What if… classic 1980s NME covers were re-imagined for the Guardians of the Galaxy’s reality?!

Guardians of the Galaxy leader Star-Lord is obsessed with 1980s music. So to celebrate the release of 'Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy', on all major gaming platforms now, we decided to create an alternate ‘80s reality especially for Star-Lord...

In association with Square Enix
Art by Bill McConkey, design by Simon Freeborough

ever wondered what your favourite NME covers might look like starring Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy characters? It’s a pop-culture mash-up for the ages. If you’ve been enjoying the game or you’re thinking about picking it up, this could be right up your street.

Public Enemy

8 October, 1988

(Bill McConkey for NME)

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Public Enemy were instant NME royalty thanks to their politically super-charged hip hop and strong characters. Flava Flav, in particular, was a hit personality even if his duties in the group were primarily telling the time. The well-meant coverline may have missed the point about hip hop – the aspiration wasn’t to be rock ‘n’ roll, it was to beat it.

In our Guardians of the Galaxy alternate universe, the team’s own rock star, Rocket Raccoon, joins Groot in a power duo. But the best rock ‘n’ roll band in the universe? As Chuck D might say, “Don’t believe the hype.”

Acid Crackdown!

November 19, 1988

(Bill McConkey for NME)

Back in 1988, the acid house scene was gaining steam, and much as it put huge – HUGE – smiles on the faces of the ravers living it up at huge, lawless events, it put frowns on the faces of politicians, the police and the communities whose fields were being turned into soggy superclubs on the regular.

This unusual NME cover features reportage photography of a copper tearing up the proto-emoji known as a ‘smiley’, the symbol of the scene. In our Guardians of the Galaxy alternate universe, it’s superstar team leader Star-Lord who’s doing the crackdown – on the sinister, cult-like Universal Church of Truth wreaking havoc in his part of space.

Echo & The Bunnymen

February 20, 1982

(Bill McConkey for NME)

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It’s almost impossible to explain the tone of early 1980s NME better than a short glance at this typical-of-the-era cover, which features Echo & The Bunnymen singer Ian McCulloch and a horse. The coverline explains: “You can take a white rabbit anywhere.” Wait, what?! What does it all mean? Where am I? Who’s the president?

Our Guardians-ised version substitutes Ian McCulloch for the big-hearted Groot, and the horse for Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy‘s space llama, Kammy, who’s a stowaway on The Milano. So of course, we had to alter the coverline accordingly. Ours makes more sense.

Madness

August 10, 1985

(Bill McConkey for NME)

The self-styled Nutty Boys were a hit singles machine in the 1980s, thanks to the likes of ‘House Of Fun’, ‘Our House’, ‘My Girl’, ‘It Must Be Love’ and about a billion more. A huge part of Madness’s charm was the sense that they were always having a riot of dada-ist japes and skanking.

We think the fun-loving Guardians of the Galaxy would take a similar approach to a music career – and, conveniently, there are five of them. So Mad Dogs & Englishmen became Groot Toys & Earthmen, after our planet’s very own man in the Andromeda Galaxy, Peter ‘Star-Lord’ Quill.

Debbie Harry and Andy Warhol

January 11, 1986

(Bill McConkey for NME)

There are a selection of NME covers blown up to super-size, framed and hung in the office. There are few from the 1980s, but this one is there, in all its bizarre glory. Yes, that’s Andy Warhol, the most famous artist of the 20th century. Yes, it’s Debbie Harry, singer with Blondie. Yes, it looks like Andy has drawn a picture of Debbie from Lego one-ers.

We kept the coverline basically the same in our Guardians-ised version, because it makes about as much sense in either setting.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is out now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC and streaming via GeForce. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Cloud Version for Nintendo Switch is also available now.

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