Last week’s Black Vortex issue ended with the combined forces of the X-Men and the Guardians of the Galaxy bombarded by Mr. Knife’s ship on Spartax’s moon. The cosmically upgraded Beast, Gamora and Angel previously flew off with the ancient artifact of power, leaving them behind. That’s where this issue picks up.
Let’s talk about Andrea Sorrentino’s art first for a change, because it’s beautiful. The opening spread shows a brilliant view of a galaxy, complete with all sorts of lights, stars and galactic details. The various triangles, symbols, circled focal points and diagrams illustrate Old Beast’s cosmic awareness through the artifact’s power. The rest of the comic also looks fantastic, whether it’s the lighting, the looks of awe from the aliens below or the bombardment when the Kree attack the cosmically enhanced heroes. Despite the subdued colours in certain panels, it’s always easy to tell who you’re looking at in close-ups. The only minor flaw is one panel where Jean Grey’s hair appears shorter than usual. Otherwise the art is flawless, and Marvel will likely benefit from Sorrentino’s recently announced exclusivity deal.
Brian Michael Bendis’s writing isn’t as good, but it’s still strong overall. The Beast’s narration while he describes his newfound cosmic knowledge is intriguing, and the three characters are obviously proud of their new abilities. Despite this, there are still traces of their normal personalities. At the same time, their cosmic awareness makes them unable to see all the harm they’re causing, and Ronan is still powerful enough to fight Gamora. It’s good to know there are limits to the black vortex’s power. A lot happens in this comic. The cosmic trio are attacked and they later start a massive battle, the X-Men recover from Mr. Knife’s bombardment and try to avoid Knife’s own cosmically enhanced thugs in the aftermath. Then of course the comic ends with Cyclops showing up. The last bit isn’t really a spoiler considering Cyclops 12 is part of the crossover.
Most of the dialogue is good, but a couple lines feel rushed and a few details are glossed over. Beast asking who Ronan is feels wrong, especially since he works with SWORD and often travels into space. When Nova says “we’re way overpowered”, does he mean outgunned? He’s not part of the cosmically enhanced group. And why is X-23 hurt so bad when everyone else is merely scratched (she was standing at the end of the last issue)? Taking a direct hit from Mr. Knife’s ship would explain this, but we never see that happen and she shows no visible injuries. These flaws don’t ruin the comic, but they do lesson its overall quality.
Ignoring the flaws, this is a fantastic comic and one that raises the stakes for the Black Vortex crossover. More players have entered the field and every indication suggests this crossover will only grow more epic next month. The flaws downgrade the comic to somewhere between good and great. If you’ve been enjoying the crossover so far, you’ll enjoy this entry. If an X-Men/Guardians of the Galaxy crossover involving an ancient artifact of power sounds interesting, this crossover is at least worth a read.