“The Black Vortex is an ancient artefact with the power to unlock the cosmic potential within yourself. Imagine the metamorphosis that turned Norrin Radd into the Silver Surfer — or Jean Grey into Dark Phoenix — available to you. This is an artefact with the ability to change any character, or alter the Marvel Universe forever.”
Sam Humphries, writer of ‘Legendary Star Lord’
The Black Vortex is coming! As Humphries asks, “What happens when one person submits to the Black Vortex and becomes a titan of the cosmos? What happens when a whole team does it? Or a whole planet?” The history of this legend will be unveiled in an Alpha issue, with the story concluding in an Omega. And, as we eagerly await its arrival, I want to take a quick look at the story so far, and explore the exciting possibilities and teasers we already know!
Legendary Star Lord
In many ways, this is the core book of ‘Black Vortex’ – this is Sam Humphries’ baby! He pitched the event at two Marvel retreats, and Marvel jumped on board.
Whispers have spread across the galaxy of a new villain on the cosmic stage, known as Mr. Knife. Only when he was captured by Mr. Knife did Star Lord learn Mr. Knife’s true identity – his own father, J-Son, the deposed tyrant! Brutal and efficient, he runs a team known as the Slaughter Squad.
Under Mr. Knife’s leadership, in #5 the Slaughter Squad retrieved the Black Vortex itself.
Star Lord’s relationship with Kitty Pryde has been struggling – long-distance relationships and holo-dates make for an awkward time – but when Star Lord was captured on a holo date, Kitty decided to go to her man’s rescue. In #7, she’s been very much successful, pulling off a daring raid! Needless to say, things got more than a tad romantic. In #8, Kitty made the decision to stay with Star Lord in space, and she nudged him in the direction of stealing the Black Vortex from his father.
As Star Lord heads to gather the Guardians, his father has found his final pawn – Thane, son of Thanos. Here’s the interesting catch, though; Kitty rescued Star Lord partway through a brainwashing process, and who knows if it was partially successful? Meanwhile, unknown to the couple, a member of the Slaughter Squad pursues them…
ANXM Cyclops made the decision to stay in space, travelling with his father Corsair and with the Starjammers. Unfortunately, in #6 things took a turn for the worse; the Starjammers were captured by rival pirate Malafect, a somewhat bloodthirsty and brutal figure. He left the Starjammers to die, and flew off with a dying Corsair. As part of a ruse, Cyclops was taken on as a junior crew-member.
Cyclops redeemed himself; he managed to rig an SOS for the Starjammers, and then began to get in Malafect’s good books. He inadvertently pointed the pirates to what they thought was a passing medical ship, and they did what pirates do…
It turned out the ship was something else entirely, packed with Shi’ar Accipters, some of the deadliest warriors in the galaxy. Cyclops, who’s not a fan of the Shi’ar, wound up taking most of them down single-handedly. The vessel was transporting a Shi’ar starcracker, with the Shi’ar attempting to trade it for the Black Vortex. The Captain’s daughter, Vileena, gave him a reward for his good work…
Cyclops and Corsair have now escaped, but the Starjammers are still prisoners, and they’re now on the run from Malafect and his crew…
It seems pretty clear that, whatever else happened, Cyclops is about to come into collision with the Guardians of the Galaxy and his old allies in the All-New X-Men. But don’t bet on his returning to Earth any time soon – interviews have hinted that he might just stay in space when this is all over, with this being described as the “first reunion”.
All-New X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy
What part will the rest of the All-New X-Men play in this story? Well, their beloved Professor K is already out in space, and they’re going to follow. First they have to get back from the Ultimate Universe, of course!
Bendis is working on a game-changing storyline in the X-Men books at the moment, and it looks as though the All-New X-Men will return to find the X-Men united once again. Certainly the solicits and interviews have highlighted roles for Storm and Beast (as well as Magik), who will head into space with them!
He’s strongly hinted that some of the ANXM will get a ‘power up’ (and that there won’t always be a price to pay), and there’s been discussion of a Beast with cosmic-level intelligence.
As regards the Guardians, they’re a little preoccupied in their own title too. They’ve been dealing with the Venom symbiote, which got a power-boost ready for ‘Secret Wars‘. And, incredibly, Captain Marvel has just stumbled on a new twist – on Spartax, where J-Son was deposed, a new campaign began – and yes, he won it without even being part of it!
Ed McGuinness has created designs for at least two of the Guardians – although apparently not everything’s been used by the writers, mind – and they look thrilling.
Plus another design strongly suggests that Ronan the Accuser will play a major role:
The two teams were linked together last year in Bendis’ ‘The Trial of Jean Grey’, laying the foundation for their future interaction. We’ve been teased that there’ll be some great scenes between ANXM Iceman and Groot, and that there’ll be friction between Storm and Gamora…
And the rest!
We know that the young Nova is going to play a role in this story, although it’ll only cross into one of his issues (apparently it’ll be “hilarious”). Nova’s in trouble right now, though; his helmet was damaged during ‘AXIS’, which means his powers are unpredictable. Weirdly enough, for his heroism he’s been officially declared an Avenger (which I kind of thought happened at the end of ‘AvX’). And he’s got Carnage on his way – a Carnage who knows his secret identity… Still, given that Ed McGuinness’ sketches included a Nova who had been cosmically enhanced by the Black Vortex, who knows? That might not give him much trouble…
And meanwhile, Captain Marvel is going to matter too, with a particular big moment for Kelly Sue DeConnick. Carol has become the Avengers’ emissary into the wider galaxy, also working a lot with the Guardians, so it’s pretty obvious why she’s going to get drawn in for an issue!
And one more thing…
With Jonathan Hickman stepping down after ‘Secret Wars’, several of the famed ‘architects’ have moved on. Brian Bendis is left, but this event is spearheaded by a new would-be ‘architect’, and will give us a real sense of how Marvel will work in the aftermath of ‘Secret Wars’. Stay tuned!