'Guardians' cast members include (l-r) Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana and Chris Pratt, seen here in this photo taken Saturday, July 19.

Invision/AP photo

'Guardians' cast members include (l-r) Vin Diesel, Dave Bautista, Zoe Saldana and Chris Pratt, seen here in this photo taken Saturday, July 19.

Rhoades Review: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' are Marvel Universe's rascals

By Shirrel Rhoades

The Daily Advance

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I collect comic books. I have a tattered copy of Action Comics #1, gave my Amazing Spider-Man #1 to a college, have lots of others encased in plastic sleeves. Not so surprising, considering I used to be publisher of Marvel Comics.

Yes, I even have issues you’ll never see because they were pulled off the stands: “The Mission Impossible” comic that I recalled because Tom Cruise felt it made him look too gay. The comic I reprinted because some naughty inker slipped a racial pejorative into a speech balloon. The four prototype issues of “Marvel Kids” that were never published because the company was sold.

However, I don’t have a copy of Marvel Preview #11, the comics magazine that was pulled and reprinted because a famous sci-fi writer’s lawyers threatened to sue over a cover blurb touting “a novel-length science fiction spectacular in the tradition of Robert A. Heinlein.”

That so-described story featured a Marvel superhero known as Star-Lord. His alternate identity was Peter Quill, an interstellar rapscallion who becomes leader of a group of misfits known as Guardians of the Galaxy.

Marvel has had great success with its blockbuster movies featuring “Spider-Man,” “X-Men,” “Iron Man,” “Thor,” “Captain America,” et al. Now it’s digging deeper on its list of 5,000 characters, looking for new movie opportunities. The latest is “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Directed by James Gunn, it is the 10th installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” opens at Gateway Cinema, Friday.

In it, an American pilot named Peter Quill gets in a jam after stealing a mysterious orb. To avoid retribution from its owner, a Kree radical known as Ronan, Quill becomes the leader of a ragtag band of superheroes that aggrandize themselves as the Guardians of the Galaxy.

In addition to Quill (played by Chris Pratt), the group consists of a sexy green girl called Gamora (Zoe Saldana), a warrior known as Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), a tree-like humanoid designated as Groot (Vin Diesel), and a talking raccoon named Rocket (Bradley Cooper).

Chris Pratt describes his character like this: “He goes around space, making out with hot alien girls and just being a rogue and a bit of a jerk, and through teaming up with these guys, finds a higher purpose for himself.”

Original creator of the Star-Lord concept, Steve Englehart never got to fulfill his vision for the irascible, but cowardly superhero. “After his earthbound beginning, where I established him as an unpleasant, introverted jerk, I left Marvel, so no one ever saw what he was to become,” laments Englehart.

Fanboys like this funny, wisecracking Quill ... even if the character never evolved beyond that embryonic adolescent Star-lord.

srhoades@aol.com