Cameo appearances are a staple of superhero comics, with big-time heroes like Spider-Man or Wolverine making quick appearances, often for just a couple panels, in the hopes of catching reader interest and driving up sales. This tactic can be seen as a shameless promotion device – and it often is – but once, the Guardians of the Galaxy made a guest appearance in Silver Surfer so ridiculously mundane it ranks as one of the all-time great Marvel cameos.
The cameo coincided with the Guardians of the Galaxy MCU movie and was likely intended to raise interest in the misfit heroes, who were often thieves and mercenaries as well as champions of justice. When it came time for their Marvel comic book cameo, however, the Guardians found themselves in the unlikely role of… customs & immigration officials.
The unexpected appearance happened in the first few pages of Silver Surfer #4, which saw the Surfer return an Earthwoman, Dawn Greenwood, to Earth after she was abducted by aliens. Before they could cross the border into Earth, however, the Surfer and Dawn were detained by none other than the Guardians of the Galaxy, Agent Venom, and Captain Marvel. When the Silver Surfer asked his old allies what was going on, Star Lord informed him that the Guardians were there to make sure nothing dangerous got into Earth – and nothing dangerous came out of Earth.
Dawn immediately caught on, stating that the Guardians of the Galaxy were basically like customs & immigration for an entire planet. Insulted, Star Lord told Dawn that the Guardians of the Galaxy were nothing like customs & immigration – and then proceeded to ask if the visit to Earth would be for business or pleasure. The other Guardians joined in, with Groot and Rocket Raccoon asking if Dawn would be bringing any alien flora or fauna into the system.
When Dawn pointed out the ridiculousness of an anthropomorphic raccoon and his sentient tree asking her if they would be bringing any strange animals or plants to Earth, Agent Venom noted that he was picking up some alien microbes on both Dawn and the Surfer. As the Silver Surfer observed that they were being told they had alien microbes by someone who was the host to an entire alien symbiote, Drax gruffly bombarded the two with a low-level “tick bath” intended to sterilize the microbes.
Fortunately, the interrogation ended after a few panels, but once the Surfer flew off, the readers got to see what the Guardians were really after. Turns out, Drax’s “tick bath” was actually a sneaky way of scanning the Surfer for traces of Galactus’ energy in the event that Norrin Radd was once again working for the Devourer of Worlds and posing a threat to Earth. Since the Surfer had no interest in returning to his herald duties, the Guardians’ entire ruse was completely unnecessary.
Of course, readers knew that the admittedly forced cameo was only done to give the Guardians a little extra screen time in anticipation of their film. Still, the ridiculousness of seeing a group of space cowboys like the Guardians of the Galaxy reduced to acting like mundane Customs & Immigration officials is pretty hilarious. (Although, come to think of it, a comic book about the daily drama of an intergalactic customs & immigration department does sound pretty awesome). In either case, the Guardians ended up going back to their usual space hijinks, making this odd bureaucratic job a one-time gig.