Released: July 3rd 2017
Issues: Guardians of the Galaxy 15-19
Out of the five issues in this volume, four (well, three and three quarters?) are more filler issues than ones lending to the main plot. Each filler issue seems to be set up for the eventual spin offs that are starting, or connect to another series in some way, shape, or form. As for the rest, reading Civil War II’s plotline would be helpful, but isn’t actually required (I think the author did a decent job of including vital information).
Side note: I don’t know why, but I swear this volume in particular has an extra fresh “inky” smell. Like, hot off the presses smell, even though I’ve owned it for a couple weeks. None of my other volumes smell like this. Has anyone else had this problem?
The backstory you really need to know from Civil War II is that the Guardians of the Galaxy got involved at the behest of Carol Danvers. They ended up losing their ship in the process. Additionally, Gamora learned that Thanos was being held prisoner somewhere on earth. Obviously she would love nothing more than to kill him, so she does everything in her power to get to him to do so. She also learns that Starlord knew about Thanos and was intentionally keeping that information from her.
Issue #15 is about Ben Grimm. He’s debating on whether or not he’ll be going back out into space with the rest of the Guardians (should they ever make their way back out there). The decision is sort of made for him, when Maria Hill approaches him with a job: Take Doom in, no matter the cost. This directly ties into the plot of Infamous Iron Man; where Doom is trying to rectify his past by taking up the Iron Man mantle while Tony is down for the count.
Issue #16 focuses on Groot, so naturally all of the story told is through narrative rather than hearing it from him (unless you’ve suddenly mastered understanding the nuances of “I am Groot”). His journey is mostly about him running around and making friends while simultaneously trying to help keep his new friends and earth safe. Rocket is seen in the background, usually annoyed or sleeping.
Issue #17 gives more detail to the Gamora conflict that was briefly touched upon during Civil War II. She’s actively hunting Thonos, as she believes he is still on earth. Even after being given the opportunity to leave earth (and informed that Thanos has left), she chooses not to take it, or to believe that Thanos isn’t still being held someplace. It turns out that she is wrong, and the end result is her being held prisoner instead (as those with authority on earth deem her too dangerous to be allowed to continue her rampage).
Issue #18 shows us one of the on again off again Guardians of the Galaxy, Angela. She’s searching for her love, Sera, whom she had suddenly left on earth. After being unable to find her (and absolutely freaking out about that fact), she comes across Maxlin the Accuser, a man that is hunting Gamora. Upon defeating him she’s given a bit of information that directly relates to issue #19, and ultimately allows her to save the day.
Issue #19 has Thanos leading an invasion against earth (I’m thinking he’s feeling a little bitter about the whole being defeated and held prisoner thing). Even with the usual defenders jumping up to help (Captain Marvel, the A Force – any earth based super hero team really), the Guardians are forced to help as well, as they need all the hands they can get. In the end the day is saved when Angela forces one of Thanos’ allies to betray him (and by that I mean she killed most of his allies forces).
Ultimately the Guardians got their hands on a new ship – one built/modified by Rocket. I’m not certain if it’s going to be their way off earth or not, but I imagine so. If that’s the case, you could really look at this whole volume as filler, as not much changed, other than possibly losing a few temporary members. Grimm is clearly leaving, as is Kitty Pride (it seems like she and Starlord are on the outs of that relationship). We’ll have to wait until the next volume to really see where it’s going next.