Some confession here. I have never read a single issue of the guardians of the galaxy 2008 team, which is the one they are using for the 2014 movie. I intend to remedy that soon but as a result, I don’t have a first hand reading of what is really going on with the team. One of the most annoying consequence is not knowing which issue is the real first appearance for this current incarnation of the team.
The common consensus is that annihilation conquest 6 is the first appearance of the team. I accepted that without doing any fact checking. However, bleedingcool.com recently reported that the first appearance is not in that issue, but in annihilation conquest: starlord 1. Well, this really confuses the hell out of me so I decided to find the actual panels and see for myself.
Annihilation Conquest 6 – April 2008
Annihilation Conquest: Starlord 1 – Sept 2007
So, looking at the dates, if Starlord 1 has the team appearance, it should be credited with the first appearance of the modern Guardians of the Galaxy team.
Within the comics
Now, let’s look at the issue in detail. From what I have read, Starlord has been tasked to form a team and he spends the whole issue looking around a space prison to find his teammates. The end result? This panel on the last page.
This looks like a team shot to me. The key is whether this team can be considered the Guardians of the Galaxy. 2 of the key member are missing: Drax the Destroyer and Glamora. Overall, it seems like a real contender for first appearance.
For annihilation conquest 6, I flipped through the whole comic and see no team picture. However, Glamora and Drax were within this issue but they were helping warlock and were not part of any team. The only thing that hints at the new Guardians of the Galaxy is this page at the end of the comic, as correctly pointed by BleedingCool.com.
Overall, both issues were not that clear in terms of having a full first appearance. Annihilation Conquest 6 had all the team members appearing in the comic but they were not part of a group yet. Annihilation Conquest: Starlord 1 had the team structure but were missing Drax and Glamora. So, which one will you consider the first appearance of Guardians of the Galaxy?
This whole exercise really taught the power of looking at things yourself. Never trust 100% what the forum and website says. See for yourself to learn what is really the truth!