Guardians of the Galaxy #4 Review

by Charles Martin on April 17, 2019

Guardians of the Galaxy #4 Review
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Geoff Shaw
Colourist: David Curiel
Letterer: Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Guardians of the Galaxy #4 puts conflict to good use. Here it is an engine that drives roster shake-ups, clarifying the teams in preparation for big plot developments to come.

Geoff Shaw and David Curiel do a great job making the conflict visually interesting, helped along by a healthy dose of smart scripting from Donny Cates. This issue delivers two big fights which are both satisfying yet vastly different in tone.

We start with Gamora versus the Guardians on Halfworld. It's a match-up that boils down to Gamora and Beta Ray Bill going hard at each other, and its simplicity doesn't detract from the fun way it plays out. The bigger fight waiting at the end of the issue is the Guardians versus the Dark Guardians, and this is a more serious affair altogether. 

Mr. Curiel does a great job of signifying the shift in tone; the issue's colours march steadily from light and intensity into darkness and subtlety. There are still plenty of vibrant colours available for the characters and their powers at the end, but they stand out more as the world behind them grows more and more shadowy.

All of the blasty-fighty action is stitched together with endearing character work that is admirable in its brevity. Mr. Cates does a superb job of getting high mileage out of low word-counts. The peak of the intense characterization is reserved for Peter Quill. Star-Lord is sketched as an exhausted, lost man thanks to just a few well-crafted lines of dialogue.

The issue's final plot developments justify the focus on Quill, but prior to that, there's remarkably little forward progress. Gamora and Nova fall into the Guardians' camp - with plenty of qualifications - but the team's overall situation is otherwise static for the majority of the book.

For an issue that clearly puts conflict and character in its sights, this one does remarkably little with the Dark Guardians. They boil up in the final scenes as effectively threatening opposition, but they have little character beyond that. This is not entirely a bad thing, as their flatness makes room to give the Guardians greater depth. It does make it feel like the effort invested in assembling them was (at least in the short term) a bit of a waste, though.

This issue is mainly about adjusting the Guardians roster and clarifying the battle lines for the conflict to come. Guardians #4 delivers a satisfying dose of battle itself, complete with consequences, but this is not a climactic turning point. Strong action art and fast, polished characterization provide a fulfilling sense of motion even if the plot is taking its sweet time to develop.

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
My tone feels a little off, but I'm hamstrung by my deep desire not to spoil the ending.