Thursday, October 15, 2015

Comic Book review: Guardians of Knowhere

While the majority of the Battleworld series spun out of the thread that is Marvel’s 2015 Secret Wars remain largely self-contained narratives, Guardians of Knowhere ranks among the most limited in scale. Given the far-flung cosmic adventures typical of the Guardians of the Galaxy, it is initially a bit jarring for the story to adopt such a format, though understandably necessary, given the four-issue limit. Guardians of Knowhere is a strikingly appropriate title – while there are cosmically-supercharged showdowns afoot, they occur exclusively on the severed head of a Celestial known as Knowhere, which orbits Battleworld, and where the Guardians have made their base of operations. Nothing exists in the star-sprinkled skies beyond Knowhere – something which greatly disturbs Gamora.

Gamora is seemingly the only member of the Guardians that has any recollection of the world as it once was, before God Emperor Doom forged Battleworld from the remains of dozens of shattered realities. But her memories are similarly fragmented, and though she recalls names like ‘Groot’ and ‘Quill’, she has no faces to place with them, no context. Teaming up with Drax, Rocket, and Mantis, Gamora takes on some of Knowhere’s more ruthless scoundrels, adhering to no rules, only her incredible skills as a warrior. The Nova Corps, meanwhile, are a more by-the-books peacekeeping force, consisting of Nova, Captain Marvel, Adam Warlock, Iron Man, and Agent Venom, and often coming onto the scene to clean up after the guardians and take thieves and murderers into custody.

When Gamora’s questioning of the truths everyone else so easily buys into upsets Knowhere’s appointed Thor, Angela, Gamora is warned that what she speaks of goes against all that Doom has created, and is nothing shy of heresy. Still, Gamora insists that this reality around her is a façade, the memories of a time and place gone by haunting her so intensely. Sandwiching these standoffs between Gamora and Angela are two encounters with Guardians of Knowhere’s major villains – Yotat, and a second unnamed female alien. They are presented in strikingly different airs, with Yotat being some thug who ended up on the wrong side of a transaction now desiring revenge and subsequently bulking up, courtesy of spacey drugs and tech. The second alien foe is almost entirely shrouded in mystery – she is never given a name, and despite her stellar aesthetic and intimidating skill set, her motives are not made clear, either.

Of all the Battleworld storylines I’ve been exposed to, Guardians of Knowhere is the one most strangled by its own limited issue count. The series effectively paints two entirely unrelated encounters the Guardians have with threats to their home, but never really gives an indication of what the other Guardians are fighting for. Is it because their lives on Knowhere are all Drax, Rocket, and Mantis have ever known? Quite possibly, but they take a backseat to Gamora so frequently, it’s easy to completely forget their presence at times. Guardians of Knowhere is easily among the most visually-pleasing of all the Battleworld series. It’s just a shame that the narrative is largely nothing-achieving, with the last chapter feeling as though it were the first half of a two-part arc that was never finished.

My rating: 6.25 (out of 10)

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