First, Bendis does something that he actually hasn't managed to do in the regular series, namely assemble the entire team together. I can't remember a time when Carol and Flash fought with the core team of Drax, Gamora, Groot, Peter, and Rocket. Seeing them together in action for what feels like the first time makes this issue worth the price of admission from the start. Carol and Flash actually operate as somewhat distilled versions of the opposing sides of Peter's personality. Carol speaks to his adult side, giving him someone that can help on the strategy side. Flash represents his goofy side, all awkward and blundering into trouble. One of my complaints about Bendis' portrayal of Peter is that he's too often Flash and not enough Carol; it's like the character that we got to know in the fight against the Annihilation Wave ceased to exist. Bendis actually sold me on Carol being part of this group if only because she brings out the best in him.
But, beyond the team dynamic Bendis also tells an interesting story. I'm actually NOT going to spoil the surprise ending here, because Bendis pulled it off so brilliantly. He really takes care giving you clues that something is wrong as you move through the issue, and it's fun to try to puzzle out the answer with Carol and Peter. But, more than just being fun, it sets up the last page, where Carol confesses in her video message to Jessica Jones that she's worried that they're all just stuck in a terrible cycle of violence where their sacrifices just keep the world turning for ten more minutes. She realizes that it's only worthwhile if you have people around you that you love, like she had in the New Avengers. She worries that the Guardians aren't that for her, and we get some insight into the loneliness that she feels. The good news? Groot totally saves the day. Hugs for everyone!
I recommend this issue to anyone, even if you're not reading the Guardians regularly, because it's just a top-notch stand-alone story, the type of story that I wish we saw more often in the regular series themselves. Nice work, Mr. Bendis.
***** (five of five stars)