Guardians Team-Up #3 brings readers to the halfway point of The Black Vortex crossover and it’s finally starting to feel like the epic, cosmic event it was billed as. Up until now, it’s played out as a space adventure that the X-Men stumbled into with the Guardians of the Galaxy but Sam Humphries raises the stakes and adds surprising depth to the transformed characters as the story propels forward, picking up more cast members and plot points as it goes.
The main focus of this issue is Ronan as he finds himself and the Kree under attack by Beast, Gamora, and Angel, all transformed by the Black Vortex, now on the Kree homeworld of Hala. Continuing the ongoing theme of temptation of power, Ronan finds himself struggling with the decision to use the Black Vortex on himself so that he can defend his homeworld. How does this story fit in a Guardians of the Galaxy team-up title? It really doesn’t. The third issue is very early to be throwing a new title into a crossover but that’s what we have here. The bloated cast of this crossover is spread far and thin across the galaxy, doing different things so the only actually Guardian to interact with Ronan is Star-Lord and calling it a team-up is stretching the books’ premise very thin. Still, it’s a good character piece for Ronan, a character who’s often played as one-dimensional and Humphries gives much needed development to the characters who got “vortexed up” issues ago. No longer do they seem like crazy versions of themselves but Humphries successfully manages to play up the fact that the characters, once vortexed, are actually just extremely ambitious with power to back it up. His work on one particular character leads to a nervous breakdown that many readers will find very satisfying. Throw in some additional scenes that move the event’s other pieces moving and you have a solid chapter to a crossover that’s been painfully slow up until now.
Mike Mayhew’s art is a solid fit for a space story, tackling the alien designs and the cosmic vortexed looks with ease. Combined with Rain Beredo’s colors, the sleek figures pop against the background, giving the whole issue a very sleek look. The action scenes feel a bit crammed together but the art team manages to nail the bigger moments such as Ronan’s final decision and Thane’s fury.
With Secret Wars looming over everything else, it’s difficult to invest in anything else going on in the Marvel Universe right now but filled with intriguing character moments, high stakes, and a genuine feel of unpredictability, The Black Vortex crossover is shaping up to be much more than many might have anticipated. As long as the pace keeps up, I’m on board.
The Verdict: 7.0/10