By Jim Beard
First fell the mighty Avengers, replaced by Norman Osborn's cadre of cretins, the Dark Avengers. Now the Iron Patriot's greedy gaze falls upon the world-saving mutants of San Francisco—the result: the Dark X-Men
To inaugurate "Utopia," running through both DARK AVENGERS and UNCANNY X-MEN this summer, on July 8 Marvel offers DARK X-MEN: THE BEGINNING #1. A two-issue examination of the malevolent mutants that comprise the shadowy team, the limited series presents six tales by comics' hottest writers and artists.
First up in DARK X-MEN: THE BEGINNING #1 wings the imitative Mimic, a character created by none other than Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Writer James Asmus reveals the reasons behind this enigmatic character's yen to be part of the Dark X-Men
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"For Mimic—Calvin Rankin—this is a chance to really belong somewhere and do some good," Asmus explains. "He has had such a tumultuous past, both personally and in the world of super powered showdowns. To actually be invited onto a team—and one working for the government, no less—gives him a vote of confidence that was sorely needed in his life. Unfortunately for Cal, he doesn't realize he didn't sign up with the good guys."
Asmus jumped on the chance to delve into a character whose possibilities for growth and clarification no longer leave him on the fringes of the X-Men's world.
"For my story, I was given the opportunity-slash-Herculean effort of really mapping out Mimic's identity," he says. "There was a lot of disparate information to digest [about him]. But his story in DARK X-MEN: THE BEGINNING offers the most intimate glimpse by far into the man as he's piecing himself together.
"With Mimic, the thing that has come through loud and clear in almost all of his appearances is not that he doesn't know who he is, it's that he almost never has control. In almost every story, he's shown a wild temper. Add to that suddenly getting flooded with other people's powers, and you have someone who consistently causes damage before anyone even knows what's going on. By the time we see him now, he's a bit more
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reigned in—no pun intended—but there is still a very real reason to fear a guy who can't always control himself, but can control the powers of anyone in the Marvel Universe."
1982's SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #64 introduced our next DARK X-MEN: THE BEGINNING stars, the oft-dysfunctional duo known as Cloak and Dagger. Writer Paul Cornell eagerly accepted the assignment to bring the fan-favorite couple together once more and face-to-face with their "race."
"They're once more the closest of partners, consulting with each other within that cloak," he notes. "They don't consider themselves to be mutants. The whole issue of mutant rights is, for them, a sideshow to their calling. If Norman had wanted to put them on his Avengers rather than his X-Men, they'd probably have been okay with that, as long as they could have kept their war ongoing."
Cornell's Cloak and Dagger story involves their ongoing battle against street drugs but also illuminates what paths they'll choose for its continued operation.
"Norman offers them a stick and a carrot," the writer says. "The stick is that he's prepared to pursue them with all the force at
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his command. The carrot is that, if they work for him, they can pursue their anti-drug agenda more efficiently, in the same way they always have, with all his forces acting with them, without the police pursuing them. Norman's methods of social control actually suit what they want to do and the way they want to do it better than what was there before."
At this time DARK X-MEN: THE BEGINNING # 1's third story and lead character still crouch under a veil of secrecy, ready to spring upon the unsuspecting readers who dare to brave its pages. Trust us, this tale's ferocious.
Rolling out of the DARK/AVENGERS/UNCANNY X-MEN: UTOPIA one-shot, DARK X-MEN: THE BEGINNING #1 reveals all concerning the darkest X-Men of all on July 8.
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