Wednesday, July 23, 2014


After having given their biggest characters to Fox and Sony in order to avoid going out of business altogether, Marvel Comics made enough money from their share of the success of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man and Bryan Singer’s X-Men films to firstly stay alive and then later start up their own movie studio. Against the odds, they somehow had a huge mainstream hit with the character Iron Man, and struck gold with the Avengers movie. Now though, Marvel have pretty much ran out of already popular and famous characters. They are aware of this, and quite cleverly, if cynically, factored it in to the first trailer for the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy...

“Who are you?” 
“Star Lord” 

Then a roll call of the characters as Peter Serafinowicz is told who they are.

I remember Rocket Raccoon from The Hulk’s 20th anniversary issue, so that’s 1982. He was a bit of a joke character really, with his name a play on the Beatles song. Hulk even complained about him on the cover...

A bit later, there was a lovely looking 4 issue series drawn by Mike Mignola, prior to Hellboy...

Gamora was a terrific character from Jim Starlin’s Warlock series in the mid 70s...

Groot was another one who guest starred in Hulk; in the 1976 Annual drawn by Sal Buscema, to be exact. Groot was originally drawn by Jack Kirby in the old Marvel monster comics. This story had a bunch of old weirdos reappear so the Hulk could smash them to bits one after another. Quite literally in Groot’s case…

Starlord was a good comic by Chris Claremont and John Byrne in the late 70s. Some visceral violent action, shades of Star Wars – “a sith lord” even turns up...

A bit later I bought black and white Star Lord comics aimed at a slighly older audience, with Carmine Infantino drawing a sexy lady called Caryth. Here is her emotional (and topless) death scene...

Star Lord’s costume is completely different in the trailer, I observe.
And wait, why is Star Lord in this film ? Why are any of these people in this movie?
Because I read Guardians of the Galaxy too, and none of these jokers were in there.

The Guardians of the Galaxy were first featured in Marvel Premiere 18 in 1969. I was lucky enough to pick it up in the late 80s for 10p in a second hand bookshop.

It had intriguing concepts . The characters were from different planets in the solar system and so their bodies had grown differently due to their native atmospheric conditions. As well as being a good sci-fi idea, this also gave scope for the characters being distrustful of other “races”.
Then there was poor old (very old) Vance Astro, who had set off on a thousand year space mission in hibernation to the nearest star system, only to find humanity had developed faster than light travel and arrived there hundreds of years before him. They still gave him a hero’s welcome, but he was tortured by the events. And the Badoon were scary villains (I thought the Judoon from Doctor Who owed something to them).

Beautifully drawn by Gene Colan, as you can see above.

I recall the Guardians reappearing to guest in Avengers comics with a few more characters added. 

At some point Marvel must have completely rebooted the Guardians of the Galaxy comic, ditching the original characters, and the movie is based on that.

I feel like I turned up for a Temptations concert and nobody’s left in the band.


  1. Hello David, I think I share some of your frustration and disappointment. Long before Disney gobbled up Marvel, the rewriting of Marvel history has driven me away from a lot of comics. I am a big fan of Jim Starlin's work, and he and the other original Marvel artists and writers deserve much more than just an "honorable mention" as the credits roll by.

    Still, "Guardians" was a fun diversion. Whereas Chris Platt's performance reminded me more of "Kung Fu Panda", I thought James Gunn did do justice with the villains. Seeing Ronan, the Collector and, Thanos of course, was like seeing old "friends". The 70's soundtrack was a bit cloying, but it did reflect the times in which the original characters were created.

    After watching the first big budget superhero movies in the 1980's, I never expected the superhero movies to stay with the original comics continuity anymore. The producers will make big adjustments to bring in a big audience. 'Nuff said.

    For Guardians, it did seem like someone took all the leftovers from the fridge, threw them in a pot, and hoped something tasty would bubble up. This doesn't excuse Hollywood from making hack work, but I think most true fans can find some pleasure in going home to the original comics, long after the movie experience has faded.

  2. Thanks, Ken.
    I haven’t seen the movie yet. Not too bothered. I’ll see it on TV.
    Which 80s movies are you referring to? Batman?
    I’m a fan of Starlin too (see
    The comics creators don't get enough credit. They came up with the material. It would be good if they were credited in the same way as the authors of novels which movies adapt. It’s more complicated as more than one person is involved, but surely that would only take 2 or 3 more title cards? It’ll no doubt be financially motivated, like the entire enterprise.
    Anyway, none of this has anything to do with the comics. I am still very fond of all the stories I mention above.
    Nice blog!

  3. Thanks David, your blog covers comics with much more depth than mine. Regrettably, it was the Christopher Reeves Superman movies that turned me off to the superhero films for a long time. Some in the front office back then just didn't get it. As far as DC comicbook movies go these days, I think someone states it very clearly here

    The first Tobey Maguire Spiderman coaxed me back in, but Hollywood still fell on it's face with the first Hulk and Fantastic Four movies (imho). I may be belaboring the point, but there's a much deeper and subtler interaction between a reader and a book, than just a viewer sitting in front of a screen.

    Getting back to Guardians, this crazy mixture of characters did work out. (Talk about Hobo Stew.) Hollywood gambled on James Gunn, and came up aces. But there had to have been some other players behind the scenes who knew how to appeal to all the Marvel junkies young and old, and the general movie going public at large. Even tossed in another Stan Lee cameo to make it "official". I'm sure the DVD will be out before Christmas.

    Thanks again for publishing my comments.