Since February 2015, Andrea Sorrentino is a new Marvel exclusive artist. After a long run on the Green Arrow‘s comic book series for DC, he worked on both the Uncanny X-Men and All New X-Men Annuals with Brian Michael Bendis. He’s currently working on the Old Man Logan series for a Secret Wars tie-in, but we’ll met him again this October for the Old Man Logan regular series.
Andrea Sorrentino drew two issues of All New X-Men, the two in relation with the Black Vortex crossover during which the X-Men and the Guardians of the Galaxy try to stop Thane, the long-lost son of Thanos, and Mister Knife, Starlords’ father, to use the powerful cosmic artefact that is the Black Vortex. The Black Vortex enhances the powers of anyone who’s willing to submit himself to his true potential. True potential is just another word for power, and when you say “power” and “X-Men” in the same sentence, you’ll inevitably get corruption, madness and the Phoenix force. Luckily for us, the Phoenix force doesn’t make a surprise appearance in this story. Even if I’m fond of this cosmic force, I think we can easily get tired of seeing it all the time. As does the Phoenix Force, the Black Vortex gives people more power than they already had, and transforms them, both physically and psychologically. And the villains are not the only ones in this story willing to submit to the Black Vortex : many of the heroes are too, given Andrea Sorrentino the possibility to draw variant cover for all of the comic books series’ issues involved in this story. Like the young Jean Grey, the mighty and beautiful Jean Grey, the probably hostess to be of the Phoenix force. She’s nothing but magnificent on this variant cover for the Guardians of the Galaxy #25. Her hair floating in the vacuum of space, Jean Grey appears like a fire goddess, the ultimate form of the Phoenix force, ready to destroy and regenerate life. Her head a little thrown back and her mouth slightly open, she seems to be about to suck the life out of the universe itself.
The new appearances given by the black vortex are not only seen in Thane or in the Slaughter Lords, but in some of the Guardians and the X-Men as well : the first was Gamora, followed by Beast (actual version) and Angel (the young one). Angel’s new look in particular is incredible with his wings of light and his dark armor. The young and innocent Angel of the All New X-Men‘s debut no longer exists. But what consequences does this new looks will bring to the actual version of Angel, the amnesic one ? We’ll he adopt a cosmic costume, like this one did ? Or will he stay the same if this change is not permanent ? Anyway, putting this interrogations aside, let’s stay focused on the drawing. Beast looks more and more like a monstrous villain, bald and noseless, in his technological armor. On the contrary, Gamora is almost invisible, cloaked in her dark cape. The apparition of this three new versions of well-known heroes is astonishing, and bring both terror and excitement to the reader.
The two-page spreads let Andrea Sorrentino develop masterly battle scenes, like this one. Two full drawings on each pages, punctuate by three close-up panels on Gamora’s face, her sword and Beast’s face. Using only black and white, without any gradient, Andrea Sorrentino gives his characters and their battle a more powerful and raw dimension. The bottom view of Ronan the Accuser puts the reader in Gamora’s place, strengthen the threat that is his hammer. If it had not been for Gamora’s sword, she would have been dead. But this fight is not over, and the end of this cosmic battle, facing a newly enhanced Gamora and Ronan, will decide the fate of the universe. Who will keep the Black Vortex ?
One of the issues of All New X-Men Andrea Sorrentino had to draw includes a very sentimental scene, a scene that I’m sure every reader of the series was dying to see, the reunion of Scott and Jean. Since his departure with his father (see Cyclops), Cyclops didn’t have any contact with Jean – he tried to write her a letter, but it seems like he never send her. They both matured thanks to their personal experiences – Jean in the Ultimate universe, Scott as a space pirate. They are no longer innocent children, they know what they want and what they feel about each other, and that’s a relief : who would have like to see Jean and Scott on and off and on again ? The layout of the panels builds the intimacy they both need and deserve after so much time apart. The close up increasingly close of the panels led to their mouths, to their first – as teenagers – kiss, which is roughly interrupted by the young Hank McCoy, the same one Jean prefered to date back on Earth because she was afraid she might become the Phoenix and destroy a planet all over again if she fell in love with Scott and eventually married him, like her older self did. The drawings are flawless, and the joy the reader feels for Scott and Jean increases as their mouths get closer, but only disappointment follows, and anger with Beast for barging into the room without knocking.
As a X-Men’s fan, you can only imagine my feelings after reading these fantastic Black Vortex episodes of the All New X-Men, specially with such a wonderful artist that is Andrea Sorrentino. I must say I’m a little bit sad he won’t continue his job on All New X-Men after the events of Secret Wars, but as I said earlier Andrea Sorrentino is already booked for a new post-Secret Wars series, Old Man Logan, with the writer Jeff Lemire.