Today we’re taking a diversion on the Road to Knowhere to examine the Guardians of the Galaxy game by Eidos Montreal. It was released last week, and being the massive cosmic nut I am, I clocked it incredibly quickly. On my playthrough, I was surprised and thrilled at the sheer amount of references and callbacks to the comics. It’s clear that everyone involved had a real love and reverence for Marvel’s cosmic universe. So I’m gonna try and go through every comic reference, easter egg, or point of influence I can. Both throwaway lines and core issues that inspired the story. So join me as I try to figure out what comics influenced Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy:
Note: This is only comic references. I’m not talking about any other pop culture references, otherwise, I’ll be doing this forever. I’m also not touching on the unlockable costumes since their origins are explained in the game already.
One of the great things this game does is combine the worlds and characters of the comics and the Guardians MCU iteration. This can be seen most clearly in the way the game approaches the core 5 Guardians. Here are all of the elements of these characters’ stories that come from the comics.
The game takes place a few years after a massive war with the Chitauri. Each of the Guardians and surrounding characters played a different part in this war, and it’s what ultimately united them. This war is a clear combination of two main events from Marvel Cosmics’ most formative era. The first is Annihilation. This is the story that united the galaxy against the forces of the Negative Zone. The second is Annihilation Conquest which brought together the Guardians as a group. The game picks and chooses different elements from these two conflicts. Peter Quill, Rocket, and Groot were all on the original Guardians team from Conquest, and in this game, they are the original core of the team. These wars caused massive shifts in how the galaxy was run, and that seems to be true of the game’s world too.
Gamora and Richard Rider
In conversations with Gamora, we also learn about her role in the war. She left Thanos and the Chitauri to fight alongside the resistance. She seemed to be a key player and speaks of her alliance with Richard Rider, Marvel’s first Nova. This pulls from Annihilation, which featured Rider as the only surviving Nova. He and Gamora had a relationship during this time, and the game hints at this possibility.
Drax kills Thanos
At the start of the game, Drax has already killed Thanos. He escaped from the Kyln and tracked down Thanos to avenge his dead wife and daughter. Upon killing Thanos, the tide of the war changed, and Drax was given a legendary reputation. This is also a story element lifted directly from Annihilation, where Drax brutally kills Thanos by tearing out his heart. It’s worth noting that Drax in the game doesn’t believe him to be dead. In the comics, he returned during the Thanos Imperative story. Maybe Eidos Montreal is teeing that up? One can hope
Christmas gifts from Thanos
A small side narrative within the game is Gamora’s affection for dolls. You’re even able to buy her one from Knowhere. If you talk about it to her, she discusses how Thanos bought her a doll as a child. This comes from a classic Christmas short story. It seems like a small, inconsequential tale, but it was oddly important for establishing their relationship, and it’s the symbolic backbone of Gamora’s trauma here.
Experiments on Halfworld
In conversation with Rocket, you can hear him discuss his trauma from Halfworld. The experimentation and trauma that came with his experience there is the core of his volatility and the essence of his character arc and growth. In the comics, Halfworld was a planet asylum with various animalistic creatures designed as caretakers. In the game, Halfworld is adapted as a location for Kree experiments. Rocket was created to be a weapon for the Kree’s war effort, so the circumstances are different, but the core of Rocket’s trauma is intact. Although for fans of comics, Halfworld reading the bio for his classic green outfit reveals that the events of his 80s miniseries were stories he told others on Halfworld.
In the game, Peter’s mother is still Meredith Quill, and his father is implied to be J’Son of Spartax. J’Son is the king of a vast Galactic empire. Quill is eventually abducted, and it’s presented straight out of the comic. Unlike the movie, Peter wasn’t picked up by Yondu. Instead, his house was attacked by aliens, and his mother was killed. In the game, these aliens are the Badoon, the enemies of the original Guardians of the Galaxy (although not originally in chronological terms. They’re from the future. Comics are confusing, I know). Peter in the game was abducted by these aliens and made a prisoner, but Peter in the comics grew up and made his way to space his own way.
Nikki Gold was an incredibly interesting addition to the game. In the comics, Nikki is a member of that original Guardians team I mentioned earlier. She was born on Mercury before she was orphaned by the Badoon. While the game seems to initially present Nikki as Ko-Rel’s daughter, they eventually reveal that she was adopted. Her parents were killed by the Chitauri in much the same way as Nikki was orphaned. She even gets her fiery comic look as well. She seems to have garnered abilities here, though, which she doesn’t have in the comics. Regardless the game’s writers kept her youthful spirit and yearning for adventure.
I got a real thrill out of Adam Warlock in this game. Warlock is one of the key players in Marvel’s cosmic universe, and that stays true in the games. In the comics, Adam Warlock was first introduced as “HIM”, a perfect being designed by scientists. Eventually, he took to the stars and became Adam Warlock. The game hints at this when he is slyly referred to as “HIM.” The Adam in the game is largely very faithful to the comics. It includes his connection to the soul gem and also alludes to his tendency for resurrection. The big cocoon the Guardians find him in is a literal cocoon he regenerates from. The game also pokes fun at his tendency for lofty Shakespearean dialogue, a part of the style of Jim Starlin, Warlock’s key architect.
Lady Hellbender is an interesting choice to include in this game, given how relatively new she is as a character. She was introduced in Totally Awesome Hulk in 2015. This is her first major piece of exposure, and they utilised her really well. She’s a rather direct translation from the comics. In both versions, she is a vengeful warrior exploring the galaxy for rare and untamed beasts. Hellbender even has connections to Fin Fang Foom. Overall, Hellbender is an incredibly direct and faithful translation.
Grand Unifier Raker
Raker is similar to his comic counterpart in some ways but very different in others. In the game, he acts as an advisor/leader. A religious zealot committed to his cause. In the comics, Raker had a very different title. Instead of being Grand Unifier Raker, he is Cardinal Raker. He’s more of a warrior and a leader of the Church’s strike force. The game keeps his name, commitment to his cause, and basic abilities but changes most of everything else. These changes work in the game’s favour, however, as he becomes more sympathetic and layered as a character.
Mantis in the game is similar to a lot of characters in this universe in that she is an amalgamation of the films and comics. She retains her film personality and charm but is infused with the Celestial Madonna role from the comics. She’s also given her precognitive abilities and martial arts skills that have so far been absent from the MCU. Her role as the Celestial Madonna is also a core part of her character as it connects her to the Priests of Pama. In the comics, Mantis was actually a human raised to believe she was this Madonna, a woman who would give birth to the saviour of the universe.
Cosmo, the space dog, the goodest boy in the galaxy. Cosmo is a relatively recent addition to the cosmic universe. He was created by Abnett and Lanning in the Nova comic that ran concurrently with Guardians. He’s much the same here as he was there. He’s chief of security on Knowhere, ally to the Guardians, and has an uneasy rivalry with Rocket. The puppies in the game? That’s a new creation, though.
Ko-Rel, one of the major figures of this game, is also a significant character in the comics. She was introduced in Abnett and Lanning’s Nova run as one of the new recruits to build up the corps. Her videogame counterpart keeps her tragic backstory but alters it. In the comics, she became a Nova centurion very briefly when Richard Rider was incapacitated. She went to help him but was killed by a mind-controlled Gamora. Her mission was fueled by vengeance because she failed to protect surviving members of the Kree she was stranded with. The game keeps this tragic motivation and adds in her past family. But Ko-Rel wasn’t a war hero in the comics. She was a temporary hero while Rider was under mind control. Regardless Ko-Rels’s fiery spirit and tragic past are respected here.
The Worldmind is the collective consciousness of the entire Nova Corps. They are responsible for protecting Xandarian culture at any cost. This is drawn across super accurately in the game. Much like the comics, the Worldmind would rather abandon conflict altogether than have its precious knowledge be destroyed or lost. So the Worldmind of the game is basically as big of a dick as the Worldmind of the comics. But they seem to both always pull through when you really need them.
The Matriarch can be seen to be featured very, very loosely. In the source material, she is the figurehead of the Universal Church of Truth, a stand-in for the real leader Magus. In the game, however, the Matriarch is a brainwashed Nikki who has fed into the Church’s “promise.” Almost entirely different, but the title is there, and both remain false figureheads for the true villain, Magus.
Magus is this game’s main villain and acts as a sort of parasite. A consciousness that feeds on the desires, trauma, and feelings of loss felt by everyone in the galaxy. In the comics, this is a lot different. Magus is instead a future version of Adam Warlock, who led the Universal Church of Truth. He’s Adam’s dark self, the ying to his yang. The game’s lore files hint at the possibility that he is still a future version of Adam Warlock. So the game respects the history but is very different for this story, but in a way that really works.
The following are characters that are also featured but in much smaller roles akin to cameos.
Captain Glory is kinda another incredibly new creation being only a few years old. He was introduced in Marvel Boy in 2000, but his appearances in 2020’s Empyre event are what made him who he is today. In the comics, he was a supersoldier for the Kree empire before leading his own group of mercenaries, the Lethal Legion. This remains the same in the game as Glory leads his Legion after the Guardians. Although we only ever see Glory’s ship and never get to see if he actually has all of the abilities from the comics. He’s largely a joke playing off of the bluster his name implies.
Rossen and Garek A.K.A The Blood Brothers
Rossen and Garek also are both members of the Legion in the game and comics. Although the Brothers are much older than Captain Glory. The characters were introduced in the same issue as Drax even. The two brothers have a long history with Drax, and that may be something that was referenced when Drax is imprisoned between the two of them in Cosmo’s psychological jail. The Blood Brothers in the comics have largely been the henchmen of Thanos, but this doesn’t seem to be the case here. The game also carries over their ability. In their boss fight, you can only beat them by separating them since they are more powerful if they are closer in proximity. This is the same as in the comics.
Jack Flag is Jack Harrison. Another character from Earth and in the comics is a member of the Guardians of the galaxy. He joined the team after meeting Quill in a Negative Zone prison. In the game, he’s a prisoner of the Nova Corps. Seems like ol’ Jack can’t seem to catch a break.
Ruby Thursday is a character encountered when the Guardians arrive at a camp destroyed by Fin Fang Foom. Ruby is a weird character from Steve Gerber’s wonderful Defenders comics. She was a member of the bizarre team called the Headless. Reading the file of Lipless (Quill’s forgotten friend at Mantlo’s bar) also reveals that he had dealt with this group’s poaching efforts. Such a bizarre character and one I never expected to see in a video game. Such a wonderful surprise.
Thanos isn’t technically seen in the game. At least not alive. He appears in Drax’s mindscape and functions as a short boss to represent Drax’s trauma and anger. He’s a big part of the game, though, and he lingers over the characters and several of their backstories. The Mad Titan seems to be very comic accurate as well, with a few elements brought from the comics I will mention later.
Taneleer Tivan has become associated with the Guardians mostly because of his appearance in the first Guardians film. Comic, game, and movie Collector are all pretty similar. They all collect and display many of the galaxy’s relics, but Tivan holding out on Knowhere is something taken from the movie. The Collector of the game is also said to have the ability to see the future, which Rocket mentions when his emporium is missing from Knowhere later in the game. This is a reference to the character’s precognitive abilities.
Pip the Troll
I initially had Pip down as a character that was only mentioned. But others pointed out that Pip is seen in-game. He’s the little dude that runs past you when exploring parts of Lamentis. He can be seen off in the background in certain parts of the game, and Mantis notes that she can feel someone watching him, probably Pip. You can also see a lore file titled Pip’s Quips later in the chapter. Pip the Troll is a comedic character who has often acted as something akin to a sidekick for Adam Warlock. It seems Pip in the game’s universe is a companion of Warlock as well.
The following are characters only referenced in the game but not properly seen. This might be from bits of collectible lore, idle dialogue, or in-game records. It’s worth noting that further playthroughs might reveal more, so feel free to let me know if I missed anything.
Dazzler is a classic X-Men character created by John Romita Sr and Tom DeFalco. She has the ability to turn sound vibrations into lasers and energy. So to utilise this best she became a singer and the game pays respect to that. In Peter’s room on the Milano, you can spot a Dazzler poster on the wall.
When talking to Rocket about Halfworld, you can learn about his fellow test subject Lylla. Lylla in the comics is essentially Rocket’s love interest. An otter who owns a massive toy company, because why not? In the game, Rocket speaks of how she sacrificed herself so that he could escape.
On talking to Gamora about why she joined the resistance, Gamora discusses Lady Death. She was disgusted when she learned that Thanos’s quest to eradicate half the universe was secretly to be with Death. In the comics, much of the motivation of Thanos lies behind his love for Death. Yes, Death as in an actual person and a sexy lady at that. Anyway, this is a fun little reference.
Groot’s bio mentions the Arbor Masters. They are the elders of the Flora Colossi race. It seems that the Flora Colossi were wiped out by the Chitauri during the war, making Groot the last of his kind.
When on Lamentis, Mantis manages to subdue Drax. She explains to the Guardians that her combat training came from L’ai Sau. This is incredibly deep cut considering Sau only appeared in a single issue, but that issue did establish that same mentorship connection. Sau was a Priest or Pama but a fair bit more combative than the monklike elders seen in the game.
When discussing Sau, Mantis second-guesses herself and thinks maybe she was trained by Om-Fad. This is somehow an even deeper cut since Fad only appeared in a single issue. What you’re seeing here is the best look we’ve ever gotten of this character. He was also a Priest of Pama and hung out on Lamentis with Moondragon and Phylla Vell.
Along with Gamora, Thanos also adopted Nebula. This seems to be taking more from Gunn’s movie version because, in the comics, she initially purported as his granddaughter. This has since been retconned so that Nebula was indeed raised by her. Nebula is mentioned a few times by Gamora, and she eventually reveals that she killed her. A fairly brutal death but given the hushed tones in which she is spoken of her game counterpart must have been fearsome.
In Chapter 14, when the Guardians are venturing into the Sacrosanct to save Adam Warlock and Nikki Mantis mentions Bug. She speaks of Bug as if he is helping the forces of Cosmo, the Worldmind, and Lady Hellbender. Bug in the comics was a founding member of the Guardians. But was he actually there, or was it an alternate timeline Mantis saw? I doubt we will ever know, considering Bug was created for the Micronauts tie in a comic Marvel published, the rights of which can be tricky.
Mentor and Kronos
When discussing if there is indeed sorcery, Drax mentions both Mentor and Mentor’s father Kronos. Mentor is an Eternal and the father of Thanos, and Kronos is a being merged with the universe. The two of them are responsible for Drax’s creation in the original comics. Drax wasn’t an alien but a resurrected Earther designed to destroy Thanos, hence Drax the Destroyer. Drax in the game clearly doesn’t have this origin but notes that Mentor and Kronos gave him a potion that allowed him to sense the presence of Thanos anywhere in the universe. This is a trait that comic Drax also shares. It’s a fun little nod to Drax’s original backstory.
Chondu and Nagan
On Maklu IV, after meeting Ruby Thursday, you can read her messages to Chondu and Arthur Nagan. These two characters are part of the Headmen alongside her. Chondu is a headless magician, and Nagan is a head on a gorilla’s body. The file mentions trying to find the bodies, hence the dealings with Lipless. These are some of the most bizarre characters in comics, and it is truly wild to see them in some form in a AAA video game.
In Jack Flags file, you can read of his efforts to contact someone called “The Captain” who can vouch for him to the Nova Corps. There IS a character known only as The Captain in Marvel canon, but he’s a drunk and a loser. Who Jack is referring to is probably Captain America. Jack Flag first appeared in Mark Gruenwald’s run in the mid-90s.
Spider-Man, Hulk, Captain America, and The Avengers
Cap is also mentioned later in the game when the Guardians are travelling through the Continuum Cortex. The Guardians hear Hulk yelling “Hulk Smash” and Captain America yelling “Avengers Assemble.” Although Peter and the Guardians seem to think the Avengers is a stupid name. A bit later, what can be assumed to be an NYC pedestrian mentions Spider-Man. These references are pretty self-explanatory but might be a loose connection to Crystal Dynamics Avengers and Insomniacs Spider-Man.
Look, I was taking notes when things were mentioned in the game, and in writing this, I found Kaldera’s name in here. Although now I can’t remember when this came up. I’ve no idea if this actually happened, but hey, better safe than sorry. In the comics, Kaldera is another assassin for Thanos, so I imagine she was brought up in conversation with Gamora at some point? I’ll check back in and fix this up when I replay it.
In the first chapter when exploring the Quarantine Zone you can run into the wreckage of a Nova Corps shuttle. This shuttle is named after Adora. This references Queen Adora, the matriarchal leader of Xandar, the home of the Nova Corps. In the comics Adora has rebuilt Xandar and the Corps following its destruction. Perhaps she’s the mysterious Nova Prime the game references.
Captain Glory’s bio mentions previous members of the Lethal Legion, including Mentacle, Molyn, Ferene, and Drall. All of these characters served with Glory and the Blood Brothers in their comic appearances. The Guardians of course battle this Legion in-game but Glory is the only one named and shown.
At one point in the game, you can browse through numerous Nova files and can access personnel and criminal files of many characters. These are all characters from the comics and offer interesting bits of lore that reveal how they fit into the game’s world.
Richard Rider was Marvel’s very first and still most prominent Nova. He rose to further prominence with the Annihilation event, which the war mentioned in this game takes heavy inspiration from. In the comics, he was the sole surviving Nova and protected the Galaxy and the Worldmind on his own. In the game, however, he survived along with his squad, and they became war heroes. Richard in this universe also seems to be AWOL, being brought up in conversation and seen in criminal files. His old helmet is even displayed in the Collectors Emporium. Where is Rider, and what is he doing? Who knows? I guess we just gotta wait for a sequel to find out.
Among the criminal files, we can also find Darkhawk. Darkhawk is Christopher Powell, another hero from Earth who happened across an amulet that gave him Darkhawk armour. This armour comes from the Shi’Aar, and in the games universe, he is wanted for questioning because of his involvement with the Fraternity of Raptors (which I will get to later).
Moondragon is Heather Douglas both in the comics and in the game. This is particularly interesting given her father, Arthur Douglas, is Drax. Since Drax in the comics doesn’t have his Earth origins, it seems that Moondragon has no relation to her comic book dad. Which is fine. Moondragon is a hero in her own right and a common member of the Guardians.
Many who are more familiar with the MCU versions of these characters might not know about Ronan from the comics. Comic’s Ronan is an accuser, basically a judge, jury, and executioner for the Kree Empire. He fought alongside Peter, Richard Rider, Gamora, Drax, and others in the Annihilation event. It seems this connection might be similar in the game since Quill notes that he knew Ko-Rel at the same time as him.
Quasar is a personal favourite cosmic hero of mine. He’s also from Earth which Rocket here calls the “trailer park of the galaxy.” This is Wendell Vaughn, the first Quasar. A man who wields the Quantum Bands given to him by the cosmic entity Eon. He’s got abilities similar to that of a Green Lantern but works on a very different wavelength to the Nova Corps. This file also references the organisation of Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S, a science agency with ties to Quasar, Darkhawk, and Nova.
Wraith is a fairly underutilised Marvel character. He was introduced in the Annihilation Conquest event. He’s a “Nameless” Kree thirsting for vengeance after the murder of his parents. He’s basically a dark cosmic cowboy with a poncho, whip, and space motorcycle. He is also infected by an Exolon parasite which carries over directly from the comics. In the comics, these parasites have been retconned to be precursors to the symbiotes that gave us Venom.
Yondu Udonta has been explicitly tied to Starlord since the first Guardians movie. However, in this game, he is completely absent. Although he is mentioned quite a bit. Through conversation and different lore files, we learn that Peter joined up with Yondu’s mercenary group, the Ravagers, after escaping their Chitauri prisoners. But we also learn that at some point, Yondu and Peter had a falling out as Peter testified against him. You had kidnapped a child called “Idera’s sacred Heart.” That seems like it should be a comic reference, but I haven’t figured it out yet. Regardless, Yondu is currently in the Kyln prison because of Peter. This Yondu seems to be another cross between movies and comics. He’s a pirate and leader of the Ravagers still, but his depiction in the criminal files aligns him closer to the comics visually.
Tarcel in the comics was one of the first new Corps members following the destruction of Xandar in the Annihilation event. He served under Richard Rider and helped to rebuild the corps. He’s a Shi’Ar, a race of kinda birdlike aliens most prominently featured in X-Men comics. In the game’s universe, though, he died after allying with Lilandra. He was murdered by an assassin of Thanos.
The aforementioned Lilandra is the ruler of the Shi’Ar Empire and Professor Xavier’s on-again-off-again girlfriend. Given how often the Shi’Ar is brought up in the game, I imagine she plays a big part in this universe’s galactic hierarchy.
Rhomann Day is probably most well known for being played by John C Reilly in the first Guardians movie. Dey is a classic Nova corpsman first showing up in the very first appearance of Rider and the Corps. He was the one who selected Rider to join. Dey in the game is considered MIA after the Galactic War. Drax notes that he had heard he was a “good man.”
Samaya was one of the Nova Corps members with Richard Rider when the Corps fell in the Annihilation event. She lasted longer than most but was eventually cut to shreds after flirting with Rider. She’s also dead in the game but in a far more noble way. She led a squad of Nova fighters on a suicide run to buy Xandar some time.
Throughout the game, there are questions of who is running the Nova Corps. It seems to be a bureaucracy now run from the shadows by a mysterious leader. Nova Prime is usually the leader of the Corps, but no one in the game is sure who that currently is. Maybe we’ll see in a future game? I sure hope so.
The game features various creatures, monsters, and exotic alien species throughout, and several of them are ripped straight from the comics. These are just the ones I’ve found and noticed so far.
Fin Fang Foom
Of course, the biggest creature in the game, both in size and popularity, is Fin Fang Foom. Foom is one of THE great Marvel monsters. A great dragon from outer space, who has often plagued the heroes of the Marvel Universe. His design is modernized significantly here, though. Drax and Rocket both remark on legends about Foom wearing purple shorts, which is a comics staple. We don’t quite get that here, but his underside is purple which is a nice touch. Drax’s obsession with Foom also comes from the comics. In issue 4 of Drax’s latest solo mini, he battles the great beast. This Foom seems content to live out his days on Maklu IV, which is a bit different from the comics space conqueror. Still, this Fin Fang Foom may look different, but he retains much of what makes him so exciting in the comics.
Dweller in Darkness
It has oddly been an exceptional year for the Dweller in Darkness, considering their appearance in Shang Chi this year. But what’s interesting is how both iterations completely change the character to suit their own story. In the comics, the Dweller is a “fear lord,” A demon who draws power from fear. He is multidimensional in nature but not explicitly space-bound. So his use here is quite different. Although reading his lore files reveals his potential multidimensional origins.
The Cotati are the plant beings featured on Lamentis in the game’s 10th chapter. In the comics, they have a long history with Mantis and the Priests of Pama. Initially, they were from the Kree homeworld of Hala but expanded. They eventually started to die out but were saved by the Priests, who planted the Coati throughout the galaxy on various planets. Here, though, they seem to be native to Lamentis. The Cotati are ancient and incredibly wise beings that created the prophecy of the Celestial Madonna that led the Priests to Mantis. They have a long and incredibly interesting history in the comics, so it’s cool to see that respected here as Mantis speaks to and discusses them throughout the chapter.
The Acanti are those whale creatures seen throughout the game. The first of which is seen in the Quarantine Zone in the first chapter and the rest are seen with Lady Hellbender. In the comics, the Acanti are incredibly important to the galaxy’s ecosystem. They were perhaps the very first lifeforms in the Marvel Universe. They are great, wise creatures that drift through space seeking knowledge. This is only really hinted at in the game, but their inclusion is still super cool to see, even if they look a bit more monstrous.
The Wendigo is another classic Marvel monster. Think of them as snowy werewolves. Marvel based their Wendigo off of classic Canadian folklore and mythology. So the Wendigo in the comics is usually found in Canadian forests. In the comics, the Wendigo is a curse that befalls those who eat the flesh of another human in the Canadian snowy wilderness. In the game, the Wendigo function the same as monsters but their circumstances are very different. They’re space snow beasts, not mythological cursed monsters.
The Warthos is a creature ripped straight from the comics. They’re basically space pigs, but the designers at Eidos Montreal gave them new details that make them more distinct. In the comics, they are from the planet of K’ai and tend to travel in packs. This connection to K’ai is even referenced in the bio for the Warthos. They are seen when entering Lady Hellbender’s castle.
Skull of a Ghilaron
When in Lady Hellbender’s castle, the Guardians run into the skull of a Ghilaron in Lady Hellbender’s vault. This is a possible reference to the Ghillaron from the comics. I say possible because this creature was only featured in Marvel’s Godzilla comics. They are questionably canonical, but hey, I guess it still counts.
Factions and Alien Races:
These are all of the various alien races, galactic empires, and factions established in the game’s lore, dialogue and story.
The Nova Corps are one of the more prominent factions in the game and Marvel Cosmic in general. They are the galaxy’s peacekeepers, basically space cops that originated from the planet of Xandar. The Nova Corps generally has several different ranks and roles. There are the centurions, who are basically superheroes with Richard Rider and Ko-Rel but also Corpsmen which are the generic Nova enemies faced throughout. All of the members of the Nova Corps are all keyed into something called the Nova Force, an energy that powers the Corps and provides them with all of their powers and abilities. In the game Xandar is destroyed and the Corps now operate out of New Xandar. The Corps here are pretty close to the comics but with the aesthetic and militarisation of the movies.
Universal Church of Truth
The Universal Church of Truth are the main villain of the game and one of the major factions associated with the Guardians’ stories written by Abnett and Lanning, the primary source of inspiration for this game. The Church of Truth was established by Jim Starlin as a cult worshiping Adam Warlock’s evil self, Magus. They function similarly to the comics, with many of the same visuals, characters, and concepts. The idea of the Church being literally powered by faith is ripped straight from the comics, as is the style of garb they wear and the large expansive halls of their Church. The ideas and criticisms around organised religion, which Starlin imbued into the Church, are super prevalent in the story as well, although not the focus. It’s one massive love letter to the work of Jim Starlin.
Priests of Pama
The Priests of Pama in the game are those weird-looking dudes following Mantis around. In the comics, the Priests were Kree banished because of their pacifist outlook. They are the key believers in the Celestial Madonna and have helped several of the Galaxy’s heroes in times of need, including Moondragon. This tradition is true in the game as Gamora speaks of her time with the Priests, learning to be at peace with herself.
The Kree have always been one of Marvel’s more dominant cosmic races. The Kree started on Hala and began to expand an empire under the guidance of the Supreme Intelligence. The Kree spread throughout the galaxy, becoming one of the more dominant and militant empires in the galaxy. The empire themselves aren’t seen in the game much, but there are plenty of hints of them throughout. The Kree’s ideas around purity and superiority are also well established here in conversation about Nikki possibly being Peter’s child.
The Skrulls are the polar opposite of the Kree and their natural rival. Their ability to camouflage and shapeshift to imitate others is well known because of events like Secret Invasion where the Skrulls well….secretly invaded Earth. The Skrulls aren’t as prominent in lore or conversation in this game, but there is this Skrull placed on a target in Nikki’s basement area.
The Shi’Ar are one of the more prominent empires in the Galaxy. They are far more regal and diverse than the Kree and Skrulls. Unlike the Kree, the Shi’Ar encourage merging with other peoples and cultures. This is an empire built on culture, not military dominance and infiltration like the Kree and Skrulls. They are mentioned a few times throughout the games, and Peter mentions Shi’Ar Warbirds, the bodyguards of Shi’Ar royalty.
The Spartoi Empire is mentioned a few times but not really featured in any real capacity. The empire is led by J’Son, the father of Peter, which makes him the prince of one of the galaxy’s great civilizations. The game explains this as the reason for his capture by the Chitauri. The Spartoi Empire in the comics are a more recent creation and have similar roots to the Shi’Ar. In much the same way, they are opposed to the Kree and Skrulls as an empire of diversity and many different cultures and peoples. They are one of the galaxy’s biggest empires, and I imagine we will see more of them in a possible sequel.
The Brood are a hivemind race. A mindless horde of buglike monsters that search and destroy planet after planet. Think Xenomorphs from the Alien series. They spread throughout the galaxy, infesting populations. Rinse and repeat. They are mentioned a few times in the game but never seen.
The Badoon are also mentioned a few times in the game. The Badoon are the primary antagonists of the original Guardians of the Galaxy, as in the Guardians from the future. In that future, the Badoon had taken over Earth’s solar system, but in the present day, they are just one among many barbaric warring alien races. In a lot of the stories, this is pulling from the Chitauri and replacing them.
The Klyntarian’s are referenced a few times in the game, namely as a parasite. This is referencing the symbiote race that Venom, Carnage, Riot, and others hail from.
The Chitauri aren’t all that prominent in the comics. They became a big deal following their inclusion in the first Avengers movie. But before that, they were just shapeshifters like Skrulls in the Ultimate Universe. They were eventually brought into the comics, though, to appear more like the MCU versions. The game pulls from this iteration and uses them to replace both the Badoon and the Annihilation Wave as the galaxy’s primary enemies in the Galactic War.
Reading through lore files reveals that Cosmo’s security team on Knowhere is made up of Korbinites. The Korbinites are a rare species in the comic are the people of Beta Ray Bill, everyone’s favourite space horse Thor.
In Chapter 10, after defeating the Wendigos, the Guardians have to navigate a crashed wreckage. This wreckage is a S.W.O.R.D ship. S.W.O.R.D, of course, is Earth’s very own extraterrestrial defense force. They’re basically S.H.I.E.L.D for alien threats and space stuff. So we know that in this universe, Earth is exploring the far corners of the galaxy. I’m just curious what happened to the pilots. Perhaps they became Wendigos?
Peter and Rocket reminisce about the good old days when exploring the Quarantine Zone. In this nostalgia-fueled discussion, they mention a job on Draconius with a bunch of shapeshifters. This is referencing Draconius and the Wobbows. The Wobbows are shapeshifting creatures resident to the planet Draconius. It seems the Guardians hauled a bunch of these things onto their ship for a job.
When in the Quarantine Zone, Quill and Rocket can talk about how they’ll spend their credits on Contraxia. Peter mentions having a Xeronian massage. The Xeronians in the comics are a peaceful race, which I guess translated into beauty treatments and self-care in the game’s world.
The Sacrosanct is the headquarters of the Universal Church of Truth. It’s an interesting case, though, because it bears a lot of resemblance to The Templeship Tancreo. In the comics, the Sacrosanct is a homeworld, just one of many planets. In the game, it’s a large mobile technological civilization carved into a massive piece of rock. It’s a bit closer to the Tancreo, which was a massive travelling hub for the Church destroyed in one of the Guardians’ first missions. Either way, it looks awesome, and the game’s art designers did an amazing job capturing the Church’s over-the-top grandeur.
Seknarf 9 is the home of Lady Hellbender and features numerous forms of dangerous, beautiful, and endangered flora and fauna. In the comics, Seknarf 9 is quite different. We haven’t seen much of it, but from what we’ve seen so far, it’s more of a desolate desert planet. A far cry from the diverse ecological spectacle in the game’s world. Frankly, I think it’s a change for the better, and it suits Hellbender a lot better.
Xandar in the world of the game is completely decimated. This is the same in both the comics and the MCU. In the comics, it was targeted during the Annihilation Wave, which this game replaces for the Galactic War. Xandar was the home of the Nova Corps, but since then, the Corps have expanded to new headquarters.
The Rock is similar to the Sacrosanct in that it is a mobile hub carved into space rock. In the comics, this is also known as the Spirit of Xandar, and much like the game is the temporary home of the Nova Corps following a devastating period.
Knowhere is a key location for the Guardians of the Galaxy in every incarnation of the team. Knowhere is the severed head of a dead Celestial floating through space. In the comics and the game, Knowhere is a melting pot of culture filled with various markets, species, and in the game, various fun little mini-games. In the original Abnett and Lanning Guardians comics, Knowhere acted as the base of operations for the Guardians, so it has an extensive history with the team.
I pictured Contraxia from the movie since that seems to be the primary source of inspiration. Contraxia isn’t visited in the game but is spoken of frequently as a place of lawlessness and debauchery. This is closer to Contraxia in the MCU, which is the planet Yondu and the Ravagers visit in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. Contraxia in the comics is a medieval-style society. So it is from the comics, but the inspiration here is largely the film.
The Kyln is mentioned a few times in the game. It’s the galaxy’s largest and most prominent prison. In the game’s lore, it has housed Drax and currently holds Yondu Udonta. It’s also the prison that the Guardians were held within in the first Guardians movie. In the comes the Kyln are a bunch of spheres orbiting a galactic barrier called The Crunch. It’s unclear how the Kyln operates in the games universe, though, but it has a nasty reputation from what we’ve heard.
Lamentis is the planet the Guardians are brought to by Drax when he is under the influence of The Promise. In the comics, this is a planet on the outskirts of the Kree Empire and is the home of the Priests of Pama, much the same as the game. However, visually and aesthetically, the two planets are very different. Both planets are similar in how they have a long history of a previously dead civilization. Lamentis is probably most well known now for being the planet facing its destruction in the third episode of Loki. Although that is Lamentis-1, a moon of Lamentis.
The continuum cortex seen in the game is an adaptation of Knowhere’s teleportation platform used in Abnett and Lanning’s Guardians of the Galaxy run. In the game, it functions as a place between time and space, but in the comics, it’s a bit less cosmic. The game also retains the passports used by the Guardians to teleport. In the comics, these took the form of bracelets and were the Guardians’ main source of travel.
When visiting Knowhere, you have the option to talk to Drax as he stares out into The Rift, the very edge of the known universe. This is pretty much the same as the comics since Knowhere is an “interdimensional crossroads” as it sits on the edge of time and space. However, in the comics, this edge of the universe is called The Rip, not The Rift. But it’s basically the same thing.
Halfworld is Rocket’s homeworld and the place he was created and experimented on. We visit Halfworld, but we get a glimpse of it in the lore files. It seems to retain the comics’ idea of the planet being split in two, the mechanical and the natural.
Maklu IV is the planet the Guardians visit to battle and recruit Fin Fang Foom. In the comics, Maklu IV is also known as Kakaranthara. It’s home to Foom’s species, the Makluans. In the comics, this planet isn’t super established and has changed appearances a few times. Sometimes it’s a large mountainous region, and sometimes it’s a desert planet. The game doesn’t take either route and instead makes it a snowy planet hounded by an asteroid feel. I think it’s a brilliant change that wonderfully suits the scale of the great cosmic dragon.
Hala and its capital city Kree-Lar are mentioned throughout the game. Hala is the homeworld of the Kree Empire and was the original home of the Coati, the plant-like creatures from Lamentis. Ko-Rel’s ship is also named Hala’s Hope as a reference to the Nova Corps service in the Galactic War. It is the battleground that Nikki depicts in her drawings and seems to be a key moment in the War.
The Worldmind mentions two planets when talking to the Guardians. The first is Praxius IX, which is a planet from the MCU. And I know I said I wouldn’t mention MCU references, BUT this planet only appeared in the prelude comic for the first Guardians movie. So it’s a loophole. It’s featured in the comic when Thanos believes it to be the resting place of the Power Stone.
The second planet is Rigel 3, which IS from the comics. This is the home of the Rigellian’s, one of Marvel’s more prominent B-tier alien species. They essentially explored space and colonised various planets.
Drax mentions waking up in a hospital on Elanis after killing Thanos. This is a planet from the comic. The Elan are an interesting race of aliens used a few times in the comics. They are incredibly powerful creatures able to warp and change reality itself. However, they are a peaceful isolationist culture.
Although I can’t remember where the planet of Citopia is mentioned somewhere in the game. In the comics, the Guardians conducted a heist on this planet disguised in a giant Galactus mech.
The following are any other easter eggs and references that don’t fit into the previous categories.
Cussing around the galaxy
The game brings back the wonderful bits of profanity established by Abnett and Lanning in their cosmic work. Words like “flark,” “scut,” “krutacckin,” and “d’ast” are all from those stories.
In the game’s first chapter, the Guardians run into a destroyed Kree Sentry within the Quarantine Zone. The Kree Sentries are a powerful line of defense for the Kree Empire. They’re essentially powerful robots akin to the Sentinels in X-Men comics. They were also featured in DLC for the Crystal Dynamics Avengers game, so this seems like a possible carried-over asset.
Mantlo’s bar on Knowhere
The bar on Knowhere and Rocket’s favourite watering hole is Mantlo’s bar. It’s named after Bill Mantlo, the co-creator of Rocket Raccoon, and overall incredibly underrated talent at Marvel. What’s fun about this is that it keeps up the tradition of Knowhere bars being named after Marvel creators. In the comics, Knowhere has also been home to Cebulski’s Bar and Starlin’s Bar, named after C.B Cebulski and Jim Starlin, respectively.
Knowhere arriving at Sacrosanct
Depending on your choices concerning Cosmo, Knowhere itself may come to the aid of the Guardians on their assault at Sacrosanct. This is a direct reference to Abnett and Lanning’s run on the Guardians series. In that comic, Knowhere bursts in with the same destructive power.
Infinity War and the Soul Gem
Magus is released at the start of the game from the soul gem and is defeated by returning to it. This is a reference to how he is defeated in the Infinity War comic. In that event’s final issue, Magus is trapped by Adam inside the Soul Gem. The gem holds something called Soul World, another plane of reality within the gem itself. So the game sucking Magus into there as well as a fun nod to his fate in the comics.
In Peter’s room that can be explored a few times in the game, we can see a glimpse of a newspaper called The Weekly Bugle. A reference to the Daily Bugle, the newspaper run by J. Jonah Jameson most frequently featured in Spider-Man comics.
When exploring the Nova ship with Nikki, Peter encounters her programmed robot friends. One of them she named Jocasta, a reference to a comic character of the same name. Jocasta in the comics is basically the Bride of Frankenstein for the Marvel Universe. A female robot created by Ultron who rejects him and becomes an Avenger. Her reference is just a name, but it’s a fun nod.
Everinnye metal is found in the vault of Lady Hellbender. This metal seems to come from the Everinnye, which, in the comics, is a universe above the Sixth Dimension. It’s the home of the Dweller in Darkness, this chapter’s boss that I mentioned earlier.
BLAM YOU FAILED
At one point in the game, the Guardians discuss catchphrases, and Rocket mentions, “BLAM. You failed.” This could be a possible reference to Rocket’s thankfully brief catchphrase of “BLAM! Murdered you” in the Guardians run by Brian Michael Bendis.
In idle dialogue, Drax mentions that the head of the celestial that has become Knowhere must have been chopped off with a very big sword. While seemingly a stupid joke, this is actually true in the comics. It was revealed that Knull using the Necrosword, decapitated a celestial. Knull is the King in Black and the king of the symbiotes. He’s primarily a Venom villain, but he’s got connections to multiple cosmic figures.
Before talking to the World Mind, Peter has to select a language, and one option is Krakoan. Krakoan is the new universal language for mutant kind. It’s a fairly recent addition to the Marvel canon, as Marvel’s mutants have started their own society on the sentient island Krakoa and beyond. Currently, the X-Men and mutants have ventured across the galaxy, so their language being recognised by the Worldmind hints at something similar.
Nova propaganda posters seen throughout Hala’s Hope have a Nova Centurion replicating the pose of Richard Rider on the cover of Nova #1 drawn by Adi Granov. A neat little reference to a Marvel cosmic cover.
Dan and Andy
In flashbacks, dialogue reveals that Peter’s two best friends are called Dan and Andy. This is a reference to Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, the two architects for much of Marvel’s cosmic landscape. They were the writers that brought together the modern iteration of the Guardians and created many of the stories that inspired this game. The two of them are affectionately referred to as DnA by fans.
At one point Rocket notes that Peter smells like a Torg. This is a reference to Torg the Abominable Snow King, an old school Sub Mariner villain. In the comics Torg is just an arctic monster who emerges to fight Namor. It seems in the game’s universe Torg is an entire species and not one monster.
The Vending Machines:
This is a little sub-category dedicated to the vending machines seen throughout the game. Each one features a different comic character.
Lila Chaney is like Dazzler in that she is a mutant singer. In the comics, she can create something called a tachyon field and can teleport around the galaxy. Given her appearance on this vending machine, it seems she’s making the most of this ability on Knowhere.
Arishem the Judge
Arishem the Judge is a Celestial. A being of extraordinary power akin to a God. Arishem is featured in this year’s Eternals movie as well. His role in the cosmic hierarchy is as the leader of Earth’s Four Hosts, the Celestials that watch over our planet. judging the various worlds. His primary purpose, though, was to judge which civilizations lived and which would die.
I’ve mentioned Rider plenty already, but a fun detail is that he’s drawn like classic Nova.
I’ve already mentioned Lilandra previously.
The Collector’s Emporium
Of course, the Collector is gonna have loads of easter eggs. Most of these are rather self-explanatory, so I won’t spend too long on them.
Poor old Throg is featured here as well as his mighty mallet Frogjolnir. It’s worth noting that this is not Thor but a frog who gained the power of Thor. Comics are weird.
The Collector seems to have the cosmic staff that belongs to Firelord. Firelord was a member of the Nova Corps that eventually became a Herald of Galactus. Heralds are like the Silver Surfer, beings of extraordinary cosmic power allocated with the duty of finding Galactus worlds to feast on. A nova missile named after Firelord is also found in the game’s first chapter.
Monster From Planet X
Groot is the oldest member of this iteration of the Guardians. He first premiered as one of Marvel’s many monsters. More specifically, the Monster From Planet X. The Collector references that with a piece of Groot left behind after Rocket helped him escape.
Snowbird is Narya, a member of Alpha Flight, Canada’s superhero team. She is able to shapeshift and transform into any animal but only ones native to Northern Canada.
The Hyde Formula was created by Calvin Zabo. One of many physiological enhancing drugs in the Marvel Universe. It gives its user super strength, stamina, and a healing factor. The works. It’s where Jack Flag got his powers, who is featured in this game as well.
The Raptor amulet is the source of power for the Fraternity of Raptors. I mentioned Darkhawk earlier, and the Raptors are essentially intergalactic criminals introduced in Gerry Duggan’s All-New Guardians of the Galaxy. The amulet essentially gives them a powerful suit of armour.
Angela’s Blade of Ichor
Angela’s Ichor Blades can also be spotted. Angela is an interesting character because she wasn’t originally a Marvel character. She was created in Todd McFarlane’s Spawn by Neil Gaiman. But there was a massive legal dispute with her rights, and long story short, she landed at Marvel. She’s a fallen angel, sister of Thor, and a Guardian of the Galaxy.
The Ten Rings
The Ten Rings belong to Iron-Man villain, The Mandarin. They are very different from the rings seen in the Shang Chi movie. Each one has a different power, one for shooting fire, one for mind control, etc.
The cosmic cube is probably known by most as the Tesseract, one of the MCU’s Infinity Stones. However, in the comics, the cube is it’s own thing. A kind of genie in a bottle that grants the wishes of its user.
Kang’s Time Chair
Kang’s time chair somehow also found its way to the Collector. Kang has used a time chair in the comics, but it’s not super common. So this design is based on its appearance in the Avengers Earth’s Mightiest Heroes cartoon.
The Watcher and Original Sin
The eye of A Watcher is also here. I emphasise the A because in the comics, the most prominent Watcher, Uatu, had his eye plucked out when he was murdered in Original Sin. This doesn’t seem to be from Uatu, but either way, it’s an extremely powerful artifact.
The Book of Cagliostro is also here. One of the many texts belonging to Doctor Strange. In the comics, it’s simply an account of Cagliostro’s own life rather than an extensive spellbook. So its purpose and design here seem to be taken more from its appearance in the MCU.
Yondu’s Yaka Arrows
Yondu’s Yaka Arrows also found their way to the Collector. They seem to share a design similar to the MCU., but that version only has one of these, while comic Yondu has several, indicating to hue closer to comic Yondu.
A rather ill omen is found in this item, or rather the lack of it. The Collector spoke of holding the Brood Queen, the leader of the Brood, which I mentioned earlier. Although she seems to have broken out, which is….well not good.
Stan Lee manages to make a cameo here with the inclusion of his glasses, called the Cosmic Glasses here.
Heimdall is an Asgardian who guards the Bifrost Bridge. He can see anything in the universe and protects the bridge with this sword. The bio for the sword reveals that it is stained with the blood of Mangog, a reference to when Heimdall fended off the creature in Jason Aaron’s Mighty Thor.
Superhuman Registration Act
A copy of the Superhuman Registration Act is also featured. This is the document that caused the events of Civil War and called for all superheroes to reveal their identity and register for the US government.
Amusingly The Collector’s bio for this reveals that he got the Ultimate Nullifier on loan from Galactus. It’s possibly the most powerful weapon in the universe and has often been used to threaten Galactus. No idea why the big guy would want to loan it.
Richard Rider’s helmet
Last but certainly not least is Richard Rider’s helmet. The bio reveals that Rich donated it himself before going AWOL. Definitely feels like they’re setting up something there. The design is an exact translation of his comic look, which implies this is what the Nova Corps looked like prior to the war. What’s interesting here is how the description reveals that Rider ditched the helmet for a newer model that holds its own Nova Force and doesn’t have the Worldmind chattering in his head the whole time. This aligns it with the Black Nova helmets often worn by the newer Nova, Sam Alexander.
And that’s it! That’s every single flarking piece of this game tied to the comics, from what I can tell. Though I’ve only done one playthrough and may have missed a bunch of stuff. Feel free to let me know because I certainly don’t know everything, and this thing was dense. You can find me at @IamJordanZoned on Twitter. That’s all from me now. This has been an exhaustive process. It’s a massive game, and it’s clear the developers have a real reverence and passion for the comics. If you want to read more about those comics, then feel free to follow my series here, Road to Knowhere. It’s a column where I discuss various Marvel cosmic comics I love.