Because Guardians Team-Up 3 is part of the Black Vortex crossover, yet the first issue only released on March 4, they delayed the crossover until the first two issues could have been released. Considering they also delayed All New X-Men 37 so that it released after issue 38, one has to wonder why they couldn’t do the same here, or at least release Team-Up 2 and 3 in the same week. I don’t know, Marvel’s releases have been very weird lately and this might continue until Secret Wars ends. Since Black Vortex part 5 and 6 both released this week, I might as well review them both in one post.
All New X-Men 39, written by Brian Michael Bendis, takes place sometime after All New X-men 38. Cyclops has rejoined the rest of the All New X-Men, the trio of cosmically powered heroes have attacked Hala and Mr. Knife is continuing his rampage against Starlord’s allies. The joint forces of the X-Men and the Guardians of the Galaxy receive several distress calls and must split into teams. If there is a flaw with this comic, it’s that the Cyclops/Iceman/Groot team is significantly underpowered when compared to the others, even if they’re heading into what seems to be the least dangerous situation. The cliffhanger ending isn’t touched on in Guardians Team-Up 3, but I’m sure we’ll see what’s going on soon.
This is a very character-focused issue. Cyclops faces the anger of his friends after leaving them to travel in space with his father, and his interactions are quick yet very well-written. Despite all the changes they’ve gone through, Scott and Jean still care deeply about each other, and although X-23 showed signs of attraction to Cyclops, she realizes this enough to offer words of advice before stepping back. Everyone feels in character, and Bendis continues to have a better handle on Laura’s dialogue as time goes on. It kind of makes me hope that she’ll appear in his Old Man Logan tie in for Secret Wars.
The painted art by Andrea Sorrentino is this issue’s real highlight. The pages where the cosmically enhanced characters show their powers are always impressive, especially when Cosmic Gamora, Old Beast and Angel attack Hala. The first page where “Hala the crown jewel of the Kree Empire” is written in big, bold letters showing the fiery carnage highlights this perfectly. Also impressive is the page showing space, complete with star patterns, cosmic gasses and Mr. Knife’s flying fortress on a 9-eyed space monster. Even if some faces don’t have much detail, it’s easy to read character expressions and their varied outfits easily separate them. The only flaw I can think of is that Laura is missing her gold and blue highlights, but that’s a minor issue in an otherwise beautiful looking comic.
Guardians Team-Up 3 kicks off pretty much where ANXM 39 ended, with one team assisting Hala’s defense while another rushes to an orphanage under attack by a mysterious force. The team selection works fine, with the most powerful team heading to Hala to fight Beast, Gamora and Angel. The orphanage scene is brief yet effective, bringing back a character we haven’t seen since Black Vortex: Alpha and further implying the corrupt nature of the Black Vortex.
The Hala fight is intense, mostly taking place above the planet. With the cosmic trio easily outfighting the Kree, Captain Marvel, Drax and Nova, Ronan is forced to make a decision that labels him a traitor. Ronan’s narration nails home his dedication to the Kree Empire. Besides Ronan, the only character with any sense of development in GTU 3 is Old Beast, who comes to a much needed realization through his cosmic awareness.
Mike Mayhew’s art is great. It’s not as detailed as Sorrentino’s, but it’s much more traditional and clean looking, with plenty of bright colours. The opening spread shows the battle above Hala, displaying the sheer scope of the main fight scene. Ronan’s new look is impressive, as if his usual look isn’t intimidating enough.
These two issues have different strengths, but they’re both very good. The first has several great character moments and good story progress. The second is full of intense action and some fun Starlord antics. They both have great art. With these two issues out, the crossover is half done (excluding the upcoming Nova tie-in). So far, the plot’s moving fairly quick yet there’s been enough time to explore characters and consequences. If you’ve been enjoying the crossover so far, you’ll enjoy these issues. If not, they probably won’t change your mind.