As it continues, the Uncanny X-Men/Dark Avengers crossover “Utopia” reveals itself as less a story and more an ongoing promise of big things to come. Take the fourth part, the subject of this review, one “Uncanny X-Men” #514: nothing actually happens. Without getting into it too much, Cyclops sets his plan in motion, while the Dark X-Men confront a horde of Simon Trask’s human Sentinels, and both of those events merely work to suggest that actual important events will happen at some point in the future, maybe in part five, more likely in the finale of the crossover.
Now, that doesn’t mean this issue is without value, it simply marks a point in this story where it’s a little frustrating knowing that nothing of any actual import will happen for several issues – or that payoffs to events will happen in other books. Matt Fraction builds nicely on the animosity between Daken and Bullseye in this issue, but their problems will almost certainly play out in “Dark Wolverine” or a future issue of “Dark Avengers,” so there’s not just a lack of closure in this issue, regular readers of “Uncanny X-Men” may never receive closure.
One thing that Fraction does very well is set up the eventual confrontation between Cyclops’s X-Men, their ‘Dark’ counterparts, and the Dark Avengers. Cyclops begins putting a plan in place that requires the full strength of the X-Men and while we don’t know what it is yet, he talks a good game. The opening scene where he briefs Domino, Dani Moonstar, one of the Cuckoos, and Psylocke alone has me excited to see what he has planned for Osborn’s groups.
The fight between Emma’s X-Men and Trask’s Sentinels is a letdown since the Sentinels never actually come off as threatening to the group, except in one panel. Otherwise, it’s a squash seemingly set up to put over the Dark X-Men. It does look nice as the Dodsons do their standard excellent job on the art. The fight, despite having dozens of enemies and a large superhero team involved, is told cleanly and without clutter. They focus on making sure you can always understand what exactly is going on and manage to also draw some stunning pictures at the same time.
Extended storyarcs always feel a little empty in the middle, but “Utopia” in particular offers up little actual substance in its fourth chapter beyond promissory notes that payoffs are coming, so come back next time. The small scenes between characters are handled nicely and read well, but this issue is lacking a singular moment or focal point to tie things together, and actively make readers want to pick up the next issue with confidence that they’ll receive something more than a ‘maybe something will happen in the next part!’