The idea of a crossover between “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “All-New X-Men” — both written by Brian Michael Bendis — is fun. With the time-displayed Jean Grey’s future self being the link between the two books, I don’t mind the basic premise behind this story, as the Shi’ar kidnap what appears to be a restored-to-life Jean and put her on trial again. But in the end, it’s Sara Pichelli and Stuart Immonen’s art that saves the day, because this story feels flimsier with each new chapter.
The biggest problem is that there’s no real backbone to “The Trial of Jean Grey.” There are some flashy ideas peppered throughout each issue, but none of them have the courage of their convictions. Take, for instance, the sudden resurrection of Corsair and the rest of the Starjammers, all suddenly reunited. As an attempt to have the time-displaced Scott Summers suddenly meet his father — again — it’s a good emotional pivot point. But in terms of something from a plotting standpoint, it doesn’t make any sense. I’m not expecting any sort of long explanation (it would probably feel a little out of place) but the utter lack of any sort of reasoning on why dead characters are alive and how everyone’s reunited makes the moment feel a bit hollow when you stop and think.
In the end, that’s “The Trial of Jean Grey” in a nutshell. When Oracle figured out in a previous issue that this Jean Grey is not only from the past but also has no memory at all of her genocide — because to her it hasn’t happened yet — the entire story should have shut down right there. Instead it limps along. Even little details like Gladiator being part of the Imperial Guard again (while also leading the Shi’ar Empire) look good at a glance, but make no sense when you stop and think. Why are these things happening? Because it looks good, not because it fits well with the story being told.
On the bright side, Pichelli’s art looks fantastic. Her characters are soft and energetic, and where else can you get such a great drawing of Rocket Raccoon making a grossed-out face? She’s especially great at drawing crowd scenes (like the one with the Guardians, X-Men, and Starjammers all in the same room), but no matter what the panel, it’s a winner. The expressions on everyone’s faces tell the story far better than the dialogue does; from exasperation to excitement to fear, every single one has a message for the reader. Immonen pitches in for a spot of art, and his style meshes well with Pichelli. It certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s already drawing the “All-New X-Men” chapters of the crossover, but regardless, it’s a smooth transition.
I wish that “Guardians of the Galaxy” #12 and “The Trial of Jean Grey” as a whole was working a bit better. This issue doesn’t even have the snappy one-liners that the previous chapter did (I loved Iceman admitting he was talking to Rocket Raccoon because it made him feel like a Disney Princess), so what spark there once was is now curiously vacant. With two chapters to go, I suppose things could turn around, but for now this is a crossover that is all image and no substance. Very pretty image, though.