Dark Reign - The List: X-Men #1

Written by Matt Fraction

Art by Alan Davis w/ Mark Farmer and Sam Keith

Colors by Nathan Faribairn

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by Richard Renteria

Ships September 23, 2009

From the tightly paced script to the surprisingly detailed pencils Dark Reign: The List - X-Men #1 proves to be not only a fun read with some major ramifications for the Cabal but also a great set-up for what is to come in the Marvel Universe.

After members of his Dark X-Men group go rogue, Norman Osborn decides to send a message to the Atlanteans in the form of a genetically modified Plodex with some very personal ties to Namor, the Sub-Mariner. Unfortunately for Norman Osborn, Namor has the power of the X-Men on his side and he does not intend to go down without a fight.

Matt Fraction does an excellent job of really adding a human element to the characters he writes regardless of the individuals nature, be it arrogance or villainy, and it is this elements that make even an average Matt Fraction story a filling read. There is a lot of Chris Claremont in Fraction's writing. Whether it be his initial use of expansive exposition or his use of a classic team-up like Colossus and Wolverine and their oh so familiar fastball special, Fraction expertly draws the reader into the story and ignites the reader's fond memories of the X-Men while attempting to create new ones.  As the action ramps up and the ramifications become greater the writer is wise to step back from the proverbial narrative edge and instead allows the art to sell the story where necessary. As it becomes increasingly rare for a writer to allow the art to tell the story, as a lot of recent books have been exposition heavy to the point that they hand-walk the reader through the story, Fraction avoids those pitfalls and instead allows the reader to experience the story and elaborate when necessary in his narrative thus allowing the art to do it's job.

Speaking of art, the incomprable Alan Davis provides the pencils for this issue and he was the perfect choice for this story. From his renderings of Osborn's first shot in his Global Aquatic War with Atlantis to his reaction of the X-Men's first retalitory strike, Alan Davis hits a homerun this issue. Considering the number of characters strewn throughout the issue, Davis does a commendable job of maintaining consistent looks to his characters. As usual, inker extraordinaire Mark Farmer gives Davis' pencils a nice shine which really helps to maintain a consistent look throughout the issue and prevents Davis' detailed backgrounds from suffering to much degradation due to the dark color scheme employed by colorist Nathan Fairbairn.

It really is rather nice to see Fraction utilizing the rich history of the Marvel Universe to enrich his story. Making this package all better is the inclusion of Fraction's first Marvel work which is a well-done Wolverine standalone story with art by the incredible Sam Keith, which - if you ask me - definitely gives this book some additional value.

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