Or – “What He Means Is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, Real Wrath-Of-God Type Stuff.”

DA1.jpg

So, Marvel’s solicitations have been making a great mystery over who or what Norm-O’s “secret weapon” is.  Last issue, we found that founding Dark Avenger Sentry has once again gone ‘El Bonzo Seco,’ and may have an agenda all his own.  These two statements are probably related in some way, and since he is ostensibly the most powerful creature in the Marvel Universe, this could be “crossing-the-streams” bad…

Dark Avengers #15

DA2.jpgCOVER BY: Mike Deodato
WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILS: Mike Deodato
INKS: Array
COLORED BY: Rainier Beredo

Previously on Dark Avengers:  Robert Reynolds’ history is, quite literally, a retcon. Inserted into the history of the Marvel Universe in the late ’90s, The Sentry is now supposed to have been a founding member of the Marvel U, lost to the ravages of time and his own bad intentions. His evil multiple personality, The Void, was so overwhelming, that Bob was seemingly erased from the world for his own (and everyone else’s) protection. He was awakened by the original New Avengers team early in that titles run, and in the wake of the Secret Invasion has ben conscripted in Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers. Last issue, though, his long-suffering wife Lindy finally had enough, and told Robert the truth about his history: He was a junkie, searching for the ultimate high, who got lucky. Add to that recent revelations that his powers are as all-encompassing as the Molecule Man’s (who, you may recall, went toe to toe with the Beyonder and repaired a large portion of the Earth’s crust with only his mind) and you can see why this is a bad thing. Now possessed by The Void, Sentry is prepared to destroy the entire Eastern seaboard, just becfause he can…

So, last issue I was kind of disturbed by the use of biblical chapter and verse to tell the story of a somewhat derivative soopahero character’s life.  We ended up with The Sentry ready to destroy New York in the same manner of the biblical plagues, and it was a kind of scary cliffhanger.  We immediately dampen and ground that excitement this issue with an opening sequence wherein Victoria Hand berates Norm-O and insists that he starte seeing a psychiatrist.  She explains that the entire team is out of control (quoth Val, “Duh HOOOY?”) and that Bulls-hawk and Ms. Marvstone are currently gettin’ it on in the middle of the conference room while Norman’s HAMMER troops look on in embarassment (and probably horror.)  Osborn agrees with her, sending her off with a promise that he will seek help, and authorization to shut down the Avenger fraternization while he sees to the invasion of Asgard.  “Sir, you don’t have the authority,” she insists, and Norman does his over-the-shoulder cold stare.  “You had your moment, Victoria. Don’t PUSH it.”  Vic immediately confronts Karla Sofen about her “nailing the help” issues, but when Moonstone powers up to attack her, Victoria whips out a giant frap-gun and blasts her right innaface!  Moonstoone goes down in a heap, and even Bullseye is impressed with Victoria’s wherewithal, and amazed that he’s not being disciplined as well.  “If you’re too stupid to stay away from her,” Victoria replies, “what the hell am I going to do to you that you’re not already doing to yourself?”  Bullseye vows to kill her in her sleep, just as the entire tower is rocked by massive power surges…

The skies over New York are filled with black lightning (not THAT Black Lightning), and The Sentry hovers in a somewhat provocative manner in the sky, a pose that I have to figure is intentionally designed to emulate Christian mythology, i.e., the messiah on the cross. Iron Patriot suddenly arrives to confront him, and is chagrined to realize that he can’t manipulate his way out of this one. “You said there WAS no Void,” sneers Bob Reynolds, and Norm-O admits that he was obvioulsy off-base with that assumption. The Void/Sentry/Bob tells I.P. that he has to do this, he has to show her, that the Bob part of him won’t let him KILL Lindy, but he can make her suffer by destroying other things andd making her watch. “What did she tell you?” asks a disconcerted Osborn, wondering if she told him the whole truth of his origins. (Hint: Yeap… She did.) Norm-O tells him that this is dumb, that this won’t really allow him to take control of ANYTHING and indeed will get him killed. Sentry/Void suddenly wants to know if is stupid enough to threaten him, and Norm-O quickly admits that he won’t kill Sentry. “But Reed Richards can! Tony Stark can! Victor Von Doom can!” Sentry sees the wisdom of this, and stands down, while Norman offers to give him a battle worthy of his time when they invade Asgard… As Sentry/Void returns home, Norm-O catches sight of Lindy Reynolds, watching from her bedroom terrrace of the mansion, and realizes what must be done. Later than night, he visits Bullseye in his quarters, with a favor to ask, somebody who needs Bully’s special brand of lethal attention. “His wife…” says Norman as we fade to black.

Last issue was troubling in both its implications and its execution, but it was at least thorught-provoking. This month’s issue boils down to two conversations and a light-show. With Siege in full swing, it’s obviously that we’re again relegating the related titles to background stories, bits of ephemera to fill in the gaps in the story-telling of the big crossover, the same way that New Avengers spent six months showing us flashbacks of Skrullian treachery. Problem is, I resented the hell out of that, and I’m not much more thrilled with it here. Mike Deodato gives us a breath-taking scene of Sentry hovering over Manhattan Island, but it’s not much more than a pretty matte painting background for more Bendis dialogue, much of it rehashing previous Osborn/Sentry conversations. There are also some killer layouts in the first few pages, taking a nine-panel grid and turning it a few degrees off plum, for some wonderfully inventive visual storytelling… But still, having already seen the new-model Sentroid in action, ripping open deities and such, part of me wonders if these past two issues couldn’t have been a six panel sequence in Siege #1 rather than costing me 8 dollars and twenty minutes. I suppose it’s kind of a trade-off here, where we’re gettin a pretty impressive A-Plot with the mini, but a title that has been enjoyable in the past becomes awkward flashback theatre. It’s a pretty nice story to look at, and Victoria Hand gives a bravura performance, but with Norm-O’s inevitable collapse in full swing elsewhere, it’s hard to get too excited about the story of his version of Maria Hill being badass. Dark Avengers #14 is simultaneously better and worse than last issue, but still an overall disappointing comic book, earning 2 out of 5 stars overall. Will we ever see a day where the lives of the Marvel Universe don’t magically fit into heavily padded six-issue arcs? Because I’d love to see how that sort of thing goes…

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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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13 Comments

  1. Creep
    February 18, 2010 at 12:50 am — Reply

    Perhaps i’ ve just overread it but has anyone found an explanation for all the “God-stuff” from last issue???

    • astrodinosaurus
      February 18, 2010 at 5:18 am — Reply

      I think they may just be painting a piture of how scary powerful the Sentry is with biblical mythology and some Lovecraftian influence showing… But Bendis can get kinda literal…Monkey sex literal. So who the hell knows?
      If there is an answer they haven’t give us all the puzzle pieces yet.

      • February 18, 2010 at 4:35 pm — Reply

        Agreed. It was there as a “holy crap, look how powerful this is” moment, I believe, to give us an “epic” scale to make this ring louder. Didn’t work for me, but your mielage may vary…

  2. astrodinosaurus
    February 18, 2010 at 5:29 am — Reply

    Matthew! Yes YOU If you have been reading along I have an idea. How about throwing in a “Spoilerite’s question of the day” at the end of each review, as a way to encourage comment posts. Most people upon reading the reviews tend to just go ..Yeah that’s kinda what I felt about the issue too.. And skip participation. I think this might encourage people to ponder a question, and then when in the middle of replying throwing in some of their other thoughts. Would that work? Submit your answer below!

    …My nickel.. .I liked the Doom/Richards comment Osborn made. Though I do wonder why he would mention Stark. Firstly in Osborne’s mind (Fact and wishful thinking) Tony is a non-entity right now, and besides Stark is kinda limited to engineering. Wouldn’t Pym or Brother Voodoo (Dr Strange?) have been better examples?

    • websnap
      February 18, 2010 at 9:56 am — Reply

      I think Tony was mentioned because he has the mind to hatch a successful plan and the resources to get it done… if not by his hand, he has the connect to utilize who does.

    • February 18, 2010 at 4:36 pm — Reply

      I liked the Doom/Richards comment Osborn made. Though I do wonder why he would mention Stark. Firstly in Osborne’s mind (Fact and wishful thinking) Tony is a non-entity right now, and besides Stark is kinda limited to engineering. Wouldn’t Pym or Brother Voodoo (Dr Strange?) have been better examples?

      I suspect that is more Norman, tailoring his attacks to Sentry’s personal frame of reference. Tony and Reed are the smartest guys Sentry knows, and thus Norm-O uses them as the boogeymen…

  3. Carl
    February 18, 2010 at 9:02 am — Reply

    Do you think you would have enjoyed the story more if it had come out a week before Siege #1?

    • February 18, 2010 at 4:37 pm — Reply

      Do you think you would have enjoyed the story more if it had come out a week before Siege #1?

      Probably, yes. As you may have noticed, timing is a factor in my enjoyment of things. If I have to think to myself, “Oh, wait, this must be a flashback to some point in the past,” it does tend to undermine some of my enjoyment…

      • ~wyntermute~
        February 18, 2010 at 5:54 pm — Reply

        This is why I am a proponent of “continuity”. :)

  4. ~wyntermute~
    February 18, 2010 at 5:15 pm — Reply

    Victoria Hand is, in my ever-humble opinings, becoming a semi-star. She’s like a much more sympathetic Henry P. Gyrich.

    • astrodinosaurus
      February 19, 2010 at 5:52 am — Reply

      Yeah she is pretty awesome. I give it a month before we find out she was placed by Fury.

      • Alvarlux
        February 19, 2010 at 11:18 pm — Reply

        I pretty sure Bendis is setting up a Hand Vs Hill fight at some point in the future.

        • February 20, 2010 at 6:17 pm — Reply

          I pretty sure Bendis is setting up a Hand Vs Hill fight at some point in the future.

          Skin tight suits, smart girl glasses and high heeled boots? That’s a mighty specific fantasy going on right there… But I might be interested in reading such a thing. I also think both women could be key to a Steve Rogers, Director of SHIELD series, if handled correctly.

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