Fans have watched a few different versions of the Guardians of the Galaxy team form over the years in the comics. Various events have split up the Guardians over the years, which have led to the introduction of exciting new rosters that almost always include either Star-Lord or Rocket Raccoon.
New rosters are something teams like the Guardians and the Avengers deal with often, though some rosters definitely resonate more with fans than others. From the Guardians of the Galaxy’s beginning in the far future to the successful modern reimagining that inspired the hit MCU adaptation, Marvel’s cosmic heroes have continued to grow and change to better protect the universe.
Updated on May 9, 2023, by Scoot Allan: The release of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3 introduced a brand new roster of the titular cosmic team in the post-credits scene. The Guardians are not unaccustomed to dealing with roster changes, as the comic team recently underwent a shift in membership for the Grootfall comic event after a huge expansion that altered their status quo.
15 OG’s Of The Galaxy
First Appearance: Marvel Super-Heroes #18 (January 1969) by Arnold Drake and Gene Colan
The first appearance of the original Guardians of the Galaxy occurred in the pages of Marvel Super-Heroes #18, though they didn’t look much like the MCU version that most fans are used to seeing on the big screen. The very first Guardians actually formed in an alternate future, around the year 3000.
The initial line-up featured astronaut Vance Astro/Major Victory, who spent 1000 years in suspended animation only to wake in a future where the alien Badoon race is invading Earth’s solar system. Victory joined other survivors like Martinex from Pluto, Charlie-27 from Jupiter, and Yondu from Centauri-IV to fight against the Badoon as the powerful members of the original Guardians.
14 Galactic Guardians
First Appearance: Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #2 (May 1992) by Jim Valentino and Herb Trimpe
The Galactic Guardians was a spin-off team of the original Guardians organized by the original member Martinex. He felt that the Guardians would be better served with two teams as Major Victory and his squad focused more on Earth.
Martinex’s team included an array of cosmic heroes like Galactus’ former herald Firelord and Giraud/Phoenix IX, a human who had been chosen as a new host. The most interesting addition to the team was the hero known as Hollywood, who would be revealed as Simon Williams/Wonder Man. Simon’s ionic abilities prolonged his age and allowed him to survive far into the future.
13 Asgardians Of The Galaxy
First Appearance: Asgardians of the Galaxy #1 (November 2018) by Cullen Bunn and Matteo Lolli
The team of powerful Asgardians who formed during a time when the Guardians were inactive isn’t technically a roster of the team. However, they did form to fill the void left by the Guardians after events like Infinity Countdown and Infinity Wars tore the team apart.
New Marvel addition Angela led the Asgardians of the Galaxy which featured other Asgardian characters like Valkyrie (Brunnhilde), Thunderstrike, Throg the Frog of Thunder, Skurge the Executioner, and the Destroyer armor piloted by Kid Loki. The team was short-lived but fondly remembered by fans.
12 West Spiral Arm Guardians
First Appearance: Guardians of the Galaxy #3 (March 2020) by Al Ewing, Nina Vakueva, Chris Sprouse, Belén Ortega, and Juan Cabal
Nova tried to reassemble the Guardians to help him defeat the Dark Olympians, but only a handful of members secretly joined him. Star-Lord appeared to die in the confrontation, which led the surviving members to form a new faction that took mercenary jobs opposed to Nova’s official roster of the team.
Gamora, Drax, and Groot joined Moondragon, Blackjack O’Hare, and the Prince of Power as the West Spiral Arm Guardians. When Star-Lord returned and rejoined Nova’s team to fight the Dark Olympians, the West Spiral Arm Guardians rejoined with the main team to combine their power against a few evil Marvel gods.
11 Guardians 3000
First Appearance: Guardians of the Galaxy #1 (June 1990) by Jim Valentino
While modern-day fans know this team as the Guardians 3000, this roster represents the core group of heroes who would make up the original Guardians of the Galaxy in the future. This team would evolve from the four members of the OG’s of the Galaxy to include new members who were also fighting against the Badoon.
Long-time Guardians like Nikki Gold, Starhawk, and Aleta would join the team during these battles. The new core group starred in the first successful Guardians of the Galaxy comic series by Jim Valentino. However, a new timeline-twisting reboot reintroduced these classic characters into the new Marvel universe that had formed since their last appearances.
First Appearance: Thanos Imperative: Devastation #1 (January 2011) by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Miguel Sepulveda
The Annihilators were another team that wasn’t an official roster of the Guardians of the Galaxy. However, they were organized by the former Guardian and Knowehere Security Chief, Cosmo the Spacedog. He wanted them to carry on the battle started by his friend and leader Star-Lord, who had sacrificed himself during the battle with the Cancerverse in The Thanos Imperative.
Cosmo’s team called themselves the Annihilators after the first major events that brought the universe’s heroes together. The team featured cosmic heavy-hitters like Beta Ray Bill, Ronan the Accuser, Quasar (Wendell Vaughn), Gladiator, Ikon the SpaceKnight, and the Silver Surfer. The Annihilators were short-lived, though they helped keep the peace until the Guardians returned.
9 Annihilation’s United Front
First Appearance: Annihilation #1 (October 2006) by Keith Giffen and Andrea Di Vito
The modern-day team of Guardians had worked together prior to becoming an official team of heroes. They fought together during wartime as they formed with other galactic empires to defend themselves from a powerful invading fleet during Marvel’s unforgettable Annihilation event. Peter Quill was a reluctant member of the United Front alongside the last Nova, Richard Rider.
Nova and Quill led an army that included the reborn Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Ronan the Accuser, Silver Surfer, Super-Skrull, and a few other powerhouses against the Negative Zone’s Annihilus and his planet-devouring Annihilation Wave. This event would form strong bonds between members that would lead to the formation of the modern Guardians of the Galaxy.
8 Grootfall Guardians
First Appearance: Guardians of the Galaxy #1 (June 2023) by Collin Kelly, Jackson Lanzing, and Kev Walker
After the team reached a newly expanded roster while working with the Kree/Skrull Galactic Alliance, the Guardians of the Galaxy dealt with a tragic event known as Grootfall that greatly altered the team. Groot’s dark transformation into a planet-consuming threat brought the Guardians down to a new level as they fought to stop their former teammates’ ongoing downfall.
Star-Lord led the remaining members of the team, which included Gamora, Drax, Mantis, and Nebula. The stripped-down team featured new looks that doubled down on the space western premise of the team, though fans of the larger roster filled with fan-favorite characters from past runs weren’t happy to see the more movie-based line-up in Grootfall.
7 Star-Lord’s Final Gauntlet Team
First Appearance: Guardians of the Galaxy #1 (March 2019) by Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw
One of the more recent gatherings of the Guardians was formed mostly by chance, following an attack on a group of cosmic heroes by the Black Order. This attack left a number of heroes lost in a black hole and later captured by the Universal Church of Truth. Star-Lord and Groot happened to be flying nearby and saved a few heroes on their ship.
Star-Lord quickly formed them into a new team of Guardians that included Beta Ray Bill, Mondragon, Phyla-Vell, and Cosmic Ghost Rider who later betrayed the team. They fought to stop the Dark Guardians from killing Gamora, though a few members left the team after the encounter.
6 Dark Guardians
First Appearance: Guardians of the Galaxy #2 (April 2019) by Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw
Following the death of Thanos, his brother Eros/Starfox learned that his Black Order was trying to bring about his rebirth. Believing that Thanos’ adopted daughter Gamora was the most likely option as a host for Thanos’ spirit, Eros formed his own team of cosmic characters that became known as the Dark Guardians to take her down.
Cosmic Ghost Rider initially joined Star-Lord’s hastily assembled “Final Gauntlet” team, though he betrayed them to join Eros instead. Cosmic characters like NEbula and Wratih also joined the Dark Guardians, along with one of Marvel’s most powerful characters, Gladiator. The real Guardians defeated the Dark Guardians and saved Gamora.
5 Star-Lord’s Conquest Team
First Appearance: Annihilation: Conquest – Starlord #1 (September 2007) by Keith Giffen and Timothy Green II
A new threat attacked the galaxy in the wake of the Annihilation Wave during the Annihilation: Conquest event. An Ultron-led Phalanx took over the Kree Empire and launched their technological conquest of the galaxy. Peter Quill was partly responsible for unleashing the Phalanx on the Kree, and he was “recruited” to lead a team of Kree prisoners that survived the initial Phalanx attack.
Quill reassumed his role as Star-Lord and met future Guardians like Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Bug, and Mantis for the first time. Other members like the Shi’ar Avenger Deathcry and Gabriel Vargas, who had been transformed temporarily by the Uni-Power into Captain Universe. The Annihilation and Conquest events served as the impetus for the modern formation fo the Guardians.
4 Marvel NOW! Roster
First Appearance: Guardians of the Galaxy #0.1 (April 2013) by Brian Michael Bendis and Steve McNiven
The Marvel NOW! era relaunched all titles with new creative teams that took the series in exciting new directions after the events of Avengers vs. X-Men divided the superhero community. Marvel NOW! sought to bring everyone back together, and that even included the Guardians. They decided to include a few different members of the Avengers on the team.
The Marvel NOW! team closely resembled the movie lineup of the Guardians with Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot making up the main team. They would be joined at separate times by Iron Man, Angela, Captain Marvel, and Agent Venom (Flash Thompson).
3 All-New, All-Different Roster
First Appearance: Guardians of the Galaxy #1 (December 2015) by Brian Michael Bendis and Valerio Schiti
Kitty Pryde and Star-Lord grew closer after a few team-ups with the X-Men. They started dating, and Pryde decided to officially join the Guardians in space. However, Peter Quill had to leave the team to become the new Emperor of Spartax, so Kitty Pryde decided to take over as Star-Lord while Rocket Racoon led the core roster of the modern Guardians.
The team continued to welcome Earth heroes onto the team during the All-New, All-Different era of the Guardians of the Galaxy (not to be confused with the All-New Guardians of the Galaxy series with the main roster). Thing joined the Guardians to explore the universe during the Fantastic Four’s absence after Secret Wars, and Ant-Man briefly joined the team as well.
2 Nova’s Guardians
First Appearance: Guardians of the Galaxy #1 (March 2020) by Al Ewing and Juan Cabal
After the Olympian Gods were reborn as cosmic entities, they were corrupted by their own power and set out to conquer the universe as the Dark Olympians. Nova was recovering after the Annihilation: Scourge event and the universe was defenseless, so he recruited a new roster of the Guardians of the Galaxy to help him stop the Dark Olympians.
While some of the Guardians refused to help, Nova’s long-time friend Star-Lord joined him alongside Rocket Raccoon, Moondragon, Phyla-Vell, Noh-Varr/Marvel Boy, and the Olympian Hercules. The team featured quite a few powerful heavy hitters and was further reinforced by the West Spiral Arm Guardians to finally defeat the Dark Olympians.
1 First Modern Roster
First Appearance: Guardians of the Galaxy #1 (July 2008) by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Paul Pelletier
The most recognizable roster of the Guardians is the one that appeared on the big screen in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy. That roster was based on the first modern Guardians that formed out of the ashes of Annihilation: Conquest. Star-Lord gathered the survivors of the event with the goal of preventing another Annihilation event from happening.
The modern Guardians roster featured Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot, along with Adam Warlock, Mantis, Bug, and Quasar (Phyla-Vell). The team worked out of Knowhere where they met Cosmo and welcomed other members like Moondragon, Jack Flag, and a time-lost Major Victory, who inspired the team to carry on the legacy of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
NEXT: The 10 Best Cosmic Marvel Storylines
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