Or – “Evil Versus Evil.  Shouldn’t They Just Cancel Out?”

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Has anybody else noticed that Marvel has a tendency to randomly rename characters for unknown reasons?  When Genis became the new Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau had to become Photon.  Then, he became Photon and she became something else.  Ms. Marvel became Warbird when there was another Ms. Marvel, but was Captain Marvel for a few issues until they decided that Gravity would be the new Captain Marvel, but now Marvel Boy is the new Captain Marvel, while the original Marvel Boy is going by the name Bob Grayson in Agents of Atlas.  Hawkeye (seen above) used to be Bullseye, and is not Clint Barton, the original Hawkeye (who was also Goliath after Yellowjacket gave up the name, but before the second Yellowjacket took the name so that the first Yellowjacket had to be Giant-Man again causing the second Giant-Man to go back to being Goliath) nor is he Kate whatchamacallit, the Hawkeye from Young Avengers.  Dark Reign has really made things confusing on a number of levels, but the question still remains:  Is it any good?

DA2.jpgPreviously, on Dark Avengers:  Norman Osborn’s first mission as head of the Avengers has been less than ideal.  First, his “heroes” were forced to head into Latveria and save the bacon of Doctor frickin’ Doom.  Then, his biggest gun, The Sentry, is brutally murdered by the power of Morgaine Le Fay.  Morgaine (or Morgana, however one chooses to spell it) has come forward in time to attack Doom because he spurned her in the past after seducing her and learning her mystical secrets.  In reality, Doom returned to the future only to be taken in by Iron Man and the Mighty Avengers and unable to come visit her again.  This does beg the question: If Victor is so damn smart, how come he can’t figure out what Bill S. Preston, esquire and Ted “Theodore” Logan knew: with a time machine, he could concievably go back to the moment after he left her and apologize with candy, flowers, and the head of Arthur Pendragon.  Theoretically, anyway…

Our story begins with a flashback, one which I’ve actually been wanting to see, as Norman Osborn enters the secret lair of the Sentry, high atop Avengers Tower to talks to the looney Superman.  The first words out of his mouth make me realize how smart Norman is, as he asks, “Bob?”  Sentry responds, a bit confused, and Norman embarks on a really brilliantly written bit of downhome sophistry.  “Have you ever heard of the Green Goblin?  That was me…  I’m okay now.  I’m under control…  You can control this, Bob.  Just…  Just choose to.”  He continually reasserts Sentry’s identity, calling him “Bob” and convincing him that the Void doesn’t exist.  “I’m threatening his existence.  I’m insulting him.  And I don’t see him anywhere.”  Norman explains that they’re friends now, teammates, neighbors, and sends out for hamburgers.  It’s a brilliant ploy, and it works, as Sentry realizes that he hasn’t eaten in forever, and the simple reinforcement of humanity convinces Bob to join the team.  Of course, evil Morgana has witnessed this whole transaction, which allowed her to murder him last month, but it’s a really good example of the kind of person-to-person exchange Bendis does best. 

Back in Latveria, we see the New Thunderbolts Dark Avengers in action against Morgana’s mystical creatures, with some fighty-fighty, and Ares handling most of the light work until he is turned to stone.  Bullseye impales her on a dozen arrows (phallic!) but she quickly returns to action with magic and time travle and Norma realizes that the real power in the situation is not brute force, but knowledge.  He grabs Doom and flies off, convincing the monarch of Latveria that they must link up their armor databases to stop Morgaine from killing everybody.  Iron Patriot and Doom combine their powers, and engage a time-cube that sends them back  in time to save Marty’s kids to stop Morgana cold.  At some point in the past, we see Morgana using her scrying pool to try and find Doom, only to see him standing behind her with Iron Patriot. “No one raises a hand against Victor Von Doom!” declares the armored despot as we fade to black…

This issue is really of two parts, the first being a headgame of epic proprotions from Norman (which works well) and the second being a confusing mess of time-travel and fighty-fighty (which really doesn’t, at least for me.)  As with most of Bendis’ big fight scenes, it seems uncoordinated somehow, as though he told the artist “Draw a big cluster$&@$, I’ll dialogue it later.”  The battle with the Iron Man armors in Mighty Avengers is another example of this syndrome.  Norman and Doom working together really underscores how unlikeable our main cast is in this title, and while it’s an interesting moment at the end, I’m not as keen on a “Hell, yeah, PAYBACK!” moment when it’s Doctor Doom giving the payback.  Still, Dark Avengers looks nice (Mike Deodato handles the art chores well) and the first half is amazing enough to carry my through some filler.  Dark Avengers #3 earns a slightly-schizophrenic 3.5 out of 5 stars.  If they can keep up the quality before the ineveitable next crossover wipes out the status quo, this book could really sing…

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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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15 Comments

  1. Salieri
    March 25, 2009 at 2:41 pm — Reply

    Note on your beginning paragraph: name one concept or character in “Dark Reign” which hasn’t been used before and/or renamed. Even Norman Osborn In Control was done on a smaller scale in the 90s when he took over the Bugle, and was a staple of the Universe-X trilogy.

  2. mosdef
    March 25, 2009 at 2:48 pm — Reply

    I really liked the exchange between Normon and Sentry. It was really interesting to see Normon relate to the Sentry like that. I dont think it was a ploy at all, I think Normon Osborne was being truthful even though he was talking to the sentry like he was a kid, it worked. He related to the Sentry like nobody else has successfully done which showed Normons evil genius.

  3. Salieri
    March 25, 2009 at 3:05 pm — Reply

    We, also: Doom stated last time that he lost his Kingdom. Presumably, his time machine was in it.

  4. Ricco
    March 25, 2009 at 3:10 pm — Reply

    I loved how he got control over Bob, simply by treating him like a human being and showing he understand him. My big problem with this ark is that if Morgana can see Doom in her futur then why didn’t she check on WHY he hasn’t come to visit?

  5. March 25, 2009 at 3:51 pm — Reply

    I thought the scene with Bob and Norman was executed flawlessly. Great issue.

  6. DrNerdo
    March 25, 2009 at 5:16 pm — Reply

    Great issue, Bendis is one of the very, VERY few that “gets” Norman Osborn, ever since his ressurection he’s been misshandled everytime. I like hhow he is making Osborn 616 more like his Ultimate Osborne which was a great and believable character.

  7. March 25, 2009 at 8:16 pm — Reply

    Well, given that Bendis is the mastermind behind Ultimate Spidey, that’s no surprise. What I liked most about the issue was the fact that if you WANTED to see Norman as really relating to the Sentry, you could. If (as I did) you wanted to see the ultimate mastermind screwing with the brains of the world’s mightiest not-really-a-mortal, you got it.

    Norman Osborn may be many things, but he has never been anything less than shrewd. Here, he’s downright brilliant, as brilliant as he is amoral.

  8. Brother129
    March 25, 2009 at 8:44 pm — Reply

    Great review and great scene with Osborn and The Sentry. Does anyone want to speculate on what the heck is up with Bob’s wife???

  9. Ricco
    March 25, 2009 at 9:01 pm — Reply

    She’s playing posum since he showed up as the Void during the Skrull invasion, can’t really blame her.

  10. March 25, 2009 at 10:29 pm — Reply

    Actually, I think she’s dead. She’s been dead ever since she was murdered in Mighty Avengers, see, and he only animates her when he needs her. He doesn’t even realize he’s doing it, and when he’s at his craziest, the portion of his mind that runs Lindy just shuts her down and she “sleeps.”

  11. crood
    March 26, 2009 at 8:19 am — Reply

    Since you brought up Goliath, you should have brought up the villain Goliath who was previously the original Power Man andthen The Smuggler. Later he became Atlas of the original Thunderbolts.

  12. Ricco
    March 26, 2009 at 8:56 am — Reply

    But we see her listening to the conversation in this very comic, but a dead wife would be a cool twist. I like the Sentry, he’s basically Bizarro but less ugly.

  13. Randallw
    March 27, 2009 at 12:52 am — Reply

    Clearly Dr Doom will win the next fight. As a reason for why he would win the second time I reckon he has an advantage now since he can prepare and cast stuff like Protection from Evil, Ironskin, or Haste :)

  14. Brent
    March 27, 2009 at 10:33 am — Reply

    “She’s been dead ever since she was murdered in Mighty Avengers, see, and he only animates her when he needs her.”

    @ Matthew:

    That’s what I’m thinking too. But that doew seems too much like original fate of the Scarlet Witch’s twins. They wouldn’t rehash an old idea, would they?

    • March 27, 2009 at 8:36 pm — Reply

      That’s what I’m thinking too. But that doew seems too much like original fate of the Scarlet Witch’s twins. They wouldn’t rehash an old idea, would they?

      Wouldn’t they?

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