With three issues of the Black Vortex crossover out today, I’ll be reviewing two of them and briefly talking about the third. The last issue left off with a bit of a disappointing action issue, which didn’t actually have that much action. It was a decent character study for Ronan and what he’s willing to sacrifice for his planet, but considering he was barely in the event beforehand, it kind of came out of nowhere. Brian Michael Bendis wrote chapter 7, Guardians of the Galaxy 25, Gerry Duggan wrote chapter 8, Nova 28, and Sam Humphries wrote chapter 9, Legendary Star-Lord 10.
Guardians of the Galaxy 25 may be $5, but you get an extra 10 pages out of it. On an individual level, this is the best issue of the crossover so far. It’s full of action involving the heroes, Kree accusers and Mr. Knife’s forces. Jean Grey makes great use of her psionic abilities at one point – probably the best moment in the comic. Even with all the action, there’s still room for a few character moments. Beast shows great regret for harming the time-space continuum and even Gamora is acting different while trying to hold back the darkness of the Black Vortex. The full scope of the ancient artifact of power’s corruption is revealed, capping the issue off with serious destruction that will surely have ramifications down the road.
The art by Valerio Schiti is great. There’s plenty of detail in the environments, whether it’s the supreme intelligence in his chamber complete with everyone in the background or the brilliant panel where Beats is analyzing time with his cosmic awareness. The action flows well from panel to panel while still embracing the pure chaos. When Mr. Knife attacks there’s tons of debris flying around. Facial expressions perfectly capture the horror on characters’ faces after the destruction is complete, and there’s also a good variety of angry glances, looks of despair and Mr. Knife’s smug grin.
Nova 28 continues shortly after Guardians of the Galaxy 25 ends, and is mostly Nova trying to keep the artifact away from the villains. It’s a decent issue, but in many ways it’s more of a Nova comic than a part of the crossover. He stops by his home at one point, the Collector shows up and his sister almost submits. The story is fairly straight forward but it does a good job at showing Nova’s conflict on whether he should submit or not. It should be said that this comic does have a few important moments for the crossover, but it’s still possible to understand the next issue without it.
Nova 28 ended with Thane submitting to the Black Vortex for his cosmic upgrade, and he begins this issue by using his “living death” amber power on the entire planet of Spartax. Keep in mind that a group of our heroes are on the planet at the time and also suffer this living death. Having read Jonathan Hickman’s Infinity event and not liking it, I didn’t care much for Thane either way. It felt like he’s trying to be a good person, and even in this event he only seemed interested in taking the power so that he could kill Thanos. But then he uses his living death power on an entire planet – there’s no redemption for him at this point. This also confirms the absolute corrupt nature of the Black Vortex artifact, and that Thane and Mr. Knife both deserve to die horrible deaths.
If the living death isn’t enough, the brood start invading the planet. It leaves us with a very intense cliffhanger where an entire planet’s population hangs in the balance. Starlord comes to a realization regarding the Black Vortex and there’s a really nice moment between him and Kitty Pryde, but it’s overshadowed by how dark this issue is. I’m not sure how I feel about this issue after two reads, and I might not be able to decide until after next week’s chapter. It’s dramatically effective though; I physically feel it in my gut.
The art by Paco Medina is great. Cosmically enhanced Thane looks intimidating, even if his outfit is a bit silly. The panel where he starts covering the planet with amber is impressive, with the planet-sized city well detailed, the amber spreading from Mr. Knife’s ship and the glow of the sun peeking over the side. The people frozen on the planet surface are unnerving, as are the looks of horror from Starlords’ group after they arrive on the scene. Every panel is full of colour and detail.
If you’re enjoying Black Vortex so far, Guardians of the Galaxy 25 is the best issue yet, and Legendary Star-Lord 10 is pretty much the worst case scenario for the combined forces of the X-Men and the Guardians of the Galaxy. Nova 28 isn’t necessary to understand what’s going on, but it’s at least worth reading. I’m not sure how I feel about Star-Lord 10, but next week’s issue should help me figure that out. At the very least, Guardians 25’s intensity and Star-Lord 10’s darkness more than make up for last week’s slower issues.