I have experienced the Dark X-Men before, coming after X-Men Civil War, a publication which took things to a new level, putting Spider-Man's nemesis Norman Osborn, minus his alter ego Green Goblin, in charge of a group of questionable and volatile 'superheroes' in order to restore the balance to not just the superhero/mutant world but the civilisation in general.
Now, a little further on, we take up the story as the latest collection of questionables try to restore the balance, identifying problems and quelling them. This time, a short psychic visit from Nate Grey (son of Jean Grey and Cyclops) who has the ability to transcend time and space and is essentially unbeatable winds up taking our motley collection through the depths of Norman Osborn psyche to find out his intentions.
The action is fast paced, and the story okay, but this does seem a little middle of the road for me. I understand that not every issue or series can be supreme and better than the previous one, but even so I have to rate it as I see it. It was very easy to read, and I enjoyed it, but there just didn't seem to be a whole deal of mystery and intrigue.
Marvel fans will be pleased with the character developments though. I liked the nuances and references throughout, and the character Nate Grey is one that I really hope develops further and becomes even more integral than he already seems. I suppose once you've virtually exhausted all manner of plots and threads with one set of characters and they grow older, it stands to reason that any potential offspring would be next in line for a few stories, and by and large these character developments work well.
The Dark X-Men characters themselves are very interesting, with Mimic being able to copy any other mutant's powers, Omega being able to absorb any other mutant's powers, the Dark Beast essentially a more morbid version of the usual X-Man Beast, and Mystique, formerly an enemy of the X-Men able to shapeshift into anyone. These four are the main focus, although there are other Dark-Men involved once Grey materialises in a more real form. The story does also explore the psyche of Osborn, with various episodes entitled The Journey to the Centre of the Goblin as the psychological effects of their mission take centre stage.
It's intriguing at points, but the tricky thing is that I don't feel any connection to the characters, so even though the writing and artwork are decent, the story almost feels as if it should belong to more established characters. I don't know whether this is because I'm not completely up to date with the threads or not, but it felt not quite so full and complete as other issues or publications of similar styles but different characters have done.
Overall then, an okay publication but nothing special. It's good to get a different focus from the usual characters, and also have some furthered characters developed from existing ones, but while the story and characters, writing and artwork were all decent enough, there was definitely something missing. I'd certainly give this character group another go, but not necessarily with the gusto I enjoy reading other characters' threads.