Guardians of the Galaxy #12 Review

by Charles Martin on March 24, 2021

Guardians of the Galaxy #12 Review
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Juann Cabal
Colourist: Federico Blee
Letterer: Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics

A climactic finale is a tricky thing for me to review. It impedes my personal, recap-heavy style. I have to be extra-vigilant against spoilers. I have to evoke the feeling of the comic without describing the details.

So what does Guardians of the Galaxy #12 feel like?

Really good drugs. Really good music. Really good books. You know how they can all give your head that thought-deafening "exploding ball of ecstatic white light" sensation?

This comic does that.

It's the final showdown between the Guardians and the gods of Olympus. Without details, I can say it's an exhilarating, constant climb. It builds from the depths where the last issue left it, ascending to an incredible peak and settling the conflict in an awe-inspiring way.

Al Ewing does a magnificent job of melding together all the eclectic interests he's brought into the volume so far. Mythology! Astrology! Tarot! (Take that, Hickman!) Continuity! Marvel Boy's psychedelic Grant Morrison nonsense! 

It all coalesces here in an act of cosmic alchemy. Incredible forces clash and combine. But where I sometimes struggle to connect with Mr. Ewing's more magical scripts due to their ineffability, this one works for me. I think a large part of it is that this issue focuses on the transformative effects this cosmic hoo-ha has on the characters. And that makes all the difference.

The Guardians come through this experience changed. And I don't just mean equipped with a new status quo, which the final pages take care of. I mean their relationships and attitudes and in some cases, I think, even their powers are different.

I guess the most spoiler-y thing I have to say about the changes is that they're profoundly optimistic. This is the healthiest, most promising, most exciting place the Guardians have been in for ages. I wouldn't miss the next act for the world.

The visuals are in the same boat as the writing when it comes to non-spoilery discussion. Juann Cabal and Federico Blee deliver a lot of absolutely epic moments I can't talk about freely. "Oh, man, that panel where XXX attacks XXX and turns into a XXX!"

What I can say is that the artist and colourist are on fire in this issue. Mr. Cabal's "streamlined Frank Quitely" character rendering is a constant delight, and he has no trouble warping and modifying his characters in ways that are immediately believable thanks to scrupulous detail work.

The colours range all across the spectrum and use every level of intensity, from the softest washes to the most searing power-bolts. Mr. Blee's work does more than just refine the characters and the action, though; the colours take over the heavy lifting when it comes to creating the backgrounds. Given that this comic shows a battle against gods, the settings are quite abstract. It is thoughtful, nuanced colour work that shapes the spaces rather than the artist's lines. And it works terrifically.

The artists' work matches the writer's in terms of diversity of thought. There are some insane layout tricks played to make the visuals as fascinating as the ideas, and the issue hinges on two of the most mind-warping double spreads I've ever seen.

Guardians of the Galaxy #12 lives up to the full potential of the epic confrontation it portrays. It's an all-out mental and visual assault. But though the volume is cranked to maximum, there's no risk of overload or feedback here; the talented creative team is in full control at all times. It's a dramatic fight that will put your heart and particularly your head through the wringer. It delivers you, panting and excited, at the dawn of a new era for the Guardians. Bring it on!

Our Score:


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Charles Martin's picture
Okay, one spoiler: New uniforms! Neat!