After a rather weak start, Paul Cornell’s miniseries has come to life as its unexpected guest-star takes centre stage. Having found a doorway back into reality, Nate Grey wastes no line in tacking the first item on his agenda. There’s little novelty in seeing the Dark Avengers coming under attack from one of the Marvel Universe’s heroes, but a aggressor who could conceivably defeat Norman Osborn’s team single-handedly adds some spice to the mix.
A buyer who paid $3.99 in the hope of reading about the adventures of the titular team will be disappointed in this issue, with the book’s reborn guest star firmly taking centre stage. Given the slim odds of such a reader existing, however, the focus on Nate Grey is understandable. X-Man always had an inherent likeability at odds with his over-complex and continuity-dependant origin, and here slipped effortlessly back into the role of leading man. Cornell’s writing makes a good fist of compiling the two sides of the character. The potentially po-faced shaman demonstrating an appealing sense of mischief, more reminiscent of his original characterisation, in the way his overcomes the threat of the Sentry.
Leonard Kirk’s art isn’t his strongest work, with some awkward composition in places- the opening splash page noticeably struggles with the need to show both X-Man and Avengers Tower with equal degrees of prominence. The artist’s grasp of body language never deserts him, however, and given the extra-curricular work which the creator is having to supply for Marvel (including a short Nation X fill-in), it’s an impressive show. The synergy between the creators remains strong, and it’s easy to hope that this miniseries has been commissioned to keep the team together until an ongoing opportunity presents itself.
The story appears to have been fortunate in its timing, with the imminent dissolution of the Dark Reign status quo giving the book a little more freedom in tackling the big guns of the Marvel Universe. You couldn’t call Dark X-Men high art, but there’s an infectious fun here that’s hard to resist.