January 24, 2022

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Heroes Case File #267: The Original Guardians Of The Galaxy

Before Star-Lord put together his merry band of space heroes, there was another team.

I have a friend who, though a  big fan of superheroes and the MCU, told me flat-out he was not going to see Guardians of the Galaxy.  He may have changed his mind since he told me this, but his reasoning was simple:  it was not the Guardians team he wanted to see on the big screen.

No, he wanted to see the original team line-up that first appeared in 1969 and had a fairly popular solo series in the 90s, well before Star-Lord put his team together.  So, let’s look at them for this week.

The original Guardians team first appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes #18 from January 1969  Set in the 31st century, the alien Badoon have more or less taken over the Solar System.  A human astronaut with some telekinetic powers, Major Vance Astro, is discovered in suspended animation, and when he wakes up, he bands together with some guys who are, apparently, the last survivors of their respective races.   They are:

  • Martinex, a crystalline being from Pluto who could shoot off hot and cold blasts
  • Charlie-27, a soldier from Jupiter where the intense gravity squashed him down but made him very strong and hard to injure
  • Yondu, an archer with a whistle-controlled arrow and not some kind of space redneck stereotype

The Guardians would then battle the Badoon and other threats to their time period, even gaining new members in the married couple Starhawk and Aleta.  For the most part, they never quite got a series of their own, but had adventures written by the likes of Steve Gerber and Roger Stern.  They did some time travel, helped out heroes like the Avengers, and generally were that group of heroes who were always there but maybe never quite got to being a top hero group.

The highpoint for this team was in the 90s when, in the wake of the success of Star Trek the Next Generation, Marvel opted to finally give the team their own series with up-and-coming writer/artist Jim Valentino behind the group.  This is the series my aforementioned friend loved so much.  Valentino used the book as an opportunity to explore the Marvel Universe in the future.  What happened to the heroes?  Were there still mutants?  What about potentially immortal beings like the Vision and Wonder Man?

This team would additionally gain some new members like a timelost female Yellowjacket, future versions of the Phoenix and Ghost Rider, and even the aforementioned Wonder Man.  The series seemed to be the high point for the team.  It may not have helped much when Valentino became one of the Image Comics founders, but the team was there and having the most success it ever had.

Then Marvel relaunched the book, set in the present instead of the future, with Star-Lord leading a group that has since  become the one moviegoers recognize.  Sure, Michael Rooker was in the movie as Yondu, but this Yondu didn’t seem to have much in common with his print counterpart aside from the whistle-controlled arrow.

Of course, the sequel movie did feature the original team in a post-credits scene, with Sylvester Stallone there as Starhawk, Michelle Yeoh as Aleta, Ving Rhames as Charlie-27, and Michael Rosenbaum as Martinex.

You know, they were supposed to be Ravengers in this movie, and the Ravengers showed up for the final battle in Endgame.  So, maybe that means Rambo was there to help the Avengers.

And it wasn’t as if the current Guardians runs ignored the original team.  A time-lost Vance Astro hung around a bit from the first run, and then Starhawk was hanging around, sometimes as a female, but really, the original team has long since been eclipsed by a group that was basically a bunch of Marvel’s space-based heroes all tossed together into one group.  The future team were freedom fighters against a hostile alien race, at least at first.  That’s a rather distinct difference.

Then again, maybe Rambo will be leading the originals into something in Volume 3.

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