Marvel didn’t re­ally see much value in the char­ac­ters at the time

Comic Heroes - - Feature -

that both he and Rocket be­haved in very hu­man ways, yet re­sponded to each other in much more amus­ingly ba­sic an­i­mal terms.”

Cosmo was the se­cu­rity chief on the in­ter-di­men­sional space sta­tion Knowhere, a fa­mil­iar lo­ca­tion from the film, which in the comic is lo­cated within the sev­ered head of a Ce­les­tial. “That was just an idea that was so off the wall,” says Ab­nett. “I’d cre­ated Knowhere orig­i­nally in Nova, and it seemed to suit the needs at the time, which was to set it up and force the reader to think ‘but what the heck could cut the head off a Ce­les­tial?’ It wasn’t a ques­tion that was ever sup­posed to be an­swered, just a con­cept to in­crease the sense of won­der, awe and mys­tery of the Marvel cos­mic uni­verse.”

Hav­ing pre­vi­ously penned se­ries such as Knights Of Pen­dragon for Marvel UK as well as sto­ries like Judge Dredd for 2000 AD, Ab­nett be­lieves that he had a nat­u­ral affin­ity with the Guardians’ more off­beat el­e­ments. “Those kind of ob­scure char­ac­ters have al­ways been favourites of mine, and it just ap­pealed to me cre­atively, per­haps be­cause I’m Bri­tish and had grown up with 2000 AD,” he says. “For me, it was less about the clas­sic, all-Amer­i­can su­per­hero and more about science fic­tion, where the char­ac­ters, their cos­tumes and pow­ers were ra­tio­nalised by the sci-fi cir­cum­stances. They didn’t wear span­dex cos­tumes, for ex­am­ple, they wore the clothes, ar­mour and uni­forms that were ap­pro­pri­ate to the sci-fi cul­tures around them.”

The po­lar op­po­site of the Avengers, the in­di­vid­ual Guardians don’t im­me­di­ately gel as a group af­ter be­ing brought to­gether through some du­bi­ous means by Star-Lord. “They were sup­posed to be also-rans and losers, and they were meant to be out­classed by the prob­lems they were deal­ing with,” ex­plains Ab­nett. “The cos­mic threats were vast, and these were mav­er­icks and pari­ahs strug­gling to fight a good fight, and strug­gling to find some kind of iden­tity as a team.”

From the An­ni­hi­la­tors to the Pro­tec­tors of the Uni­verse and even the De­fend­ers, numer­ous other team-names were con­sid­ered be­fore they even­tu­ally set­tled on the Guardians of the Galaxy. “It was sup­posed to be a cheeky throw­away,” says Ab­nett. “And the flip­pant way they stole it was a re­minder that they were scoundrels and pi­rates, who were pre­pared to beg, bor­row and steal to make their way.”

sci-fi he­roes

De­but­ing in Marvel Su­per-He­roes #18 in 1969, the orig­i­nal Guardians of the Galaxy were cre­ated by Arnold Drake and Gene Colan as a hard sci-fi ver­sion of a su­per­hero team. But while they were based in the year 3000, fu­ture Sen­tinel of Lib­erty Vance As­tro, the gen­der­chang­ing Starhawk and the other mem­bers of the in­au­gu­ral out­fit also made an ap­pear­ance af­ter dis­cov­er­ing that Star-Lord and his co­horts had au­da­ciously usurped their man­tle from a thou­sand years in the past.

“It was a way to mess with both read­ers’ ex­pec­ta­tions, and the time stream, and to even riff off Cap­tain Amer­ica’s ori­gin as Vance is found in the ice,” rea­sons Ab­nett. “I liked the idea that for older, ex­pe­ri­enced read­ers, old con­ti­nu­ity was kind of sug­gest­ing threats com­ing from all di­rec­tions in time and space. The book was all about the modern team as such, but I wanted to in­tro­duce the idea that the orig­i­nal own­ers of the team-name might show up and be a bit miffed to find some­one else us­ing it.”

Time-twist­ing co­nun­drums were also at the heart of Ab­nett’s 2014 run on Guardians 3000, which saw the orig­i­nal Guardians once again tak­ing cen­tre stage. “It was cer­tainly fun to take a proper swing at get­ting them on their feet af­ter hav­ing re­vived the name for an­other team,” he says. “It was harder work as well, be­cause the orig­i­nals ex­ist in the fu­ture of the Marvel Uni­verse and don’t have the same im­me­di­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties to bounce off the Marvel Uni­verse char­ac­ters to es­tab­lish them­selves. I en­joyed cre­at­ing the fu­ture world as they knew it, and then bring­ing them back to the present day to meet the cur­rent team face to face.”

In­trigu­ingly, Ab­nett also the­o­rised in 2015’s Guardians Of In­fin­ity that the 21st and 30th it­er­a­tions were not the only Guardians of the Galaxy to have ever ex­isted. “I took the cur­rent and fu­ture teams, put them back to­gether, and then added a pre­vi­ously un­known

team from the year 1000,” he says. “It was as if the Guardians con­cept was a re­cur­ring myth, that ev­ery era would have its own team of Guardians when the need arose. Each team had their own spirit: Guardians 1000 – Guardians Mil­len­nium – were no­ble ex­plor­ers and dis­cov­er­ers, the movie Guardians were out-gunned, rag-tag mis­fits and rogues, and the Guardians 3000 were heroic free­dom fight­ers.”

hello hol­ly­wood

Fol­low­ing the suc­cess of films like Iron Man and Avengers, Marvel Stu­dios Pres­i­dent Kevin Fiege first hinted in 2010 that, “there are some ob­scure ti­tles too, like Guardians Of The Galaxy,” which could suc­cess­fully make the tran­si­tion to the big screen. With Ab­nett and Lan­ning’s stint con­clud­ing with #25 in 2010, Brian Michael Bendis helmed a new vol­ume of Guardians in early 2012 in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the movie’s re­lease in 2014.

“I was as­ton­ished when they se­cretly told me that the next film in devel­op­ment was Guardians Of The Galaxy,” ad­mits Ab­nett. “I get that hav­ing done re­ally well with their mar­que icons, Marvel wanted to see if they could du­pli­cate that magic with un­known char­ac­ters, and to open up the cos­mic side of the cine­matic uni­verse to boot, but I was still amazed! I was even more sur­prised when it was a hit and sud­denly the Guardians were fa­mous. I got to visit the set, meet the cast and chat with the direc­tor, James Gunn, who made no se­cret that he was work­ing to the brief of my Guardians.”

Claim­ing that he is “chuffed that the comic I was cre­at­ing back then has paid off like it has”, Ab­nett is re­lieved that he was es­sen­tially given free rein. “I think that the very fact there were these for­got­ten char­ac­ters has paid off,” he says. “Marvel re­ally didn’t see much value in them at the time, and I got to write what I wanted, and do any­thing I wanted with them. These weren’t high pro­file prop­er­ties that Marvel had to keep an eye on, so I could play around and kill char­ac­ters off and pull big twists. And that’s why peo­ple liked the comic, be­cause any­thing might hap­pen next, and that in­ven­tion pro­vided James Gunn with a very fruit­ful set of pos­si­bil­i­ties. It’s worth not­ing that these days, Guardians Of The Galaxy is a much harder book to write, as it’s im­por­tant now since it’s valu­able IP, and Marvel is much stricter at su­per­vis­ing it!”

LEft: Drax be­came a firm fan favourite

Top-Right: Dog in space: Cosmo, a tele­pathic space hound

Bot­tom-Right: Groot and Man­tis: just two ev­ery­day folks

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