Aside from a quick check-in with Mister Knife's crew aboard a flying fortress, "Legendary Star-Lord" #9 is one drawn out scene with a lot of posturing and lines being drawn in the proverbial sand. One of the characters is converted by submitting to the Black Vortex and some punches are thrown, but this issue just inches the story forward without widening the scope or deepening the playing field. Writer Sam Humphries and artist Paco Medina play it safe, pacing the story as it nears its first turn in the course.
That's not to say this is a terrible story. Quite simply, the third chapter of "The Black Vortex" is going to be "just another chapter" of the saga. This won't be the turning point that anyone points back to or holds up as critical to the outcome of the story. It's just a necessary chapter that chooses to showcase philosophical differences and magnifies the fissures those differences create.
That plays right into Sam Humphries' strengths, as the writer is given ample opportunity for snarky conversation and bluster. Thane verbally belittles Mister Knife, Rocket is plenty sassy and Drax has moments where he sounds unmistakably like Dave Bautista. The writer balances the larger cast nicely but does so at the expense of this series' titular character. Star-Lord becomes a bit player in favor of the larger, expanding plot. Humphries continues to build up the threat of the Black Vortex, drawing lines in the cosmos between the members of the Guardians of the Galaxy and the X-Men while doing so and reminding readers that the Slaughter Lords aren't going away.
The highlight of "Legendary Star-Lord" #9 is the art from penciler Paco Medina, inker Juan Vlasco and colorist David Curiel. The trio has worked together in space on "Nova," and their experience shines through here, as every page is detailed and vivacious. Some panels are simply filled with cool poses and snarling faces, but Medina, Vlasco and Curiel make those panels look good. Curiel uses a nice array of effects, including hazy constellations and reflective glare, to augment Medina's pencils. The artist makes a lot of great choices in page and panel composition, while keeping every member of the cast visually distinct. Letterer Joe Caramagna joins the crew, bringing along his polished style, energetic exclamations and timeless sound effects. He hits the emphasized words quite nicely and, when Iceman and Drax get into an argument, Caramagna's lettering choices make the argument quite clear.
"Legendary Star-Lord" #9 is a necessary installment in "The Black Vortex" saga, but it doesn't do anything to preserve the integrity of the title, instead giving way to the crossover event. Peter Quill doesn't get much panel time in this comic book, but he does provide a nice gathering spot for the characters to check in with the readers as "The Black Vortex" continues to gather steam.