A brief history of the hit movie's origins on the page.

Who are the Guardians of the Galaxy? It depends on who you ask.

For comic book fans of the ‘70s, the Guardians of the Galaxy are a team of 31st century superheroes --the last survivors of their race, bound by desire to protect the universe from the villainous Badoon. Led by Major Vance Astro, a 20th century earthman who was put in suspended animation, the Guardians were a motley crew of strange heroes including Charlie-27, a bruiser from Jupiter; Yondu, a blue-skinned mohawked proto-Na’vi armed with a bow and arrow; and Starhawk, an omnipotent demigod stuck in an endless cycle of rebirth. During the ‘90s, the Guardians were given a slightly grimmer, slightly grittier rebirth and saw its membership swell to include future versions of Ghost Rider and Wonder Man, among others.

In 2006, while most of the Marvel Universe was caught up in the Civil War -- a mini-series that saw Marvel’s heroes turn against each other -- Marvel dusted off an assemblage of some of their most popular cosmic heroes to combat an invasion from the Negative Zone. Heroes such as Nova, Starlord and Gamora would unite for the first time and fans ate it up. Over the next few years, Marvel continued slowly nurturing this strange, exciting corner of their universe. Forgotten heroes such as Rocket Raccoon (a genetically modified animal with a love of firearms) and Warlock (a cocoon-bred space god) were resurrected and partnered up with even stranger heroes -- including Cosmo (a telepathic Russian dog who had been shot off into orbit during the space race) and Bug (a member of the Micronauts that Marvel managed to retain thanks to a legal loophole).

Most recently, Marvel has once again revamped the Guardians of the Galaxy in preparation for this summer’s big movie. The team is very similar to the one audiences will see on the big screen: Starlord, a half-Earthling who is running from his royal alien lineage, leads a team of heroes that includes Groot, a sentient tree with a soft side, and Drax, a family-man who was killed by the space tyrant Thanos only to be resurrected by Thanos’ dad as an avatar of revenge. Marvel has even included several of its popular Earth heroes on the team. Iron Man, Captain Marvel and Venom (yes, the Spider-Man villain -- it’s a long story) have all joined the team in recent years. Perhaps the most notable addition is Angela, a character who was recently revealed to be Thor’s long-lost sister but in reality is essentially a big middle finger to SPAWN creator Todd McFarlane, who lost the character in a legal battle with co-creator Neil Gaiman, who then proceeded to sell her to Marvel Comics.

If you’re interested in reading more about the Guardians of the Galaxy, visit a local comic book store and ask forGuardians of the Galaxy By Abnet & Lanning: The Complete Collection Volume 1 or Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1: Cosmic Avengers.

This was originally posted in the August "Assemble the Team!" issue of Birth.Movies.Death. See Guardians of the Galaxy and other great team-up titles at the Alamo this month