Underwhelming: Andy Burns On Avengers/X-Men: Utopia

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While JP had be entertainingly chronicling his boxing day hopes and dreams over the last few weeks, I myself didn’t have any real set purchases in mind, other than picking up a few comics which I’d missed out on over the last few months. High up on my list was the X-men/Avengers Dark Reign crossover titled Utopia.

For those of you who aren’t aware, the main idea behind Dark Reign is that Norman Osbourne has become head of SHIELD, the worldwide peace keeping organization which he has rebranded HAMMER. This is interesting because Norman had a pretty tainted history, what with him being the Green Goblin and all. But because of his heroic actions during the Secret Invasion, the world has forgiven and forgotten. But still a baddie at heart, Osbourne has created his own Avengers and X-Men out of villains (hence the Dark Avengers and Dark X-Men logos that have been appearing on various covers). In Utopia, Osbourne’s groups take on the tried and true Marvel mutants, whose numbers have been dwindling and who currently reside in San Francisco.

The Utopia hardcover compiles a storyline that went through the Uncanny X-Men and Dark Avengers monthly series, along with a variety of affiliated stories that were published around the same time revolving around the Dark X-Men and their origins. While I was looking forward to reading the main story in the book, I have to admit that I was bored by everything that was going on. It seemed as though there were just a series of battle after battle, along with a question of whether or not Emma Frost, the Dark X-Men’s leader, had really abandoned her students and Scott Summers, her lover and leader of the X-Men and all remaining mutants. The answer is totally underwhelming, as is the solution to the mutants constant lack of a stable home (something a character even references at the end of the series). The end result is another retread from past X-men storylines.

Around a year ago I picked up Uncanny X-Men: Manifest Destiny, a hardcover that featured the X-Men first arriving in their new San Francisco digs. Having shied away from the series for a few years now, I really enjoyed the storyline. It felt fresh and I thought the mutants had been revitalized, but reading Utopia, I just felt as though the whole X-Men world was tired again. It lacks the strength of the work Brian Michael Bendis has been doing with his New Avengers work or that Ed Brubaker has achieved with his run on Daredevil. Maybe it’s the fact that there are so many new mutants running around that if you haven’t been reading every X-series for years, it’s hard to walk into a storyline and actually care about the characters.

The new X-Men storyline coming out of Utopia is titled Nation X. I think until something earth-shattering happens in the world of the mutants, I won’t be visiting their latest new home.

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