Guardians of the Galaxy (2019-) #2
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Geoff Shaw
Following a strong but set-up-heavy first issue, Guardians of the Galaxy #2 comes out and slaps us in the face, showing us exactly what it’s capable of. With incredibly competent character work, strong dialogue, and multiple intriguing plot threads, this issue fires on all cylinders. Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw are quite possibly in the process of creating the definitive Guardians of the Galaxy run.
Something that stands out to me about this book is how much it recalls the feeling of classic Marvel. Multiple editor’s notes and references to other books contribute to this feel, some of which directly affect the plot and characters’ direction. Normally, I’d gripe at this heavy emphasis on continuity, but I must admit it was fun. I’ve read almost none of these events, yet I felt like a kid again just picking things up through context. Cates meshes Bronze Age sensibilities with modern storytelling in a way that feels entirely natural and goes to show what a fan of this corner of the Marvel Universe he is. When a creator is having as much fun as you are, you can feel it.
Some stories are told by moving pieces on a board to make a specific story work. With others, the characters are so alive that they tell the story themselves. This book feels like the latter. It’s not a book where a group of cosmic characters team up so Marvel can sell a book called Guardians of the Galaxy. Rather, it feels like a book where characters progress naturally based on what makes sense for them as people. Peter calls his ex because he’s sad and drunk following something traumatic. The crew fight because they’re literally thrown together through circumstance. None of it feels like moving pieces around a board, it feels organic.
Geoff Shaw is clearly the best choice to draw this book. His storytelling prowess is so effortless you might, like me, not even realize how wonderful it is while you’re reading. If you flip back through after letting it ruminate for a bit, it clicks. It’s rare for an artist to do nothing wrong. Even rarer is for one to do everything right. He lets shadows and body language do the talking where dialogue is present but not necessary. Most of the issue is dialogue, yet removing most of the bubbles wouldn’t compromise the emotion and ebb-and-flow of conversation. That’s the mark of great comic book art.
Guardians of the Galaxy #2 is not just a step up from the previous issue, it’s a step up for its namesake. Cates and Shaw demonstrate a level of craft that is almost unrivaled in superhero comics at the moment. Blending the absurdity of Cosmic Marvel and the genuine human emotion of an indie book, this creative team demonstrates exactly why a few years from now they’ll be the biggest names at Marvel. Also, the cliffhanger is radical.
Guardians of the Galaxy #2 is not just a step up from the previous issue, it’s a step up for its namesake. Cates and Shaw demonstrate a level of craft that is almost unrivaled in superhero comics at the moment. Blending the absurdity of Cosmic Marvel and the genuine human emotion of an indie book, this creative team demonstrates exactly why a few years from now they'll be the biggest names at Marvel.