The idea behind the Black Vortex crossover is a good one. An ancient artifact, gifted to a planet 12 billion years ago, gives those who submit to it cosmic powers. But at the same time, it multiplies any dark nature they might have, making it a huge problem. Over the years it’s destroyed civilizations, obliterated planets and has turned morally ambiguous powerhouses into completely irredeemable villains. The crossover involved mainly the Guardians of the Galaxy and the X-Men, with Sam Humphries of Legendary Star-Lord at the helm. So how did it turn out?
The first half of the event was actually pretty good. It not only set the event up with several big fight scenes, but touched on every character’s thoughts on the artifact. Guardians of the Galaxy 25, the mid-point of the crossover, is easily the best issue. The fights are intense, the interactions are fun and the destruction of Hala came as a surprising moment that will no doubt change the Marvel Universe. Since then though, the event has gone way downhill. From this point on there will be spoilers.
In Legendary Star-Lord 10, cosmically upgraded Thane encased the entire planet of Spartax in his amber freezing power, effectively sidelining a whole bunch of characters that he obviously didn’t know what to do with. The only truly good issue since then was Captain Marvel 14. That issue focused on Carol Danvers’s thoughts, gave us a great fight scene that affected the event’s outcome and used expensive car analogies to describe the Black Vortex in a brilliant way.
This comic on the other hand finally solves the amber situation with Kitty Pryde’s cosmic upgrade. The solution just feels too easy, and breezes aside the entire fight with Mr. Knife’s slaughterlords. Ronan’s anger toward the Guardians of the Galaxy and the X-men is completely misplaced, especially since he witnessed them help defend Hala before its destruction. Some of the characterization is just bizarre, whether it’s X-23 saying “I totally called it” after Kitty accepts Peter Quill’s proposal, or Storm casually asking Rocket Raccoon to be her wedding date. Furthermore, it completely ignores what emotional turmoil there might be for those encased in the amber for so long.
That said, this isn’t a bad issue, it’s just a disappointing one. The character focus on cosmically upgraded Kitty Pryde works well enough, and she shares several touching moments with Star-Lord after the main conflict. The way her cosmic upgrade works is fascinating and I’m sure we’ll see it play out in a variety of ways in the future. Also, Mr. Knife’s punishment is awesomely justified. While it’s barely explores them, those who turn back their cosmic upgrades and those who keep them do so with reasons that make sense for each character.
The art by Ed McGuinness and Javier Garron is good. Their styles fit so well together that, besides some characters’ haircuts, it’s hard to tell the difference. Everything is well-detailed, whether it’s the wide-variety of characters, the amber on Spartax or the lovely space backgrounds. Cosmic Kitty Pryde looks great, whether it’s her ghost-like form or her more usual look, just with stars appearing on her clothes. This issue has flaws, but the art certainly isn’t among them.
For an event that started off fairly well, the lackluster second half made for an overall ok event. It was intriguing enough that I would give Sam Humphries a second chance should he lead another, but he should aim for something with a bit of a smaller scale and try to give every involved character something to do instead of sidelining them. If you’ve read the rest of the event you should pick this up anyway, but since this event mostly focuses on Kitty Pryde and Star-Lord, I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone who isn’t a fan of their relationship.