After the Avengers it’s easy to understand why there might be some apprehension towards the next Marvel game from Square Enix. As a lifelong comic book nerd, that was definitely my initial reaction when Guardians of the Galaxy was announced.
However, that all changed when the game’s lead writer was introduced – Dan Abnett. Known by many as one of the best Warhammer novelists, his version of Guardians of the Galaxy was one the one that Marvel and James Gunn brought to the big screen. In the mid 2000s Abnett and his writing partner Andy Lanning resurrected the cosmic side of the Marvel comics universe, giving us some incredible stories along the way.
If you want to get as hyped as I am for this new Guardians game then I have some comic reading recommendations for you to get you started.
Annihilation & Annihilation: Conquest
Back in 2006 the cosmic corner of the Marvel universe was in a real slump. Cosmic books were not selling well and even big name stars like Silver Surfer were struggling to keep their comics in print. Enter Abnett & Lanning, a writing duo who gave you a mature science fiction story that just happened to be centred around Marvel characters.
Annihilation and its sequel are an essential piece of the puzzle for the Star-Lord story as it’s where the new Guardians meets each other and the team is formed. It’s also a masterclass in writing a comic book event and I would highly recommend it. Launching out of this event are the Guardians of the Galaxy book and a new Nova title. I would honestly recommend reading both, but to get the critical path you just can read Guardians of the Galaxy.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2008)
This is where it all began and the characters that eventually won the hearts of MCU fans around the world first really came together. You’ll be introduced to characters you know well from the movies like Rocket, Groot, Gamora and Drax, but also characters like Cosmo the psychic Russian cosmonaut dog (who was in the trailer for the game too). An excellent book that, together with Nova, leads you into the next big Marvel cosmic event…
War of Kings & Realm of Kings
You’ll notice here that there’s a lot of “events” in this list. Comics tend to have an annual big event to spin-off new books and bring in big audiences. War and Realms of Kings are really good examples of these with a fantastic villain, the super powerful mutant Vulcan, who happens to be the younger brother of Cyclops from the X-Men.
The Thanos Imperative
Thanks to Infinity War and Endgame, Thanos is one of the most popular villains of all time right now. A lot of the characterisation that was used in those movies you’ll find in The Thanos Imperative, an event about war in an evil decaying universe called the “Cancerverse” on the other side of a space rift.
After the Thanos Imperative Abnett and Lanning move away from the Guardians, but there is one more comic I’d like to recommend:
Star-Lord by Chip Zdarsky
Chip Zdarsky is an excellent comic book writer who is currently writing Daredevil (which is maybe the best comic on the shelves right now) but back in 2016 he wrote a Star-Lord solo book in which Peter Quill gets into bar fights with Wolverine, sued by Daredevil and has to do community service for a space defence agency. It’s very funny and the art is really great – would strongly recommend!
With Abnett having played such a pivotal role in reshaping Guardians of the Galaxy, there’s a solid chance that the game’s plot will reel in comic fans. Square Enix have confirmed that this will be a singleplayer focused title, combining action-packed set-piece moments with plenty of character interactions.
Guardians of the Galaxy has a release date set for October 26th 2021, launching on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.