The big Avengers/X-Men crossover rolls on with “Dark Avengers” #7, the third part of “Utopia,” wherein the Dark X-Men prove themselves against a group of young mutant rioters. While the confrontation is short, Matt Fraction uses the space to both establish the effectiveness of this group under Emma Frost’s leadership and to introduce conflict into the group thanks to its Wolverine, Daken.
In many ways, this issue is a breather after the big revelations of the first two parts and the upcoming confrontation with Cyclops’s X-Men. We get a taste of that here as Cyclops has words with Norman Osborn, showing that he’s not afraid to stand up as the leader of the mutants in San Francisco, confident in his abilities to out-maneuver Osborn should the need arise.
In the lead-up to this story, Matt Fraction wrote various Emma Frost-centered stories to justify her ties to the Cabal and to set the stage for her leadership of the Dark X-Men, and she continues to be a focal point in this issue. Anyone who thinks Emma has betrayed her fellow mutants are proven wrong here as she and Osborn have a heated confrontation. Fraction clearly understands Frost and is determined to keep her from slipping into one-dimensional ‘villain-turned-hero-turned-villain-again’ territory like so many others have before.
Given that the title of this comic is “Dark Avengers,” you would assume they would make an appearance of some kind and they do, but are shunted off to the side for the most part. Fans of the title who haven’t picked up the first two parts may be a bit thrown by the lack of the team. However, Fraction makes sure that when they show up, they make an impact, particularly on their new sister team, the X-Men.
Luke Ross, a last minute replacement for Mike Deodato who was tapped to draw the concluding one-shot to “Utopia,” does a competent job here. The art is obviously rushed, but it’s hard to blame Ross, particularly when he makes an effort to emulate Deodato’s style, providing a different look from his recent “Captain America” work. If you check out the preview pages, you can see that Osborn is reminiscent of Deodato’s -— with less Tommy Lee Jones, admittedly.
His action scenes are well done and each Dark X-Man is spotlighted. He and Fraction give each a chance to show off what they can do, and it’s effective. The group is interesting enough that I hope it manages to outlast the crossover, particularly since it’s not a team filled with villains like the Dark Avengers.
Matt Fraction is proving his A-list chops in “Utopia,” writing a compelling crossover that seems almost too full of characters and ideas rather than needlessly drawn out. He’s taken what could be a lame, redundant concept in the Dark X-Men and made it interesting, and not simply a copy of the Dark Avengers. With “Utopia” half done, the second half is sure to be equally impressive.