The Guardians of the Galaxy are back with the second half of the first season of their animated series. This time out they drop right into the conflict between two Elders of the Universe – the Collector and the Grandmaster. Meet me after the hyperspace jump for my thoughts on “Space Cowboys.”
What Has Gone Before
Here’s a quick refresher for folks who may have forgotten during the mid-season hiatus what’s going with the animated Guardians of the Galaxy. They’ve discovered a CryptoCube, an artifact of Spartaxian origin that at first was thought to hold answers to who Star-Lord’s father was/is, but is actually a map to the Cosmic Seed.
This Cosmic Seed, similar to the Cosmic Egg formed at the end of the classic JLA/Avengers crossover, has the power to create a whole new universe. The Guardians are after the Seed to keep it out of the hands of Thanos and his minions, Yondu and the Ravagers, the Elders of the Universe, and anyone else who might otherwise use its powers for no good.
Elders and Existence
The Elders of the Universe – we’ve talked about these creatures before. They are the oldest beings in existence, each with a peculiar obsession. We’ve seen the Collector before, both in the film and animated, and the Grandmaster clashed with the Guardians in the episode “Take the Milano and Run.” What “Guardians” viewers might not know about is their rivalry in the Marvel Animated Universe.
Film director James Gunn says the animated series is not in Marvel Cinematic Universe continuity, although recent casting of Kurt Russell as a possible Spartaxian warlord might alter that. Different versions of the Guardians in the various MAU indicate the series might be off on its own as well. Of course those different versions were more likely Disney X-D just throwing ideas at the wall to see what worked and what didn’t.
Now while there may be some argument how this series fits, if at all, in the MAU, both the Collector and the Grandmaster went to war with each other in the multi-part story “Contest of Champions” over in “Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors” last season. The two Elders have a history of dislike on one another.
Moomba was one of the Atlas Comics monsters who first appeared waaay back in Tales to Astonish #23. A member of an alien plant species, Moomba hid itself as a wooden statue then attacked when one least expected it, sort of a prototype of the Weeping Angels from “Doctor Who.” Other Moombas appeared much later in the Marvel Universe in the X-Men comics, and Guardians of the Galaxy.
Here, the Guardians need a McGuffin to continue their journey and only the Collector, in his Benicio del Toro movie image, has it. In exchange our heroes have to deliver a herd of Moombas to his brother the Grandmaster on Conjunction. The Moombas in this case are purple smelly farting beasts like cattle, vastly different in concept and visual to the Atlas age creatures. Good to see Cosmo though.
After playing cowboy and camp, the Guardians soon find that there’s more to these animated Moombas than meets the eye. Besides expelling stench and opening space warps, depending on what they eat, these Moombas are rigged by the Collector to explode – in hopes of killing his brother. Yeah, our heroes have been duped.
That’s okay as it seems that Yondu and the Ravagers have been similarly duped by the Grandmaster to steal the Moombas and send them back to the Collector. As one might assume, hilarity ensues. Throw in the Nova Corps and you have a party worthy of a classic “I Love Lucy” plot. Not good.
This wasn’t the best of episodes, and featuring none of its trademark 1970s classic rock either. “Space Cowboys” was not a satisfactory return for the series and unpromising of better to come. It lacked characterization, forward movement of the story arc, and its humor was worthy of groans only. Not a good restart.
Next: The Inhumans!