Guardians of the Galaxy #27-29
Issue(s): Guardians of the Galaxy #27, Guardians of the Galaxy #28, Guardians of the Galaxy #29
There are Jim Valentino's final issues, and in fact he doesn't draw issue #28 and only gets a plot credit for issue #29. It's bad timing for Marvel, i guess, since after going through all this effort to promote the book to Infinity War readers, the creator associated with the book is leaving. But the Guardians of the Galaxy's time spent in the present day does end with a hook that may have drawn readers of present day continuity into the series, even if the creative team doesn't have the same draw.
I haven't read the issues prior to this, but it looks like Valentino took the time to set up a reason for the Guardians to be traveling back in time instead of just having the Magus snatch them for some reason. They have, over Major Victory's objections, decided to go back in time and destroy the Badoon before they can launch the attacks on the planets that the Guardians came from. It's said to be because of the reality manipulation that the Magus is doing that they wind up in the 'real' Marvel universe timeline instead of their own divergent past.
Just as they arrive in the present, the new Guardian member, Talon, collapses. He says that he's got Gral's Disease, and asks to be taken to the moon, thus revealing that he's an Inhuman.
However, the Inhumans have just learned about the explosion at Four Freedom's Plaza, so when unknown superhumans suddenly teleport into their city, one of whom is carrying Captain America's shield, they are primed for a Misunderstanding Fight.
Major Victory stops the fight with a blanket push of his psychokinesis. Then, after a brief explanation, the obligatory doppelgangers show up.
While most of the Royal Family and the Guardians are fighting the doppelgangers, Karnak and Nikki are taking Talon inside for treatment. Gral's Disease is said to not be fatal if caught in time. But when they hear the sound of battle, they leave Lockjaw to guard Talon so that they can join the fight. Talon wakes up and so we have a meeting between dog and cat Inhumans.
The doppelgangers are defeated almost as an afterthought - we don't even see them changing back into their tentacled forms or really what happens to them at all - and Talon is cured. He's honored to meet the legendary 20th century Royal Family, but he warns them about a possible traitor.
When i read non-Inhuman Royal family, my first thought was Quicksilver, but Medusa guesses Luna. In any event, it's an alternate future.
The Guardians decide to go to Earth to investigate the Infinity War situation. They decide to go to Avengers Mansion.
But also planning a visit to Avengers Mansion is Doctor Octopus, who has assembled a new Masters of Evil.
If you couldn't tell, we're now past the Jim Valentino art and into Herb Trimpe, who continues to do his best (?) Rob Liefeld impersonation. The more i see Trimpe doing this, the more i wonder about it. Valentino definitely favored big splash panels, and i can see some broad similarities with the rest of the Image artists, but he is much much more traditionally oriented, with clear storytelling and just a very nice look. And of course his art would have been a big part of this book's appeal, and the traditional style was a good fit for a book that got a lot of mileage out of using classic Marvel continuity. So you'd think regular Herb Trimpe would be the way to go here, not Liefeld-ified Trimpe. And i suspect that Trimpe was versatile enough that he could have aped Valentino just as well as he was Liefeld. I mean, for most of his career on Marvel's superhero books, Trimpe was basically doing a Jack Kirby impression (and a good one). And Trimpe's impression of Liefeld is very much, ah, accurate. So i bet he could've done a decent Valentino impression if his natural style wasn't acceptable to the editors. It makes me wonder if Trimpe was really doing this because he had to.
Anyway, it's certainly an interesting array of villains that Doc Ock has assembled. Titania, Absorbing Man, and Yellowjacket have an association with the Masters of Evil from Roger Stern's era. Doc Ock would have met Absorbing Man and Titania during Secret Wars, but he doesn't have an association with any of the other villains. Yellowjacket had been showing some signs of reform in her recent appearances (although that's debatable), and that is addressed here. She's apparently so afraid of Doctor Octopus that she couldn't refuse his invitation.
I know this is Doc Ock, one of the most egotistical villains there is, but i took umbrage at him including Absorbing Man and Titania as "losers" and "third-raters". On the other hand, for Oddball, Jackhammer, and Powderkeg, third-rate might be generous. But kudos to Valentino for assembling this cast. You could laugh at Screaming Mimi having been included in Stern's Masters of Evil, but we know how that turned out.
It's harder to take this team seriously because of the art.
I assume that the group's "Yay!" is as in Yay or Nay, but i prefer to think that they're all cheering.
The Guardians are the first to arrive at Avengers Mansion, and they're attacked by Jarvis with a vacuum cleaner, which i assume is a nod to this cover.
That is settled, and there are some greetings, since Jarvis knows the Guardians. Then... someone... comes out and alerts them that the Masters of Evil are approaching the mansion. I guess it's Peggy Carter.
Guardians: form Liefeld group pose and prepare for battle!
Note that Major Victory recognizes all the villains. I wondered about the fact that, as it's said several times during these issues, the Guardian's timeline diverged from real Marvel after Marvel Two-In-One #69. And there also seems to be some kind of mystery being teased out about Major Victory's memories vs. the rest of the group (see the References about Avengers Mansion, for example). But anyway, just because the timeline diverged doesn't mean that certain characters and events couldn't be the same.
I know you've been waiting with bated breath for the Oddball vs. Talon fight, so here it is.
Titania is wasted punching out the Avengers support staff, but here's Absorbing Man fighting Charlie-27.
Yellowjacket initially fights Nikki, but then saves her from Absorbing Man's ball and chain.
An unforced error ends the threat of the Absorbing Man.
The fight is really a distraction while Doc Ock sneaks into the Mansion to do something with the Avengers' computer systems.
Meanwhile, Starhawk is confronted with his Infinity War doppelganger, and for a minute he almost seems happy to be absorbed by it, but then realizes he'll lose his free will (er, duh?). So he calls on his wife Aleta, who he shares a body with, for help.
After the main fight, the Guardians realize that Nikki and Yellowjacket have disappeared. This panel is less Liefeld and more McFarlane or Erik Larsen. I think it's funny.
It turns out that they've been captured by Doc Ock, who has a whole new group of Masters.
If i was on the fence about whether this assemblage of villains made sense, Puff Adder pushes me off in the direction of "No". He's still a member of the Serpent Society, right? I could see Doc Ock contracting with the Serpents, but not to hire one guy to bolster a team of random characters. I guess i'm looking at it from the perspective of whether or not this is a legit Masters of Evil line-up, and if so why it's not one you normally think about it or why it only appeared in this series. Part of it is that Doc Ock has no connection to the Masters of Evil legacy, but you could say the same about Egghead. But i guess it's mostly that there was no time devoted to setting this group up (e.g. to show how Doc recruited them). It's also that it's said that Doc Ock specifically recruited them to be disposable; he's really using them for his own purposes and will drop them as soon as he needs to.
So big, so dumb alert.
We're out of the Trimpe art. J.J. Birch has a more normal 90s house style. Still very 90s, but not disastrously so.
Have we reached the point where the Shocker's powers are electric and not just vibratory? I may have missed that.
Starhawk is still holding off against his doppelganger, but mainly he's having a mental conversation with Aleta, who tells him that if she's going to help him it means that he has to allow her to become the dominant force in their shared body, "as foretold". He ultimately, albeit reluctantly, agrees.
Meanwhile, the fight between the Masters and the Guardians is interrupted by the arrival of more doppelgangers, who come in multiple waves.
The members of both super-teams that are still conscious agree to join forces to fight them off. Major Victory shows Captain America level tactical abilities.
Eventually the doppelgangers stop coming (thanks to Galactus stopping them in Infinity War). The remaining villains then turn on Doc Ock when he tries to renew the fight on the Guardians.
And Yellowjacket says that she's resigning.
The Guardians then stick around to help Jarvis clean up. They'll still be in the present day in the next arc.
Despite the randomness of the Masters and the art in issue #28, this was fun. I'm glad that i got to experience a part of this series, even if it's as Valentino is on his way out.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This spans a period running from Infinity War #2-4. I assume that they become entranced along with the rest of the world at the end of issue #4, although Infinity War #5 shows them out on the street for that. They are still, or i'll say back, at the Avengers Mansion at the beginning of next issue. I'll be covering this series until the team goes back to the future.
Crossover: Infinity War
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showAbsorbing Man, Aleta, Black Bolt, Charlie-27, Doctor Octopus, Fabian Stankowicz, Gorgon, Guardsman II (Michael O'Brien), Jackhammer, Jarvis, Karnak, Leviathan (Gargantua), Lockjaw, Major Victory, Medusa, Nikki, Oddball, Peggy Carter, Powderkeg, Puff Adder, Shocker, Starhawk, Talon, Titania, Triton, Yellowjacket (Rita Demara)
Having read the GOTG series from the beginning, I've always been a fan. To me, they're like the space version of the Avengers. Vance obviously is a big fan of Captain America since he has his shield. The other members are varied enough that it stays interesting.
Posted by: clyde | April 7, 2016 1:46 PM
It's a shame that the only Valentino GOTG issues covered on this site are respectively the worst, the second worst and the third worst. And they are the only bad material. The rest of the run is fantastic, a real surprise treat.
(you're missing a Black Bolt tag, btw)
Posted by: AF | April 7, 2016 2:04 PM
Added Black Bolt. Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 7, 2016 2:07 PM
I have a question, actually... why would doppelgangers exist of obscure villains like Gargantua and then also these heroes who aren't even from this reality?
Posted by: AF | April 7, 2016 2:33 PM
My guess would be that the doppelgangers' forms were modeled after whoever they were encountering at that time.
Posted by: clyde | April 7, 2016 2:43 PM
For Marvel he's "J.J."
Posted by: Oliver_C | April 7, 2016 3:14 PM
Love the Masters of Evil two-page splash. Poor Titania is trying to get any attention, and everyone just has their backs turned...
Posted by: Andrew F | April 7, 2016 4:05 PM
My God. That Trimpe art..!!! O_o
Posted by: Piotr W | April 7, 2016 4:14 PM
Apparently, if you assemble a group of villains wit the intent of attacking Avengers Mansion, you're automatically the Masters of Evil.
At least Egghead had been an Avengers villain before. Had Doc Ock ever really fought the Avengers before this?
Posted by: mikrolik | April 7, 2016 6:01 PM
Look at Hulk #393 for an example of how good Trimpe could be when he wasn't trying to copy Image and Liefeld.
Posted by: Zeilstern | April 7, 2016 7:08 PM
I always figured that the name "Masters of Evil" was just up for grabs for anyone wanting to use it when it was inactive (which was frequently). There's really nothing connecting the Barons Zemo Ultron, Egghead, Doctor Octopus and the Crimson Cowl (II) beyond some common members in some of the various Masters line-ups. Heck, Radioactive Man is the sole surviving member of the original group from back in the day! I think that makes him the most legit claim to the team name.
I also wouldn't include Absorbing Man and Titania as third-raters; I think that's just Doc Ock's huge ego speaking. I'm sure he views everyone as MUCH inferior to himself. This reminds me, I always wanted to see a Sinister Six vs. Avengers story! Talk about a completely new, never been done before event.
Also, that Trimpe art is just horrid! He's such a better artist than this.
Posted by: Bill | April 7, 2016 7:09 PM
I don't know if this has been covered already, but when did Vance start calling himself Major Victory? Because dear Lord do I hate that name.
Posted by: Andrew | April 7, 2016 8:16 PM
Andrew, it wasn't covered on this site since it took place in the GotG future. After Vance found the shield and escaped his protective suit, he took on the name. I think he took it from a very obscure Golden Age hero.
Posted by: Erik Robbins | April 7, 2016 9:42 PM
I encourage Marvel fans read GOTG notwithstanding the alternate future because the author endeavoured to weave in existing characters and concepts into its reality. It was a solid first 27 issues. Despite being tediously verbose there were some cool ideas in this title and they were all connected.
Posted by: Grom | April 8, 2016 2:41 AM
I'd just chalk up them misinterpreting Shocker's abilities as him being from the distant past to them.
At any rate, wasn't there something about Luna betraying the Inhumans in Silent War? For all Silent War was acknowledged thereafter...
Posted by: Max_Spider | April 8, 2016 3:13 AM
"Major Victory, a character mentioned in Invaders (1975-1979), as being active during the early and mid 20th Century"
"Major Victory is a Golden Age superhero published by Harry "A" Chesler Comics".
Posted by: clyde | April 8, 2016 9:21 AM
Does anyone remember Who Wants to Be a Super-Hero? There was a guy who called himself Major Victory in the first season. He was the funniest thing in a show that took itself WAY too seriously. That's who I always think of when I hear that name.
Posted by: Andrew | April 8, 2016 5:14 PM
@Max_Spider- the problem is that Yellowjacket also describes the Shocker's abilities as electrical.
Posted by: Michael | April 8, 2016 11:13 PM
Gosh. So much emphasis on that silly concept of Major Victory. Such horrendous art.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | April 10, 2016 4:50 PM
Man, Ock really needs to go on a diet.
Posted by: MikeCheyne | April 14, 2016 2:29 PM
MikeCheyne - Look at the last two panels. He's already started on a weight plan.;)
Posted by: clyde | April 14, 2016 2:37 PM
God, such horrible art. I can't decide what's the worst - the random muscles on Yellowjacket in her second panel, the egg shape of Doc Ock or what looks like a demonic tongue in Major Victory's mouth.
But even after Trimpe, there are art problems. I love how the middle panel of "sad" Ock suddenly has no costume around his neck, which I assume happened because he wasn't drawn with a well-defined chin like the two "angry" Ocks were, so the colorist didn't know where to color.
Posted by: Erik Beck | April 22, 2016 6:03 PM
Hahaha OMG! My brain can't parse Trimpe Masters of Evil team splash as anything but vicious Liefeld parody...
Posted by: George Lochinski | June 21, 2016 1:27 AM
Any ideas on what Jarvis (I assume that is him with the mummyfied face) means by his disfavorable comparison between Major Victory and Vance Astro?
Is he _that_ bothered by the stealing of the Quinjet a few months back?
Posted by: Luis Dantas | June 27, 2016 11:26 PM
I'd call it a Liefeld parody but sweet Jesus this makes Liefeld look like Michelangelo.
Posted by: MindlessOne | July 11, 2017 6:46 PM
I don't know, this isn't very good art, but it's a lot more acceptable than, say, Liefeld's last issues of X-Force. At least the artists could stage a fight.
Posted by: iLegion | July 11, 2017 6:58 PM
Comments have been disabled for the summer while i'm not around to moderate.
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