It’s a new day for the Marvel Universe.

The Skrull Invasion has been repelled, and Norman Osborn – the former Green Goblin – has saved the day.

His reward? The keys to Stark Tower, S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Avengers Initiative. The Dark Reign of Osborn begins here!

Published by: Marvel Comics
Written by: Brian Bendis
Art by: Mike Deodato Jr. 
Year: 2009

Collects: Dark Avengers #1 – 6

PLOT: The Secret Invasion is over and Norman Osborn – the former Green Goblin – has been named America’s newest top peacekeeping operative.

Dismantling S.H.I.E.L.D. and replacing it with H.A.M.M.E.R., Norman sets about changing the superhero landscape to fit his views – that includes secret Cabals with the likes of Doctor Doom, Emma Frost, Namor, the Hood and Loki, as well as a new team of Avengers made up of criminals rebranded as heroes.

But for Norman and his Dark Avengers, things won’t go smoothly, as Atlantean terror attacks and time-travelling witches threaten to break the facade they’re trying so desperately to uphold.

REVIEW: While I do enjoy this comic, I think there are times here where you can see Bendis’ writing start to falter (although admittedly that could be because I’ve read a lot of these stories in relatively quick succession). 

While these characters are fun to read, for the most part, a lot of them have the same voice (something that, a couple of years down the line with devolve into every character finishing each others sentences – but we’ll get to that in a few days). And when the various characters do start to stand out, it’s not necessarily to their benefit. Ares and Norman Osborn are distinct, but Venom’s characterisation increasingly undermines any potential threat he’s meant to pose, and Moonstone – the only woman of the group – is basically just a sex fiend, with little else attributed to her character.

Then there’s the action. While there is the occasional cool beat, for the most part, the action doesn’t seem to have any script or choreography; you could see this to an extent in House of M and Secret Invasion – it very much feels like Bendis has written ‘they fight’ and allowed Deodato to fill in the blanks. Deodato gives an admirable go of it, but that’s not necessarily enough to fix the script.

On top of that, the battle in this particular comic – the Dark Avengers and Doctor Doom against Morgan le Fey – seemingly has even less thought behind it. The main point of their battle is that whenever the Dark Avengers kill her, she just comes back from the past she travelled from in the first place. But that would be with each interaction she’s getting younger and younger, wouldn’t it – as in, she hasn’t yet experienced it? It’s just lumping paradoxes on top of each other. Osborn even questions how it all works at one point, and Doom simply calls him ignorant, but I think that’s just Bendis’ attempt to distract from the fact that it doesn’t really make sense, and there are no real rules in play here.

This comic is mostly trading on its cool factor for the first few issues – Morgan le Fey is so powerful, isn’t that cool? The Avengers are made up of supervillain, isn’t that cool?! The Sentry is a greater threat to the Earth than we ever thought! So cool.

And sometimes, it works, but generally, the best parts of this comic aren’t the superhero focused parts, but the look in on Norman Osborn trying to keep everything together, which is most prominent in the last few issues.

For that, I might recommend this comic to some – as I say, I do like it. But if you’re wanting a supervillain masquerading as heroes story, I’d perhaps suggest a Thunderbolts comic instead. And if you’re interested in how Dark Reign (the banner under which all the Norman Osborn on top stories fall) then I’d also maybe suggest something else from the era – if you’re wanting more Bendis then New Avengers is always a safe bet.

Otherwise, on some level, this is a case of a comic not necessarily doing all it can with its premise. Norman Osborn gets a good go here (as does Ares in follow-up issues), but the rest of the Dark Avengers are pretty much just side characters with little going for them, and their true potential must be found elsewhere.

Dark Reign was already questionable – if Iron Man couldn’t successfully run S.H.I.E.L.D., why would the Green Goblin be able to? And would anyone seriously put him in such a high position in the first place? This comic doesn’t really do enough to justify or explain that.

Some of the later issues are decent though – the Ares focused on being a particular highlight for me.

Anyway, all-in-all, I give Dark Avengers Assemble a…

Thanks for reading! What’re your thoughts on Marvel’s ‘Dark Reign’? Awesome or Unbelievable? Let me know in the comments below!

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2 thoughts on “DARK AVENGERS: ASSEMBLE | Comic Review

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