Of all the Guardians of the Galaxy solo titles launched after the Guardians were ‘grounded’, this one by far is the book that I enjoyed the most.
A lot of that is down to the quality of Gamora #1, as compared to the quality level of Starlord or Rocket Racoon #1. It’s odd, because, of all the GOTG mainstay characters, Gamora would’ve seemed the least likely to me to have the most entertaining solo book.
But what we get here in this comic ticks all the boxes. Marco Chechetto’s illustrations are immaculate – perfect for the type of story being told – and Andres Mossa’s glossy colors impart the perfect finishing touch to create the kind of scenes and progressions that your eyes delight in following.
This book is visually sublime and you’ll find yourself constantly lingering on images longer than is necessary or even backtracking to previous pages just to take in the visuals again.
Gamora and Nebula are rendered sublimely throughout, but actually pretty much everything is – from space scenes and Badoon interiors to even computer screens and panels.
All the colours and details come alive on every page.
Visually, tonally and also in storytelling terms, this feels very much like a Guardians of the Galaxy book and, at times, made me feel like I was reading a Bendis Guardians story.
Gamora #1 kicks off in brilliant style, with a compelling and action-packed first few pages. Thanos giving Gamora the opportunity to exact bloody vengeance on the Badoon for their crimes against her people.
The sequence early on where Gamora gate crashes the Badoon royal event in her mission to brutally eliminate the royal line is spectacularly good for a number of reasons. Firstly, it occurs right at the start of the book and is a hell of a way to get momentum going right from the outset. Secondly, it is dramatically effective, beautifully staged (I particularly like the way Thanos and Nebula are situated on a balcony overlooking Gamora’s attack and bickering between themselves), and superbly visualised.
Thirdly, it gives Gamora a top-draw bad-ass moment, but with a significant psychological component and emotional undercurrent.
And all of this is just in the few first pages.
I like that we’re getting mythology and almost fairytale-like storytelling here, which even manages to make the Badoon more interesting.
And having Gamora strike out on her own is genuinely good, as – as a character – she is usually being overshadowed by more prominent or eccentric characters like Starlord, Rocket or Groot, and subsequently often doesn’t have the space to breathe or to be conveyed as a great character in her own right. This title gives her that window and the result is instantly positive.
I somewhat marvel (pardon the pun) at the extent to which Gamora as a character has been transformed from the character I first knew as a kid, reading the old Warlock & the Infinity Watch comics. She had a very different look back then (which we can probably describe a soft-porn), but was still a witty, entertaining character. I prefer her now though, of course – bad-ass, high-profile and no longer objectified.
I think the same is true for a number of characters, most prominently Carol Danvers, who – twenty years or so ago – was a character in total obscurity in the Marvel Universe (and who, coincidentally, also went through her soft-porn outfit phases), but is now one of the most prominent and celebrated characters in the MU.
If there’s a slight weakness here, it’s that some of the Gamora/Nebula bickering and bitterness gets a little old-hat quite quickly. Likewise, some of Thanos’s belittling of Nebula is overdone – we all get the dynamics here already and it doesn’t need to be hammered home so frequently. I also generally stopped seeing Thanos as an interesting villain a very long time ago, so some of this falls a touch flat.
Nevertheless, following Gamora’s adventure is interesting enough to compensate for that (I also think we’re overdue a Nebula solo title). And it is presented to us in such style and with such overall quality that it is difficult to complain.
Gamora #2 gives us a proper Gamora solo adventure, minus Nebula and Thanos.
The dynamics are perhaps less interesting, but the story is a good one, showcasing Gamora’s true potential as a character that can carry a solo book. The story has Gamora on Ubliex, trying to locate the lost half-breed Badoon princess, but running into trouble of her own on the planet. Some more terrific artwork with more outstanding color work (the opening space battle in particular is epic eye-candy) helps to raise the quality level of this story a little higher than it otherwise might be.
Gamora’s personal quest to locate and kill the princess (as the conclusion of her quest to eradicate the Badoon bloodline) is genuinely interesting, giving a lot of insight into her character and psychology (mostly via her inner monologues). What Gamora #2 and #3 also do well is to introduce us to the grown-up ‘princess’ and her own less-than-glamorous life situation on Ubliex.
Telling us some of ‘Lwit’s’ story parallel to Gamora’s situation makes this a much more interesting storyline than if it had just focused squarely on Gamora, allowing us of course to sympathise with the orphan and to be more invested in seeing whether Gamora kills or not.
Gamora #3 is particularly strong, with good and evocative storytelling and scene setting, enhanced by Marco Chechetto’s gripping art and Andres Mossa’s impressionistic colours.
Gamora #4 draws the apocalyptic situation on Ubliex to a climax, and again it all looks great and feels absorbing in visual terms.
In writing terms, #4 does a good job of keeping us guessing all the way through, in terms of how the Gamora/Lwit situation would resolve itself and whether Gamora would do what she had set out to do. That genuine suspense helps the book a lot, particularly as Gamora isn’t a classic ‘hero’ figure and could therefore go either way.
The momentum is strong with this title, and these first four instalments of Gamora provide plenty to chew on and enjoy. For anyone who hasn’t read any of it yet, I would highly recommend it – whether you’re a Gamora fan, a Guardians fan, or heck, even an olden-times Warlock & the Infinity Watch fan who wants to enjoy seeing Gamora on a solo adventure.
As I said, I’ve been enjoying this title a lot more than any of the other Guardians solo books – which is unexpected. Of all of them, this Gamora title is the only one I find myself wishing will carry on for a long time.