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 DX2.jpghoped.  Tony Stark’s base of operations, his public profile, his armors, his home, his trademarks are now Osborn’s.  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.)  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.  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.  Little does he know that Scott Summers has spent a lifetime on the outs, and has dealt with adversity the likes of which few others can fathom (hell, his wife has died no fewer than three times.)   The Iron Patriot is about to find out, with apologies to Jennifer Grey, the sad hidden truth of the Marvel Universe:  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.  “Namor,” thinks Osborn.  “I was sure we’d be done.  Why is he still HERE?”  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.  How then, asks Norman, does he come back to the fold, put on a costume  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?  Namor responds by picking Norman up by the THROAT, but again, his anger dissipates and he simply stands silent.  “All this time, you haven’t seen yourself as a mutant…  Now you’re thinking of making a change, not fighting a lost cause anymore.”  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…   Mark my words, this will NOT end well.

Also questionable?  The mental state of Calvin Rankin…  “Have you ever come back from the dead?” asks the man once called the Mimic.  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.  It seems that Calvin’s issues have stemmed from manic-depression all this time, but his mind is a maze filled with hunks of other people personalities.  “Wolverine…  The Hulk?  Charles Xavier?  I got them all twisted up in me.  I could really hurt people.”  We find that his soliloquy has been an explanation to Norman Osborn himself, who thinks that Cal is just perfect for his needs.  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!  APOCALYYYYPSE!  APOCAAAALYPSE!”) and who would like more than anything to get his hands on Weapon Omega (aka Michael Pointer, formerly of Omega Flight.)  But Beast is interested in more than just experimentation, revealing that he admires Norman, and more than that, he admires the Green Goblin.  Dark Beast agrees to join the Dark X-Men, even playing nicey-nicey, but his last words make even Osborn sweat.  “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!  Frankly, I don’t care.  The Namor stuff in this issue is the best use of the King of Atlantis since J.M. DeMatteis stopped  writing the Defenders 20 years ago, and the very PRESENCE of the Mimic has me on board.  Don’t ask me why, he’s just one of the characters I insist on following.  I even own the couple of issues of X-Force (UGH) in which he played villain during the naughty 90’s.  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.  I’ve really got high hopes for this whole crossover, and this issue makes me think that I won’t be completely disappointed.  Dark X-Men: The Beginning #1 earns a bright-eyed-and-hopeful 3.5 out of 5 stars.  I await the chess game between Slim Summers and the ex-Goblin with anticipation, and this issue makes me care even about the pawns.



About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. One thing I noticed was that in panel 2 on page 4 of the Dark Beast section, Beast walks behind Osborn and it looks like he stretches like Reed Richards. Just a bit of offputting art.

  2. I loved this issue. The story really had me wanting to read more and to find out how this is going to work. It feels like Norman’s plan could fall apart at any time, and any one failure could bring the whole plan down. Yet, Norman twists the minds of people to get them to do what he wants and to keep his plan going.

    I want to see Norman trying to manipulate the White Queen (the queen of manipulation). You know it is coming. There just hasn’t been enough to explain why Emma is doing this. Part of me things that she might be working against Norman, but then I thought that when she joined the X-men.

  3. Emma and Namor are the wild cards in Norman’s Cabal. Doom, Loki, and Hood are flat out villains. You know they’re going to make power plays and try to take charge. Norman knows that too.

    Emma and Namor are more grey. They’re willing to do certain things to protect their people, but also aren’t necessarily interested in power for its own sake and aren’t looking to lord over the world.

    Namor, especially, is really more of a hero. His more “villainous” moments come when Atlantean interests conflict with surface interests. He can usually be reasoned with and talked down from his full on rages. If a peaceful coexistence can be maintained, he can be agreeable. If things were equal (and they’re not right now), he’d side with the real heroes.

    Emma’s different because we’ve never been 100% sure where her true loyalties lie. She was originally with the Hellfire club and trained young mutants to be their eventual servants. However, the Hellfire Club’s goals have never been clearly defined. They seem more interested in financial power than the whole mutant vs. human conflict. Shaw had no problems manufacturing Sentinels, for example. The only things I’m fairly sure of is that Emma truly loves Scott and does want to protect mutantkind. She really was affected by the deaths of the original Hellions. However, even moreso than Namor, she’s willing to cross lines to achieve success. She doesn’t have the sense of honor that Namor does.

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