The Best Guardians of the Galaxy Comics to Grab Before Vol. 3
Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3 ends James Gunn’s saga. But it could just begin your collection!
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Twenty years ago, the idea of a Guardians of the Galaxy movie was absurd. The team was a ragtag bunch of weirdos, disconnected from the main Marvel Universe as it was set almost a thousand years in the future, with odd powers, strange enemies, and a vaguely sci-fi adventure milieu. But something flipped in 2006, kicking off a chain of events that concludes with the final chapter in arguably the most beloved individual franchise in the MCU: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
This shocking (and now ancient) turn of events can be traced from the comics through to the screen, and if you’re a collector, you’re just in time to pick up this history of the Guardians of the Galaxy!
Marvel Super-Heroes #18
In this 1969 book, by Arnold Drake and Gene Colan, a group of 31st century men – Vance Astro, a pilot from the modern age trapped for a thousand years in suspended animation; Charlie-27, a soldier genetically engineered to live in Jupiter’s gravity; Martinex, a silicon-based Pluto native; and Yondu, the only name you probably recognize, a Centauri who can control his arrow by whistling; team up to defeat an evil alien race who has taken control of Jupiter.
This is almost all gibberish to movie fans, and if you came to the Guardians after their 2006 comics relaunch, it’s very weird to you too. But this is the first appearance of the super-team; it looks great, and it’s beloved by collectors. Which is why it’s pretty pricey – you’re not going to find a copy in good condition for under $100.
Buy Marvel Super-Heroes #18 on eBay here.
Guardians of the Galaxy #1 (1990)
The team saw a burst of interest in the late 1980s, which led to Marvel putting one of their biggest artists on the book by himself: Jim Valentino. Valentino, who would leave a couple of years after launching Guardians to co-found Image Comics, brought what would come to be known as that Image Comics look and sensibility to the book. Introduced in this landmark first issue? Well, only the greatest Guardians villain of all time: Taserface.
Buy Guardians of the Galaxy #1 on eBay here.
Annihilation Conquest #6
Marvel Cosmic had some ups and downs through the ‘80s and ‘90s. Silver Surfer, Thanos, the Kree, and the Skrulls were all top-tier characters, but beyond them, the world wasn’t especially rich or widely beloved. That all changed in 2006, when a series of interlocking minis tied together by bookend issues pitted all of the space characters against a classic Fantastic Four villain. Annihilation relaunched Marvel Cosmic, and for a half a decade it was home to the absolute best comics Marvel was putting out.
The second series in that run – Annihilation: Conquest – followed a number of characters as the techno-alien Phalanx tried to swoop in and conquer the galaxy on the heels of the Annihilation Wave. The end of that series saw the birth of the new, modern Guardians of the Galaxy: Star Lord, Groot, Rocket Raccoon, Gamora, Drax, Adam Warlock, Mantis, and Phyla-Vell. If many of those names sound familiar to you, that’s because this book was the template for the movie series.
It’s an incredible comic run, and even though Annihilation: Conquest #6 is a little on the pricey side at $40 a pop, it’s still worth owning all of this in paper.
Buy Annihilation: Conquest #6 on eBay here.
Guardians of the Galaxy #1 (2020)
The most recent book to carry the Guardians name launched at the beginning of the decade. This one isn’t expensive and is probably a little bit too much of a deep cut to make waves cinematically, but it does feature our favorite movie Guardians, plus Noh-Varr (who may pop up in The Marvels or the long-expected Young Avengers), and Hercules (who you may recognize from the post-credits scene in Thor: Love and Thunder. Or, you know, ancient Greek myth or whatever). And it’s weird and smart and gorgeous: Al Ewing is one of the most brilliant writers in comics, and Juan Cabal is an exceptionally talented artist. You can and should grab this for cover price, but if you want something fancy, you can pay a premium for a beautiful variant cover.
Buy Guardians of the Galaxy #1 (2020) on eBay here.
Marvel Preview #7
There are two more stops on our Guardians of the Galaxy journey, though. First, we go back to 1976, when beloved Hulk writer Bill Mantlo and legendary writer/artist Keith Giffen decided to introduce a character based on a Beatles song. Rocket Raccoon joined the Marvel Universe in Marvel Preview #7, and as you might expect for the first appearance of a beloved character who is featured heavily in advertising for the new movie, this issue will cost you a fair bit. You can get a graded copy in good condition for a couple thousand, or an ungraded (or poor condition) one for a few hundred. Either way, this is expensive, but Rocket is loved for a reason.
Buy Marvel Preview #7 on eBay here.
The Mighty Thor #134
The main villain of Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3 is Herb Wyndham, an innocuous civilian name for one of the baddies with the deepest ties to most of the Marvel Universe. Wyndham is better known as the High Evolutionary, a genius geneticist with his fingers in just about every long running plot. He’s messed with Galactus, Ego the Living Planet, the Avengers, the X-Men, the Savage Land, the Silver Surfer, the Council of Reeds (it’s great), and maybe most significantly, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch (he’s the reason they’re not technically Magneto’s kids anymore in the comics).
Relevant to the Guardians, though, are his ties to Adam Warlock, who he adopted and supported following Adam’s first appearance, even going so far as to give Adam the Soul Gem. The Mighty Thor #134 is his first on-panel appearance, and it’s going for a lot of money right now: cheap copies will still run you over $100.
Buy The Mighty Thor #134 on eBay here.
Fantastic Four #66
Finally, in the pages of Lee and Kirby’s Fantastic Four came Him! A perfect being created by scientists who rebels against his creators and leaves Earth for space. Him! eventually turns into Warlock after an encounter with the High Evolutionary, and picks up the name Adam later still, giving us here, in the pages of a classic Lee/Kirby FF comic, the next big thing in the MCU.
This book isn’t cheap, but it’s also not terribly expensive considering it’s made by the greatest duo in Marvel history and features the origin of a hot new MCU character. It might be worth grabbing now for under $40
Buy Fantastic Four #66 on eBay here.
BONUS! Funko POP! Baby Rocket (Flocked)
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 tugs on your heartstrings in a way no Marvel Studios film has since Endgame. Baby Rocket is at the emotional center of that. This eBay x Funko exclusive captures Baby Rocket in all his adorable glory.
Grab your Baby Rocket (Flocked) eBay Exclusive Funko POP! here!