This week the Guardians of the Galaxy and The X-Men team up again in Black Vortex, and Superman gets some new powers in Superman #38!
Guardians of the Galaxy and X-Men Black Vortex Alpha #1 (Marvel Comics)
The X-Men and the Guardians of the Galaxy team up again for Black Vortex. Seeing as how their last team up (for the “Trial of Jean Grey”) was a pretty big hit for Marvel, it makes sense that the House of Ideas would want to pair these two teams up again. However, this first chapter by Legendary Star-Lord writer Sam Humphries and drawn by Ed McGuinness leaves a lot to be desired. In fact, it reads less like a sequel to the previous crossover and more like another issue of Peter Quill’s solo book.
The main crux of this crossover is the Black Vortex, a mystical device that can reveal your true power. Apparently Star-Lord’s nemesis (who also happens to be his real father) Mr. Knife has gained control of the device and teamed up with Thanos’ son Thane as well. After Peter Quill and Kitty Pryde discover Knife’s crew, the two return to their respective teams to try and convince them to help stop Mr. Knife before he uses the device to destroy the galaxy.
You’d think that Black Vortex would be pretty new reader friendly. Unfortunately, it’s not. Having only read the first few issues of Legendary Star-Lord, I had no idea about the revelation behind Mr. Knife, and this one-shot doesn’t really set any of this reveal up for you. Quill just starts referring to Mr. Knife as his father, and you’re supposed to run with it. There’s been no mention of this revelation in Guardians of the Galaxy, which makes me wonder if this “reveal” is really the truth or not.
Along with this, Black Vortex also jumps around a lot. It opens with a few scenes setting up the Black Vortex device, and then jumps to the X-Men, then the Guardians, then to Kitty and Peter’s story about finding Mr. Knife with the Black Vortex. The book jumps around so much that it’s kind of hard to keep track of it, especially when characters are moved from one location to the next without an explanation.
Humphrie’s characterizations of the different members of the Guardians and the X-Men don’t really match up that well either. His young Bobby Drake and Rocket are good, but at times it feels like he’s trying to hard to match the tone of the Guardians movie. Sure, the Guardians probably have a “game night”, but having them play Dungeons and Dragons is kind of a stretch.
Even the mighty Ed McGuinness can’t save this introductory issue, mainly because he doesn’t draw the whole thing. While the pages McGuinness does draw are great, the jump from his art to Kris Anka’s is pretty jarring, and definitely takes you out of the book.
Black Vortex is going to be bouncing between Guardians of the Galaxy, Legendary Star-Lord, Guardians of the Galaxy Team-up, All-New X-Men, Cyclops, and X-Men, with each writer taking a different chapter. Hopefully the other ones are better than this one, because right now, Black Vortex seems like a Marvel event that can be skipped over.
Superman #38 (DC Comics)
Superman #38 features a lot of pretty big changes for the Man of Steel. For starters, the Geoff Johns and John Romita, Jr. issue is the finale of big Ulysses story arc, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint on the action front. However, this issue would be a pretty big deal without the giant fight and $4.99 price tag, since it not only give sthe blue boy scout a new superpower, but also takes a pretty big change in the status quo of the Man of Steel as well.
The main draw of this issue is the throw down between Superman and Ulysses, and as I said before, this issue doesn’t mess around when it comes to having these two go toe to toe. Geoff Johns does a really good job of making you feel for Ulysses, who’s just had his planet blow up in front of him. With Johns’ providing his words, Ulysses becomes more than just a villain that Superman can punch; he almost becomes a character that you feel bad for. The battle becomes more and more desperate the longer it goes on, with Ulysses constantly putting innocent people in peril.
Of course, this battle is drawn by John Romita, Jr, an artist who I’ve had some issues with in the past. So how does he fair with this issue? Pretty well actually. There are a few wonky poses and bizarre faces here and there, but the fight scenes are really well done. Romita, Jr definitely brings out his A game for this battle, and showcases what happens when two powerhouses clash perfectly. His depiction of Superman’s new powers is pretty awe inspiring as well.
Superman #38 was a good wrap up for this first part of the Johns/Romita, JR. run. While this storyline has been a little uneven (both in script and art), there’s enough teased here for the future of the run that will keep me interested. While Superman’s new power is a little too Dragon Ball Z for my tastes, its side effects are pretty neat, and the issue’s cliffhanger will definitely make me pick up the next issue.