When last we left the Guardians, religion had basically screwed everything up (isn’t that always the case?). The future version of Ghost Rider had marked our intrepid heroes for termination, and what the Spirit of Vengeance wants, he usually gets. Before we get into all of that though we get two pages of backstory to bring us up to date on the goings-on of the Guardians, just in case you haven’t been paying attention for the last few issues.
With that out of the way it’s back to the action. By back to the action I mean that the Guardians are yet again severely overmatched. This is all obviously a huge misunderstanding as the Guardians are not the priests that Ghost Rider is looking for, but that doesn’t stop things from escalating. Eventually it’s Aleta to the rescue again as she separates Ghost Rider from the rest of the Guardians, just in time for the actual priests (priests with spaceships no less!) to surround the Guardians’ ship and threaten to blow them out of the sky. This actually convinces Ghost Rider that the Guardians were telling the truth and he leaves, trying to draw the priests away with him, which would allow the Guardians to escape. Of course, no one really follows Ghost Rider (the guy they were looking for in the first place) and instead decides to stay around and destroy the Guardians for harboring a terrorist.
In order to avoid being blown to smithereens, the Guardians call on Replica to plead with the boss of the Universal Church of Truth for their lives. The thinking is that she should be able to reason with him because she is a member of his religion. I just want to take a second to comment on the leader of the church’s appearance. Actually, instead, I’ll just show you a picture of him and let you make your own joke.
Okay, feel better? The leader decides to bring the Guardians to his planet in order to interrogate them. Before we can get to that, we get a quick stop in with Force and Malevolence who are now in official team-up mode (we’ll get back to them next issue). Onto the planet, where the Guardians are supposed to answer for their crimes but instead just start fighting even though they are severely outnumbered. Charlie, Nikki and Martinex hold them off while Vance and Yondu run to see if they can find Ghost Rider. Once the three have been captured and taken away to have their souls “saved” the leader questions Replica about the Guardians’ star emblem (the thing that makes them teleport back to their ship and communicate). She says they are purely ornamental, committing the mortal sin of lying to the leader of the religion. Valentino does a decent job of showing her struggle with the emotions as she is slowly coming to grips with the fact that the religion she follows so devoutly is a bunch of murderers and zealots.
Vance and Yondu decide that now is a great time to get a beer and wander into one of the local bars in town. Vance claims that he is looking into gauging the locals, which would be fine if his teammates weren’t currently locked up by religious zealots. Oh Vance, that’s never what Cap would do.
We make a quick detour to Aleta, who is out in space to rescue Starhawk (who is currently floating on a meteor). Starhawk takes this opportunity to try and reabsorb Aleta (which has some pretty creepy rape-connotations to it, far more than you would expect in a 90’s comic about guys with giant ray guns). Aleta pushes him away and then encases him in one of her light-bubbles so that he can’t get to her while she flies to the homeworld because there are prophecies about to come true (more on that next issue).
Now we’re back on the planet, where the Guardians are being downright tortured by the church because they are non-believers. This is all based on Jim Starlin’s work in his old Warlock books and it’s pretty damn spot on to a lot of the worst aspects of some religions both past and present. I won’t get into a philosophical discussion about religion with you, because I wholeheartedly do not care what your religious views are (as it should be) but I hope for your soul that you are part of one of the good ones that Ghost Rider approves of.
Speaking of Ghost Rider, he actually shows up and kills a couple priests (after they kill some civilians) which Vance calls him out on. This guy that not only is trying to save his life, but that of his friends is getting a stern talking to by Vance. Unfortunately, that’s probably exactly what Captain America would do.
We are back in the cell now, where the leader bursts through the door to set the Guardians free, stating that they have been saved. Except, it’s not the leader, it’s Replica doing her replica-thing. We find this out because the real leader just happens to come through the door at that moment. Replica gives the Guardians their stars so they can teleport away, just as Ghost Rider comes in and stabs the leader with his flying flaming motorcycle. We’re back on the spaceship and Aleta tells the Guardians what their next mission is. It involves getting to Homeworld because she is now “the one who knows”.
Next: We take a trip back in time with the Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1 before returning to the regularly series in two weeks.