In “The Trial of Jean Grey,” Jean learned about her possession by the Phoenix force in full; what Gladiator hadn’t counted on, however, was that she could use this against him. “Guardians of the Galaxy” #13 brings the trial to an actioned-packed conclusion with a turn of events that’ll impact both the All-New X-Men and — to a much lesser extent — the Guardians for stories to come. Brian Michael Bendis, Sara Pichelli, and David Marquez produce a dynamic, visually stunning issue that finally finds Jean coming into her own, albeit with some rushed plotting.
Up until this point in “All-New X-Men,” it seemed as though young Jean Grey couldn’t catch a break, having been involuntarily yanked out of her time, hunted by her future self, and kidnapped by the Shi’ar, all while her male teammates ruthlessly dogged after her with romantic intentions. In the final part of this crossover, however, she finally manages to take her situation into her own hands. Needless to say, this is a refreshing turn from the rather whiny, immature Jean we’ve gotten in the series so far; with the dramatic, intense manifestation of her new psionic ability, Bendis adds an extra dimension to Jean’s powers and gives his “All-New” book a stronger sense of direction. Although Jean doesn’t quite exhibit mastery of this new ability here, it’s compelling to watch her accept her position, take charge, and finally fight back.
Despite the fact the crossover flew under the “Guardians of the Galaxy” flagship in equal part, the Guardians really took a backseat to the X-Men in a lot of ways. This issue, in particular, felt much more about Jean’s journey of acceptance with special guest appearances rather than the Guardian’s main title. In fact, they felt interchangeable with the Starjammers for the duration of the crossover; if their roles had swapped or the Guardians were taken out entirely, the story would have continued in much the same way, albeit with the Summers’ reunion moving up the timeline. That isn’t to say, of course, that the Guardians didn’t add a nice, comedic flavor to the book. On the contrary, they brought a light-hearted, fun tone to an otherwise dark story, which ultimately made for a pleasant and enjoyable read. Nevertheless, their appearance in their own title feels arbitrary outside of Emperor J’son’s involvement in the trial.
Sara Pichelli and David Marquez both tackle the art on this issue with a break in style between the two artists approximately halfway through; however, this doesn’t disrupt the flow of the story. Although both contribute to the story in their own distinct way, their styles mesh together beautifully. What’s more, their layout designs are unconventional, dynamic, and absolutely brilliant; though unusual, they’re astoundingly easy to follow. Often utilizing a double page spread, they manage to capture the epic scope of the battle sequences. Pichelli and Marquez manage to cram a multitude of characters into each panel in an organic, fluid way with sweeping, grandiose purpose; their figures and focus move with an almost cinematic quality. Additionally, Justin Ponsor’s eye-catching colors bring the alien Shi’ar world to life; likewise, his neon pinks for Jean’s psionic ability pop against the backgrounds, giving Jean an ethereal quality that brings her to the center of attention on every page.
As someone who was extremely wary going into “The Trial of Jean Grey,” I came out surprised by how much I enjoyed it. With “Guardians of the Galaxy” #13, Brian Michael Bendis, Sara Pichelli and David Marquez deliver an amusing, devastatingly gorgeous issue despite its uneven pacing and abrupt ending.