Guardians of the Galaxy #18 Review

by Charles Martin on September 22, 2021

Guardians of the Galaxy #18 Review
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Juan Frigeri
Colourist: Federico Blee
Letterer: Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics

It's final showdown time here. It all comes down to Dr. Doom's magic and Rocket's love of big guns versus Dormammu-Ego, with a whole universe at stake.

It's always a pleasure to see the Guardians go big, and while they've gone bigger than this, you can count the instances on one hand -- probably without needing your thumb.

Except … 

Six issues back, we saw the Guardians face off against a more personal (yet still grandly cosmic) threat. They won the day there with skill, talent, snark, and a huge dose of mystic weirdness.

They pull off a similar trick here, and while there's still a fair degree of weirdness involved, somehow it all feels much more mundane. More conventional.

I think my tone makes it clear that I'm not in love with this finale. And I should emphasize the subjective nature of my reaction before I go any further. I bet many, possibly even most, readers appreciate the turn towards less-mystical adventures this last arc has presented. And it's not like this arc, with its higher-dimensional S.W.O.R.D. connection, has been weirdness-free.

Me, I loved the ineffable craziness Star-Lord dragged back with him after his sojourn in fantasyland.

It also doesn't help that even though his cosmic team-up buddy this time around is Ego the Living Planet, Dormammu's final form reminds me too much of the Dormammu-Galactus hybrid (Dormammalactus!) from Doctor Strange a few years back.

Anyways! Enough personal snark!

This issue's victory comes down to two big gambits. Dr. Doom brings the power of magic and Rocket brings the power of gun. Both are essential to the defeat of the villain.

And there is an ineffable third component, a little "power of love" that's vital to the win. It's tucked into narration almost as though the author feels guilty about it, but I appreciate that it's there. It's a solid echo of the previous arc.

The aftermath of the win obeys standard narrative tropes. There's a happy victory celebration for the heroes, but only after some villains get to foreshadow their future threats. 

Even if Al Ewing's plot is a bit paint-by-numbers, the script as a whole is highly satisfying. I'd ascribe this to Mr. Ewing's rock-solid command of his characters. Here at the end, every Guardian comes across as believable and fully endearing. 

This team has never been closer, and that closeness feels well-earned.

On the visual front, Juan Frigeri is good with character faces and costuming, but truly great with cosmic action. Both the crowded fight on Chitauri Prime and the spare showdown over Spartax look fantastic. Colourist Federico Blee helps it all along with high-octane colours that sell the cosmic scale of the action without obscuring any of the copious detail Mr. Frigeri has injected.

To revisit my obsessive comparison with #12, this issue's art is a little less daring than Jaunn Cabal's was there. But I'm not suggesting that that's a fault. The weirder story in the earlier issue justified Mr. Cabal's exotic layouts; for this more straightforward plot, Mr. Frigeri's clearer blocking works better than the alternative would.

Finally, I want to note that this issue posts some serious diversity points. In the end, a lot of the Guardians link up romantically in anticipation of a well-earned vacation on Mars. And the closest any of the matches gets to conventional heterosexuality is an MMF thruple. It's some solid representation, and none of the match-ups feel forced thanks to the consistent way the characters have developed throughout the series.

Guardians of the Galaxy #18 brings down the curtain with a satisfyingly dramatic win. But it turns out, this volume hit "peak mystic weirdness" back in the previous arc, and this one is much more straightforward. While the mundanity of this finale might disappoint a few strange-headed readers (like me), most will be entirely happy with this end. It still maintains the volume's impeccably high standards of verbal and visual craftsmanship, and it ties its main plot up neatly while throwing out a few solid sequel hooks.

Our Score:


A Look Inside


Charles Martin's picture
Richard Rider hits his recommended quota of 2 "Blue Blazes" in this comic. And I always appreciate a nod to the fact that Hercules is a reformed alcoholic.