     CONCLUSION: This publication is a good quality graphic novel!


     Over the years I have been both exceedingly pleased with some graphic novels I've purchased and terribly disappointed with others. I've only reviewed a few graphic novels in the year I have been posting on this blog, but here are a few examples of what I've found:

     Click on the link to go directly to the review of the graphic novel. Examples of those I've been disappointed in are: Hercules: The Thracian Wars (by Steve Moore); All You Need Is Kill (by Hiroshi Sakurazaka); and Thor: The Dark World Prelude. Examples of very good graphic novels are Vampire Academy, A Graphic Novel by Richelle Mead, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier by Brubaker and Epting.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS: One thing I haven't addressed is why the Hulk and Iron Man appear in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy. To the casual eye, those super heroes may seem out of place in the series. Iron Man is not listed as one of the characters in the upcoming movie, so it is likely we will not be seeing Robert Downey, Jr. in outer space this summer. The same can be said for The Incredible Hulk and Mark Ruffalo.

     So why are Iron Man and the Hulk in the Prelude edition of the graphic novel? Well, the focus is not so much on the two Avenger members, but rather the character with which they appear in the graphic novel. Iron Man appears with a key member of the Guardians, Drax the Destroyer. The Hulk appears with a different key member, Rocket Racoon.

Entertainment Weekly's two-page spread about the movie,
Guardians of the Galaxy--a VERY interesting read. [14]
     So, the easy answer is that Prelude is giving the reader insight into the Guardians. As always, though, the powers and money people behind the franchises often look several steps ahead in planning movies and other money-making activities. I believe it is so with the Guardians franchise. Iron Man and Hulk have both appeared in the Guardi- ans comics, and, as such, may be paving the way for Guardians/Avengers crossovers.

     In fact, James Gunn, Director of the Guardians movie, as much as said so. In an interview with staff of Entertainment Weekly, Gunn said, "We're definitely connected to Avengers 3." [14] So, quite possibly, some very exciting times ahead for Guardians and Avengers fans, alike.


Groot, the bobblehead doll. He is
just one of the many marketing
gimics for Guardians of the
     The movie's MPAA rating is PG-13 for "intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action and for some language." [2] I would rate the book similarly; even graphically, scenes of violence might disturb persons of a sensitive nature or those of immature age. Otherwise, adults in the target audience will find the book exciting and entertaining.

     For all the above-listed reasons, I rate this book 4.0 stars. 
 4 out of 5 stars. [15]

  Thank you for joining me this week as we looked at the exciting new book and also talked about the upcoming movie of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy. Please join me next week as we will be looking at a different book that is also coming to the big screen. Take a little time for yourself this week and read a few minutes, everyday. Take care, my friends...and don't forget to be kind to yourself this week!

Until next time...

...many happy pages of reading!
A double white Rose of Sharon. [16]

All my love,

Here's Groot in the
box before I opened
it up. He's so cute.[17]
Merchandising for the
movie includes all kinds
of things! [18]

[1] "Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude." Retrieved 06-05-14.
[2] "Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)." Retrieved 07-13-14.
[3] "Spoiler Alert-#1." Retrieved 07-13-14.
[4] "Guardians of the Galaxy." [poster] Retrieved 07-13-14.
[5] "Guardians of the Galaxy Trailer 2 Official." Retrieved 07-11-14.
[6] "Synopsis." Retrieved 07-14-14.
[7] "Guardians Won't Crossover." Retrieved 07-14-14.
[8] "Chain Clip Art." [shared by: OCAL (11-13-07)] Retrieved 07-14-14.
[9] "Scottish Heroes & Villains Month." Retrieved 07-14-14.
[10] "Graphic Novels." Retrieved 07-14-14.
[11] "Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude TP." Retrieved 07-14-14.
[12] "All You Need Is Kill." Retrieved 07-15-14.
[13] "Vampire Academy: The Graphic Novel." 07-15-14.
[14] "Meet the Guardians." Entertainment Weekly Summer Movie Preview, April 18/25, Issue Nos. 1307/1308, double issue; story by Clark Collis.
[15] "4 out of 5 stars." Retrieved 07-15-14.
[16] "Pictures From My Garden." Retrieved 07-10-14.
[17] "Funko Pop! Guardians Of The Galaxy Groot Vinyl Bobblehead Figure." Retrieved 07-15-14.
[18] "Kotobukiya Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy Rocket Raccoon Artfx+Statue." Retrieved 07-15-14.