Valerio Schiti – Guardians of the Galaxy #1

Valerio Schiti, an italian artist, was working on the previous volume of Guardians of the Galaxy before Secret Wars. Thus he drew the Guardians of the Galaxy issues during the Black Vortex crossover with the All New X-Men, and the two following issues where Peter Quill, aka Star Lord, has been elected king of the Spartax empire, replacing his father J’son – still imprisoned in amber. For all of these issues, Valerio Schiti worked with Brian Michael Bendis, who was – and still is – the writer of Guardians of the Galaxy. He also was the author of both Uncanny X-Men and All New X-Men, and the conclusion to his run on these series will be released soon, on November 4th. I can’t wait to be on this day and to read it.

But let’s get back to our subject, the Guardians of the Galaxy. Peter Quill, before he became emperor of Spartax, proposed to Kitty in Guardians of the Galaxy and X-Men : Black Vortex Omega #1. What will happen to them now ? Eight months had passed since the proposal and Peter ascended the throne, and I can’t wait to see if Kitty is the new first lady of the Spartax empire or not.

As we often see in the movies, the heroes aren’t the first characters we see, but rather the villains. Guardians of the Galaxy #1 respects this rule, and gives us a glimpse on the first new version of the Guardians’ enemies. Annihilus, the lord of the Negative Zone, and the Queen of the Broods, are meeting in the Negative Zone to discuss about the future of the Universe and its split between the two of them. They’re clearly acting like if the Universe belonged to them, as the only member who showed at this secret meeting between kings and queens of the Galaxy. That is why they’re the mainly threat to the Guardians of the Galaxy, whose goal is to protect people’s freedom. Sitting on his throne, Annihilus appears like a true monarch, a ruler whose kingdom seems to be empty. I’m very found of the close-up on his face on the last panel, with his machiavellian smile and the eagerness for powers that shines through his eye. The Queen of the Broods looks more like a cruel flesh-eating beast than a great thinker and the ruler of one of the most feared species in the universe. This first double-page spread lets Valerio Schiti draw a great Negative Zone. This weightless space is just wonderful.

Valerio Schiti - Guardians of the Galaxy #1 p.2-3
Valerio Schiti – Guardians of the Galaxy #1 p.2-3 © Valerio Schiti / Marvel

This is exactly in outer space that we meet for the first time the new members of the Guardians of the Galaxy. The Thing in the foreground, he seems to enjoy himself – this is no surprise, since Ben Grimm’s long-life dream was to be an astronaut – whereas the others – especially Drax, Rocket and Groot – have a more warlike face. Groot’s body itself seems more suitable for battles than before : it looks like an armor, with sharpened claws as hands. They all have dynamic postures, looking like they are ready to fight. However I have a problem with the perspective on this particular double-page spread. If the spaceship appears to be really small – why not, this visual effect allows to strengthen the characters’ charisma – the size of some characters seems wrong. For example, take Rocket and the new Star-Lord. They are on two different plan, but I think that if they were on the same plan, they would be of the same size. It’s the same for Rocket and Groot. But I understand why Valerio Schiti did this : as the new leader of the Guardians, Rocket couldn’t be smaller than every one of them. Despite this, I like the contrast between the drawn characters and the background, which is more like a space painting.

Valerio Schiti - Guardians of the Galaxy #1 p.6-7
Valerio Schiti – Guardians of the Galaxy #1 p.6-7 © Valerio Schiti / Marvel

Peter Quill, the former Star Lord, is now the emperor of Spartax. New haircut, new suit, new attitude, he’s a very different man. By the way, Peter’s royal suit reminds me of Magneto’s and Quicksilver’s royal suits in House of M – in both regular crossover and Secret Wars tie-in. Seems like being in charge is not what Peter thought : it’s a lot of responsibilities, of listening and attending to never-ending councils. The times were he and the Guardians were flying across the Universe, helping people and fighting against threatening villains, seems like a far away time, a marvellous one. Now he’s stuck in his palace, bored to death. As the former leader of a rogue team, it’s understandable that sitting all day long in a palace can be tedious and dull – especially when he’s the king and can’t make his own decisions. Through this double-page spread, Peter’s face goes from interrogation to anger, and finally acceptance and resignation.

Valerio Schiti - Guardians of the Galaxy #1 p.12-13
Valerio Schiti – Guardians of the Galaxy #1 p.12-13 © Valerio Schiti / Marvel

Fortunately for him, the Guardians are never far, and when they managed to steal a mysterious chitauri artifact, the only way for them to understand what it does is to pay a visit to the new Spartax Emperor. This idea doesn’t seem to please everyone, especially Rocket. His almost silent conversation with Kitty Pride – who’s by the way the new Star Lord – is hilarious. Valerio Schiti shows here his genius in the drawings of the expressions. This page, as sober as it is, is a genuinely beautiful one. The two characters are being seen in close shots only, and their mute exchange passes only through their expressions. As Rocket is getting angrier and angrier, Kitty’s assurance is growing : she’s positive that the only way to discover what the artifact does is to go on Spartax.

Valerio Schiti - Guardians of the Galaxy #1 p.16
Valerio Schiti – Guardians of the Galaxy #1 p.16 © Valerio Schiti / Marvel

But on Spartax, everything didn’t went as planned. First, Kitty catched Peter in the arms of a female alien, whose stated goal was to procreate with the king. Then Gamora, her clothes torn, fell from the sky. It is a shock to see her like this, because the last time – on Guardians of the Galaxy #27 – she was leaving the team because of her cosmic powers. So what happened to her ? Who did this to her ? It must be someone powerful enough to defeat a cosmic enhanced fighter such as Gamora. Thus it is a threat to the Guardians, and to everyone in the Galaxy. Gamora, on the top panel, is extraordinary. The way Valerio Schiti drew her enhanced the feeling of weakness that comes from her. In a foetal position, she’s protecting herself against the outer world. For the first time ever, Gamora seems helpless, like a damsel in distress.

Valerio Schiti - Guardians of the Galaxy #1 p.21
Valerio Schiti – Guardians of the Galaxy #1 p.21 © Valerio Schiti / Marvel

This first episode is a good one, with a touch of humour, some couple fights and threatening villains : one who’s already on Spartax, two others who are plotting against the entire Universe. Brian Michael Bendis and Valerio Schiti gave us some clues about the Guardians’ future, their next enemy – the destroyer of worlds – and their arch nemesis, Annihilus and the Queen of the Broods. Besides the pink mistress episode, something doesn’t seem to be all right between Peter Quill and Kitty Pride, and between Quill and Rocket. Are they mad because he left them ? And what about Gamora, where was she all this time ? Who is the destroyer of worlds ? The second issue of the Guardians of the Galaxy promises to be exciting.

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