Dark Web: X-Men #3 finishes off the story started in the previous two issues and sets up the conclusion to the event crossover in Dark Web: Dawn as well as a new chapter of the X-Men for several characters. The arc here is ultimately satisfying and the issue features some great moments with Jean Grey and Madelyne Pryor in particular, arguably the two people most important to the X-Men’s plot in the event.
Jean Grey is a complicated character – far more so than many people like to give her credit for. So often, there’s this idea of “Saint Jean” who could never do wrong that’s projected onto the character and it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Not every book this era has utilized Jean that well, but Dark Web: X-Men #3 is probably her best content this era aside from her Judgment Day issue.
Jean Grey is a loving, kindhearted woman who will do anything for the people she loves, but she’s also a massive bully and this dichotomy has been one of the most fascinating things about her character for years. Jean is overloaded with power and so often she just steamrolls over people and pushes them around, which personally I find to be one of the most interesting parts of her character. Maddie and Jean’s confrontation is brutal, and of course Jean is mean as hell during it while Maddie is lashing out. But it’s by speaking to Maddie one on one and reaching out to her that ultimately changes the tides – the way the big fight is able to balance both Jean’s spitfire temper and overwhelming compassion like this is what makes this issue feel great for her character.
Jean’s character this era has been so vastly underutilized, and let’s face it: Jean and Scott are an incredibly boring couple that ultimately do nothing for each other anymore as characters, so they’ve often felt very flat. By centering this issue around Jean and Maddie instead, the story is able to reach great leaps and bounds for both women. Jean reveals she voted in favor of Maddie after the Hellions discovered she was alive. This revelation is great and it feels so in line for Jean even if she did just beat the crap out of Maddie minutes before telling her.
Maddie gets closure and is allowed to feel all those raw, ugly emotions she’s kept bottled up for years and the gift Jean gives her is perfect. It’s a great issue for both women, allowing them both an opportunity for growth and healing in different ways. It also sets up an interesting new chapter for them, opening the door for potential further (and much friendlier) interactions now that this wound has begun to heal.
Maddie on the X-Men is an interesting choice since she hasn’t worked with them since the Australian outback days – and that was a Madelyne who was far different in terms of skills, abilities, and knowledge. It’s interesting to have the opportunity to see her side with the team once again, promising more adventures for her in the future. Hopefully, Madelyne’s character will continue to grow and be taken to exciting new heights within that title.
The art is great from top to bottom, with each page capturing emotions perfectly and featuring set pieces and layouts that are completely eye-catching.
Writing-wise, this is easily some of Duggan’s best work on the X-Men line, delivering what is ultimately great character moments and an interesting platform to step off from for future stories.
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