In the 1967 song “San Francisco,” Scott McKenzie famously sang about how those who come to San Francisco in the summer time will “find a love-in there.” This summer, Norman Osborn brings his team of Dark Avengers to the San Francisco of the Marvel Universe to see the X-Men, but the two teams aren’t there for a love-in; they’re headed for the exact opposite. Writer Matt Fraction will chronicle the confrontation between the two teams in “Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men,” a six issue event that unfolds in two book ends and two issues each of “Dark Avengers” and “Uncanny X-Men.” CBR News spoke with Fraction and his editor Nick Lowe about the event, which kicks off in June.
Regular “Dark Avengers” writer Brian Michael Bendis will serve as a consultant on “Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men,” but Fraction, who is the regular writer of “Uncanny,” is writing the entire cross-over event himself. The event begins in a special “Alpha” issue, then spans “Uncanny X-Men” #513, “Dark Avengers” #7, “Uncanny X-Men” #514, and comes to a conclusion in a special “Omega” issue.
“Very early on I dreamed of being able do an X-Men/Avengers story, and I when I said let’s do that story everybody kind of looked at me and was like, ‘Yeah, yeah kid,'” Fraction told CBR News. “As time went on I kept bringing it up, and I talked about it with Brian one night. We had been talking back and forth about Norman Osborn’s Cabal, Emma Frost, the Dark Avengers and where we’re both going with our stories. There was a lot of back of forth, and it got to the point where it wasn’t just something I wanted to see as a fan, it also made a lot of story sense with both where he and I were on our titles and where we’re going. It was like, ‘This is perfect.’ It’s the right thing to do and the right time to do it.”
“Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men” comes at a dangerous time for Fraction’s “X-Men” cast. Cyclops and his girlfriend Emma Frost are hiding things from each other as well as from their teammates. Cyclops is concealing the existence of “X-Force,” his covert team of mutants that carry out “wetworks” missions, while Emma is hiding her membership in Norman Osborn’s clandestine criminal group, the Cabal. Readers can expect these secrets to have a big impact on the story and on many of the relationships among the X-Men. “Lots of chickens are coming home to roost,” Fraction said. “In ‘Uncanny’ #511 Beast says that these secrets are going to kill us. And here you go – it’s killing time.”
Killing time begins because Emma Frost isn’t holding up her end of the Faustian pact she struck with Osborn when she joined his Cabal in the “Secret Invasion: Dark Reign” one-shot. “Osborn wants nothing to do with mutants. He didn’t want to worry about them, and since there are less than 200 of them, they didn’t want to have to worry about who the asshole in charge of them this week was. So Emma and Osborn’s deal was ‘You stay out of my way, I’ll stay out of yours and we’ll all be great,'” Fraction explained. “In terms of how deals with the devil go, that’s not the worst one you can make. What happens though, is mutants don’t stay out of Osborn’s way. Things happen that bring mutants front and center into Norman’s perspective and Emma is told, ‘You control your people or I will!'”
The X-Men’s new home town of San Francisco figures prominently in the confrontation between the Dark Avengers and the X-Men. “It’s cool that we get to break the news about this story at WonderCon in San Francisco,” Fraction stated. “Because San Francisco is a major character in the story, and all of a sudden it becomes a bad time to be an insurance agent in the Bay Area.”
Fraction finds Norman Osborn and the entire cast of “Dark Avengers” to be very compelling characters and the writer is enjoying the chance to turn them loose on the Bay Area and the X-Men. “I really enjoy writing Osborn and these crazy plans of his. Plus it’s a team full of rich personalities,” Fraction remarked. “I never got a chance to write Bullseye during my ‘Punisher War Journal’ run, and always wanted to. So I’m finally getting my chance to sink my teeth into that guy. And I love all the work that’s been done with Moonstone. Marvel Boy is fucking amazing. With Daken, you have the chance to have the chance to write Wolverine as a surly, pissed-off teenager who hates his dad, and that’s also pretty amazing. And of course there’s the psychotic wild card that is Venom.”
Fraction also has plans for the two heaviest hitters on the “Dark Avengers” – the Sentry and Ares, the God of War. “Logistically, the Sentry is sort of like the H-Bomb. You don’t lead with that. The Sentry is the doomsday machine. He’s Norman’s ultimate insurance,” the writer explained. “Ares though? Scott Summers has been training to be a general his entire life and whether he wants it or not, the war [and the war god] have found him. So stay tuned.”
The last time the X-Men’s home base came under an assault of such magnitude was when the Hulk attacked the X-Mansion during “World War Hulk: X-Men,” and Fraction sees the confrontation in “Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men” as being similar in scale. “When guys like Ares show up on your doorstep, you want the A-list. These are the top level guys,” Fraction said. “Essentially though, this is an all hands on deck situation; so if you’re an X-Man capable of fighting this particular fight, you’re showing up.”
If, and when, the Dark Avengers and the X-Men come to blows, readers can expect it to get pretty ugly. “The people who don’t buy Norman Osborn’s bullshit are all the heroes who know what he is and recognize what he’s doing. They know what he’s capable of; his and Iron Patriot identity is a slap in the face to everybody. Whether you’re an Avenger, an X-Man, or a New Warrior; to see that guy defiling those two icons is a slap in your face,” Fraction said. “So the hostilities are pre-cranked before our story even begins. Everybody is ready to throw down.”
“Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men” is an event which gives Fraction the chance to collaborate with three different artists, and the writer is very excited to work with all of them. Bringing to life the “Dark Avengers issues of the cross-over is regular series’ artist Mike Deodato. Penciling the “Uncanny X-Men” issues is Terry Dodson who shares regular art duties on that book with Greg Land. And for the first issue of the event, the editorial team behind the cross-over has enlisted the aid of legendary artist Marc Silvestri.
When asked what made Silvestri the perfect artist to draw the first chapter, Nick Lowe, Fraction’s editor on “Uncanny X-Men” replied, “People asked me that when we got Marc to do the Messiah Complex one shot, too. I can get long winded about this, so bear with me – I said that Marc was in the top three of definitive X-Men artists of all time. This time I’ll go even further. Not only does he have that stature, but he’s also been part of more important X-Stories ranging across the decades [than any other artist]. He did Inferno. He did ‘Fall of the Mutants’. He did ‘Here Comes Tomorrow’. He did ‘Messiah CompleX.’ No one else’s work screams, ‘HOLY CRAP THIS IS IMPORTANT’ like Marc’s does. So we HAD to have him for this.”
Indeed the “Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men” cross-over is so important that readers should expect the outcome of the story to result in dramatic changes to the status quos of both books and perhaps even that of the Marvel Universe as a whole. “You have no idea. This is just the beginning,” Fraction said. “This is one of those things where I can’t believe I’m getting away with all the stuff that I’m getting away with. Osborn winning really flipped everything on its head and this is a progression of what happens when someone like that has a victory.”