Guardians of the Galaxy & X-Men: The Black Vortex Alpha (Marvel)

BlackVortex Alpha

CREDIT: Marvel Comics

Rating: 3/5 – A Less Than Stellar Beginning To This Cosmic Event.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Adam Alamo.

Last year’s crossover, “The Trial of Jean Grey,” featured the unlikely pairing of the Guardians of the Galaxy and the All-New X-Men. I thought it was a pretty good story and out of it we got a nice romance brewing between Peter “Star-Lord” Quill and Kitty Pryde. The Black Vortex crossover once again sees these two teams unite, plus other heroes thrown into the mix for good measure. I already read four of the seven books included in the crossover, so rather than bow out of the event I decided to go all in. However, after reading the debut issue in the crossover, Guardians of the Galaxy & X-Men: The Black Vortex Alpha, I’m not convinced I made the best decision.

Of the books I read, Cyclops is the only one that has mentioned the much-coveted Black Vortex and hinted at its power. That being the case, I thought this issue would be the true lead-in to all the galactic rumors surrounding this prize – what it is, where it came from, what it does, and how our loveable bunch of heroes got mixed up in all of this. And while this issue certainly answers some of these questions, I felt like I just walked into a continuation of the story playing out in Legendary Star-Lord rather than any real beginning to the event. It makes some sense, since Legendary Star-Lord scribe Sam Humphries is writing this issue, but it’s one of the books I’m not currently reading. Sure, there’s a brief synopsis at the beginning and I certainly didn’t have trouble jumping into the story in progress, but I guess I had different expectations. There wasn’t much subtly or nuance to the story and no real mystery or buildup leading up the discovery of the Black Vortex. It was just sort of there with the deposed emperor of Spartax, from whom Peter and Kitty steal it. I like easy to follow, straightforward stories, but this one felt too simple and rushed all around for the lead off book in a multiple issue event. There was plenty of action and trademark GotG humor to enjoy, and Humphries certainly knows these characters. I particularly liked the Dungeons and Dragons scene, which showcased just how geeky our tough and gruff Guardians can be. The X-Men also trade quite a few humorous quips. I think it’s the humor between these two teams that once again makes them a great pairing.

Pencils for this issue are credited to Ed McGuinness, with “additional pencils” by Kris Anka. Usually, a comic will tell you which pages were penciled by which artist. I don’t know the reason for keeping this one enigmatic, but the changes in art throughout the issue are noticeable. The issue starts off with some detailed line work and slowly morphs into more cartoony, less detailed art. Having some experience with McGuinness’s art, I suspect the more detailed the lines, the more the pencils belong to him. Those were the pages I tended to enjoy the most. There are also various inkers on this issue, which I’m sure had something to do with the inconsistent feel of the art. For an oversized book that kicks off a crossover event, I would have expected fewer “cooks in the kitchen.”

This first issue in the Black Vortex event didn’t blow me away. At best I found it average, which may be OK in the middle of a 13-part crossover event, but not what I expected right out of the gate. It was funny, action-packed, and featured some solid art, but overall it lacked the gravitas that I think the kick-off issue for an event needs. Future parts may include what I’m looking for and I’m hopeful given the array of writers and books that I already enjoy. I’m a fan of these characters and the current state of Marvel’s cosmic titles, so despite any feelings I have for this initial entry, I’m still willing to give this event a shot.

Reviewed by: Adam Alamo
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