|MARVEL SUPER-HEROES, a 1960s comic book published by, who else, Marvel Comics, had an interesting run. The title began in 1966 as FANTASY MASTERPIECES, a regular size monthly comic book that reprinted horror, science fiction and fantasy stories from Marvel's past. Then with issue number three, the title became a giant-size comic book with Golden Age Captain America reprints in the front of the book, backed up by the usual horror/sf/fantasy fare. Over the next few issues. the reprinted Golden Age material expanded to include stories starring Sub-Mariner, the Human Torch and the All Winners Squad. The title was a gold mine (you should pardon the expression) of vintage material that I (and many other Marvelites) were seeing for the very first time.|
Then, with issue number twelve, the title changed its' name to MARVEL SUPER-HEROES. The lead feature was a brand new character, the Kree spaceman Captain Mar-Vel who went by the name Captain Marvel. The Golden Age material was still there, but was now relegated to the back of the book. After two issues, Captain Marvel was spun off into his own title and the lead spot in MARVEL SUPER-HEROES became a place to spotlight existing Marvel characters and introduce new features. Number fourteen featured a new Spider-Man story, number fifteen starred Medusa of the Inhumans, the WWI aviator avenger the Phantom Eagle flew for the first time in number sixteen and the new origin of the recently revamped Black Knight was revealed in number seventeen.
Issue number eighteen, pictured above, has a cover date of January 1969, which means I bought it sometime in the fall of 1968. I was twelve years-old. It was the first appearance of a new science fiction based team of super-heroes named The Guardians of the Galaxy. With artwork by Gene Colan (one of my all-time favorite comic book artists), this issue of MSH introduced us to (from left to right), Vance Astro, Charlie-27, Martinex and Yondru. These four characters were the original incarnation of the Guardians and they remain my favorite iteration of the team. Over the years, the Guardians have gone through multiple revivals and re-boots and the line-up of the team has changed accordingly. It's the most recent line-up (Starlord, Gamora, Drax, Groot and Rocket Raccoon) that are on display in the new Marvel/Disney film, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, which I saw yesterday.
I must confess that I never thought I would see a GUARDIANS movie of any kind, no matter what line-up was featured. These characters were all strictly B or C listers. Interesting, yes, but lacking the star power and name recognition of Captain America, Spider-Man and Iron Man.
But watching GUARDIANS on the big screen yesterday (in very good 3-D to boot), I was once again that twelve-year old kid who fell in love with the characters way back in 1968. GUARDIANS is pure fun, full of laughs, '80s pop culture references, dazzling chases and battles, jaw-dropping special effects, and a team of losers, misfits and outcasts that bicker and snipe at each other before uniting to become true heroes.
The first part of the film introduces the players (good and bad) and sets up the situation. The five Guardians to be eventually find themselves in a deep-space prison. They escape (of course) and set off to save the universe with plenty of obstacles in the way.
Only one of the original comic book Guardians makes an appearance here. It's Yondru (Michael Rooker) and he's changed considerably. Here, he's the leader of an intergalactic band of pirates named The Ravagers. He's sports blue skin, a modified Mohawk and a flying arrow that he controls by whistling. Other Marvel characters fill out the cast including Ronan the Accuser, the Nova Corps, Nova Prime, Nebula, the Collector and Thanos. And was that a Celestial from Jack Kirby's THE ETERNALS in one shot? Oh, and the after the credits scene has to be seen to be believed.
If you're looking for a serious, sober minded science fiction film you're probably going to have to wait until later this year when Christopher Nolan's INTERSTELLAR is released. But if you're in the mood for a rollicking, fast paced, action packed, funny and FUN movie, go see THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. Twelve-year-old Frank loved it.