Guardians of the Galaxy & X-Men: The Black Vortex Alpha Review

Posted February 5, 2015 by Spencer Maxwell in Comic Books

Written by: Sam Humphries

Art by: Ed McGuinness & Kris Anka

Publisher: Marvel

The plot of the comic is as absurd as the marketing behind it. Not only is the title absurdly long to ensure that it covers everyone in its audience. But, this comic event has been given a trailer. This is a rare occurrence in this medium. It’s rather evident that this is all in an effort to separate it from the slew of other event comics Marvel churns out every year.

Guardians of the Galaxy & X-Men: The Black Vortex Alpha (or GotG&XMBVA for short) begins by introducing the cosmic creation of the Black Vortex. The structure is a magical mirror that gives those who gaze into it abilities of unimaginable power. The Guardians decide that the object cannot go into the wrong hands, so they recruit the aid of the X-Men (for no reason in particular) to protect it.

Sam Humphries script is a pretty bland introduction to the event. The comic is presented as the inaugural issue, but it mostly serves as a recap of what’s played out in other issues. In between re-informing us, the team is set up so quickly you’ll feel you missed some pages. We also don’t get to understand why the villains have allied, it seems like they team up just because they’re on the same side. The issue speeds through everything in order to catch up the reader for the event.

Humphries does have a strong grasp of these characters. He manages to find the charming sense of fun in all of the protagonists while staying true to who they are. It’s unfortunate that there’s so little of it. This issue would’ve been served much better if it had more emphasis on the characters just simply interacting with one another.


Ed McGuinness and Kris Anka both take over the art for the book. They are very talented, but they’re distinct styles really clash when put together. Both artists handle about half of the book, and it’s completely random as to who will be drawing the next page. Being surprised as to who the artist is on the following page is jarring, and pulls you out of the book. There is no consistency, even in the quality. It’s quite clear that McGuinness and Anka were on a time crunch as some of their pages look great, but others are much weaker in quality. Anka will draw Carol Danvers in a bright and beautiful way, remiscent of 60’s comics, and then her face will look flat giving her the appearance of a snake. McGuinness has a similar problem, but his characters can take after apes when they’re not crafted as well.

There are some great pieces of artwork in this mishmash of styles. The way McGuinness draws the cosmos is stunning. It’s full of stars and at times has an almost wispy, giving it an ethereal quality. It’s so minutely detailed you could get lost in it.

GotG&XMBVA is longer than you’re average issue but doesn’t provide enough to fill a normally paginated comic. There are moments of great work, but its muddied by the inconsistent artwork and expository storytelling. Black Vortex doesn’t do a good job of separating itself from the other event comics.

About the Author

Spencer Maxwell

I write about pretty much everything surrounding nerd culture. @CSpencerMaxwell