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SPOILER WARNING: This story contains spoilers for "Dark Avengers" #8.
Norman Osborn has made relatively few missteps in perpetrating his Dark Reign over the Marvel Universe. The former Green Goblin has proven he's a shrewd manipulator and tactician, so it's understandable that he'd go into “Utopia” -- the crossover between “Dark Avengers” and “Uncanny X-Men” -- with a sense of confidence. Unfortunately for Osborn, he was too confident and underestimated X-Men leader Cyclops, a man who's been doing this kind of work his whole life.
“In Dark Avengers” #8, the penultimate chapter of “Utopia,” readers saw just how badly Osborn misjudged Scott Summers, as Cyclops’ plan to extricate his fellow mutants from under Osborn's thumb came to fruition. In our latest installment of EVOLUTION REVOLUTION, “Utopia” writer Matt Fraction joins us to provide insight and commentary on all the big developments of the issue.
If you're just joining us you can catch up quickly with our links to parts one, two, three, and four of our feature.
CBR: In our last chat, you talked about how this storyline was about Faustian pacts. And here you have Dani Moonstar bargaining with Hela, who in the Marvel Universe is pretty much the Norse equivalent of the Devil.
MATT FRACTION: Bits and piece of Cyclops' plan are becoming clearer and clearer. Dani Moonstar powered up and back in her glory as a Valkyrie is an essential component of what's to come.
So this is sort of a callback to Dani's adventures in Asgard in “New Mutants Special Edition” #1 and “Uncanny X-Men Annual” #9?
Exactly. She was a Valkyrie for a while. And now that she's no longer a mutant and has lost her powers I thought it would be great to get her back into a game changing position of power.
This page finishes a weeklong montage of Osborn's Dark X-Men in action. How much fun did you have writing this sequence?
I think the only thing missing was the song “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves. It was a blast. This was more important than seeing Simon Trask get his ass handed to him [an event which happened off-panel]. Everybody knew that was going to happen. It's the Dark X-Men becoming heroes and celebrities, especially in the very pages of “Dark Avengers,” that's more important.
Also in this scene, it looks like Osborn is using an appearance on a talk show to politically take down the mayor of San Francisco. Is this the last we've seen of Mayor Sadie Sinclair?
Things are looking dark, but we'll see. I actually like writing her an awful lot, so I don't want to get rid of her anytime soon. There is political capital being spent here to protect the X-Men, though. The Mayor has made her stand. She's standing with the X-Men and Scott specifically. Not everybody buys Osborn's bill of goods.
Scott's actions on this page and the way he talks about sticking to and having faith in the plan has me wondering just how long he's had this plan?
It's a little bit like “Apollo 18.” It's not so much how long he's had it, it's that this is the plan he came up with from the pieces he had. There's that amazing scene in the movie where a box of items is dumped on the table and the engineers have to fix the ship with just this scrap they had laying around. This is the plan Scott came up with from his pile of scrap.
The way Cyclops quickly and cleanly arranges for the evacuation and relocation of the X-Men is bound to have some readers wondering if he ever sets down permanent roots.
What kind of mind does this? What type of person is continuously evaluating every situation ten ways to Tuesday in order to figure out how to take advantage of it and exploit it? There is a kind of psychic burden to that life and we'll see the way it affects Scott.
Here you've got a pretty diverse collection of X-Men from a variety of faiths all standing united in Nightcrawler's chapel.
Nightcrawler built his little chapel pretty much for an audience of one. If you go back and look over the last 18 or so issues, though, you'll see that every time we went back to the chapel there's been a few more people there. Whatever their faith may be Nightcrawler is kind of a moral beacon for the X-Men in times of crisis. That's something that interests me about the character and that's the role we wanted to show him playing.
Here we see X-Force doing what they do best, but one has to wonder how much longer X-Force can stay secret from the X-Men when they're on an operation like this?
Very true. Ask yourself what they're doing there, who they're rescuing, and what would the secret of X-Force do to that person? How will Hank McCoy feel when a squad of killers are his salvation?
Emma Frost makes her move here and just like with Cyclops, I've got to ask how long has Emma had this plan to move against Osborn and the other Dark X-Men?
There are parts of it that were very much improvisational but “Exodus” [the final chapter of the crossover] will answer some questions and so will “Dark X-Men: The Confession.” The core tenant of Scott and Emma's plan has been their faith in one another and I'm sorry for all the interviews and press I've done where I talked about Emma as the Black Queen. She's a good guy and she always was a good guy.
Emma's recruitment speech to Cloak and Dagger is interesting.
I think she didn't want them to lose faith too quickly in her and what was going on. She knew the crucible moment was rapidly approaching. She sees the good in them that many people often don't and that they themselves don't see. Emma is always a teacher and protector. Here she's reaching out to kids that need teaching and protecting as well as shelter to allow themselves to grow.
Scott gives a press conference where he talks about leaving the United States, and there's an X Flag waving in the background. Have the X-Men brought Asteroid M up from the bottom of the bay and turned it into their own sovereign nation?
Maybe it's a house boat? A floating hotel? Or a floating fortress? Or perhaps you're right it is a sovereign nation? In the months ahead we're going to have some fun trying to figure out exactly what this is. It's dealt with in the first couple of issues coming out of this crossover.
By holding a press conference, is Scott basically beating Norman at his own game?
Yeah, a huge part of Norman's offensive campaign has been using the media and having that thrown back in his face will not sit well with the master manipulator. Scott has Norman exactly where he wants him. This was the scenario Scott had gamed out and this was the scenario Scott knew they were moving to.
With Namor and Emma Frost siding with the X-Men, Norman has lost two members of his Cabal. How does that make him feel?
He's furious. Now that this has happened. I can clue you in that Namor's betrayal of Osborn is the impetus for the story we tell in “Dark Reign: The List-X-Men.” Namor is now standing with the good guys so the impetus of that tale is Osborn extracting revenge.
FRACTION'S FINAL THOUGHTS ON “DARK AVENGERS” #8
This was a big issue and I'm happy Luke Ross was able to provide the art for it. A lot of stuff happened. Now that the pacing has been revealed and Asteroid M is floating in the bay some might be wondering if it's the Mutant Israel or is the Mutant Masada? Or is it the Mutant Alamo?
FRACTION LOOKS AHEAD TO “DARK AVENGERS/UNCANNY X-MEN: EXODUS”
It's pretty much a 34-page fight scene. Scott is betting all the marbles that he's right and Norman is bringing everything to bear to prove that he's wrong. It's no holds barred. That's for sure.