In advance of Brian Michael Bendis and Steve McNiven's new Guardians of the Galaxy title debuting later this month, Marvel Comics has launched a short series of prologues spotlighting each member of the spacefaring superteam. Written by Bendis and drawn by his longtime Powers and Takio collaborator Michael Avon Oeming, these four bi-weekly shorts will be available for free via the Marvel Comics app and ComiXology starting today, and were created for Marvel's Infinite Comics brand, which deals in comics created specifically for tablets and other digital devices.

Guardians of the Galaxy Infinite Comics spotlights four members of the cosmic team, whom I'd literally never read a comic about before. As Bendis told Entertainment Weekly, people like me are the direct target of this project, because in addition to making the upcoming Marvel comic book series palatable for new comic book readers there is also the challenge of acquainting audiences with the characters in advance of Marvel Studios' Guardians of the Galaxy film opening next year. Unlike the core Avengers cast and other iconic characters like Spider-Man and the X-Men, Drax (a brooding space warrior), Rocket Raccoon (a talking, gun-toting raccoon), Groot (a space tree), and Gamora (rebellious adopted daughter of a space tyrant) are completely unknown to even some longtime superhero fans, so there is a strong motivation to ready the broader public with the Guardians as best as possible.

The bi-weekly comic begins today with a story about Drax, who I learned is a brooding badass in the classic tradition, but whose life seems to be about drifting aimlessly from space bar to space bar and defeating all challengers to his physical prowess before human Star-Lord Peter Quill persuades Drax to put aside some unspecified friction between them and re-join the Guardians of the Galaxy and protect the Earth from some looming threat.

On its own merits this is a really well drawn action comic, with the always on-point Oeming fusing his cartoony style with some heavy Kirby design and Simonson flourishes. The fight really feels like it's going down in some interstellar dive bar, and I love that kind of thing. The Infinite Comics tech works well when it's being simple: advancing the reader from one image to the next. Even some of the panel overlapping stuff doesn't detract from the reading experience. Where things get a little awkward is when a tap reveals word balloons where there were none, which seems to be an attempt to simulate the flow of a real-life conversation. It's a small thing, but it feels unnatural and is something I see a lot with digital comics that try to play around with the form this way. Otherwise Bendis and Oeming seem to be in full command of the new medium they're working in, and this is a fun little read; definitely the sort of free, truly new-reader-friendly digital short that publishers like Marvel should be releasing regularly.

The four-part Guardians of the Galaxy Infinite Comics updates every two weeks in the Marvel Comics app and on ComiXology. Bendis and Steve McNiven's Guardians of the Galaxy #1 goes on sale March 27 in comics shops and digitally.

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