Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Quick Guide To The Guardians of the Galaxy

While Marvel Studios is sitting at the apex of their success, they are taking a chance with something a little different with the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy film. This is a particularly unusual choice since this incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy is only a few years old, and though gaining in popularity, even die-hard comic fans know little about them. Since I knew next to nothing myself, I decided to research the Guardians of the Galaxy. So here is my guide to the Guardians of the Galaxy.

The original Guardians of the Galaxy

The original incarnation of this team was a 31st century counterpart to the Avengers, similar to DC's 30th century superhero team, the Legion of Super-Heroes. They are most well-known for their role in the Avengers' Korvac Saga. Although there were many members of their team, the only ones relevant to the current team or upcoming film are Major Victory (a 31st century counterpart to Captain America) and Yondu (a blue-skinned archer-warrior from Alpha Centuri).

Created in 1969, the Guardians finally had their own series in the mid-90s by Jim Valentino, but it did not catch on and the characters were soon forgotten.

Annihilation (2006-2007)

The inaugural event that preceded the debut of the team consisted of a prologue issue with four miniseries including Nova, Silver Surfer, Ronan, and Super-Skrull followed by the Heralds of Galactus mini-series. Beginning in Thanos and the Drax the Destroyer miniseries, this event features the invasion of bug-like entities from a sector of space called "The Crunch" where the Negative Zone meets the "Positive" universe. Led by Annihilus, the unstoppable swarm is dubbed "the Annihilation Wave."

In their first strike, the Annihilation Wave destroys an intergalactic prison known as the Kyln where a half-human superhero who called himself "Star-Lord" is being imprisoned following his destruction of a small planet to save many others. In their second strike, the Annihilation Wave destroys Xandar and the galactic peacekeepers known as the Nova Corps leaving only Centurian Richard Rider with their entire power and legacy.

The event comes to a conclusion in the Annihilation miniseries as the intergalactic powers form a united front, kill Annihilus, and force the invading army to retreat (though several planets remain occupied).

Nova (2007-2010)

Following the aftermath of Annihilation, Nova received his own series focusing on Richard Rider baring the burden of the entire power of the Nova Corps and the Xandarian Worldmind. This series ran along side Guardians of the Galaxy and was also written by Abnett and Lanning, so while it is not necessary to read one to enjoy the other, they do go well together.

This series focused on the struggles of Richard Rider following the death of the Nova Corps. With his former team, the New Warriors, now hated on Earth following Civil War, he finds he has no place on Earth, but instead struggles to be a one man Corps.

Annihilation: Conquest (2007-2008)

This event crosses with the Nova ongoing series, but is also told in the miniseries Annihilation: Conquest - Quasar, Wraith, and Star-Lord. As Star-Lord helps rebuild the Kree Empire following Annihilation, he unknowingly helps to facilitate a Trojan horse invasion led by the techno-organic Phalanx. Eager to atone for his most recent mistake, Star-Lord leads a team of elite Kree convicts into a dangerous mission in the heart of Kree space. This is the team that would soon become the basis for the Guardians of the Galaxy including Bug, Rocket Raccoon, Mantis, Groot, and Captain Universe.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2008-2010)

Following the battle in Annihilation: Conquest, Star-Lord reforms his team as a proactive group designed to prevent the next universe damaging events. As a result of the previous storyline, the fabric of space/time has been weakened and their first priority is to repair the places where reality has been stretched to the breaking point. The critical component in their plans is the all-powerful Adam Warlock, who is a human who has evolved to the point where his connection to quantum energies is indistinguishable from magic.

Although Bug and Captain Universe were not in the initial lineup, they were replaced by Adam Warlock, Quasar (Phylla Vell), Gamora, and Drax the Destroyer. After discovering the severed head of a Celestial floating in a space just outside of the universe, the Guardians are able to use the Celestial head as a teleporter with unlimited range. This place, referred to as Knowhere, is used as an intergalactic port that barely tolerates the Guardians' presence. Their security chief is a telepathic dog with a Russian accent known simply as Cosmo.

Secret Invasion (2008-2009)

Although not directly tied to these events, this Marvel event featured the invasion of Earth by alien shapeshifters. This required both the Guardians and Nova to be preoccupied on vaguely related adventures. Yet this event directly leads into the following cosmic event...

War of Kings (2009)

When the Skrull invaded Earth, they replaced (amongst many) the Inhuman king, Black Bolt. Unwilling to led this threat pass, Black Bolt converted the Inhuman capital city into the starship that it originally was and led his people to destroy the fleeing invaders. After they were destroyed, the ship turned to Hala, the home planet of the Kree Empire. The Inhumans and the Kree have been enemies since the Kree created the Inhumans with genetic experimentation designed to help fix their own genetic stagnation. Surprisingly, the Kree ruler, then Ronan the Accuser, surrendered to the Inhuman invaders with the belief that their strength would be to the benefit of the war-weary empire.

Meanwhile, the other great empire of the known universe, the Shi'ar Empire, had been taken over by a human mutant - Gabriel Summers who preferred the name Vulcan. An omega-level mutant, Vulcan possessed the ability to manipulate limitless energy as well as a sadistic desire for power. Vulcan had taken the Shi'ar throne through marriage, deceit, and power, killing both his own father and the Shi'ar Emperor D'Ken in the process.

Soon, Vulcan's expanding Shi'ar Empire meets the recently conquered Kree Empire and the two empires engage in a war that threatens the fabric of reality, forcing the Guardians and Nova to find a way to bring the war to a swift and stable conclusion.

Realm of Kings (2010)

Following the conclusion of War of Kings, both Black Bolt and Emperor Vulcan are missing and presumed dead as the Inhuman doomsday weapon caused a massive interstellar phenomenon called "The Fault." Although nearly suicidal to enter, the various universal representative each send in their explorers only to discover a universe where death has been destroyed and life has been perverted. Seeking to invade their world, they call it the "Cancer-verse."

The Thanos Imperative (2010)

Following the conclusion of both Nova and the Guardians of the Galaxy, these two titles have their respective stories resolved in the dramatic conclusion to this cosmic epic of events from creators Abnett and Lanning. This series features the battle of our universe against the Cancer-verse as the Guardians use Thanos, avatar of death, to combat a universe where death doesn't exist.

This event ties up all of the cosmic events since Annihilation.

Annihilators [Earthfall] (2011)

Following The Thanos Imperative, the telepathic dog from Knowhere, Cosmo, recruits a team to replace the Guardians in order to fulfill Star-Lord's dying request. No longer a team of unpredictable rebels, Cosmo is directed to recruit the most powerful - the Annihilators. This team consists of Silver Surfer, Ronan, Gladiator, Quasar, and the unanticipated addition of Spaceknight Ikon.

The Annihilators are featured in two miniseries. The first self-titled series features the Annihilators versus the Dire Wraith as they ally themselves with the Spaceknights. The second series (subtitled "Earthfall") features an encounter with the Avengers as the Universal Church of Truth resurrect Adam Magus on Earth.

Guardians of the Galaxy - Marvel NOW! (2013-present)

The most recent incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy is written by Brian Michael Bendis. There is a significant change in the character of Star-Lord. In addition to being blonde where he was previously brunette, there is a focus on Peter's promiscuity and issues with his abandoned father, who apparently is actually ruler of Spartax. This series also includes Iron Man and recent Marvel acquisition Angela to the team.

In my estimation, the Bendis run is not nearly as good as the Abnett and Lanning run, and I would not recommend  it. The title takes a major shift in tone and story as well as stunt-casting members like Iron Man, Angela, and Venom who dominate the storyline.


If you want to just dive into it all (as I did), I recommend that you start with Annihilation and end with Thanos Imperative. Don't avoid the events as they are crucial to the story. You can skip Secret Invasion, but if you like Guardians, you'll probably also like Nova and they work well as companion titles.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Marvel Universe - Part 3: Terrestrial Races

Now that we've covered the cosmos with alien races and cosmic beings, let's go back to your home planet, Earth.

Aside from the obviously predominant human race, the Earth has been home to many offshoot races. Some of them are ancient and others new. Many still reside on the planet while others have colonized distant worlds. These are the terrestrial races.



The dominant race on Earth, humans vastly outnumbers all other sentient life forms, yet they do not possess the unique abilities of their offshoot races. Due to ancient genetic tampering by the Celestials, many humans possess latent abilities that may become activated by radiation.

Humans have a reputation for being chaotic and unpredictable. Numerous attempts have been made to control or eliminate the human race for the sake of universal stability, but all such attempts have ended in disaster.

Notable Humans: Tony Stark, Nick Fury, J. Jonah Jameson, Maria Hill, Punisher
First Appearance: Marvel Comics #1 (Oct. 1939)
Chance of Appearing in GotG:  Duh


On Earth, the once generic term "mutant" has been applied to a specific spontaneous generation of humans born with superior abilities and thus scientifically designated as homo sapiens superior. Usually these traits manifest during puberty, often during strenuous or anxious situations. Due to the dangerous nature of their abilities, mutants are frequently distrusted and the two races are constantly in conflict. Many experts on the mutant phenomenon believe this to be the beginning of the next stage in human evolution.

Notable Mutants: Charles Xavier, Magneto, Apocalypse, Jean Grey, Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm
First Appearance: X-Men #1 (Sept. 1963)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: Zero (Fox retains the rights to Marvel's mutants)

Mutates  (Savage Land)

In an attempt to create his own army, the mutant supremecist Magneto crafted a citadel in the middle of the hidden prehistoric jungle called the Savage Land. There he conducted genetic experiments on a tribe called the Swamp Men resulting in artificial mutants referred to as "mutates." Although they rejected Magneto as their leader, they became a major power in the Savage Land, held in check mainly by the land's jungle protector, Ka-Zar.

The word "mutate" is also used to refer to a servant class of mutant in the apartheid state of Genosha, but these mutates were mutants who were genetically altered for subservience by a mutant called the Genegineer. Therefore, they are not a distinct race.

Notable Mutates: Brainchild, Sauron, Lorelei, Gaza, Amphibius, Lupo
First Appearance: X-Men #62 (Nov. 1969)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: Zero (see above)


Homo mermanus is a submarine race of water-breathing humanoids. As yet, their historical origins are unknown, but were believed to have derived their name and culture from settling the ruins of the sunken continent of Atlantis following the Great Cataclysm. They have blue skin and gills on their neck that require a breathing apparatus when above water for an extended period. Although their numbers are not fully known, there are believed to be only a few thousand, mostly populated in the city of Atlantis.

Although technologically superior to the human majority, their culture is still based in monarchy with various houses often engaging in a coup d'etat for the throne. Their government has been made (relatively) stable by the long (but not unbroken) reign of Namor, their half-human king.

The Atlanteans also have an off-shoot race/culture known as the Lemurians. Nearly identical to Atlanteans, the only difference is their prominent scales and slightly greener hue.

Notable Atlanteans: Princess Fen, Lady Dorma
First Appearance: Marvel Comics #1 (Oct. 1939)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/100

Ancient Atlanteans (Uhari/Chordai/Mala)

Only recently discovered in the depths of the ocean floor in caves developed by coral reef, they were hidden from the rest of the world for thousands of years. They were only spoken of in legend by the new Atlanteans and then as hostile invaders who used peace talks as a cover for invasion. This belief seems to be bigoted as all behavior shows them as no more or less hostile than any other terrestrial race.

The Ancient Atlanteans actually consist of three separate race: the Uhari (fish-like [left]), the Chordai (eel-like), and the Mala (crab-like). However, these three races are fully integrated in a single culture that identifies themselves as the Ancient Atlanteans. This calls into question how the current Atlanteans got their name and what the connection may be to the sunken continent.

Notable Ancient Atlanteans: Ul-Uhar, Vii, Wuu
First Appearance: Fantastic Four #576 (Feb. 2010)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/200


During the First Host of the Celestials (see Part 2: Cosmic Beings), these cosmic gods experimented on proto-humans to create three distinctly different races: the constantly mutated and monstrous Deviants, the god-like Eternals, and, between them, the human race. While the Deviants made their home in the subterranean caverns developing powerful weapons, the Eternals made their home in the mountain, probing the universe with their minds, and developing fantastic powers.

Early in the development of their society, the Eternals were ideologically divided by two brothers: Kronos and Uranos. Kronos advocated living peacefully separate from the strife of humanity and the Deviants while Kronos suggested that they should master the Earth and subjugate the other races. This inevitably resulted in a civil war in which the followers of Kronos were victorious, leading to an era of peace and prosperity. Meanwhile, Uranos and his followers were banished into from the Earth itself, finding a Kree (see Part 1: Alien Races) outpost on Uranus where they were attacked by the Kree and experimented upon... leading directly to the Kree experiments that resulted in the Inhumans (see below). The surviving Eternals escaped to Titan, a moon of Saturn, where they founded an independent colony. This offshoot of the Eternals referred to themselves as Titans and produced some of the most powerful beings in the known universe, most notably the worshiper of death called Thanos.

Notable Eternals: Thanos, Zuras, Makarri, Sersi, Ikaris, Ajak, Thena, Eros
First Appearance: Eternals #1 (July 1976)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: Confirmed (Thanos)


While humanity fought desperately with the beasts of the Earth for survival, the Deviants were able to dominate their race and build a vast capital on the island of Lemuria. When the Celestials returned for the Second Host, the Deviants brazenly attacked their creators and, in return, the entire Earth was rocked by "the Great Cataclysm," a seismic event that sunk both Lemuria and the far off nation of Atlantis.

Since then, the Deviants have remained in hiding, seeking to undermine the efforts of both humanity and the Eternals in order to seek the favor of the Celestials. However, as always, the Deviants will not hesitate to steal the Celestials power, if given the opportunity.

Notable Deviants: Brother Tode, Ghaur, Kro
First Appearance: Eternals #1 (July 1976)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/10


Following the Kree encounter with the Eternals, the Kree began a series of tests on the human population to unlock their potential. This created the Inhuman race. Their abilities (and often, a new appearance) emerge when they are exposed to the Terrigen Mists.

While they lived for thousands of years hidden in the Himalayas, the Inhumans eventually moved their entire city to the moon and, later still, back to the Kree homeworld as their conquers, though briefly. Recent events have caused the destruction of their city and released the Terrigen Mist into the world, transforming latent Inhumans and forcing the race to redefine themselves.

Notable Inhumans: Black Bolt, Medusa, Crystal, Maximus the Mad, Gorgon, Triton, Karnak
First Appearance: Fantastic Four #44 (Nov. 1965)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/15

Alpha Primitives

The Inhumans employ an artificial race of identical beings as a slave race to perform menial tasks. Since they were expressly created for this purpose, they possess limited intelligence and imagination, making them very docile. However, they have been known to be agitated, resulting in class warfare.

Notable Alpha Primitives: None
First Appearance: Fantastic Four #47 (Feb. 1966)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/100

Moloids (Molemen)

The moloids are the "mole men" of myth and legend which live in the deepest, darkest tunnels beneath the Earth. They were genetically engineered by the Deviants as a servant race following their loss of human slaves after the Great Cataclysm. Eventually, the population of moloids grew out of control to the point where the Deviants no longer attempted to control them. They even produced a minor offshoot race called the Tyrannoids and a precursor race called the Gortokians (but they quickly went extinct).

In recent years, the moloids were discovered by an explorer named Harvey Elder while investigating the caves of Monster Island. By this point, the moloids had become weak, subservient, and docile due to generations of in-breeding. They quickly accepted Elder as their leader and he rechristened himself as the Mole Man.

Even more recently, some moloids have evolved to demonstrate signs of complex intelligence. Four such moloids have joined the Fantastic Four's youth think tank known as the Future Foundation.

Notable Moloids: Mik, Korr, Turg, Tong
First Appearance: Fantastic Four #22 (Jan. 1964)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: Confirmed (Thanos)


Native to the unnatural prehistoric jungle reserve known as "the Savage Land," the Man-Apes (or Ape-Men), refer to a range of proto-humanoids that have been preserved in this environment. Due to the unique nature of the preserve, there has been significant crossbreeding and some of the species of humanoids simply have no historical counterparts.

Notable Man-Apes: Maa-Gor, Grog
First Appearance: X-Men #10 (March 1965)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/50

New Men

Created by a superpowered geneticist called the High Evolutionary, the New Men were evolved from a wide variety of animals to endow them with the intelligence, size, and stature of a human being. These were both experiments and a servant race who would help the High Evolutionary achieve his goal of creating the perfect being. However, the High Evolutionary is a gentle master and has allowed the New Men to form their own society with their own roles.

The society of the New Men is located on Mount Wundagore in the Transian mountain range in Eastern Europe. The mountain is protected by New Men warriors known simply as the Knights of Wundagore.

Notable New Men: Bova, Man-Beast
First Appearance: Thor #134 (Nov. 1966)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/100


And that brings us to the end of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Marvel Universe! We've covered aliens, cosmic beings, and the races of Earth, but let us know what you'd like to learn about next in the comments below!

Do you want a guide to the DC universe? A guide to Marvel cosmology or multiple dimensions? Let me know!