In the search for universal insight, we bring you two cosmic questions from the Marvel Universe: Will moviegoers embrace the unknown next summer when Marvel Studios delivers the eccentric Guardians of the Galaxy film? And, in the uncharted frontier of digital comics, how far can Marvel’s Infinite Comics go with its ongoing mission to find new readers?

Time will answer those shrouded mysteries, but there may be hints to both in a new release that arrives today in the Marvel digital space: Guardians of the Galaxy Infinite Comics, the first in a special four-issue series (written by Brian Michael Bendis and posted bi-weekly — you’ll find exclusive looks at the art above and below) in the Infinite format.

The Infinite format premiered last year (with Avengers vs. X-Men Infinite Comics) as a re-engineered approach to digital comics. Designed with tablet readers in mind, its nimble panel-controlling options have been generally well-reviewed and there could be a new wave of interest, scrutiny, and critique with the high-profile Guardians title, just the fourth to be available (through the Marvel Comics app) under the initiative’s banner.

Bendis, the comics writer who has become a central figure for Marvel Universe storytelling as it stretches across media, says that Infinite has already represented a cosmic leap for a medium that is still undefined in the public mind. “An Infinite comic book is exploring the new world of digital publication but still maintaining the essential elements that makes a comic book a comic book,” Bendis says. “Most digital comic books are essentially scanned pages that the reader has limited ability to manipulate, but an Infinite comic makes the reader part of the sequential storytelling.”

NEXT: The ballad of Rocky Racoon

The Guardians of the Galaxy also remain undefined in the public mind, and Bendis is hoping Infinite can go a long way toward changing that. Bendis (who writes the just-launched monthly comic book series featuring the Guardians) has written the Infinite series to give four Guardians — Groot, Rocket Raccoon, Drax and Gamora — each a turn in the solo spotlight.

Bendis is writing the ongoing Guardians of the Galaxy comic book series as a four-piece preamble devoted to each of their respective back-stories. “Each one is sort of a prologue to the very first issue that lets the readers know who these characters are and what their individual goals are outside of the team. What makes Gamora tick? What secret is rocket raccoon hiding? What cost comes from being one of the galaxies most famous warriors like Drax the Destroyer?”

NEXT: Guardians head to Hollywood

Marvel Studios big-screen version of the Guardians was announced last summer and arrives next year. Super and Slither director James Gunn is at work in London on the project that represents the most unexpected Marvel Comics adaptation since Lucasfilm’s Howard the Duck in 1986. The Guardians have a talking alien raccoon and a sentient tree titan as members, too, which might require a cosmic leap of faith by many casual movie fans.

Bendis said the heroes are up to the challenge.

“They are very unique individuals but there’s something very classical about them as a group, like Robin Hood and his Merry Men, like Firefly, like Han Solo and Chewbacca,” Bendis says. “The Guardians are characters that have risen above their terrible upbringing and have chosen to do something worthwhile in this lifetime. That makes them heroes. The fact that they are so unique, the fact that most of them are one-of-a-kind, makes them all the more heroic.”

Read more:

Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Movie
  • 122 minutes