Marvel’s Dark variant covers give a tantalizing glimpse of the X-Men‘s Rachel Grey and Polaris as super-villains. Marvel’s various variant cover initiatives have always tended to give artists a chance to exercise their creativity, and in May the comic book publisher has commissioned a range of Marvel Dark variants.
These allow artists to reimagine popular and iconic heroes, transforming them into quasi-demonic bad guys. In general, the designs have been evocative of some DC revealed during 2017’s Dark Nights: Metal event. The key difference, of course, is that these are just stunning covers; for now, at least, they aren’t canon. That may well change, given occasionally a variant cover redesign has struck enough of a chord to be absorbed into the comics themselves.
David Nakayama’s stunning Dark variant for X-Factor #2 is a cover that deserves to become a reality. It features two of the lesser-known X-Men who are members of the X-Factor team, Rachel Grey and Polaris. But Nakayama has envisioned them as monstrous beings, haunting sirens with sweeping wings.
The redesigns are superb, and Rachel’s in particular demonstrates a deep familiarity with her comic book lore. Rachel Grey has a troubled history; she originates from the “Days of Future Past” timeline, where she was captured and forced to serve as a Hound, hunting her fellow mutants as a slave. Her Hound costume had a sort of bondage vibe to it, incorporating a series of jagged spikes and even a striking facial tattoo. Nakayama has taken that theme a step further, transforming Rachel into a sexy Goth who looks absolutely lethal. Her wings are reminiscent of the Phoenix, which is another nice touch; Rachel is one of the most notable Phoenix Force hosts, and unlike many others she never went Dark Phoenix. It’s safe to assume this sinister version has succumbed to the lure of the dark side, of course.
Polaris, meanwhile, has been envisioned as an arcane bat-demon, with sweeping green wings inspired by her traditional cape. Nakayama clearly liked the idea of tattoos, and as a result he’s given Polaris a lot of exposed skin in which to sketch intricate patterns. One of the most amusing is a twisted version of the X-Men logo, an X with a demon’s tail coming from the bottom. Polaris’ look has been completed by bleaching her skin white, and the black eye make-up is prominent as well.
Oddly enough, Nakayama has chosen two X-Men who are typically very difficult to suit up. Rachel Grey has rarely had distinctive costumes of her own, and David Baldeón’s upcoming X-Factor redesign is one of the best in years. Meanwhile, Polaris usually drifts back to versions of the outfit originally designed by Jim Steranko; while Nakayama honors that, his is remarkably original. It’s frankly a shame these two characters are unlikely to ever adopt this appearance in the comics themselves, given they’d presumably involve a story-arc transforming the two women into monsters.
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