In the aftermath of Infinity, Guardians of the Galaxy returns to its previous state of being a directionless series. When it restarted it did have a plot involving Star-Lord and his dad King J'Son of Spartax but that got derailed when Angela showed up and then Guardians became one of the titles that got sucked into Infinity. Now that Infinity is over, Guardians of the Galaxy #10 underlines the absence of a plot or any real development of what little story there is in the series. That said, it's actually not a bad comic. In this issue, the Guardians are unaware of the fate of Thanos and are looking for him among the Badoon, an alien race who have allied themselves alongside Thanos in the past. But, as readers of Infinity will know, Thanos is on Earth held in living stasis thanks to his son Thane. The comic follows Gamora and Angela as they beat this information out of several Badoon slavers before heading back to Earth. This is a classic Bendis comic in that it's light on plot and heavy on character interaction. Gamora and Angela have apparently become besties suddenly and in a 19 panel/2 page spread, the two characters sarcastically quip at one another and make jokes, a la every single Bendis comic. At this point you either know whether this is something you like or not - it's certainly mildly entertaining but I find it frustrating when I finish a Bendis comic and realise that the whole thing could've been missed out entirely. His style of comics has become very formulaic now. It's also a pretty cheesy issue. Despite Gamora and Angela being frosty characters who have no compunction about killing, this troubling quality is made acceptable by the way Bendis writes the Badoon who're slave traders, and the slaves, while distinctly alien, possess child-like features that manipulate the audience's reaction. When a sad alien slave kid looks up doe-eyed at the two heroes with tears in its eyes, it's basically giving carte blanche to Gamora and Angela to murder as many Badoon as they want - which they of course do. That alien kid character existed for that one contrived reason only. Then even when Angela's taking out the Badoon ship single-handed, Bendis throws Gamora an arbitrary enemy to fight that looked like he was pulled out of a box labelled "disposable tough guy template foe", whose only purpose is to give Gamora some action scenes while Angela gets some talky moments. Gamora's tough too, remember. Kevin Maguire's art is really terrific featuring sharp, strong lines, and dynamic action scenes masterfully choreographed and laid out, especially that double-page spread of Gamora and Angela launching themselves into battle, which is all kinds of awesome. Maguire also does a great job of showing Angela's speed as she moves behind the Badoon commander as he gives the order to fire, the word spelled out a letter per panel as she jumps from way in front of him to behind him by the time his order is fully stated. There are also some inspired facial expressions on the various aliens' faces and their poses throughout, so that even though none of these creatures are real or speak English, just through their body language you were convinced that you could understand their feelings. I love everything about Maguire's art except for the hideous Bieber haircut Star-Lord's got on the cover - I really hope Chris Pratt doesn't have that in the film or he'll end up looking like his surname. Guardians of the Galaxy #10 isn't a terrible comic by any stretch - there's some good action, Angela's storyline is advanced in a small way, and the Guardians catch up to what the audience already know of Thanos' fate - but once it's over, it again feels like an unsubstantial comic where precious little happened. Gamora and Angela fight some aliens - that's it. It would be better if the Guardians were more than just a group that constantly reacted to things and had their own storyline instead, otherwise they're just another superhero team. You can also have comics where there's a good balance between action and story rather than have the action be the story like it is here - action without any real context is a dull thing, especially when the context is that the audience know the superheroes are wasting their time pursuing the Badoon and we're just waiting for them to catch up to us. If you're thinking we'll see a storyline emerge in the next issue, think again - Bendis is crossing over his All-New X-Men characters with the Guardians instead. The artists on this series have been incredible throughout (McNiven, Pichelli, Francavilla and Maguire) but I'd really like to see another writer take over the title for an arc or two - Bendis doesn't seem to have much to offer this series in the way of story ideas anymore. As it stands, I can see Guardians of the Galaxy being one of the easiest titles to drop in favour of the numerous exciting new Marvel NOW! titles about to launch, even with the Guardians movie coming this summer. Published by Marvel, Guardians of the Galaxy #10 by Brian Michael Bendis and Kevin Maguire is out now
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