Guardians of the Galaxy: A Nerd’s guide for the uninitiated.

Note:  For a cut-out scorecard for the Uninitiated scroll down to the bottom.  Otherwise, read on!

Comic book movies make money, in most cases they make a lot of money.  We’re talking money of Uncle Scrooge McDuck proportions.  If you had the kind of money a comic book movie generates, you could swim around in a money bin full of gold coins.  You’d probably get pink eye though.  Who knows where that money has been?  Gross.

"I'm going to infect all of Duckburg with Pink eye!"

“I’m going to infect all of Duckburg with Pink eye!”

Now that Hollywood has been making so much money off of the comic book films, it makes sense that EVERY DAMN CHARACTER WILL GET THEIR OWN MOVIE!  Well, maybe not every character, but some titles and characters that are obscure to the average movie goer are going to find a home at the Box Office nearest you.  As far as movie rights, the Marvel characters are tied up in weird and somewhat unprecedented legal red tape that creates rather interesting situations. (Well interesting for I, the Nerd of Mass Distraction) You see, the film rights for the Marvel Characters aren’t all held by Marvel Studios (A branch of Disney, with some initial co-operation by Paramount Studios).  The rights to various Superheroes and their related characters are held by different studios.

20th Century Fox has the rights for:  All X-Men related characters (X-men, X-Force, X-Factor, X-Babies), The Silver Surfer, All Fantastic Four related Characters and Scarlet Witch and Quick Silver (They’re X-Men related, but remember their names because that’s where things get weird….)

Sony Pictures has the rights for:  Spider-Man and all Spider-Man related characters (Sinister Six, Morbius the living Vampire, Venom and Spider-Ham…oh, he’s real.)

Marvel Studios holds the rights to:  Well, everything else.  Any character not held by Fox or Sony is fair game for Marvel Studios.  Here comes the weird part….Since Marvel Studios holds the rights to the Avengers and Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver were in the Avengers in early issues of the comics, both Fox and Marvel hold the rights.  So that’s why we saw Quicksilver in X-Men Days of Future Past (Fox) and SPOILER>>>>>>>>>> That is why Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch were in the post credit scene of Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Marvel Studios).

While confusing, all of this film rights mess is actually a good thing.  If Marvel Studios had the rights to all of the big franchises like Spider-Man, X-Men and Fantastic Four, they would never make films about the more obscure characters like Ant-Man, Doctor Strange and the Guardians of the Galaxy.

For that, I am thankful for all the legal red tape because I have loved the Guardians of the Galaxy since I was a kid.  Although, that’s where things become a little confusing.  The Guardians that I used to read in the 90’s are very different from the Guardians of today.  In fact, there are actually three majorly different incarnations of the Guardians of the Galaxy.

The Future Guardians  

The Original team of Guardians of the Galaxy actually began way back in 1969 in Marvel Super-Heroes issue 18.  The book was essentially Marvel’s version of DC’s Legion of Super Heroes, the stories were set 1,000 years in the future.  The original stories featured:

Clockwise from the top: Major Victory (A time displaced human from the 20th century), Charlie-27 (A genetically engineered worker from Jupiter), Martinex (A crystal skinned warrior from Pluto), and Yondu (A blue skinned warrior from Alpha-centauri who is connected to nature....sounds like Avatar....hmmmm.), Nikki (A woman from Mercury with fire hair). and Star Hawk (The incarnation of a Hawk like cosmic deity)

Clockwise from the top: Major Victory (A time displaced human from the 20th century), Charlie-27 (A genetically engineered worker from Jupiter), Martinex (A crystal skinned warrior from Pluto), and Yondu (A blue skinned warrior from Alpha-centauri who is connected to nature….sounds like Avatar….hmmmm.), Nikki (A woman from Mercury with fire hair). and Star Hawk (The incarnation of a Hawk like cosmic deity)

The original team popped in and out of specials one shot books and sort of faded into obscurity.  They did not get their own book  until 1990 when Writer/Artist Jim Valentino launched the first issue of Guardians of the Galaxy just 21 years after their debut.

My brother's trashed my original copy in the 90s...I bought a new one for $1 at Nostalgic Books and Comics in San Gabriel, CA....Thanks, Pete!

My brother’s trashed my original copy in the 90’s…I bought a new one at Nostalgic Books and Comics in San Gabriel, CA….Thanks, Pete!

I loved the 90’s book because it really embraced the roots of Marvel History.  Jim Valentino and crew seemed to have a lot of fun with the idea of these characters living in the future of the Marvel universe.  Major Victory used Captain America’s shield.  There was an alien version of Dr. Strange. Wolverine had feral, warrior descendant named Rancor who searched for his adamantium skeleton.  The Vision had evolved from an android to become Mainframe, a planet sized Artificial Intelligence.  Wonderman (Simon Williams) had become an immortal hero known as Hollywood and went on to form a spin-off team, the Galactic Guardians.  A cult of Punisher obsessed maniacs roam New York killing everyone in their path.  Perhaps one of the coolest homages in the 90’s book were the Stark, an alien race who worshiped Iron Man and Tony Stark.    The book went on for 62 issues and the characters pretty much vanished.

The Annihilation Wave Guardians       

In 2007 Marvel launched a sequel to their popular science fiction epic, Annihilation called Annihilation: Conquest.  The book created by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning gave us the new incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy.  This team was a ragtag group of cosmic heroes all brought together to defeat the threat of the Phalanx, an alien race of robot like beings whom assimilate organic life into cyber beings.  (Pretty much a rip off of the Borg from Star Trek: The Next Generation).  Unlike the original team, the adventures of this group were based in the contemporary Marvel Universe.  After defeating the Phalanx, Star Lord gathered the team together to create a force that stops threats before they even have a chance to start.  The book debuted in 2008.  This new team featured:

Clockwise from top: Adam Warlock, Quasar, Rocket Raccoon, Drax, Star-Lord, and Gamora.

Clockwise from top: Adam Warlock (originally Adam was a very Christ like cosmic protector…his creator Roy Thomas was inspired by the musical Jesus Christ: Superstar), Quasar (The female wielder of the cosmic powered Nega-bands), Rocket Raccoon (A gun toting alien who resembles an Earth Raccoon….his creator Bill Mantlo was inspired by the Beatles song, Rocky Raccoon.), Drax (A once human man who was ressurected by aliens to become an unstoppable killing machine against the evil Thanos), Star-Lord (The half human son of an alien prince), and Gamora (The assassin step daughter of Thanos). Groot, the living tree like alien who can only say his own name is not pictured.

The stories were very fun, cosmic tales about a team of losers who shouldn’t even be working together.  The team dynamic was fun and structured very well.  Rocket Raccoon was the wisecracking wacky guy, Groot was the strong silent type (And sort of served as Rocket’s closest friend, he kept him in a flower pot for a portion of the story) Drax and Gamora were the distant warriors who were trying to reconnect with their all but lost compassionate sides, Adam Warlock was the world (Universe) weary traveler who was sort of crotchety and upset that not everyone knew as much as he did, Quasar was the fresh hero who was trying to live up to the legacy of her slain predecessor and Star Lord was the reluctant leader trying to bring all of these unstable forces together for the greater good.   The stories had a military vibe to them and read like a cosmic version of Kelly’s Heroes.

 

Well....without Don Rickles  as a talking Raccoon...

Well….without Don Rickles as a talking Raccoon…

 

The book went on for 25 issues and actually inspired Marvel Studios to get the production rolling for a film version.  As the film was being produced, Marvel had a problem…there was not a Guardians of the Galaxy comic on the shelves to amp up publicity for the movie.  So, Brian Michael Bendis and Steve Mcniven launched a third volume.

Marvel Now! Guardians         

As part of the Marvel Now! relaunch of books (Marvel took almost all their comics, canceled the current runs and re-launched every issue as a new #1 ) the newest incarnation of the Guardians pretty much featured the movie line up of Star-Lord, Rocket Raccoon, Drax, Gamora, and Groot.  While the new book is still a pretty good and enjoyable read, it is pretty much just a tie in for the movie, existing to build early interest in the movie.

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And now a quick scorecard for the uninitiated (Print this, cut it out and bring it to the movie):  

AHHH! There's so much information! MY HEAD IS GOING TO EXPLODE!!!!

AHHH! There’s so much information! MY HEAD IS GOING TO EXPLODE!!!!

 

The Good Guys:

Star Lord/Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldona), Rocket Raccoon (Voice of Bradley Cooper), Groot (Voice of Vin Diesel), Drax (Dave Bautista)

The Bad Guys:

Ronan The Accuser (Lee Pace):  The deadly, near indestructible enforcer for the Kree Alien race.

ronanblend

 

Thanos (Josh Brolin):  An alien being from Titan whom is obsessed with death and seeks to destroy half the universe…you may recognize him from the end of the Avengers movie where he flashes a terrifying smile of evil.

thanosblend

 

Yondu (Michael Rooker):  One of the original Guardians of the Galaxy in the comic books, this version of Yondu is more of a greedy, manipulative bounty hunter.  He is more of an Anti-hero and may actually be on the side of good in the end.

The last guy who made a smurf joke got kicked in the face....

The last guy who made a smurf joke got kicked in the face….

Nebula (Karen Gillian):  The cosmic powered step-daugher of Thanos.

nebulablend

 

The others:  

Nova Corp:  A military organization that polices the galaxy, using Nova officers such as Corpsman Dey (John C. Reilly) and Nova Prime (Glenn Close).  In the comics, Corpsman Dey comes to Earth and trains Richard Ryder, a young man who eventually becomes Earth’s Nova. Richard Ryder is rumored to play a role in the movie, at least in a cameo.    Look for the Nova Corp to play a big part in this and future movies.

Quasar:  The female version of Quasar was a member of the 2nd incarnation of the comic book guardians and there is a rumor that her predecessor, Shield Agent Wendel Vaughn will play a role in the Marvel Movies.  Perhaps he will have a cameo here….

The Collector (Benicio Del Toro):  A strange alien who is collecting powerful cosmic artifacts.  He was featured at the end of the Thor: The Dark World film.  In that movie, the Collector comments on gathering “Infinity stones”.  In the comics, Thanos gathers infinity gems and uses them to power the infinity gauntlet which he uses to wipe out half the universe.

The Kree:  A race of technologically advanced warrior aliens, the Kree have a strange hierarchy led by the Supreme Intelligence, a giant green alien head floating in a massive tank.  The super hero Captain Mar-Vel was a former Kree warrior turned protector of Earth.  He would later empower Carol Danvers who would become Ms. Marvel.

The Knowhere:  A strange massive headquarters for the Guardians of the Galaxy that is in the nexus of multiple realities.  The headquarters is more than a space station it is actually the giant head of a dead cosmic being called a Celestial.  It is rumored that the Knowhere will be featured in the film.

"I'm going to need a lot of Visine to flush that space ship out of my eye...."

“I’m going to need a lot of Visine to flush that space ship out of my eye….”

Not only did I get my head chopped off but now people are livin' in it?  What a revoltin' development.

Not only did I get my head chopped off but now people are livin’ in it? What a revoltin’ development.

Howard the Duck:  There is a rumor going around that the humanoid Duck from another universe is going to have a cameo.  While the Howard the Duck movie is universally hated….I really liked it when it came out.  I was just a kid though when I last saw it.  I opened with Scrooge and I am closing with Howard….

This is from the climactic Rocket vs. Howard shoot out scene.....or maybe not...

This is from the climactic Rocket vs. Howard shoot out scene…..or maybe not…

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As you can see, the Guardians have a really rich history and this movie could draw on that and either be really great….or it could forsake its comic book roots and just be terrible.  From everything we’ve seen, it looks to be a fun homage to the comics.  I’ll give a review when I watch the film tomorrow.  Let me know what you think.

Pop back in for more nerdy fun.

 

 

 

 

Waiting on the front porch

 In Northern California, back when I was a kid, there was a major upsurge in child abductions.  Kids would be walking home from school and just never make it home. I remember vividly watching the news and seeing the pain in the eyes of tortured parents who have been waiting for their kids to come home.  I just imagined these poor parents sitting on their front porch, or their stoop and their just looking out toward the horizon, praying that their children will be walking down the driveway, laughing and brimming with life.
Today, my heart aches for those parents even stronger then before.  A week ago, my wife Mercedes and I were expecting a new life.  A new addition to our wonderful, crazy, wonderfully crazy family.  Excitedly, I told a lot of our friends and family, beating Mercy to the punch in some instances.  We were both very happy, but something felt off.  There was just this overall sense that something was missing, like there was a piece of the puzzle just out of reach.   When you have a feeling like that, you just tell yourself that you’re exaggerating or being a worry wort and you stuff it into the back of your mind and forget all about it.  That feeling was still there, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to think about it, let alone really talk about it.
We talked about names, gender, rearranging the house, rearranging our lives and the fact that we could be insane for wanting another child….you know, all of the usual stuff associated with having babies.  I started a blog post called “Baby:  The sequel”.  Here’s what I had so far:

If having a baby was a movie, it would most certainly have to be a Michael Bay movie.  Yeah, I know, we all want to think having a baby is really sweet and nostalgic like a John Hughes film.  Two incredibly witty, incredibly photogenic people (That’s Mercy and I in a nutshell) meet up.  There’s friction at first, they eventually fall in love and have a baby and there’s wacky hijinks with kooky parents and goofy doctors and maybe some kind of rush to the hospital with Martin Short as a Russian cab driver….that’s what we all want anyway.  What we get is explosions, crazy off the wall characters and a bunch of stuff that just doesn’t make any sense at all.  Ok, the explosions are usually emotional (until the baby arrives, then they are scatological.) My wife and I went through our first action movie….”Baby:  The reckoning”.  It was a wild ride with German doctors (Think Hans Gruber, but really nice and really old.), ticking time bombs (Never deprive a pregnant woman of her breakfast burrito.), and gnarly scars (Have you ever seen a C-section? Rambo couldn’t even handle that…not even Rambo.)  Now we are about to have the sequel…”Baby 2:  Probably another girl…sorry dad.”  Why would anyone put themselves through the craziness again?  Well, we love each other very much, we love our children and we are clinically insane.  We must be right?  And the girl thing isn’t a joke, I want a boy….yet I know this is going to be a girl.  Which  means I am going to have to pay for a lot of weddings in the future.  Does anyone have four more job openings for me, I’ll need some more cash flow.

I didn’t expand on it and I didn’t post it.  I wanted to, yet that nagging feeling kept bothering me.  I decided to wait until we had the first ultrasound.  I was going to post the ultrasound picture, just like I had done with Luna.   A few days passed after we first learned we were expecting and my wife and I kept talking about names.  If it was a boy we would go with Delbert, my late Grandfather’s name, or Bowie (after David Bowie) or Ryan (I was against that one, that was all Mercy’s idea)….or this or that….the boy name was always up in the air.  Mercy knew we were going to have a girl and as much as I joked and protested that we had too much estrogen in the household already, so did I.  This baby was going to be a girl, we both knew it.  Mercy didn’t have too many candidates for a girl’s name.  She loved the name Cielo.  We both did.  It was so natural.  We have a Luna and we would have a baby Cielo.  The Moon and Heaven.

Unfortunatly, the ultrasound we were waiting for never came.  On Monday, 7/21/14 Mercy lost the baby.  I struggle to find words to describe either of our emotions right now.  Sad would be an understatement. Mercy is naturally saddened and shaken, but not devastated.  She is the strongest woman I have ever known in my life.   I wish I had her strength.  All I can do is hug her.  When the time is right and I see that glint in her eye, I will try to make her smile, maybe even laugh.  For now, hugs are good and tears are natural.
We have God in our lives and in our hearts and we both know that this little life that has slipped from our grasp is not lost.  She is with God.  Our Cielo is in Heaven where she belongs.  And while it is a different type of loss, I still feel and relate to those ever waiting parents.  In this case, know Cielo is in Heaven waiting with God for Mommy and Daddy to come home.