Ah, repetitive comic book storytelling that serves little purpose. The idea behind “Dark X-Men: The Beginning” is that each story in this three-issue mini-series will show how each member of Norman Osborn’s X-Men team came to be involved in the group. We’re two issues and six stories in, and it’s getting rather tedious. Here’s how it breaks down: see Character A, see Character A get approached by Osborn, see Character A balk at being in his X-Men, see Osborn either make a very persuasive argument or use devious tactics to get Character A agree to his proposal, repeat.
To add insult to this approach is that we know the line-up of the team already, so there’s no element of suspense. We know that these characters will join Osborn’s group and if Marvel threw a curveball with a story featuring a character not on the team, we know that it will end with him or her turning Osborn down. This is a book for continuity freaks who need to know every little detail of how every single one of these characters came to be Dark X-Men.
With only 11 pages each and an obvious pattern, none of the stories really elevate beyond ‘serviceable,’ with a couple of them falling short of that. The first, by Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk has Osborn approaching Cloak and Dagger, and has some amusing moments, especially Osborn’s reasoning why two non-mutants can be X-Men, addressing fans’ concerns in that area. Since these two characters are the obvious stand-outs in his group, not fitting in on the surface, addressing their motivations for joining makes sense.
The other two stories, spotlighting Weapon Omega and Daken (Dark Wolverine) lack that purpose. Weapon Omega first appeared in the much maligned “New Avengers” story that had him killing Alpha Flight and delivers on the obvious motivation for his joining up if you’re familiar with the character. At least in that story, Michel Lacombe provides some lovely art.
The Daken story is absolutely worthless unless it’s meant to point out just how similar he is to his father in that he’s showing up in 28 titles each month. Why is Daken on both the Dark Avengers and Dark X-Men? Because he’s Dark Wolverine. Duh. Explaining it through a misguided attempt at psychological chess between Osborn and Daken is unnecessary and tedious. With overwrought narration and forced, heavy-handed dialogue, it ends the issue on a very sour note.
There’s little reason, on the surface, for “Dark X-Men: The Beginning” to exist and none of these stories provide one. If you just have to know what threat, lie, or argument Osborn used to recruit each member, well, this is for you. Otherwise, don’t waste your time or money.
(For the first three pages of each story, check out CBR’s preview!)