I guess that I have to give Bendis and Humphries credit for the fact that everyone doesn't end this event exactly the same way that they started it. Beast, Cyclops, Groot, and Iceman surrender their cosmic powers, but still find themselves changed. Groot and Iceman are physically transformed, and Jean confirms to Storm that Cyclops' "heart" has been changed. (We don't learn if anything happened to Beast.) Moreover, the authors really shake up the cosmic landscape. Although I didn't really notice it in "Captain Marvel" #14, Thane froze J'Son in amber (since Carol used the Vortex to deflect Thane's blast onto J'Son); the Collector takes possession of him here, presumably removing him as a threat for a while. However, Thane is still promising to get his hands on the Vortex again, and Ronan returns to the remains of Hala swearing to rebuild and get revenge. (I'm not entirely sure how Thane is going to use the Vortex, since we see Gara flying it into a star here, but I guess that we'll see.) At the very least, then I'm happy that the authors didn't go the ret-con route that pretty much every event takes lately (particularly an event that Bendis writes), since the landscape is definitely different now.
That said, I can't say that I'm totally happy. First, the revelation that Gara could use the Vortex to strip the cosmically powered characters of their powers was certainly a little too convenient. Sure, they were changed on some level, but, seriously, we all saw that coming. I also wasn't surprised that Angel and Gamora kept their powers, since they're exactly the kind of characters that you would expect to retain their powers; in fact, it seems unlikely that we'll even notice that they're cosmically powered (except maybe for Warren's appearance), since they're pretty aloof anyway. But, we're never given a reason for why Kitty retains her powers. Given that she was the one that wanted them the least, you'd figure that she'd be the one first in line to jettison them. However, she makes no move to do so here; we seem to have to accept that she's stuck with them, but we're not given a reason why she's different from Beast, Cyclops, Groot, or Iceman. Moreover, despite Gara's warning that these powers basically steal your humanity, Kitty exhibits the entire range of emotions that she usually did, given that she accepts Peter's proposal.
Yup, Peter proposed. They've known each other for only a few weeks, maybe months, and almost their entire relationship has been spent on different sides of the galaxy, but romance! Hurrah! This entire sequence is honestly terrible. It's forced and awkward, with Humphries portraying all these characters as having close relationships that they don't really have. (Rocket and Storm as buddies? Really?) Without this development, I'd be more or less satisfied with this event, even while acknowledging that it was a pretty lackluster one. But, this ending just made me roll my eyes and wonder how much longer I'm going to be getting "Guardians of the Galaxy."
** (two of five stars)