In “Legendary Star-Lord” #10 by Sam Humphries, Paco Medina and Juan Vlasco, “The Black Vortex” event is in Chapter 9 out of a total of 13, and it’s time for the villain’s master plan to be revealed.
So far, “The Black Vortex” has been a pretty typical crossover event of the non-Crisis variety. The usual dance steps are: a villain or group of villains poses a big enough threat that it will take more than one major team or hero to contain him or her, various heroes are rounded up, much banter and many head-to-head encounters and battle matchups occur and a final boss battle is staged, with the universe being restored to pretty much normal afterwards. In this sense, “The Black Vortex” hasn’t distinguished itself in plotting.
The stakes are supposed to be cosmic in “Legendary Star-Lord” #10, but it doesn’t feel that way. Mister Knife, allied with Thane and the Brood, threatens the lives of an entire planet and the balance of power in the universe. Humphries and Medina try to humanize the potential victims with a montage of faces across Spartax, but this stale technique falls flat. Just to pick an event with similar scope, Carrie Fisher’s acting in “Star Wars: A New Hope” shows that just one character’s reaction can be enough to carry the burden of emotional impact, but that pathos is missing here. Medina’s facial expressions and body language reactions for the X-Men and Guardians aren’t strong enough to provoke a reaction. Humphries also squanders any guilt from failure or shock by redirecting Star-Lord’s anguish into romantic tension.
Kitty and Peter get a scene to themselves. The kiss scene is melodramatic, staged in a too-obvious cinematic manner, as if the couple was posing for the cameras. Its very familiarity is also pleasurable, especially in the “kiss me!” line, but this artificiality sacrifices believability.
Further interaction between the Guardians and the X-Men is fun but superficial, and every character gets their share of panel time. Peter gets the most characterization, but it’s to his detriment since he acts more immature and divisive than helpful, while Magik gets the best dialogue. The banter has enough energy to it that it may get a “Guardians” reader to pick up an “X-Men” book or vice versa and, in that sense, “The Black Vortex” event is partially successful.
Mister Knife’s master plan is revealed in “Legendary Star-Lord” #10. The pieces of the plan are nothing new, but they fit together fine, and the solid pacing adds narrative tension. Medina’s art has the virtue of being clear, and he handles a large cast and multiple action scenes well. The humorous scene with the Broodling is strong. Medina has a good sense of drama and his transitions are easy to follow. Vlasco’s inks preserve the detail of the pencils, and Curiel’s colors don’t interfere with the action. It’s just the emotional resonance and background detail that are lacking.
“Legendary Star-Lord” #10 holds up its part of the arc, but “The Black Vortex” event isn’t one to remember at this point.