With all the episodes and add-ons in the “Dark Reign” series Marvel has released over the years, you’d expect a dud after a while. That being said, “Dark X-Men” is easily one of the weakest, thanks to team that is hard to connect with at first and a story that lacks the same pizazz as the others. While it’s obvious to readers that many of these characters aren’t heroes, the “Dark” X-Men are perhaps more conflicted than any of the other Norman Osborn-powered groups.
Sadly, there’s not the same type of communication between this group, as it is obvious right off the bat that they can’t stand each other. While that same element powers the “Dark” Avengers, that team can manage to keep it together for longer than a few minutes.
Simply put, these guys, in spite of what they’ve done by themselves, feel like screw ups.
As a result, it’s hard to let your bad side loose while reading this, despite the fact that it’s a well-told tale.
Already leading his own version of the Avengers, it feels weird that Osborn would be so on top of things with his own version of the X-Men too. Nevertheless, with members of the “Dark” Avengers appearing in this comic as well, it only enhanced Osborn’s wrath and shows the reader how out of his mind he actually is. Later on, his confrontation with X-Man only cements this further and gives the audience a “villain against a bunch of villains” formula that works well, just not as well as you’d hope.
Osborn’s antics, while enjoyable, aren’t enough to make this book something special.
In the end, this is too poorly assembled a team.
For one, while no one would ever question Mystique’s motives, the involvement of Omega Man and Mimic complicate things immensely. These dudes are in no way, shape or form, bad guys. Conflicted, unable to control their powers and petrified of Osborn, they make this team a far cry away from the real X-Men. Luckily, “Dark” Beast is such an evil character that writer Paul Cornell is able to have some much-needed fun here until the ball on the plot starts rolling. Once it does and X-Man is introduced, things pick up quickly, but before that, “Dark X-Men” is a rolling stone that gathers little moss.
Ironically, the visuals of Leonard Kirk have a similar feel to them, as they lack the detail and energy early on needed to make the story truly intriguing. However, once the team travels into Osborn’s mind, things pick up, resulting in some beautiful full-page and splash page illustrations. Encompassed with color and a great sense of style, this trade proves that Kirk has real potential.
Like Cornell, they just need some better material to work with.