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Dark X-Men #2

Posted: Tuesday, December 8, 2009
By: Dave Wallace

Paul Cornell
Leonard Kirk (p), Jay Leisten (i), Brian Reber (colours)
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Dark X-Men #2 arrives in stores tomorrow, December 9.

"Journey to the Center of the Goblin: Part Two"

Dark X-Men #2 is a pretty good issue, with an excellent ending.

Since I try to keep these advance reviews relatively free of spoilers, I can't really go into too many details about what makes the final pages of this issue so intriguing. Suffice it to say, however, that Paul Cornell takes his story into unexpected territory, using the character of Nate Grey (a.k.a. X-Man) to reflect the audience's reaction to the last few years of Marvel crossovers -- before unexpectedly turning things back on the readers themselves, with a final page that is surely a conscious reference to Grant Morrison's famous run on Animal Man.

Before all that, though, we get to see Norman Osborn's sinister team of "Dark" X-Men deal with the return of Nate Grey, giving Cornell the chance to push the plot into slightly more interesting territory and to flesh out his cast a little further.

Omega is probably the most surprising hit for me: a character that I'd previously found to be flat and two-dimensional, but who provides Cornell with some hilarious comic relief on more than one occasion here (the "Inventory of Items Destroyed by Omega" gag continues here, and it's just as amusing as it was last issue). However, the more overtly villainous characters are equally enjoyable: it feels perfectly plausible that Norman Osborn would see X-Man's return as an opportunity rather than a threat (and his comparison of X-Man to the Sentry feels very apt), and the unusual nature of the threat posed by Nate Grey gives Dark Beast the opportunity to take his sinister villainy to unusual extremes.

In particular, I love the concept of the group that this evil Hank McCoy utilises -- and the idea is brought to life beautifully by Leonard Kirk, who perfectly encapsulates the idea of a giant hive mind of psychics in one single, well drawn panel. Kirk's abilities also shine in the more dynamic pages, such as the ones that depict the crackling energy field that surrounds Nate Grey and the psychics. It's a treat to see such a winning combination of strong art and good writing on a book that I probably would have dismissed unseen were it not for the presence of the creators behind Captain Britain & MI-13, and I hope to see Cornell and Kirk collaborate again on future projects after this mini wraps up.

Even without its excellent final pages, this would still be a very good issue that clearly demonstrates the talents of its writer and artists for anyone who might have missed their prior work together. With those final pages, however, it's especially noteworthy, and I look forward to seeing whether Cornell's breaking of the fourth wall is a device that will extend into future issues or whether it's just being used for this single one-off (yet nonetheless inspired) moment.







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