Sam Humphries, Ed McGuinness and Javier GarrÃ³n’s “Guardians of the Galaxy & X-Men: The Black Vortex Omega” saga concludes in an extra-sized issue this week and — while it doesn’t close out every plot thread introduced in the crossover — it does leave a mark on many of the characters, including a huge status quo change for a Marvel mainstay.
With all the parts on the table, it looks like writer Sam Humphries was shooting for a young adult version of an X-Men crossover, much lighter in tone and highlighting big adventure. This is a story that could easily fit into the “Ultimate Spider-Man” animated universe, but it doesn’t have the sort of darkness the Guardians and X-Men typically employ. It makes sense, given most of the characters involved are teenagers. Humphries, in a method similar to Jeph Loeb, finds a way to give his artist incredibly cool things to draw. Ed McGuiness and Javier GarrÃ³n turn in some magnificent work, particularly when portraying Kitty Pryde’s big hero moments. The X-Mentor gives into the Black Mirror, creating in her the ultimate power necessary to save the day. McGuiness and GarrÃ³n channel some of the best of the ’70s cosmic trippiness to show the scope and majesty of her heroism.
It’s hard to understand why, exactly, Kitty Pryde becomes this when looking into the mirror. In fact, after a while, it’s hard to see why several characters become what they do through the power of the mirror. Of the early adopters, only Beast and Gamora really justify the way they used their new powers or exactly what the mirror amplified within them. By the end, the mirror delivers powers like “Cyclops looks like a cool adult” or “What if Iceman was an Avatar character” or “I Am Grootiful.” Here, Kitty becomes a cosmic goddess. She seems to retain this status through the end of the issue, though — if she does — it’s a bit unclear how this affects her as a character moving forward. Writing for a broader audience means sacrificing some more adult situations and rich character moments to service bigger, cooler events. This also means many plot threads are just dropped. The Slaughter Lords simply exit stage left, quipping as they go. The horrible threat they imposed on the heroes at the beginning of the tale ends when they react like villains at the end of a cartoon, running off and shaking their fists at the heroes, declaring next time will be different. Even Thane, once a key player, is reduced to brief postscript.
The other big news coming out of the crossover is that Kitty Pryde and Peter Quill are now engaged. Humphries plays the scene as a victory lap for the weary duo but it’s a development that feels a little unearned, which portends bad things for the relationship. Everyone knows the couple is a little too intense about one another and that’s what this feels like. Here’s hoping the writers have an interesting plan for this pairing.
In his recent interview on “The Nerdist,” Bendis stated that — since the film — the influx of younger readers wanting to check out “Guardians of the Galaxy” is staggering, so it’s no surprise the creative teams are pitching to that audience. Readers looking for the dark stakes of Marvel’s past cosmic crossovers will be let down by “The Black Vortex.” However, it is a good story to keep to a younger reader interested in the continuing adventures of their favorite film characters.