Graphic Novels Review: Legendary Star-Lord: Rise of the Black Vortex; All-New X-Men: The Utopians

Legendary Star-Lord: Rise of the Black Vortex

Legendary Star-Lord: Rise of the Black Vortex - Credit: Archant

The Black Vortex crossover creates compilation problems for the two very different Marvel titles

All-New X-Men: The Utopians

All-New X-Men: The Utopians - Credit: Archant

(Panini Books)

In trying to collect consecutive runs of both these titles regardless of the fact that a recent large chunk of both series was taken up with The Black Vortex crossover (reviewed here) means there are issues contained in these volumes which make very little sense on their own.

It might have been preferable to steer readers towards the crossover volume and then come back in its wake for the aftermath, as in order to follow what’s happening otherwise is pretty impossible. It also means you have to double dip with the same issues collected both in these books and The Black Vortex.

As it stands, it’s probably easier to review the remaining issues of each title, even though they are largely focused on events surrounding the all-powerful Black Vortex itself.

There’s an almost desperate attempt to encourage the audience to believe in the relationship between X-Man Kitty Pryde and Star-Lord Peter Quill in his own eponymous title, despite it being conducted via hologram while the former is on Earth with her mutant students and the other is caught up with various dodgy shenanigans both with his Guardians of the Galaxy team-mates and on his own reconnaissance.

Although we’re supposed to cringe at the unfortunate circumstances surrounding their first proper date, with Peter trying to avoid Kitty finding out about his confrontations with members of the deadly Slaughter Squad in order to avoid upsetting their evening, ultimately it’s for all the wrong reasons.

Like a poor sit-com, it isn’t funny, it isn’t clever and it isn’t good. Writer Sam Humphries fails to deliver on all the promises of the first volume, and instead leaves the reader shifting uncomfortably during the voyeuristic events of this storyline, which culminates in Kitty abandoning her X-Men charges after jumping into bed with Quill following an unconvincing rescue sequence. No style, and no substance.

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In contrast, Brian Michael Bendis continues to entertain with his tales of the time-tossed teenage X-Men from days of yore, now trying to find a place for themselves in the present day.

Unlike Humphries, Bendis excels at humorous interplay between his characters, with a first-class ear for dialogue and lovely moments of charm which are never forced. Sure, he often falls short when it comes to plotting, but at the end of the day I’d rather that than the lacklustre space pirate escapades that Humphries is responsible for.

Prior to the events of The Black Vortex we have an excellent team-up between Jean Grey and Emma Frost, with the White Queen thrusting her young prodigy into a dangerous field mission as part of her “teaching programme”, ultimately helping to further move the teenager away from her apparent destiny as the host of the Phoenix Force. Undoubtedly one of the strongest single issues in the series’ entire run, and worth the admission price on its own!

Then in the wake of the crossover is an interesting tale looking at what happens to those mutants who just want to be left alone, and have no interest in joining in the latest battle against the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants or signing up to save the world.

The Utopians of the book’s title find themselves up against the X-Men and SHIELD after moving into the former’s abandoned island base, once known as Utopia, and being perceived as an unknown threat which needs to be removed.

Somewhat surprisingly, this is the final collection from this run of All-New X-Men, with the team set to return following the multiverse-shattering events of Secret Wars. Given the time and reality twisting nature of that particular epic, one might have expected the young X-Men to return to their own era as a consequence of what is happening in the wider Marvel Universe, but in contrast it really does look as though they’re here to stay, and what that means for the X-Men’s past and future remains to be seen…

More first class work from Bendis, proving once again why he’s one of Marvel’s best.