The last time there was a formal X-Men/Avengers crossover, we ended up with Bloodties, which was a complete mess best left forgotten. Sadly, if we’ve learnt anything from X-Men/Dark Avengers: Utopia, it’s that the 14 year abstention lasted that long reason.
Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to like this. I really did. And to be fair, it’s not without it’s good moments. Fraction effectively portrays the confusion and bubbling tension of the anti-mutant march and the response to it, and the scenes between Cyclops and the San Franciscan Mayor are nice and sharp. It’s just that what surrounds them is such a disappointment that it’s hard to appreciate even the good bits.
Silvestri’s art is a major problem with the issue. It appears to be a real rush-job, with an art team that comprises 13 individuals besides Silvestri himself doing either pencil “assists” or inking. The book looks poorly-finished as a result, and even bits that are recognisably Silvestri display all the worst excesses of the man’s style, particularly in Emma’s ludicrous outfit and the downright hilarious posing that passes for “storytelling” in Silvestri’s world. Worse is that so much of the script relies on crowd scenes, where Silvestri’s inability to render more than two facial expressions really starts to show. Far better artists would struggle with the demands of the script. Silvestri positively buckles beneath them.
Sadly, the script itself isn’t without fault either. The twist ending borders on incomprehensibility, as Xavier’s involvement is revealed and Emma inexplicably changes costumes. Although billed as a co-starring book, the Dark Avengers are inserted largely as an afterthought. It is, for all intents and purposes, a regular X-Men issue guest-starring Osborn’s Avengers team. It’s unclear what, exactly, these guys are in the story for.
Whether or not the storyline will continue in this vein remains to be seen – it’s entirely possible that with the setup established, things will shift gears and become more satisfying, but it’s a highly debatable – and it already looks unlikely that things will reach the same level of excitement as the Messiah Complex crossover that actually kicked off this site in the first place.