Some Thoughts Before The Review: While it’s been far from spectacular, I actually think I’ve enjoyed the Dark X-Men mini-series more than I’ve enjoyed the Utopia main event so far.

“Hidden Depths”

By Paul Cornell (Writer), Leonard Kirk (Pencils), and Brian Reber (Colors)

The Story: Allowed in, Emma Frost travels through Namor’s subconscious looking for answers to some of her questions.

What’s Good And What’s Not So Good: On a technical level, “Hidden Depths” is one of the best stories to be featured in Dark X-Men: The Beginning. Paul Cornell’s sharp script really captures the complex dynamics that exist between Frost and Namor in regards to both their relationship and mutantkind. The artwork by Leonard Kirk and Brian Reber is appropriately surreal and does an excellent job of making the most of a cool story setting. From the twisted mutants to the incredible memory collage, the work by Kirk and Reber proves to be surprisingly memorable.

The problem I have with “Hidden Depths” is that it seems to conflict a bit with what was revealed in Dark Avengers #8. It’s obvious Emma and Namor are on the same page in that book, but there’s absolutely no sense of that they truly are (where it matters – I’m trying to avoid spoiling anything here) in the mini-series story. Some mention of the ultimate plan would have been quite welcome.

“Get Mystique (Slight Return)”

By Jason Aaron (Writer), Jock (Art), and Dave Stewart (Colors)

The Story: “Get Mystique” serves as an epilogue to Jason Aaron’s excellent Wolverine arc of the same name.

What’s Good And What’s Not So Good: “Get Mystique” is quite possibly, one of my all time favorite Wolverine stories. So, needless to say, I’m quite pleased to see Jason Aaron back to clean up the only real loose end of that arc. As expected, Aaron effortlessly delivers one badass Mystique and a great Norman Osborn. Aaron’s dialogue is top-notch and makes “Get Mystique” one hell of a fun read. On the visual side, Jock’s gritty artwork could not possibly be more fitting. Stylish, violent, and (I hate to use the word again, but I have to) badass, it makes one hell of an impression. I can’t wait to see what Jock does when he’s given a full arc to work with.  Also worth mentioning is how much Dave Stewart’s color work adds to what Jock does. It makes Jock’s work dark and moody, yet strikingly vivid.

“The One Who Got Away”

By Simon Spurrier (Writer), Paul Davidson (Art), and Rain Beredo (Colors)

The Story: Jeanne-Marie Beaubier (A.K.A. Aurora) adapts to Norman Osborn’s tactics in an unusual way.

What’s Good And What’s Not So Good: Since everyone knows the Dark X-Men lineup by now, the effect of Simon Spurrier’s story doesn’t really make any sort of impact as far as Osborn’s team is concerned. That said, Spurrier definitely makes the most of what he has to deal with. Aurora’s unique psychological state is used quite effectively and her confrontation with Osborn is far more fun than one might expect. As for the artwork, Paul Davidson’s visuals are a bit problematic. While it tells the story well, the character work is inconsistent as can be. Osborn looks different in almost every panel, Aurora’s body proportions are all over the place, and some panels just look downright strange.

Conclusion: Dark X-Men: The Beginning #3 isn’t flawless, but the best of the mini-series was definitely saved for last. I recommend checking it out if you’re looking for some short, cool stories.

Grade: B

-Kyle Posluszny