If you're expecting Guardians of the Galaxy to match the brilliance Brian Bendis is displaying in Uncanny X-Men and All New X-Men, prepare to be disappointed. Bendis's new series, featuring art from Steve McNiven, seems to be a standard, run of the mill superhero story with no intriguing hook or writing that separates it from the dozens of other superhero books on the market today.
The premise of the series is a simple one: Peter Quill's father, the ruler of the Spartoi Empire, and a consortium of other intergalactic rulers have declared the Earth to be off-limits from alien contact in order to give it time to develop into a planet that can legitimately participate in galactic matters. Of course, that means the Earth now has a giant target painted on it, forcing the Guardians of the Galaxy (and Iron Man!) to defend the planet from a Badoon attack.
Bendis's debut issue isn't bad by any means. After a lengthy conversation between Peter Quill and his father, the book launches into action and steers away from the talking heads problem that has plagued much of Bendis's work. The characterization isn't awful either, Bendis's Star-Lord is more serious than the much beloved DnA version, but still retains a little of his playful nature. The supporting cast hasn't been changed signficantly either. Drax still destroys, Gamora is still dangerous, and Groot and Rocket Racoon are still the most awesome partnership this side of Booster Gold and Blue Beetle.
However, while the comic isn't bad, I can't say it's a great one either. Compared to some of the other Marvel NOW! debut issues, such as Hickman's Avengers and New Avengers or Fraction's FF, there's nothing that really stands out about this comic either. Then again, I recall that All New X-Men and Uncanny X-Men both got off to slow starts under Bendis, and they quickly morphed into some of the best superhero comics on the stand.
Fans of the previous Guardians of the Galaxy series will probably dislike that the lingering questions leftover from The Thanos Imperative still haven't been answered. They'll also probably dislike the redesigns for many of the characters, which are pretty dull and uninspired compared to past iterations of the character. However, Steve McNiven's art is pretty gorgeous throughout the issue and almost make up for the pretty dull designs inflicted upon the characters.
Guardians of the Galaxy could develop into a great comic book series in the mold of Bendis's work on his X-Men series. Or it could quickly devolve into one of Bendis's Avengers books, a safe superhero book with broadcasted plot twists and uninspired writing. After reading the first issue, the jury's still out. However, I don't think that'll be good enough for a lot of readers.