05 June 2012

Dark X-Men: The End

Comic hardcover, n.pag.
Published 2010 (contents: 2010)
Acquired April 2012
Read May 2012
Dark X-Men

Writer: Paul Cornell
Penciler: Leonard Kirk
Inkers: Jay Leisten & Leonard Kirk
Colorist: Brian Reber
Letterer: Rob Steen

After the events of Utopia: Avengers/X-Men, the "Dark X-Men"-- Norman Osborn's government-sponsored team of mutants for dealing with mutant problems-- are down to just five members, Emma Frost, Namor, Cloak, Dagger, and Dark Wolverine all having gone elsewhere.  This leaves the team with Mystique as its field leader and Mimic (who borrows other mutants' powers), Weapon Omega (who killed Alpha Flight, the bastard), and Dark Beast (a sadistic version of Beast from an apocalyptic timeline) as its only members. Mystique impersonates the dead(?) Jean Grey in the field, just because she can.

In Utopia, one was left with an impression of the Dark X-Men as a group of very, very dangerous people with malevolent intent. In turning them into viewpoint characters, Cornell ends up undermining them: the book feels more like Confused X-Men. Mystique just wants to be free of Osborn, Omega doesn't mean to do anything he does, and Mimic is similarly well-intentioned. Only Dark Beast is as malevolent as his name implies, cruelly tortuting in the name of science. This would all be okay, as obviously this group needs to be more deeply characterized than being simply EVIL, but they're not deeply characterized; each character has one single-minded objective that they follow.

We're told they're conflicted, but only with Mystique does this conflict come across as anything more than confusion.  Indeed, Mystique was my favorite part of the book. Sure, she's selfish and partly she just wants to escape Osborn, but she's motivated by a loyalty to mutantkind and she seems to actually want to do the right thing sometimes. I've never read a story with her character before, but I'd like to read more.

This being Cornell, the dialogue is pretty good, and there's a number of great concepts running around here, more than a book this size would lead you to expect. And Leonard Kirk's art is great, clean but angular, perhaps not what you'd expect for a "dark" comic, but it's so good, that I have no complaints. His Mystique looks pretty good in that jumpsuit!

A number of reviews that I read of this book indicated that its subtitle, "Journey to the Center of the Goblin," was a dead giveaway as to where the story was going. It sure says something about the oddity of my dabblings in Marvel Comics that I spent the whole book waiting for Alpha Flight's Goblyn to show up. (She didn't.)

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