Or – “Irony, Thy Name Is Major Spoilers…”

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Raise your hand if you think it’s funny that I’ve been trying to write this review all weekend…

DA1.jpgPreviously on Dark Avengers:  Norman Osborn, the former Green Goblin, is now the head of Hammer (which I’ve decided stands for “Horrifying Asshead Makes Marvel Endlessly Rotten”) and has used his status as  the new Herr Gruppherfuhrer Stark to form his own distaff team of Avengers (featuring the likes of The Sentry, Ares, Noh-Varr of the Kree, and the remaining members of the old Thunderbolts) using the names and likenesses of the original team members.  Cause you know there’s NO way that could go badly…  Having stolen Tony’s job, his toys, his team, and his identity, Normie is set to be the new sheriff in the Marvel Universe, with his own posse of power players.  The only catch in all of this?  He and most of his men are all fifteen shades of bug$&@# crazy.

The story opens 37 years ago, in the camp of a travelling band in the wilds of Latveria, where young Victor Von Doom sleeps fitfully, a book of arcane somethings open on his chest.  Morgaine LeFay enters, with two monstrous goons, and raises her blade to pierce his heart.  She hesitates, then lowers it.  “TO do it like this,” she realizes, “you’ll never know WHY you died…”  In the present, Norman Osborn greets his first wave of HAMMER agents with a “Hail, Fellow, Well Met, Now Let’s Go Paste Spider-Man Inna Face” and they cheer.  At the same time, in present-day Latveria, an adult Doctor Doom faces Morgana in combat, mano a womano, with magical Kirby crackles everywhere.  Back at Avengers Tower, the team watches their own press conference, and Bullseye/Hawkeye is impressed.  “It’s too bad I killed my mother in high school…  She would have loved this.”  Norman informs them of the new rules: no talking to the press, and if they start butting horns, they’re out on their @$$, no questions asked.  He’s preparing a list of targets for them to strike, and warns them not to do anything stupid.

Speaking of “something stupid,” we get trated to a full page of Brian Bendis’ real weakness as a writer: magical incantations.  “Masrutitini guninigi!” chants Morgaine over and over, as Doom counter curses “Ralahunuti Revelinei!”   (I think I had that at Olive Garden last week.)   Suddenly, Morgaine says “Baba Booey” and the  DJ realizes it’s a Howard Stern hoax   “Bavaloomoni” and Doom explodes.  Norman and his team suddenly leap into action, sweeping int and arriving just in the nick of time to save Doom.  Ares ID’s Morgana (“Can I eat her?” asks Venom…  Heh…) and Norman tries to reason with her.  “We’re here to ask you to go back to where you came from, or face us head-on.”  She demurs, and Norman gives The Sentry the go ahead… TO RIP HER HEAD CLEAN OFF!  That is hardcore, folks.  “Was that a good thing or a bad thing?” asks the confused Sentry, and Norman pats him on the head. , and tells him it’s a reeeal good thing you did there, Anthony.  Of course, seconds later, Sentry explodes, and the team is faced with the realization that you don’t kill an immortal sorceress by ripping off her head.  With a few magic words from Morgaine, Venom goes insane and eats Ares, Iron Patriot’s armor starts to blow, and an army of monstrosities pours out of  her time portals, ready to kill and eat them all.

So, that went badly.  For Doom and the Dark A’s, that is.  The issue itself was actually quite good, with Mike Deodato hitting his game, keeping the cheesecake AND the stunt-casting under control, and a strong script from Bendis, obviously having fun with Norman’s new status quo.  There’s a lot of nice touches in this issue, from the young Doom, to Norman’s tirades, to Moonstone having no idea who Daken is, and overall (a few silly magic words notwithstanding) it’s a strong outing.  Dark Reign, so far, has been an interesting exercise in villainy, with the characters acting like heroes (at least publicly) and a real smart turn from Osborn, as even he realizes that saving Doctor Doom is not an ideal first mission.  Twists and turns and badness unbound, but it’s quite fun.  Dark Avengers #2 earns an impressive 4 out of 5 stars, making me think that not all event comics are entirely bad…

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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9 Comments

  1. Salieri
    February 24, 2009 at 6:45 am — Reply

    Notice that there isn’t a concept or a character in the entirety of “Dark Reign” that Bendis made up himself. This title is practically him trying – and failing – t imitate the huge success of Thunderbolts.

  2. Ricco
    February 24, 2009 at 9:08 am — Reply

    I liked how Doctor Doom at least tried to tell Morgaine Lafay that the reason he didn’t visit her anymore was that his castle blew up (time window went up with it) in one of the Mighty Avengers titles and then he was in prison up untill a few days ago. Hell, past, present or futur, hath no fury like a woman scorned.

  3. morpheus11
    February 24, 2009 at 9:19 am — Reply

    I am really enjoying this Dark Reign title. I haven’t read any of the other titles yet, but I am interested in seeing how this trikles through the MU.

    I would also like to point out that Dark Reign doesn’t feel like a “event comic”. There isn’t a exclusive “Dark Reign” series it is more of a change to the status quo in the MU as a whole and other books can choose to acknowledge it or not.

    I am really looking forward to the following issues to see how this all turns out.

  4. The Dude
    February 24, 2009 at 9:29 am — Reply

    I don’t read this title (I don’t like wasting money), but seeing Bullseye in the Hawkeye costume on the cover makes me realize how much I hate that Clint Barton is Ronin. Hopefully Dark Reign will lead to Clint taking his identity back.

  5. Cart
    February 24, 2009 at 11:23 am — Reply

    Books like this are the reason my daughter can only read Marvel Adventures. When did we get to a point where a mainstream Avengers book that has Spiderman, Iron Man and Hawkeye on the cover (yes, I know it is not REALLY them, but you know what I mean) has a scene where one of the heros rips someone’s head off? I believe that comics can be broad enough for everyone, but I believe that Marvel is doing a MASSIVE disservice to themselves by taking their mainline books and using them to appeal to an R rated demographic. Moments like this are why we will have another “Seduction of the Innocent” situation at some point in the future. They need to start writing these core books to a more accessable audience. If they want to include decapations, then put it in a Max book.

  6. Brother129
    February 24, 2009 at 11:39 am — Reply

    A cool cast of crazy characters, good dialogue, action, and art can’t make me forget that this is still pretty much a Thunderbolts title. Despite the interesting story, one can’t help feel another “event” coming to put all of this to right. The optimist in me is hoping Marvel will neatly cap these series of events with interesting stories throughout the Dark Reign titles. But scorned experience tells me all of this will simply lead to yet another event a la “New Horizon” or “Bright Beginnings”, etc. One also has to ask the question of how long we will be interested in reading four different Avengers’ title (and that’s not counting that many of our Avengers have their own books as well)?

  7. ~wyntermute~
    February 24, 2009 at 12:18 pm — Reply

    I am seriously haunted by the head-ripping-offenation, but even MORE disturbed by Sentry’s dialogue after it… “Was that a good thing, or a bad thing?” A man with the power of a bajillion exploding suns isn’t quite sure if bare-handedly & graphically decapitating an opponent was good or bad… Remind me to never get on Bob’s bad side.

  8. Ricco
    February 24, 2009 at 2:57 pm — Reply

    @~wyntermute~: more scary is the thought we don’t know what happened to him or his wife after he became the Void again during “special” Secret Invasion.

  9. ~wyntermute~
    February 24, 2009 at 5:06 pm — Reply

    Maybe I’m just weird, but I _like_ the Sentry… Even when he scares the everlovin’ crap outta me, he’s still pretty fascinating. I just figured the after-Invasion consequences would be revealed eventually, and somewhere saw a quote to the extent of “What’s going on with Sentry is a big part of [D.Avengers]”. This Chocolate Reign might produce some interesting little nuggets.. Ew. Bad visual.

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