The Guardians of the Galaxy – Animated

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The film, Guardians of the Galaxy, is less than a month away, and the promotion engines at Marvel are going full blast. First there’s the amazing faux travel site, Galaxy Getaways, which if you haven’t seen it, go now. And earlier this week, Marvel released three major new comics featuring characters from the film, and now this morning, Disney XD broadcast a triple shot of the animated Guardians of the Galaxy. Check out my thoughts after the jump.

Who’s Who

First let’s have a word about who were talking about. I’m old, so when I hear the words ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ I’m thinking old school, I’m thinking about these guys, the originals from the 31st century, created by Arnold Drake and Gene Colan, and the first to bear that name. But it’s the Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning version we’re talking about here, the present day heroes whose most known incarnation consists of Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot.

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This is the team headed to the screen next month, and ruled the TV screen this morning. The episodes aired on Disney XD were two from “Ultimate Spider-Man,” one older, and one new, and the “Guardians and Spaceknights” episode of “Avengers Assemble.” It is worth mentioning however that the Guardians of the Galaxy made their first animated appearance in the much superior “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” series that preceded “Avengers Assemble.”

Earth’s Mightiest Guardians

The “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” episode in question was titled “Michael Korvac,” and as anyone who knows anything about the original Guardians, it was the near-omnipotent cosmic threat of Korvac, also known as Michael and The Enemy, who brought them together with the Avengers. Here, the newer team replaces the old in a similar, shorter, but no less epic telling of the tale. Not to beat that horse again, but watching this old EMH episode almost immediately brings to light all the ways it’s better than “Assemble” – the animation, characterization, the writing, dialogue – all amazing.

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Here, Michael shows up on the Avengers’ doorstep delusional, lost, and claiming to have been abducted by aliens. The Guardians, in matching uniforms, are in pursuit. The intriguing roster here is Star-Lord, Groot, the female Quasar, Adam Warlock, and Rocket Raccoon, and when they fight the Avengers, it’s far more impressive than the later clash shown here. I hate the uniforms, but I love this episode and this series – available on both DVD and Netflix.

Double Teamed

As you may or may not know, the premise of the “Ultimate Spider-Man” animated series is that Spidey is being trained by SHIELD to be the best that he can be. He’s not alone in this training as he’s teamed with the White Tiger, frustratingly teenaged versions of Power Man and Iron Fist, and the Sam Alexander Nova. This is one of the few episodes of US-M where we get a bit more insight on the non-spider-heroes. We find out that Nova has been cheating on his SHIELD team with another group of heroes, yeah, you guessed it – the Guardians of the Galaxy.

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In the episode titled “Guardians of the Galaxy,” Spidey gets to meet Nova’s other mentors, the Guardians. Korvac is back as the baddie, albeit in a version closer to his future firm than that of Michael, and he’s leading an army of Chitauri to destroy Earth. Don’t get your hopes up though, this is also the episode that shows Captain America doing the dishes, Aunt May playing videogames, and Rocket Raccoon going through Peter Parker’s garbage.

The Return

There seems to be some confusion online as to how the episode “The Return of the Guardians of the Galaxy” fits in to “Ultimate Spider-Man” (now sub-titled “Web Warriors”) continuity. Is it the first episode of season three, or a later unnumbered episode. I can’t find any reference. Either way, the Guardians are back as the title implies, and this time they’ve brought the baddies to Earth.

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Written by Brian Michael Bendis, the baddie is a big cat-like alien named Titus. He used to be a Nova himself and is now after Sam’s Nova helmet for its untapped potential. The thing that I always hate about the US-M is that it’s played for laughs. Much is made of the Guardians ship falling on Aunt May, the sitcom sneak onto the SHIELD Tricarrier, and Groot playing a tree on Earth. At least he isn’t in a flower pot most of the episode like last time.

Bendis has some good lines, fits a whole lot into twenty-odd minutes, and writes a better fight scene than we’ve seen previously with the animated Guardians. I was a bit bugged by the repeat of the Spidey piloting the ship sequence, and by the Chitauri being the default space henchmen. I did like Nova doing some serious human rocketing for a change, the kids marveling at the Guardians, and would have liked some more Nick Fury, but all in all, this was a good outing.

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More?

The rumor has been floating around for a while that there may in fact be a Guardians of the Galaxy animated series in the works. The confusion over where this episode fits in US-M continuity might be a clue to that rumor or not. Time will tell. In the right hands, I would be down for animated Guardians. We’ll see… Either way until then, the film Guardians of the Galaxy hits movie screens on August 1st, and we at Biff Bam Pop! will be sure to be there!  And until then, why not take a tour?

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