Or – “More Colons Than Your Average Proctologist…”
One of the only missteps of the whole Dark Reign crossover, for me, has been the characterization of Clint Barton, the hero now known as Ronin.Â As Hawkeye, he was willing to leave his beloved wife over the implication that she even ALLOWED someone to die, much less committed murder, and now he’s willing to kill Norman Osborn to prove a point?Â It’s an odd change of characterization for me, which makes the whole thing questionable.Â What’s the Marvel equivalent of a Tom Welling Prime punch?Â
A Brian Michael Bendis script.Â Bah-dump-bum!
Previously, on Dark Reign – The List – Avengers:Â Yeah, it’s clear that Tony Stark pretty much ruined everything.Â In his rush to save everyone from themselves, the erstwhile “futurist” made SHIELD useless, made the entire government dependent upon his technology, made his OWN BRAIN the central repository of the necessary information to keep the world safe, and even caused Peter Parker to reveal his identity, inadvertently leading to the events known as “Brand New Day.”Â His biggest mistake, though, came when he choked hard during the Secret Invasion, allowing Stormin’ Norman Osborn to take over his place as lynchpin of superhuman operations (a post which, frankly, SHOULD NOT exist.)Â After taking control, Normie has solidified his power base, disassembled SHIELD, waged war with Scott Summers, made Tony a hunted man, and essentially only made Iron Man’s control-freak nature look good by providing the worst-case scenario.Â Now, Norman has finally decided to take the steps that he’s been working on for so long, completing his control of the Marvel Universe, and once and for all taking down the superhumans who so offend his sensibilities.Â This oughtta go well.
With the situation in San Francisco (see the recent Utopia crossover) out of control, Norman Osborn has called Ares into his office to make a plan, or more precisely a list.Â “A list of things in this world that need to be different than they are.”Â It’s a very strong moment for both men, actually, as Ares shows his true leanings (never trust a super-villain or an evil gawd of war, and for the love of Pete Parker, never trust a guy who’s both) and Norman makes some smart plans.Â Back at Avengers Apartment, Clint Barton watches a news broadcast on the Utopia situation, and the official designation of Scott Summers and company as engaging in treasonous behaviors.Â He reiterates that he is going to KILL the former Green Goblin, and his team makes all the reasoned arguments againstÂ it.Â Clint commits the worst kind of straw man argument, asking his teammates if they’d go back in time and kill baby Adolf before World War II.Â “I did,” replies Captain America, and when his teammates don’t understand, he explains.Â “I, uh…Â I killed Hitler.”Â HA!Â I really love that bit, so much that I want to marry it.Â Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman want to figure out a way to go help their friends, but Ronin is no longer interested in working the losing side.
In a very sweet scene, his newly rekindled love Mockingbird tells him that she believe in HIM, but not his cause, and reminds him that he has a lot to lose.Â “Especially after I went to all the trouble of not being dead anymore…”Â Aww…Â They spend some super-happy-grownup-fun-time together, and Hawkeye/Ronin waits until she’s asleep to sneak out into the night.Â He climbs Avengers Tower, cuts his way in, and IMMEDIATELY THROWS MAC GARGAN OUT THE WINDOW.Â Venom crashes to the street below, as Ronin confronts the new man calling himself Hawkeye, and SHOOTS HIM IN THE CHEST FIVE TIMES.Â Holy crap…Â He follows this with a kick in the family jewels and an arrow through the throat for Daken before confronting the former Moonstone.Â “Hey, Karla.Â I’m going to kill your boss.Â Wanna help?”Â She attacks him (for the sake of appearances) but a security forcefield protects him at the last second.Â Ronin barges into Norman’s quarters, and shoots him repeatedly, but it doesn’t do anything.Â “You do know I have Nick Fury’s job…Â That means all Nick Fury’s toys,” says Norman through his forcefield, and a quick shot (only one punch?) from Ares takes the former Hawkeye out.Â “Clint Barton,” intones the Marvel U’s top cop through a mouthful of smug, “You’re under arrest.”
I gotta say, this issue is intense in ways that I didn’t expect.Â Hawkeye’s lethal attitude (however out of character it may be) at least doesn’t pull any punches, taking a chance of killing both Bullseye and Venom during the attack.Â I’m bothered by a couple of things, though, including the stupidity of attacking a man who employes both Ares and the Sentry, as well as the fact that forcefields were used as plot points both for and against Ronin.Â If you stop to analyze what’s actually going on here, it kind of falls apart, and makes Clint Barton look quite a bit stupider than I’m comfortable with him being.Â Norman Osborn is well used here, but his ubiquitousness is starting to lead to overexposure for me, and as engaging asÂ Clint’s whole “Die Hard” schtick is, it still falls apart at the end.Â Overall, though, this issue balances itself out, with some very lovely art from Marko Djurdjevic, and cute dialogue almost (but not quite) covering up a fundamental lack of brains in the plot.Â The preview of “Daredevil: The List” at the end bugs me for a number of reasons, not the least of which is Bullseye/Hawkeye walking around after taking a series of high-caliber bullets in the chest.Â Dark Reign: The List:Â Avengers #1 earns a right-down-the-middle 2.5 out of 5 stars, balancing excellent character work with half-baked plannning to kick off this pseudo-crossover with a series of bangs.