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"Guardians of the Galaxy" (2008) #1-25
Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Art by Paul Pelletier, Brad Walker, Wed Craig, et al.
As much as any of today's comic book movies stem from a definitive source material, this series from 2008 serves as the loose rulebook for "Guardians of the Galaxy." In it, Star-Lord's cobbled-together team of previously disparate cosmic misfits launch the Guardians brand into the modern era -- even though they're actually taking the name from a classic comic book set in the far-flung future.
Pros: If you want a crash course in Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon and Groot, then this series is your best bet. Not only do those five characters stand front and center in this run, they appear with the personalities most likely found in the upcoming film. And as much as the movie owes its humor to writer/director James Gunn, it also owes it to Abnett and Lanning's original comic book scripts, which are all packed with whip smart banter and self-deprecating heroics.
Cons: Remember that whole bit about this version of the team being the first in continuity to use the name, but the second in reality to use the name? Yeah, a few stories in this series dive deep into the Guardians' future/past, which might still be hard to follow even though the creative team try their hardest to make it all accessible. The series also stars a ton of characters who aren't in the film, meaning you'll run the risk of getting attached to Adam Warlock, Phyla-Vell, Mantis, Bug and Moondragon without the payoff of seeing them on the big screen.