Against all odds, Bendis manages to move the Guardians to a new status quo just in time for "Secret Wars." Although he does it just in this issue, it really works in a way that feels organic and not like he's rushing to meet the deadline imposed on him by the editorial staff.
Kindun the Living Planet attacks Spartax because he followed the intergalactic news coverage of the Guardians' arrival there and he apparently hates Gamora. (If we could've used any more details here, it would've been a little background on Kindun, since I didn't recognize him at all.) Gamora convinces him to leave Spartax, but she also realizes that she has to leave the Guardians to take out Thanos, since she'll continue to put them at risk until she convinces the galaxy that she isn't his Thanos' loyal daughter. (Peter and Rocket have a hilarious bit about how putting each other in danger is their "thing.")
Although it happens quickly, Bendis really manages to convey a lot of emotion here. For example, I choked up a bit when Gamora told Peter that she couldn't imagine having to tell Groot that she was leaving. Plus, I though that Kitty's response was really excellent. She comforts a distraught Peter by telling him that the X-Men often had members leave to address personal problems; it's the nature of the game. In a way, she's telling Peter that he has to acknowledge that the Guardians have become something more than they were, no longer just a band of misfits that found each other. Along those lines, Peter now just has to decide if he wants to be President of Spartax...
As should become clear from the last few reviews that I've posted, this issue is just one of many that involves the authors preparing for the coming of "Secret Wars." The quality of those stories have varied, with some authors doing a better job of clearing the decks than others. (You really have to wonder how much notice they were given.) However, it's clear how little we know about the future of all these series, once "Secret Wars" ends. Although Bendis does a great job here, the fact that none of these moments -- Gamora's heartfelt farewell or Peter's ongoing indecision -- might matter when the dust settles certainly reduces their impact. It's hard to get too sad when it seems just as likely that Gamora will be on the team, with no explanation, after the event ends.
If nothing else, I hope Marvel commits to putting these sorts of cross-over events on hiatus for a while to let us get used to whatever new status quo we're going to face. I'm certainly tired of investing in stories only to find an author forced to compress three issues into one to meet some sort of hastily announced deadline. Again, Bendis does a great job with what he has here, but you have to wonder what he could've done otherwise. The motto really has to be, "Let the authors tell the stories." One day, hopefully that'll be true.
*** (three of five stars)