Whatever you thought of Secret Invasion, there’s the fairly universal agreement that the practically tacked-on ending, the “crossunder” we’ve come to know as “Dark Reign”, has finally managed to turn the status quo left over from Civil War into a situation that can carry its dramatic weight. There’s little very intrigue in having a hero like Tony Stark in control of the world’s superhumans (which is probably why he was repeatedly cast as the Marvel Universe’s foremost dick) but having someone genuinely evil like Norman Osborn running the show? That’s a story worth reading.
In fact, so great was my enthusiasm for the Dark Reign flagship, Dark Avengers, that even a patently ridiculous name and the promise of an $3.99 price tag per issue did not dissuade me from buying it. The concept – villains masquerading as heroes – has long been done over in Thunderbolts (a title I’ve followed since issue #1) but the opportunity to see Bendis’ spin on it was not one I wanted to miss. Indeed, with the use of the concept and cast members – Osborn, Bullseye, Venom and Moonstone – Dark Avengers is actually far more of a follow up to Thunderbolts than the latest issue of the comic currently carrying that name is.
So, now that I’ve read the issue, was my enthusiasm justified? I’d have to say, conditionally, yes. I’ve always had a particular weakness for those “gathering the troops” issues that team-based comics are wont to do every couple of years, and this was a particularly good example. The concept is pure, each character’s intentions were clearly stated, and their reactions were well-played. Former “Mighty Avenger” Ares gets some memorable, in-character jokes, and the mystery of The Sentry’s compliance quickly and effectively set up. Meanwhile, Deodato absolutely knocked the artwork for every page right out of the metaphorical park. As first issues go, it was damn near perfect.
The one flaw, of course, is that there’s a distinct feeling that some of this was supposed to be a surprise. Weeks ago, based only on promo art, I correctly deduced almost the entire Dark Avengers lineup, (bar only the Sentry, who hadn’t been shown at the time) and while my enthusiasm for the title was based on the “villains as heroes” concept, it should be noted that no part or the promotional work for Dark Avengers actually made it clear that was what was going on. If we weren’t meant to know – and the lack of any twist to this concept suggests as much – then Marvel did a ludicrous job of covering it up.
Even so, I find it hard to believe anyone could come out of this issue with any feeling other than enthusiasm for the series’ direction, and if the title does see Bendis’ delivering his “early-New Avengers” best, then seeing the team in action next issue is going to be fun indeed.download new kids the dvdrip