Dark X-Men #1 is published by Marvel, written by Steve Foxe, art by Jonas Scharf, colors by Frank Martin, and letters by Clayton Cowles. There is a backup story titled “Do You Love Me?,” written by Foxe, art by Nelson Dániel, art by Frank Martin, and letters by Cowles. A small band of the most violent members of Madelyne Pryor’s X-Men set out to rescue the Mutants that have been left on Earth as Orchis start picking them off.
The plot of this opening issue is spectacular. After the attack on the Hellfire Gala, everything seems darker and more violent. People are calling in Mutant sightings and a private military group is hunting them down and bringing them in for nefarious purposes. This time is reminiscent of some of the older periods in X-Men history. But this time, you have X-Men that will fight back, based in Limbo and in New York.
The comic moves methodically, containing many streams feeding into one river, so it takes time to provide a backstory for all of it. So many callbacks and references make an appearance in Dark X-Men #1, sucking in loose ends within the strands of the X-Men mythos over the Age of Krakoa. Characters from miniseries that happened years ago come back, either being controlled by Orchis or hunted by them. When the action kicks off, the book does not like to hold back. There are layers of brutality, with some shocking moments that detail just what this series is capable of, and the unpredictability of the series is clear.
The cast of this book is vast and fascinating. Entering Dark X-Men #1 are some of the creepiest and most mysterious mutants, many of them resembling Limbo’s demons. Azazel and Emplate are beings straight out of a horror comic, as is Skin. Then enter more mainstream X-Men, but figures that are often found in the darker corners of the world, such as Archangel and Gambit.
At the helm of the book is the Goblin Queen, who is a fantastic leader of his group. She is vengeful and lacks mercy, striding into any situation with authority and dominance. But she has Havok with her, trying to be her conscience and wind her in when she displays her most fearsome traits. There are some of his lines that can get irritating, partly because they seem repetitive. But I think that constant needling from him is an intentional annoyance from Foxe, as it makes what happens later even more extreme.
It’s great to see some characters that I had believed to be forgotten about. The huge cast opens up so many possibilities, and what is great is that they didn’t start out all from one source. They are from numerous groups and approaches, adding conflict and unexpected combinations.
The art is magnificent and perfectly suited to the style of the issue. The darkness of the characters is understood quickly by Scharf. They all appear to operate in the shadows or exist in murky situations. All of those included in the team look incredible, and the extra thickness of the lines makes all of them seem ominous, even if we know that they are true heroes.
Many of their powers and mutations lead to them looking scary, especially Skin and Emplate. The action is phenomenal. The various characters from different teams lead to a spectrum of damage. Where some are there to incapacitate, others enter the battle with a view to kill and nothing else. There is a speed and savagery to every blow, with the impact being felt throughout the page. When something gory happens, it is placed front and center, making it almost impossible to look away.
The colors are interesting. It initially leans on two main colors; red and black. This emanates from Madelyne, Pryor, and Limbo, having an influence on the outside world as well. Everything inherently looks unnerving and unfriendly. But as a smorgasbord of mutants and powers join the fight, it causes an influx of shades to be added as well. The most prominent example of this is Gambit, whose vibrant pink is impossible to darken. The lettering is the standard font across all X-Men comics.
There is a second story that depicts what Madelyne Pryor is building at the Limbo Embassy in New York. It’s full of cameos, but each one has deliberated and considered dialogue that shows they are more than just faces to fill the pages. The art is superb right up until the final page, which features a really mishappen and terrifying image of Havok’s face. It’s unlike anything in the issue and is awkward to see.
Dark X-Men #1 is needed when times get as dark as they are. It’s a book that is hardcore at points, reveling in blood being spilled. It’s one of the most epic lineups, with some of the mutant world’s most malicious, repulsive, and awesome representatives. But it’s demonstrative of where the Fall of X storyline is. This is the group that would do absolutely everything it could to keep mutants safe, even if that means murder. The tone, the art, and the general feeling that this book is one of the last stands against Orchis make it intoxicating to read.
Dark X-Men #1
Dark X-Men #1 is needed when times get as dark as they are…It’s one of the most epic lineups, with some of the mutant world’s most malicious, repulsive, and awesome representatives. But it’s demonstrative of where the Fall of X storyline is.