This week, the breakout character of the current Guardians of the Galaxy series takes the spotlight as the complete and unabridged secret origin of the Prince of Power is revealed! What secrets hide behind the hero’s spectacular smile? And how do they relate to the ongoing “Infinite Destinies” storyline?
We’ve got a review of Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1, plus your regular Rapid Rundown of other big new Marvel releases, all ahead in this week’s installment of The Marvel Rundown!
Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1
Writer: Al Ewing
Color Artist: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Backup Story Writer: Jed MacKay
Backup Story Artist: Juan Ferreyra
Backup Story Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Mike McKone & Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Writer Al Ewing has put the Guardians of the Galaxy through their paces since taking over writing their ongoing series in 2020. The team has squared off against the gods of Olympus, been separated and reunited, dealt with economic and social upheaval, faced a symbiote invasion, and named themselves the superhero protectors of space. The team has also expanded quite a bit, with multiple Quasars, Marvel Boy, Hercules, and even Doctor Doom having joined the team.
One of the most fun new additions has also been an outright new addition to the Marvel universe: the Prince of Power, a blustering blowhard who annoys the team as much as he assists them. While some info about the Prince of Power (whose real name is simply ‘Otherone’) has been teased since his first appearance, this week’s Guardians of the Galaxy Annual presents readers with the character’s complete and unabridged secret origin — as he tells it, anyway.
And what an origin it is. I would hate to reveal too many details of Otherone’s background because they’re such a joy to discover for yourself. Ewing’s script is sharp and, frankly, hysterically funny, as he plays with and twists familiar genre conventions in delightful ways. The timing of this issue’s release so soon after the return of a certain beloved ‘80s cartoon series is serendipitous as well, as much of the issue’s humor comes from its pastiche of that show and its trappings. Even without being familiar with those references, though, this issue is sure to elicit more than a few laughs.
Far from being entirely a comedy, though, Ewing imbues the Prince of Power’s origin with some hefty pathos, making the character more relatable to readers than he’s ever been before. It’s the sort of unexpected depth that it didn’t even really feel necessary to give the character, but that adds a lot to Otherone and what we’ve seen of him in the past.
Artists Flaviano and Rachelle Rosenberg do a wonderful job with the visuals on this issue. The Prince of Power’s origin is presented as a story told by Otherone to Hercules during a massive bar fight, and the subtle shifts in visual style between present-day and flashback are beautifully-executed in a way that enhances the reading experience greatly. The visuals of the flashbacks also nicely riff on the look and feel of the aforementioned ‘80s cartoon, while at the same time feeling like an opportunity for both artists to cut loose and create some truly hilarious images.
It’s here that I have to confess that, while I’m a regular GotG reader, I’ve not been following all of the “Infinite Destinies” annuals, so I was a little concerned coming into this issue that I might be confused about what was going on. Thankfully this annual is entirely accessible and entirely standalone, with the only real links to the overall annual theme being the presence of an Infinity Gem in the Prince of Power’s origin and, more directly, the “Infinite Fury” backup story from Jed MacKay and Juan Ferreyra. Those five pages, part six of the eight-part story, feature a script from MacKay that’s impressive in its accessibility as well, and beautiful art from Ferreyra. Frankly they’re enough to make me want to go back and check out the preceding five parts (which, considering my already-too-large ‘to read’ pile, is saying something).
Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1 is a wildly entertaining comic, playing up the pre-existing strengths (no pun intended) of the Prince of Power while adding depth to a character who might otherwise have remained one-note comic relief. There’ve been a lot of big, sweeping things going on on the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe of late, and this annual is a nice chance to step back from that and just have some fun, which Ewing, Flaviano, Rosenberg, and Petit deliver on exceptionally.
Final Verdict: Buy.
- It’s the Avengers’ turn. Following the Winter Guard’s efficient and brutal attack on Avengers Mountain, a stealth mission is enacted to bring She-Hulk back home. This was a propulsive and fun issue, with frankly unusually high stakes and tension. I really haven’t seen the Avengers operate as a team in this manner before; more surgical than bombastic. It’s a fun change of pace for what is traditionally an action book. This is shaping up so far to be the best arc of the series yet… forty-seven issues in. —HW
Deadpool: Black, White, & Blood #1
- Deadpool joins Carnage and Wolverine in the ranks of characters featured in this intentionally extra-bloody anthology format. Naturally, your mileage may vary on each of the three comics, but a sequel to 2015’s All-New Wolverine #31 is enough to sell me on this issue alone (and the inclusion of Tom Taylor’s Twitter profile image next to his editorial note was a nice touch). All three stories stay just this side of Gwenpool on the Mighty Marvel MetaScale – A.K.A. just where Wade Wilson belongs – with the final tale bringing it home by really leaning into the book’s defining color conceit. Plus, bonus points to whoever it was that figured out how to execute Deadpool’s dialogue bubbles in an issue that doesn’t use yellow ink! —AJK
Immortal Hulk #49
- Following up the main review of Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1, I picked another offering of Al Ewing for this week, the penultimate issue of what’s become an instant classic. This week’s Rundown might just be a love letter to Al Ewing because this issue was another gamma-charged masterpiece. The issue is told with only narration from the Hulk’s traveling companion, reporter Jackie McGee, and structured to give penciler Joe Bennett and inkers Ruy José & Belardino Brabo the space to do splash-like pages that highlight the beautiful monstrosity that has been the signature theme of this team’s run. Fully entrenched in the current happenings of the Marvel Universe, this issue is a great set-up for their final issue. —GC3
Next week, the Defenders return!