Much of "Guardians of the Galaxy" #24 is consumed by the collected forces of the X-Men and the Guardians debating what to do with the Black Vortex, a mirror that transforms those daring enough to use it. The tense conversations are a specialty of writer Brian Michael Bendis, and artist Valerio Schiti has a knack to transform even mundane moments into wonderful, mesmerizing compositions.
Schiti is empowered in this endeavor with topnotch coloring from Jason Keith, who adds the star fields associated with cosmic power to each user of the Black Vortex. Keith also brings plenty of glowing, crackling energy and dazzling, sparkling cosmic bodies. Schiti's storytelling is strong throughout "Guardians of the Galaxy" #24, as he tries to keep all of the participants in the picture. The artist does a nice job balancing close shots and landscape presentations, full splash pages and intimate facial expressions. Everything Schiti does impacts the success of this story and adds flavor to a tale nearly overloaded with ingredients.
Those ingredients give Bendis a bit of a challenge, as he spins through the sprawling cast of two-plus teams, ensuring every character has at least one line of dialogue. Some characters expand their own roles organically, such as Peter Quill leading the charge to use the Vortex and Drax, who sides with Kitty Pryde in believing the Vortex should be destroyed. That manufactures plenty of tension in "Guardians of the Galaxy" #24 and sets up further, more intense conflict in the chapters to come.
Bendis also checks in on Thane and Mister Knife, advancing their tale and refreshing readers on the machinations of the Ebony Maw. Bendis makes it obvious to the reader that Thane and Knife will eventually come to an impasse of their own.
"Guardians of the Galaxy" #24 hits the ground with a burst, moving forward and sending out impactful bits of character development, seeds of conflict and threads of adventure, but it presumes its readership knows what is going on. Regular readers of the "Guardians" title -- and only that title -- might get confused, especially if they haven't been keeping up on their X-Men. As with the previous crossover with the X-Men, however, this issue makes Bendis' team feel truly cosmic and important. It's just a darn shame that the X-Men have to be present to bring out the best in Peter Quill and his team.