Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Sara Pichelli
Colors by Justin Ponsor
Letters by VC’s Cory Petit
Cover By Sara Pichelli & Justin Ponsor
Published by Marvel Comics
All New X-Men #22 ended with the X-Men, shortly after Jean Grey was captured by the Shi’ar, approaching a spaceship from which emerged the Guardians of the Galaxy. This issue goes back in time from that moment, detailing how the Guardians learned of the Shi’ar targeting Jean and explaining why they choose to get involved. It’s an interesting approach, one which guides any Guardians-only readers into the story, but the result is ultimately a story with two “part ones” (in fact, both issues even feature “The Trial of Jean Grey #1” on their covers), slowing the pace of the overall story as each only advances the plot minutely.
Fortunately, there’s still plenty to appreciate in this issue. Justifying the Guardians’ involvement in the story means detailing, at least slightly, the motivation behind the Shi’ar targeting Jean Grey, something which All New X-Men didn’t cover. The resulting scene, in which the heads of the dominant galactic empires meet and discuss the situation, not only sets up that justification, it also effectively recaps the history of Jean Grey and Phoenix for any new readers. Marvel has, through the years, gotten a lot of mileage out of depicting the political machinations of its alien empires with summits such as this one reading at times like a cosmic Game of Thrones. That sequence in this issue is no exception, and is highly entertaining.
The art, from Sara Pichelli, continues in the energetic tradition of Stuart Immonen on All New X-Men, though with a grittier line for her more seasoned and jaded characters (assuming both artists continue their contributions to the storyline, the end result should be highly effective, the overall look generally the same, but with subtle differences setting apart the respective issues of each series). Like Immonen, Pichelli has a penchant for strong facial work, resulting in an issue which features far more close-up panels than one would expect from a spaced-based sci-fi comic. But all those tight panels have the added benefit of helping establish the characters as individuals. As in All New X-Men #22, Bendis also manages to provoke at least one good belly laugh in this issue, in the Kree Supreme Intelligence’s suggestion of a possible motivation for bringing a young Jean Grey forward in time.
So even though this issue reads more like “Part 1 Again” of the storyline, it does confirm the motivation behind the titular trial, and effectively introduces the Guardians of the Galaxy into the narrative, both of which are enough to help it skate by. But now that we’ve seen both sets of characters put into place for the crossover, it’s time to move things along.
The Guardians of the Galaxy lineup in this issue matches the one that will be featured in this summer’s movie (Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket Raccoon and Groot) with one addition in the comic: Angela, the angelic bounty hunter co-created and owned by Neil Gaiman who originally debuted in Todd MacFarlane’s Spawn but was recently introduced into the Marvel Universe during the “Age of Ultron” event.
This issue also devotes a few pages to dealing with Iron Man’s recent departure from the team.
In a neat technique, the final pages of this issue and All New X-Men #22 mirror one another: X-Men ended with a shot of the Guardians emerging from their ship, from the perspective of the X-Men, while this issue ends with the X-Men looking wide-eyed at the Guardians, from the perspective of the Guardians, with both sets of pages using the same lines of dialogue.