When one thinks about cosmic stories and Marvel Comics, it’s hard not to call upon crossovers like the Infinity Trilogy (Infinity Gauntlet, Infinity War, and Infinity Crusade), Secret Wars (the first), Annihilation, The Kree/Skrull War, The Dark Phoenix Saga, or Jonathan Hickman’s Infinity. That’s a pretty serious list of classic and modern cosmic tales. Sam Humphries, however, has added another crossover worthy of that list with The Black Vortex.
The Black Vortex Omega picks up right where Legendary Star-Lord #11 left off, with Kitty Pryde succumbing to the Black Vortex and saving the planet of Spartex from an infestation of Brood. This issue is a satisfactory finale to a crossover that proves some Marvel writers can, in fact, craft an action-packed, well-paced crossover conclusion with the right amount of questions raised and answers given.
Humphries’ character work is outstanding throughout the crossover and that aspect really shines throughout this issue. Kitty, who always seems to ride a fine line between major and secondary character, takes center stage here. Humphries uses Pryde’s role as teacher to the X-Men and amplifies that role to savior. He calls upon her past experiences in space and her wholesome selflessness to empower her with the ability to manipulate the cosmos in a way that feels like a complete natural progression for the character.
Humphries also sprinkles several humorous moments between characters that one wouldn’t necessarily think would have chemistry. Storm jokingly flirts with Rocket in a stand-out moment of dialogue, while Nova and Magick and several X-Men and Guardians seem to build a larger sense of interconnectedness. This interconnectedness – whether it is a character connecting with his/her history or the larger teams with each other – makes Black Vortex Omega feel important.
Another aspect of the plot that provides a sense of importance are the decisions made at the end. The progression of Quill and Pryde’s relationship, the emergence of Thane as more than the whiney, malleable son of Thanos, and each cosmically-enhanced superhero choosing to either keep or give up their cosmic power – all of these provide the perfect amount of questions for the Guardians of the Galaxy and the X-Men’s futures.
If the story stood on its own as a piece of prose it would be great, but add Ed McGuinness and Javier Garrón’s art and the story becomes spectacular. At the very beginning of the issue there are multiple full page spreads of Kitty in her cosmic form. These pages are absolutely beautiful and they suck the reader into the vastness of the universe Humphries has created. There are also significant changes to the appearances of several characters, most notably Groot, Gamora, and Angel. These alterations bring new complexity to the characters that one can only hope will find a place within the larger Marvel continuity.
At first I was unsure if I was going to allow myself to get dragged into another Marvel crossover after being disappointed with so many of the other, recent events/crossovers. Yet, Humphries superb story construction and the epic artwork in The Black Vortex Omega make it a a stellar concluding issue, and the overall crossover well worth the time and money.