Last week’s Black Vortex Alpha kicked off the X-Men/Guardians of the Galaxy crossover with a fun comic. It had minor problems, most notably with a couple out of character moments and some mediocre art toward the end, but it showed that this event has plenty of potential. The best part of that issue was the flashback, showing the history behind the ancient artifact and hinting at why it’s been hidden away for so many years. This is Sam Humphries first attempt at heading a large crossover like this, so let’s see if he can pull it off.
Guardians of the Galaxy 24 picks up exactly where the previous issue left off, with cosmically enhanced Gamora facing off against Mr. Knife’s squad of cosmic killers. The opening fight scene is fun, with Gamora outfighting Mr. Knife’s men while the others take the Black Vortex away. There’s a few moment of amusing banter both during and after the fight that only makes it more entertaining. After that, this issue explores each characters’ opinions regarding the artifact and what to do with it. It doesn’t advance the plot much, but it’s necessary to establish where every character stands. It also begins the advertised decline in Star Lord and Kitty’s relationship in a believable way.
Brian Michael Bendis handles the massive cast well. Everyone’s opinion feels in character, from Star Lord’s positive outlook to Kitty Pryde’s hesitation. Some characters want to outright destroy the artifact, and others suggest that everyone should upgrade themselves. It’s also noteworthy that old and young beast have similar yet different reactions, demonstrating how old beast has become a much darker character over the years. There are maybe a few characters whose dialogue feels a bit off, but the sentiment behind their words always matches their personalities.
The villains also get their own little scenes, both Thane and Mr. Knife. This is where most of the story progress comes in. While these scenes only hint at the crossover’s future, they work quite well in establishing conflicts within. One moment suggests that Mr. Knife might not even be the worst villain involved. The issue then ends with a cliffhanger that, while a bit unclear as to what happened, could lead to serious problems for the Universe if the later solicitations are any indication.
The art by Valerio Schiti is great. Gamora’s cosmically enhanced form is breathtaking with the glowing stars in her cape and her glowing eyes. The environmental detail on the Spartex moon is impressive, from the ruins on the surface to the city-covered planet in the distance. Facial expression do a great job at capturing character’s thoughts and emotions, and everyone’s costumes are drawn in full detail. The one panel after a second hero is cosmically enhanced is particularly special, with all sorts of fancy effects and objects. That said, the best panel might just be the issue’s closer, which I won’t spoil.
Somehow, Bendis manages to juggle this event’s large cast and explores everyone’s opinion of the artifact. That alone makes this an impressive issue. My only real complaint is that the cover, while nice, has nothing to do with the contents within. The cover disconnect seems to happen a lot with Guardians of the Galaxy issues. In any case, the second part of Black Vortex is a strong entry and is definitely worth checking out for anyone who is interested in this crossover.