Dark Web: X-Men #1
- Gerry Duggan
- Rod Reis
- VC’s Cory Petit
- Cover Artist:
- Phil Noto
- Release Date:
- Rod Reis
It’s the holiday season in New York City and Krakoa, and there’s magic in the air — and that’s bad news for the X-Men. The Goblin Queen, the clone of Jean Grey and ruler of Limbo, is out for revenge, continuing her rampage through the Marvel Universe. This time she’s set her sights on the X-Men, especially the Summers brothers. Krakoa is off-limits, but New York City is up for grabs, and the demons of Limbo are ready to put the Grinch to shame with their holiday shenanigans.
Written by Gerry Duggan, illustrated by Rod Reis, and lettered by VC’s Cory Petit, Dark Web: X-Men #1 continues Spider-Man’s Dark Web saga into a full-on crossover event. With Limbo changing hands and demons ravaging the earth, this definitely isn’t the most wonderful time of the year for the X-Men.
As is typical and expected for contemporary Marvel comics, Dark Web: X-Men #1 features referential, snappy, sarcastic humor and lightning-quick repartee. In this issue especially, with Limbo demons possessing everything from shopping carts, to jackhammers and giant Christmas trees, the black humor is especially strong — or at least, its attempts at it are vigorous. Duggan is an X-Men veteran. Normally, his writing exemplifies his mastery and knowledge of the staggeringly broad roster of mutant heroes with flying colors, creating strong and witty dialogue that still feels tonally appropriate and true to each character.
However, Dark Web: X-Men #1 is an awkward read. The attempts at witty dialogue read as forced, unnatural and obvious, and as a result, they distract from the story. The premise of the Limbo demons taking over New York City’s Christmas decorations is tonally unbalanced. The main storyline of the Goblin Queens’ attacks is dark and sinister. Unfortunately, it’s written in a way that doesn’t blend well with the comedy, which is, at times, surprisingly juvenile and off-putting. However, Duggan’s talent and experience with the X-Men shines through when it matters most — especially when Magick transports the team to Limbo, kicking off a more substantial fantasy plot with more effective situational humor and even more immediate danger.
The awkward writing isn’t helped by the artwork. Rod Reis’ style — which features soft, feathery pencil lines, painterly, expressionistic rendering techniques on faces and environments, realistic face and body proportions, and vibrant, saturated colors abetted by black — is stunning. Reis brings a maturity to the story that clashes with the irreverent and adolescent dialogue. Even Reis’s depictions of evil Christmas trees, mailboxes, and scooters feel too smooth for their own good. There is no denying the artistic mastery and elegance present on every page. The scenes set in Limbo are especially impressive. The fantastical environments and characters translate well through Reis’ art, but the art struggles to match the tone of Duggan’s writing.
Although more than a little lacking in holiday spirit, grace, and tonal consistency, Dark Web: X-Men #1 has enough presents under the tree to keep the season merry and bright. The return to Limbo represents an exciting new chapter for the X-Men, and Reis’ art is absolutely breathtaking, making this an uneven but intriguing issue.