Rocket Raccoon & Cosmo, Courtesy newsarama

I ended up being pretty pressed for time at work today, so instead of tackling two of my current favorite titles from Marvel, I’ll focus on just the one. Guardians of the Galaxy starts up in the wake of the Annihilation event, which introduced older characters from outside of Earth in the Marvel universe (the regular one, not any of the odd parallel ones) and made them awesome. I’m not exaggerating – the very first mini-series took Drax the Destroyer and changed him from an energy-shooting Hulk-wannabe resembling a lime green brick to a shirtless badass armed with a couple of knives and more attitude than Wolverine on a bad hair day. He doesn’t even wear a shirt when exposed to deep space. That’s pretty badass.

He’s a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, a team of super-powered beings from all over the Milky Way brought together by a guy who has no powers whatsoever, Peter Quill (aka Star-Lord) in order to keep an eye on the goings-on in the greater universe and to keep things from going too pear-shaped. They’re kind of like interplanetary troubleshooters. Their roster is a fascinating mix of individuals, ranging from the most deadly woman in the universe (and one of the hottest) to a gun-toting wise-cracking anthropomorphic raccoon who tends to ride in the branches of a living tree whose got strength that rivals the aforementioned Drax. I’m not even making this up. Rocket Raccoon is awesome and if you disagree with that sentiment I’m going to have to ask you to step outside.

What makes the Guardians on the whole appealing to me is the way the stories, action and dialog remind me of the very best space operas of the past. Picking up the latest issue has a feeling that brings to mind the anticipation of a new episode of Star Trek: the Next Generation or reading The Cat Who Walks Through Walls for the first time. Since the Guardians are mostly adults, there’s none of the “Dawson’s Creek” feel that could occasionally creep into the Legion of Super-Heroes and the title delights in deep space swashbuckling and high adventure without descending into the camp of the 1980s Buck Rogers series, though there’s more than a little humor to be found. I mean, come on, a raccoon riding a walking tree! And did I mention the telepathic dog who used to be a Russian cosmonaut?

If you’re a fan of science fiction at all, or you like fast-paced action mixed with humor and diverse character interaction, I heartily recommend this title. And if you find yourself in desperate need of reading material dealing with sweeping cosmic events and visuals that will blow your mind – Drax’s final confrontation with Thanos for example – go to Amazon and pick up the Annihilation trade paperbacks. I hear Annihilation: Conquest is just as good but I don’t have the scratch to spare to pick those up.

If nothing else, you’ll come to understand how “I AM GROOT” can express quite a wide range of emotions.