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Guardians of the Galaxy #13 Brings “Trial of Jean Grey” To A Quiet But Satisfying Close

Guardians of the Galaxy #13 Brings “Trial of Jean Grey” To A Quiet But Satisfying Close

GoG13

Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Sara Pichelli & David Marquez
Colors by Justin Ponsor
Letters by VC’s Cory Petit
Cover by Sara Pichelli & Justin Ponsor
Published Marvel Comics

With this issue, Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli bring to a close the “Trial of Jean Grey” storyline, a decidedly old-fashioned crossover in that it merely alternated its story between two titles rather than in a six part miniseries supported by a bevy of tie-ins spread throughout Marvel’s publishing slate. As last issue ended, the combined X-Men, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Starjammers had taken the fight to the Shi’ar Imperial Guard, determined to rescue the captive Jean Grey. Jean, meanwhile, had finally found some agency of her own and escaped, only to turn up at the end of the battle. The implication was that she’d tapped into the power of Phoenix, and had become the very thing the Shi’ar were trying to eliminate.

Bendis, to his credit, sidesteps this obvious plot development. Though in execution, what actually happens is different from Jean tapping into the power of the Phoenix only a very technical level. More importantly, Bendis picks up where he left off in allowing Jean herself to be the driving force of the narrative in this chapter, fighting the supremely powerful Gladiator head-to-head and taking charge of her own fate. It’s a nice way to end a storyline in which Jean was the title character but was reduced to a prisoner for much of it, even though it does edge out most of the other characters from the finale.

After resolving the immediate action climax and settling the issue of the Shi’ar interest in Jean (for now), Bendis turns his attention to setting up the characters for the next issues of their respective series. This gets him back to a place where he’s more comfortable (talky scenes between characters), but he does genuinely shake things up in the wake of this storyline, at least for All New X-Men (in fact, any readers of that title who simply skipped the Guardians chapters of this storyline will likely be very confused when they pick up the next All New X-Men).

“Trial of Jean Grey” ends on a quiet note, then, without an explosive, universe-altering ending. But then, it was never designed to have one. Like most modern superhero comic stories, it will likely read better in one sitting, as a collected edition, than in smaller chunks doled out over several weeks. Nevertheless, it’s a fun, old-fashioned story, with a clear narrative thrust, enough room for the characters of both books to get their due (such that any regular readers of one title will be intrigued by the other), and the ending leaves things off different than when it started without upending everything that had come before. In this day and age, that adds up to a pretty successful crossover.

Other Thoughts
Bendis, who got points for referencing “End of Greys” in the last chapter, seems in this chapter to have forgotten a more recent storyline, one he himself partially wrote: Gladiator remains steadfast in his fear that as long as a Grey exists, there is the likelihood for the Phoenix to choose one as a host, despite the fact that Avengers vs. X-Men featured numerous non-Grey characters wreaking havoc while possessed by the Phoenix force, something this storyline really should have addressed at some point.

Nearly half of this issue is told in “landscape” double page spreads – while not really a problem when reading the issue online or on a tablet (as I did), I find that sort of thing highly annoying when reading a physical copy.

[Spoiler] The ending of the issue, which finds Cyclops leaving the X-Men and Earth to spend time with his dad amongst the Starjammers, is genuinely intriguing. It’s a great use of All New X-Men‘s premise, and promises to continue to move that book in an interesting direction beyond “original X-Men react to the world and their present day selves”. Furthermore, while adult Cyclops, in learning his father was alive, wasn’t in a place where he was comfortable gallivanting around the universe with him, it makes sense that a teenaged Cyclops, stunned by learning he’s not an orphan and with much less grounding him to Earth, would make a different choice.

[wpchatai]