Marvel heads back into space in February 2015 for the next big cosmic event, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY AND X-MEN: THE BLACK VORTEX. As you may guess from the title, the story features the combined forces of the Guardians and the X-Men as well as a clutch of the galaxy’s most heinous villains seeking an object of incalculable worth.
BLACK VORTEX: ALPHA, written by Sam Humphries with art by Ed McGuinness, kicks off the story, which continues into all of Marvel’s cosmic titles including GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, LEGENDARY STAR-LORD, ALL-NEW X-MEN, NOVA, CYCLOPS, CAPTAIN MARVEL and others.
Marvel.com: Sam, how do you describe your role in the project? What do you feel are the strengths you’re bringing to it?
Sam Humphries: I would call myself the draftsman of GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY AND X-MEN: THE BLACK VORTEX. I came up with the central idea and shepherded the event through two Marvel retreats. But the real magic comes from my co-authors: Brian Bendis, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Gerry Duggan, and more; our editors Mike Marts and Katie Kubert; the incredible artists drawing the books—it’s the whole team that has elevated this story into a Marvel cosmic event.
Marvel.com: What has the coordination been like with the Black Vortex team? What are the joys in such collaboration, as well as the challenges?
Sam Humphries: The challenges are mundane: coordinating characters, lining up shipping schedules, planning documents, etc. But the joys are phenomenal.
[Pro football coach] Bill Belichick says, “In critical situations, think of players, not plays,” and we’ve got one of the most amazing lineups of creators on this event you’ve ever seen. Each writer is on the same page, yet we each bring different strengths to the table. In outlining the event I’ve tried to play into everyone’s strengths and I think the payoff is going to be fantastic. But most of all, I think the chemistry between the writers is our secret weapon. We all enjoy each other and enjoy working together. When we have fun, readers will have fun.
Marvel.com: What’s the source of this object that grants everyone’s desires in the story?
Sam Humphries: The Black Vortex is an ancient artifact 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 anyone in the Marvel Universe.
But, of course, no amount of power comes without a cost—the Black Vortex makes its first appearance in THE LEGENDARY STAR-LORD #5!
Marvel.com: Overall, what kind of playing field are you covering and how do you juggle it?
Sam Humphries: 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? We open the story ten billion years ago, at the birth of the Marvel Universe, and see what a Pandora’s Box the Black Vortex can be.
But against that epic scale, we’re grounding the story in the deeply personal conflict each character will go through just by encountering the Black Vortex.
Marvel.com: Which of the cosmic characters have you most looked forward to working with? Which of them will have the biggest role in the story and why?
Sam Humphries: Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde, they bring the two teams together, so they sit directly in the center of the event. Their blooming relationship will face serious tests in the shadow of the Black Vortex. But also look out for major moments for Captain Marvel, Nova, Storm, Beast, Magik, the original five X-Men—plus characters who must remain secrets for now.
Marvel.com: How were the villains chosen for the story? What particular catalysts do they introduce?
Sam Humphries: Mister Knife and Thane sit on different ends of the power spectrum of the Marvel Universe. But they’re both motivated by powerful, dark desires, and neither of them will let anyone stand in their way—including each other. You’ll see their relationship kindle in THE LEGENDARY STAR-LORD #8.
Marvel.com: What’s cool about working with Ed McGuinness on a book like this?
Sam Humphries: Ed is fantastic. He’s gonna do things on BLACK VORTEX you’ve never seen before. He’s so at home with epic action and cosmic settings, but put him on a story like this and watch him explode. I secretly suspect he got his amazing drawing powers from an ancient artifact of the Marvel Universe…one with the power to unlock the cosmic potential within each of us…you don’t think…? Nah…