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When We First Met – The Cast of Guardians of the Galaxy

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In this feature we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore. Not major stuff like “the first appearance of Superman,” but rather, “the first time someone said, ‘Avengers Assemble!'” or “the first appearance of Batman’s giant penny” or “the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth” or “the first time Spider-Man’s face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter.” Stuff like that. Here is an archive of all the When We First Met features so far! Check ‘em out!

With the release of the film, I thought it’d be a good idea to revisit the original piece I did on the current Guardians of the Galaxy and expand it to feature ALL of the Marvel characters appearing in the movie, not just the Guardians themselves.

Before getting to the new characters, though, we will look at the main team, the Guardians of the Galaxy.

First up is the leader of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Peter Quill, Star-Lord. Star-Lord made his debut in 1975’s Marvel Preview #4 by writer Steve Englehart and artist Steve Gan.

The concept of the character is that a young man was born on a day that all of the planets were aligned. His father felt that he was not his own son so tried to kill him as an infant, but instead died of a heart attack before he could kill his boy. The boy’s mother was then killed by aliens visiting the Earth. Young Peter vowed revenge and dedicated his life to destroying the aliens who killed his mother. He became an astronaut and when a mysterious figure offered to give an Earthling the role of a Star-Lord (a sort of cosmic cop), Peter sort of went nuts and stole the opportunity away from another. He then met the mysterious and powerful Master of the Sun…

Next up is Drax the Destroyer. He made his debut in 1972’s Iron Man #55 (by Jim Starlin)…

The same issue also introduced Thanos…

Next up is Gamora. She made her debut in 1975’s Strange Tales #180 (by Jim Starlin), where she met Warlock’s ally, Pip the Troll…

In the following issue, we learn her name and her famous tagline…

Go to the next page for the debuts of Groot and Rocket Raccoon!

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The trailer looked cool and fun, but the curmudgeon in me couldn’t shake the feeling that it’s not the “true” Guardians of the Galaxy without my favourite member, Yondu.

And now I find out he’s in it! Cool!

(although it’s still not the “true” team without Charlie-27, Martinex, Starhawk, and Nikki)

Having never read Iron Man #55, I had not until now realized that Jim Starlin intended everyone on Titan to have purple skin and look not-quite-human. That goes some ways towards explaining why Thanos is big and purple and has a bumpy chin. He originally wasn’t supposed to be all that odd compared to the rest of the Titans. I guess after Mentor, Eros and the rest were later drawn to look much more human, Marvel had to come up with a reason why Thanos looked unusual. That must have been when someone or another decided to tie the Titans to Jack Kirby’s Eternals, and say that Thanos was a Deviant. None of that, of course, would have been in Starlin’s back-story, since Iron Man #55 was published several years before Kirby even created the Eternals and Deviants.

The purple skin on Mentor and Eros (a.k.a. Starfox) may have been a coloring mistake.
Ronan’s pink skin in FF #55 was definitely an error. He was supposed to have been blue-skinned.

Drax, Thanos, Starfox & Mentor all introduced in a Starlin fill-in issue. This would have to be the most successful fill-in of all time in comics.

It’s sort of surreal to see major Oscar-level actors like Glenn Close and John C. Reilly playing obscure cosmic characters from the Marvel Universe.

Not that I am complaining!

A few thoughts..

The drink Pip orders at the bar is a shit stinger (merde, french word).

Can Groot (overlord of all timber in the galaxy!) still control trees?

Prince Wayfinder was one of Mantlo’s pet characters. He later appeared in color and a whole different look, as an Earth prince with a singing sword, fleeing demons into a pocket dimension he created, called the Microverse, in early issues of the Micronauts comic. This origin of the Microverse was later replaced in vol. 2 with the Makers.

Hahaha, Cockroach Man! That’s a pretty narrow beam.

So, Yondu was originally conceived as a Mohawk Indian from space?!? Wow.

rockgolf:”Ronan’s pink skin in FF #55 was definitely an error. He was supposed to have been blue-skinned.”

Was it an error at the time? Wasn’t FF 55 the first time that we saw a Kree (Sentries don’t count)? When did we first see a blue Kree?

RE: Thanos in IRON MAN 55,

Interesting to see how much smaller he was then. At that point, he was still a normal size humanoid, not the superhumanly brawny specimen that he later became.

Marlowe –

A similar process can be seen with Thanos’s inspiration, Darkseid.

In the original Jack Kirby stories, he is almost the same height and build as the other characters.

When did we first see a blue Kree?

Not sure, but the first appearance of Captain Marvel (Marvel Super-Heroes #12, only a few issues before Guardians debut) would seem a likely candidate.
I vaguely remember a subplot the minority pink-skinned Kree being considered inferior to the blue-skinned Kree.

Thank you for the reminder of the time when Monica Rambeau was the SECRET identity of Captain Marvel.
I enjoyed that era a lot! Captain Mar-vell was resting easy.
It is sad that, like John Buscema, that era passed away. To me, it was marvelous.

I also never got to learn if Zorr was Thanos’ biological son since Nebula claims to be Thanos’ grand-daughter and thus Eros’ grand-niece. Maybe someday. After all, after 20 years Peter David revealed the connection between the characters Longshot and Gaveedra-7, so fingers crossed.

What makes the character Irani Rael’s helmet design awful is that it does not cover her eyes and nose.
The character Carol Danvers’ helmet DOES have that BUT is cracked on top.
If these two would take something from each others helmet designs the result would be a PERFECT helmet.
To me, the costume design of Irani Rael is far better than that of Carol Davers.
I especially like the golden stripe around her waist which runs down the outer sides of her legs and wraps ABOVE her calves.

RockGolf:”When did we first see a blue Kree?

Not sure, but the first appearance of Captain Marvel (Marvel Super-Heroes #12, only a few issues before Guardians debut) would seem a likely candidate.
I vaguely remember a subplot the minority pink-skinned Kree being considered inferior to the blue-skinned Kree.”

I could be wrong, but I think that only pink Kree appeared in MARVEL SUPER-HEROES 12.

About the blue kree…
It wasn’t until Captain Marvel #16 that we saw that Ronan and Zarek were blue and thought of the original blue
kree as superior to the pink kree.

Starlin also changed his mind about Drax, who was set up in Iron Man as Thanos’s fearsome, competent archfoe, but then proceeded to do little other than get outmaneuvered or have his tail kicked by Thanos in every following 1970s story. And then, in the 1990s, he came back as the Savage Hulk.

Also, it’s worth noting that Kirby didn’t see the Kree as villains. In their debut story, they only clash with the FF after the FF destroy their Sentry robot, which is only there to guard their old outpost on Earth. They’re not on the heroes’ side, but they also aren’t out to conquer the known universe; rather, they regard the Earth as a useless backwater world.

In his “Tales of the Inhumans” backup series, Kirby treated the Kree as alien astronaut types who were neutral if not vaguely benevolent, more space gods than space Nazis. Really, a lot of the themes of the Eternals series are in Kirby’s Inhumans tales in a nascent form, just as they’re visible in the “Him” story in FF that introduced the future Adam Warlock.

It’s really the Captain Mar-Vell debut story that establishes the Kree as outright bad guys, mostly so Marv can be positioned as the noble exception to his people.

Jenos Idanian #13

May 21, 2014 at 6:24 pm

That art in Surfer 72 (MC Wyman and Tom Christopher, two artists I’ve never heard of before), has a real John Byrne feel to it.

They better be adding more to the mix ! Sorry this revamped team that nobody and I mean nobody is familiar with. I can show tons of marvel charterers from the 70’s slap them together as a Team in the 2000’s and than try to make people notice them as the Team people know but aren’t the same people makes for a confusion! Sure the trailer looks good and no doubt will be a fun romp but without knowing who these characters are may be the downfall of people going to watch this at the box office or even remotely tying it to the MARVEL movies!

No Vance Astro with his back history( New Warriors) plus using Caps Shield when he became Major Victory in honor of Steven Rogers whom gave him the shield before dying and in Honor of the mantle Cap America would have been the perfect tie in for the current Universe Disney/Marvel is unfolding !! So it makes no sense to me !!

Drew B you crack me up.

Travis Pelkie

May 21, 2014 at 10:07 pm

Holy crap, I think the first Nebula (Avengers 257) is a comic I picked up in a cheapo bin just yesterday! I’m rich! I’m rich!!!!

the guy from parks and recreations has gotten extremely buff!

Stephen Conway

May 22, 2014 at 6:21 am

James: I can’t recall the interview where he said it, but Pratt lost something like 50 pounds for the role. He was in pretty good shape in Zero Dark Thirty too.

Who is Steve Gan? That’s some nice Ditko-esque artwork from him.

Steve Gan was one of the many talented Filipino artists who began working in the American comic book biz in the mid-1970s…


One thing that’s not mentioned here which I’m wondering about: that original Groot comic is clearly just a standard pre-FF sci-fi monster story (with Groot getting killed off at the end no less). How’d he come back as a member of the modern Marvel universe?

Mr. Speck: Groot returned along with many other Kirby monsters in 2005’s Monsters on the Prowl one-shot, collected by the Collector. He then became part of Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos in the 2006 miniseries of the same name, then hooked up with Rocket Racoon & the others during the Annihilation event.

As for how he came back when he was dead, well, he only appeared to be dead. Hard to tell with those treefolk sometimes.


Prefer comic-based fishnet Gamora to janitor/jailbird Gamora. I think they didn’t include the dog either and I’m your sure pulling your hair out over it.

Great piece! You should add Drax’s backstory shown later in the run where Thanos kills his wife and mother (I think by accident) when he lands on Earth, and Kronos (I think) takes his angry spirit to fuel the Drax being with his spirit of vengeance.


It was Drax’s wife and daughter. On purpose. The wide died. The daughter, Heather, grew up to be Moondragon: Avenger, Defender, fellow Guardian.

What, no Cosmo?

Nebula wears heels and I defy any unisex conformist to tell me her femininity is somehow compromised by that.

Timothy Markin

August 4, 2014 at 6:00 pm

To say the current lineup isn’t the “true” Guardians in the comics because there’s no Yondu or Martinex is like saying its not the Avengers without Antman and Wasp. Hell, Cap isn’t even a charter member so you might as well say any Avengers roster with Cap can’t be the “true” Avengers. With a group that’s been around since 1969, and really, be honest, hasn’t had a major presence for years, why can’t you use the name, update the lineup and publish some great stories? (My god, those Guardians issues from the 90s are UN-freakin’-readable. I recently slogged through the first two Valentino issues and couldn’t wait to give them away! I am one to live in the past myself but the current Guardians are miles above that original Arnold Drake story. If we didn’t update our heroes sometimes, we might never have gotten Barry Allen, Hal Jordan, Ray Palmer, etc etc. (Or are those bad examples?)
Anyway, the Guardians movie with the new lineup was fantastic!! I couldn’t imagine an interesting two hours with Charlie-27 and Vance Astro, could you? Come on now!!

You forgot someone: the pink skinned girl who crawls out the bottom of Starlord’s ship in the beginning is named Bereet, who was an alien movie-maker from Krylor in Bill Mantlo’s Incredible Hulk in the 80s.
Granted, the only thing she has on common is the name and the pink skin, the comic version only had 3 fingers and a mohawk headpiece.

Mark J. Hayman

August 5, 2014 at 5:47 am

Nope, no doggy. Start the campaign for the sequel, today.
Say it with me, gang: Cos-MO! Cos-MO! Cos-MO! Da! Da! Da!

Mark: pay a little bit more attention when you watch the movie.

Mark J. Hayman

August 5, 2014 at 1:09 pm


Will do! Won’t be able to see it for some time, though. Nearest cinema to my lonely burg is more than a swallow’s flight away. (I’d gathered from reviews and other comments that our favourite Commie pup missed the cut; now I have something to which I can *really* look forward – apart from everything else.)

To say the current lineup isn’t the “true” Guardians in the comics because there’s no Yondu or Martinex is like saying its not the Avengers without Antman and Wasp.

Well, sort of. At least the Avengers has some continuity as a team, whereas the Guardians is a completely different team in a completely different time period that just happens to have the same name. It’s more like saying it’s not the Avengers if it doesn’t have John Steed.

Yeah, there are lots of different team changes that fall closer in the spectrum than the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy. The Defenders, the Thunderbolts, heck, the New Warriors and X-Men all had more complete remakes than the Avengers. Even the Avengers analogy should be “The New Avengers” or something. Closest comparison might be if the called L.E.G.I.O.N. the new Legion of Superheroes. And that one had a Dox in it at least.

Anyway, the Guardians movie with the new lineup was fantastic!! I couldn’t imagine an interesting two hours with Charlie-27 and Vance Astro, could you? Come on now!!

A year ago lots of people were saying they couldn’t imagine an interesting two hours with a talking raccoon and walking tree….

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