Still on the trail of the Cosmic Seed, which is giving life to whatever and wherever it touches, the Guardians of the Galaxy come to a moon, which may or may not have been Ego the Living Planet, and finds something else as well… Meet me after the hyperspace jump for my thoughts on “Bad Moon Rising.”
We begin with the team on the Cosmic Seed’s latest trail, a three day haul, and our heroes are getting bored and antsy. This leads to Star-Lord pulling some car games from his adolescence to break the boredom, adapting them to ‘star games.’ With no ‘punch buggies‘ to be seen, this quickly gets on the other Guardians’ nerves.
While the joke barely works, we do get a sense of who the Guardians are and where their heads are at currently. We have all been in a car for days at a time, even simple stuff we used to love can aggravate us. The Guardians are no different. When they find the dead moon called Mandala, and then just as suddenly, Nebula (with Ronan’s Universal Weapon) finds them – it’s a welcome diversion.
Going Retro on Mandala
Once Nebula is dealt with and the Guardians land on Mandala, something weird starts to happen to almost everyone. Mandala is alive, suggestively brought to life by the Cosmic Seed, and he is psychically manipulating everyone but Peter Quill to a past version of themselves before the Guardians of the Galaxy were formed. It’s jokingly assumed Quill isn’t affected because he doesn’t have a mature form.
So while Quill deals with arena Drax, Ronan henchwoman Gamora, awkward Groot, and feral Rocket (they almost sound like action figure variants, don’t they?), Nebula and company catch up. Eventually Quill figures out to separate his friends from the surface of the moon. Mandala, just brought to life by the Cosmic Seed, is a big kid who wants to play with them.
Ego the Living Planet
Much like the Planet of the Symbiotes in “Hitchin’ a Ride,” this episode seems to be another attempt to use a known Marvel Comics character without actually using their name. First Venom, and now Ego the Living Planet, because obviously that’s what Mandala is, an immature version of Ego. Why this substitution is made is beyond me, but there it is.
The real Ego the Living Planet is a foe of Thor, who has also run afoul of Rom, Galactus, and the Fantastic Four, among others. The super-intelligent planet travels the universe with a massive jet engine implanted in its southern hemisphere, can shapeshift its terrain, and lures space travelers to land upon where he then devours them. Yeah, a Stan Lee/Jack Kirby space monster from hell.
Ronan the Accuser
Veering back to the episode, and this Mandala version of Ego, Nebula seeks to return Ronan from the dead using his hammer, helmet, and the life force of this moon. She succeeds, but creates a retro Ronan that does not yet know her, like the Guardians earlier. I prefer the traditional green garbed Ronan to this red one.
There a much too short sweet scene recalling the dance off from the Guardians film. I could have used more of that. Will Friedle does the Michael Jackson yell well. Unsurprisingly boring combat follows, and Mandala, sensing a common for, helps the Guardians vanquish Ronan and Nebula, and save Xandar, again.
In the end, after “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night is used as a victory tune, Mandala is made an honorary Guardian, which probably explains the big switcheroo with Ego. Planet-sized heroes with evil pasts don’t work out so well… or do they? Time will tell…