Dec 22, 2015

[Comics] Guardians of the Galaxy & X-Men: The Black Vortex

So I picked up the comics related to The Black Vortex crossover event since I was curious about the Marvel NOW! version of the Guardians of the Galaxy, plus this title is remembered as the last big crossover event before Secret Wars reboots the Marvel Universe. At $0.99 an issue, why not, right?

But the event in itself spans across a weird mix of titles including those related to the Guardians of the Galaxy and a few X-Men titles. And while I haven't exactly been a big fan of the Avengers mixing it up with the Guardians, having the X-Men try their luck didn't really sound all that appealing either. But hey, bottom of the barrel here. The joys of sale-bin-priced comics.

The title was a little confusing at times and felt too much like a rehash of the concept that drove the third act of Avengers vs X-Men. What is it about mutants and needing to master cosmic powers, right? And with so many characters involved in this story for one reason or another, the final result can be quite messy indeed.

Or maybe I'm just not sold on how much the comics have had to take a page from the movies in terms of how they define the character personalities now.

Synopsis: The Black Vortex is a Marvel comic book crossover event primarily penned by Sam Humphries, Brian Michael Bendis and Gerry Dugan. In full the story spans 13 issues across 8 different titles.


The main lead-up to this event was covered in the pages of Legendary Star-Lord as Peter Quill has increasingly heard rumors about a powerful artifact known as the Black Vortex. The mirror-like item is said to offer tremendous powers to those prepared to wield it, although many also speak of the inevitable tragedy that will follow. Finally, it becomes evident that Mr. Knife, who is actually Peter's father and deposed king of Spartax, has possession of the Black Mirror and has already imbued his Slaughter Squard with cosmic power. Thus Quill reaches out to the X-Men in the hopes that they might be able to find a way to steal the Black Vortex from Mr. Knife. The X-Men eventually agree to help with a team that also includes Kitty Pryde's young time-displaced students from the past.

First, the Black Vortex as an artifact somehow tied to the enigmatic Celestials felt too powerful to have never been discussed before. I know, I know, the writers only came up with it for this story line, but still. You'd think that more people would talk about something that gives individuals cosmic-level powers after all. And it does't even make it difficult - you just see the person you want to be in the mirror and you just have to submit to it to gain the power. This felt weird, even for the Celestials.

Of course something like that inevitably leads to the heroes deciding to gain the power of the Black Vortex as well in order to face their already cosmically-powered enemies. Again this is what felt too much like AvX complete with personalities changing one they gain the powers and benevolent goals and intentions resulting in widespread chaos and destruction. Seriously guys, we need to stop super-charging mutants as a plot device!

Most of the story consists of one group or another managing to take the Vortex and the inevitable arguments about how it was lost and how to get it back. We have Mr. Knife, our heroes, the heroes who fall to the temptation of the Vortex, Thane the son of Thanos and eventually the Kree, because why not. All of these groups want the Vortex and at one point in time or another they actually manage to gain it. And then it gets stolen and more chasing ensues. This was not very stellar writing, people. This is what happens when we want to turn a fluff piece action movie into a written story.

And then the final resolution provides little satisfaction as a lot of the status quo is changed but to no real effect since by now we know the whole Marvel universe is set reboot at this point so no big deal. And entire planet gets decimated in this crossover event and it doesn't feel all that terrible since we know that things are going to go through a reboot cycle. What gives, right?

Guardians of the Galaxy & X-Men: The Black Vortex is one of the stranger crossover titles I've read in awhile - and this is coming from a guy who went through all the Thanos-related titles that came out over the years. So the story can only really get 3 uncomfortable romantic moments between Peter Quill and Kitty Pryde out of a possible 5.


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