Last week, Matt Fraction kicked off his crossover with Dark Avengers, “Utopia,” which appears to have ended up being one of Marvel’s big summer crossovers by default. Maybe it was just the Silvestri art, but it seemed to embody the best of Chris Claremont’s classic run on the title. It kind of had the feel of "God Loves Man Kills" meets "Inferno." It reads like a big event, dealing with all the weighty issues that Claremont loved to, but completely contemporary. This issue continues the story without missing a beat, and the tone still carries the same echoes of Eagle Plaza and Wolverine and Rogue trussed up by Genoshan army brats.
He also frames what could have been a completely arbitrary development, a team of “Dark X-Men” into the potentially most interesting “Dark” version of anything in the Marvel Universe so far. Emma Frost is in no way as evil as her co-Cabalian Norman Osborn and it’s clear that her team is merely a more hardliner version of the X-Men, not an evil one. As she says, “Mutant Problems, Mutant Solutions.” He even writes a halfway interesting Daken (really one of the more grating recent developments in comics), framing him as a spoiled homicidal rich kid. I’m looking forward to his interjected review of ‘Sports’ by Huey Lewis And The News. [ I'm partial to "Walking on a Thin Line." Upbeat, energetic, and not overplayed on the radio of the time. -Editor ]
Terry and Rachel Dodson, while a fairly significant about face from a style like Marc Silvestri’s, do their usual fantastic work on the issue. Clear, crisp, and full of detail; helped in that regard by colorist Justin Ponsor.
So far, “Utopia,” while carrying the torch of Big Crossover status, still feels like a personal but large scale classic X-Men adventure. We’ll see how it all shakes out, but as of now it still feels like the kind of exploration of ideas that the best X-Men stories have been and not just an excuse to have two teams punch at each other. Fraction has spent over a year laying the groundwork of a very significant rift between Cyclops and the White Queen. Now that there are actual teams to personify this conflict of approaches, things could potentially get very interesting.