Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia #1

 

The Writing: Fraction puts on his Claremont hat, going back to a theme that has been done to death. “Let’s make the X-Men about intolerance.” A fine message, for sure, but it’s all been done before in the X-Men. That said, Fraction is still writing better-than-the-rest here. He packs this issue full of cleverness. So, you get your money’s worth, but a lot of this stuff feels a bit unnecessary, and it all could’ve fit in a regular issue. But no, these X-Men events have to be oversized and feature Marc Silvestri art.

The Art: Silvestri is Silvestri. I’m not too fond of his work, but he’s a god to some. And, to be fair, he rendered one of the best X-Men tales ever, “Here Comes Tomorrow.” The problem here is that Silvestri needed four additional artists to provide the crowd for Fraction’s script. So, needless to say, all the additional pencilers create a slightly jarring reading experience, and a few continuity mistakes along the way. Also, and this is the problem with nearly every artist Fraction works with, Silvestri renders the action scenes well, but struggles with some of the quieter moments.

Final Word: The last page of this issue is supposed to have a big impact, but it’s already been spoiled. This is Marvel’s only crossover this summer, and, thankfully, it’s completely in Fraction’s hands. As a huge Fraction fan, I couldn’t be happier. However, this special, while good from a technical standpoint, doesn’t provide an interesting enough premise, and, really, isn’t very entertaining.

Grade: C+

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Review: Invincible Iron Man #14

And we’re past the “World’s Most Wanted” halfway mark. That’s right. This arc is going to be twelve issues long. I can still remember it all, though, and that’s always a good thing. Fraction’s opening issues were used to tell a self-contained jumping-on point for new readers, riding high from the movie’s fumes. Since then, Fraction’s Iron Man has been knee-deep in Dark Reign, with a few continuity references as well. Thankfully, thanks to the talent of Matt Fraction, I don’t think new readers will be lost, and it’s one of the few Dark Reign tie-ins that is above-average.

In this arc alone, Fraction has turned Invincible Iron Man into an ensemble book, taking Maria Hill and Pepper Potts along for the ride. I’ve never really cared too much about those women before, but you can bet I do now. Pepper has become a superhero, and a true one at that, since the only thing she does is help people. Her armor doesn’t even have weapons. And Maria is practically a female James Bond.

So, each issue, we see the slow progression of the three characters’ journeys. Tony meets up with an old Russian pal, Maria finds one of the few friends she has left, and Pepper? Well, Pepper always does the right thing, even if it is a bit naive. The pacing runs along nicely, and we never feel too overcome with exposition. As for Larroca’s art, I’ve complained about it enough. I will say, though, that the one part of this book’s look that bothered me had nothing to do with Larroca. The lettering in this issue is bad. All of the captions, for all three characters, are too uniformed, and when you throw in a narrator as well? It’s just a complete mess.

Thanks to three main characters, we’re chugging along a bit slowly, but almost every issue features new players, laughs, and plenty of fun. This issue is no different. The last page is a nice cliffhanger, even though it does feel a bit forced.

Grade: B

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