You could say that I hated the second issue of “Dark X-Men: The Beginning” since I wrote, “There’s little reason, on the surface, for ‘Dark X-Men: The Beginning’ to exist and none of these stories provide one.” Thankfully, the final issue of this mini-series is the best with improved writing and art that does its best to escape the premise.
Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk are the only constant in creative teams in all three issues, which makes sense since the pair will be doing the upcoming “Dark X-Men” mini-series, and their story about Namor and Emma Frost is their best. Whereas every other story in this series has basically been ‘Norman Osborn recruits a member of the Dark X-Men,’ a story where two teammates discuss the team and why each has joined is a nice change of pace and allows for an examination of the concept from some new angles. The story shows that this series needed more stories that take place between teammates as they discuss this new venture they’ve all embarked upon.
The second story is an epilogue of sorts to Jason Aaron’s “Get Mystique” story as Osborn recruits her. Aaron injects enough twisted cynicism to almost overcome the repetition of the Osborn-recruits-someone plot that’s driven this series. With Jock on board to do the art, though, this story excels. This is Jock’s first work for Marvel and it is fantastically frenetic. The preview pages share pages from every story, but Jock’s are the ones that will win you over. The pages just crackle with energy.
The final story is very strong and makes me wish that this mini-series came out before we knew who the Dark X-Men were since it has Osborn recruiting Aurora. Simon Spurrier writes a delightfully twisted story that ends with Aurora not joining the team — not a spoiler since we know the line-up already. As we know she won’t be a member, the ending loses a lot of its power. It relies on surprise and there isn’t any, which does a disservice to Spurrier and artist Paul Davidson, who both do some great work.
“Dark X-Men: The Beginning” #3 is the best issue of the series, but it’s still not great. The format and structure of the book limits what the creators can do and takes a lot of the surprise out of their stories. Maybe if this series led up to the revelation of the Dark X-Men, but watching Osborn recruit people when you know what’s going to happen next is tedious. Also, a minor complaint, but the solicitations promised Humberto Ramos artwork, which doesn’t appear here at all, which is a let down.