“The Black Vortex” has overextended itself as a storyline, as evidenced by this week’s chapter in “The Legendary Star-Lord” #11. Writer Sam Humphries tries to stretch the single plot point across the entire issue, doing his best to create enough drama to make the purchase of this issue worth the reader’s dollar, but the story just isn’t there.
The issue is comprised of many low panel-count pages that display Paco Medina’s handsome art but does little create an impact to the story as a whole. Medina puts in a great effort to make the proceedings look dynamic, adding active shot choices and making the most of the blown-out art opportunity. His splash pages are bold and colorist David Curiel adds good depth and hue to the cosmic scene.
The issue’s conflict — who should submit to the Vortex to save Spartax — is answered before the end of the first page, since Peter Quill is not even the driving voice of the issue’s narrative. Readers survey the goings-on from Kitty Pryde’s point of view and, though Humphries tries to create a rhythm to her narration, it winds up feeling repetitive. Quill has very little dialogue in the issue, serving mostly as a supporting player with a fantasy sequence of his submission told through large paneled and mostly silent pages. It’s a sequence that could be done in a single page but clearly pads the issue, since — at this point — readers following the story know what the Vortex does and have seen this situation play out several times already in more concise fashion; just last week, Kelly Sue DeConnick played this same beat in “Captain Marvel” in half a page with just as much impact.
What’s interesting is that so much of the forward momentum of this crossover happened over a month ago, yet readers are still waiting to see the climax of that action take place, like it has been encased in amber by Thane. The last several chapters of this story have been facility issues to get all the chess pieces on the proper squares of the board, so that the big blowout battle can finally happen on panel in the final issue of the story. In fact, much of the entire crossover has been repetition. The Vortex falls into someone’s lap; they look into it and wonder what life would be like as a cosmic superpower; they submit or they do not; Gara of Viscardi appears to tell everyone the Vortex is bad; the Vortex is yoinked and taken to a new location; wash, rinse and repeat. Gara’s warnings are a bit of a joke at this point, as many of the key players of the story have submitted and have yet to break reality the way she claims they will.
Though there are a lot of problems with the issue, it’s hard to fault the creators; it’s more of a problem with the schedule. From a sales perspective, it’s understandable to want to throw together the X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy for as long as possible. The problem is that a story that is this long needs to really justify its existence. Though the people of Spartax are the victims in this chapter, the book itself the real victim of “The Black Vortex.”