By Matt Fraction (Writer), Terry Dodson (Pencils), Rachel Dodson (Inks), and Justin Ponsor (Colors)
Some Thoughts Before The Review: The Uncanny X-Men and Dark Avengers crossover, Utopia, got off to an unremarkable start. It laid the foundation for some interesting things though, so I look forward to seeing where Matt Fraction takes the story now that most of the pieces are in place.

The Story: If the Utopia oneshot was all about setting the stage, then Uncanny X-Men #513 is all about introducing the rest of the arc’s players. As riots continue in California, Norman Osborn institutes a curfew and introduces a new team of X-Men. Lead by Emma Frost and Charles Xavier (is it really Xavier?), Cloak, Dagger, Beast (from another timeline), Namor, Daken, Weapon Omega, and Mimic makes up the team, ordered to restore peace between humans and mutants. Meanwhile, Cyclops regroups with other mutants to plan another move. As for the hospitalized Simon Trask? Let’s just say that he’s got something else up his sleeve…

Simply put, Uncanny X-Men #513 feels a whole hell of a lot like the Utopia oneshot; which is a good thing in some ways and a bad thing in other ways.

What’s Good: The solid looking second chapter of Utopia continues building momentum for what looks to be a promising crossover. While it’s too early to make any real judgments, the Dark X-Men team shows a lot of early potential. It’s made up of a few interesting, oft-ignored characters (Cloak, Dagger, Mimic, etc.) that could turn out to be the breakout stars of the crossover if Matt Fraction handles them right (he’s definitely on the right track).

Speaking of Matt Fraction, he does a nice job of juggling an extremely large cast of characters while still moving the story forward at an acceptable pace. What’s especially notable is the way that Fraction quickly and efficiently introduces the mutants that the average reader might not be instantly familiar with. Cloak, Dagger, Mimic, Weapon Omega, and Dark Beast all benefit from Fraction’s occasionally/usually annoying/clever – pick your pair note boxes.

What’s Not So Good: The biggest problem I have with Uncanny X-Men #513 is that it feels filled with stuff that probably should have been put into the Utopia oneshot. Remember all that filler I talked about in my review of the book? Well most of that filler should have been taken out in favor of using the space to do almost everything that’s done in the latest issue of Uncanny.

More time is spent introducing characters and establishing the current social climate than moving the story forward in a satisfying way. In other words, in Uncanny X-Men #513, plot threads are still being created while most remain unused. While the pacing is still acceptable, it’s also somewhat frustrating. To add on, that’s not all that’s maddening.

The visuals, while solid, are a bit of a headache at times. I’m usually a fan of Terry Dodson’s attractive art style, but it’s a poor fit for Utopia because the crossover is absolutely packed with characters. Too many faces look exactly the same, some panels are way too oversimplified, and a few scenes look a bit silly. Also, why does Venom/Dark Spider-Man look like a snake?!

Conclusion: The second chapter of Utopia feels a lot like the oneshot that introduced the crossover. So much so, that it gets the same grade, but for different reasons.

Grade: C+

-Kyle Posluszny