Or – “Fishmen and Mimics and Beasts, OH MY!”
Is it just me, or are Calvin’s wings on backward?
Previously, on Dark X-Men: Norman Osborn’s cunning plan to usurp the heroes has worked even better than he could ever have hoped.Â Tony Stark’s base of operations, his public profile, his armors, his home, his trademarks are now Osborn’s.Â Norm leads a group that at least a portion of America seems to believe are actually the Avengers (although that is a situation that seems like it could completely blow up in his face.)Â One of the few portions of the metahuman power structure that he doesn’t have a foothold is the rapidly shrinking and almost totally marginalized mutant population.Â With tensions in San Francisco (new home of the X-Men and recently announced to be a mecca for the few surviving mutants in the world) reaching a fever pitch, Osborn has decided to take the schtick that led to the Dark Avengers and apply it to the X-Men.Â Little does he know that Scott Summers has spent a lifetime on the outs, and has dealt with adversity the likes of whichÂ few others can fathom (hell, his wife has died no fewer than three times.)Â Â Â The Iron Patriot is about to find out, with apologies to Jennifer Grey, the sad hidden truth of the Marvel Universe:Â NOBODY PUTS CYCLOPS IN A CORNER.
This series is designed to give us some input into how the various Dark X-Men came to be in the thrall of Osborn and Emma Frost, starting with the biggest question mark of them all.Â “Namor,” thinks Osborn.Â “I was sure we’d be done.Â Why is he still HERE?”Â Norman flashes back to the recent argument that he and Namor had regarding the Atlantean separatists in a recent issue of Dark Avengers, and how the sea king nearly came to blows with him over it.Â How then, asks Norman, does he come back to the fold, put on a costumeÂ and take up arms in a war that isn’t about anything he previously seemed to care about, and work under Norman as a lackey?Â Namor responds by pickingÂ Norman up by the THROAT, but again, his anger dissipates and he simply stands silent.Â “All this time, you haven’t seen yourself as a mutant…Â Now you’re thinking of making a change, not fighting a lost cause anymore.”Â Namor doesn’t cop to any of this psycho-drama, instead indicating that he will consider “requests” that Norman makes, and the former Goblin is jubilant to have a former threat under his thumb…Â Â Mark my words, this will NOT end well.
Also questionable?Â The mental state of Calvin Rankin…Â “Have you ever come back from the dead?” asks the man once called the Mimic.Â Cal has died, more than once, even been interred, had his mind erased, his identity subsumed, but none of it has changed his life, and the quiet desperation that has emblemized it since the earliest days of the X-Men.Â It seems that Calvin’s issues have stemmed from manic-depression allÂ this time, but his mind is a maze filled with hunks of other people personalities.Â “Wolverine…Â The Hulk?Â Charles Xavier?Â I got them all twisted up in me.Â I could really hurt people.”Â We find that his soliloquy has been an explanation to Norman Osborn himself, who thinks that Cal is just perfect for his needs.Â We wrap up this issue with a visit to the Dark Beast, an alternate version of Henry P. McCoy whose claim to fame is hailing from the Age of Apocalypse (“This is the dawning of the aaaaage of apocalyyyypse!Â APOCALYYYYPSE!Â APOCAAAALYPSE!”) and who would like more than anything to get his hands on Weapon Omega (aka Michael Pointer, formerly of Omega Flight.)Â But Beast is interested in more than just experimentation, revealing that he admires Norman, and more than that, he admires the Green Goblin.Â Dark Beast agrees to join the Dark X-Men, even playing nicey-nicey, but his last words make even Osborn sweat.Â “I’m your biggest fan.”
I know that Dark X-Men is just a gateway drug, and that it will eventually drag me into an undertow of the X-titles and the crossovers and the GLAYVIN!Â Frankly, I don’t care.Â The Namor stuff in this issue is the best use of the King of Atlantis since J.M. DeMatteis stoppedÂ writing the Defenders 20 years ago, and the very PRESENCE of the Mimic has me on board.Â Don’t ask me why, he’s just one of the characters I insist on following.Â I even own the couple of issues of X-Force (UGH) in which he played villain during the naughty 90’s.Â The Dark Avengers is an intriguing title, but this book is even more so, taking characters who are outcasts AMONG among outcasts and giving them a new high-profile gig.Â I’ve really got high hopes for this whole crossover, and this issue makes me think that I won’t be completely disappointed.Â Dark X-Men: The Beginning #1 earns a bright-eyed-and-hopeful 3.5 out of 5 stars.Â I await the chess game between Slim Summers and the ex-Goblin with anticipation, and this issue makes me care even about the pawns.