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Dark Avengers #1: Review

Mar 2009
Brian Michael Bendis, Mike Deodato Jr.

Story Name:

(no title given)

Review & Comments

4 stars

Dark Avengers #1 Review by (March 21, 2017)
I'll use this series as a basis for describing Dark Reign. I justify its inclusion in the Iron Man Library by considering Norman Osborn's Iron Patriot as a (dis)honorary member of the Iron clan.

Morgana thinks her lover Dr Doom betrayed her in Mighty Avengers #9-11 because he never returned to her in the past after she helped him there.
But Doom's castle got blown up in #11, and since then he's been in SHIELD custody. Except when he was briefly released by the New Defenders in Fantastic Four #557-562. Now NO is honouring his promise when the Cabal was formed by freeing Doom and giving him back Latveria.

Stark's red&gold helicarrier was unveiled in Mighty Avengers #1. As far as I know it only saw action in King-Size Hulk and was then smashed by Red Hulk in Hu(2008)#2-3. It's probably still being repaired/rebuilt here, and is never seen again.

Bullseye and the other criminal Thunderbolts were kept in line by nanobots which could be triggered to incapacitate them. In Tb#127 we learned that the Skrull-Captain Marvel's attack during Secret Invasion had destroyed the control computer so the nanobots couldn't now be used. I would guess that the computer-control could be reinstated, but here it says Bullseye is kept in check by medication.

We'll learn more about Sentry's deal with NO later in the series.

Ms Marvel gave her old costume to Ultragirl as an Initiative graduation present in Av:I#12. Allegedly Carol Danvers gave the Avengers the rights to her old costumes to use for charity, so now NO has those too.

Noh-Varr was the only survivor of a Kree spaceship from an alternate universe shot down on our Earth. At the end of his Marvel Boy mini-series he was imprisoned in the Cube super-prison but declared war on Earth. By the end of the Civil War: Young Avengers & Runaways mini-series he had taken over the Cube. Along the way he learns about the original Captain Marvel, the Kree who became an Earth superhero. During SI he met the dying Skrull imitation Captain Marvel who had also switched to the humans' side. That and Kree/Skrull enmity made him side with humans against the Skrull invaders.

Ghost is a long-time foe of capitalism and Tony Stark in particular. He was last seen in the Iron Man: Inevitable mini-series. He uses his own Ghost Tech to phase through things - it was corporate theft of his idea which made him anti-capitalist. NO will make him a member of his new Thunderbolts from Tb#128.

We are to assume from here that as Iron Patriot NO is wearing Stark tech. Surely this goes against the grain?

NO's been a busy guy during the period of this issue:-
Before this issue, amidst the other stuff during the end of Secret Invasion #8, NO started the breakup of the Thunderbolts in TB#126 which continued into #127. Only Bullseye, Moonstone, Swordsman and Venom remained.
Here in p1-2 Morgana Le Fay spies on the Cabal meeting held in SI:DR p1-19.
In SI:DR p20-27 NO organises moving stuff from Thunderbolts Mountain to Avengers Tower. And he kills Swordsman.
In Amazing Spider-Man #587-588 NO meddles in the life of his son Harry.
Here in p5-7 NO hires Victoria Hand.
In Mighty Av #20 p15-22 he and Hand attend Wasp's funeral.
Here in p8-9 NO dismisses Maria Hill and offers Bullseye an Avengers job (as Hawkeye).
In Av:Initiative #23 NO seizes the chance to close Camp Hammond. And his lawyer confiscates the old Ms Marvel costume from Ultragirl.
In Av:I#24 NO sends HAMMER to extract the Initiative Shadow Squad from Madripoor.
In DR:New Nation /2 the Agents Of Atlas steal all the gold from Fort Knox to stop NO using it.
Here in p10-13 Ms Marvel refuses to work for NO, even though Ares and Sentry are.
Here in p14-15 NO offers Moonstone the job as Ms Marvel, giving her the costume taken from Ultragirl.
Here in p16-20 NO transforms Venom into a fake Spider-Man.
In DR:Fantastic Four #3-5 NO and Venom/Spider-Man come to Baxter Building to confront Mr Fantastic.
Here in p21-22 NO recruits Daken as Wolverine.
Here in p23-24 NO recruits Noh-Varr as Captain Marvel.
Here in p25-28 NO gets Ghost to open Tony Stark's vault of Iron Man armours.
In New Av #48 p21-22 Luke Cage comes to NO for help finding Skrull-Jarvis and baby Danielle. Bullseye and Venom are NO's bodyguards.
In NAv#49 p1-19 they get the baby back.
Here in p29-31 Dr Doom is returned to Latveria but is attacked by Morgana Le Fay.
Here in p3-4&32 NO as Iron Patriot announces his new Avengers.
In NAv#49 p20-22 the Avengers watch the début of the Dark Avengers.

There's a bit of bad continuity between here and Tb#127. In Tb#127 Moonstone tells Bullseye he's no longer controlled by nanobots. She stops him then from killing her by whispering to him what NO has planned for him - ie his job as Hawkeye. In this issue he offers Bullseye the job and B is surprised, and *later* NO makes the offer to Moonstone. There's no way to make this work completely. The Marvel Chronology Project gives up and puts Tb#126-127 before the whole of this issue.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Dark Avengers #1 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The events in this comic occupy a week between the forming of the Cabal in Secret Invasion: Dark Reign and the unveiling of the new (Dark) Avengers. It begins by laying down the 2 goalposts.

In 690 AD Morgana Le Fay uses magic to scan the future for her betrayer Dr Doom. She sees Norman Osborn forming his Cabal:- Doom, Emma Frost, Hood, female Loki and Sub-Mariner.

Now the public get to see a new Avengers lineup:- Iron Patriot leading Ares, Captain Marvel, Hawkeye, Ms Marvel, Sentry, Spider-Man and Wolverine.

1 week before that Osborn hires ex-SHIELD accountant Victoria Hand as his Deputy Director of SHIELD's replacement HAMMER - on the basis of how critical she has been of the previous administration. He's Director but she's going to have to do all the work. And her remit includes the Initiative and the new Avengers he's going to set up.

He gives her a long list of tasks starting with inventing something for the acronym HAMMER to mean. He wants all supporters of Tony Stark and Captain America to be weeded out. The Initiative's Camp Hammond must go, as must the red&gold helicarrier that Stark built. The Stark-design Capekiller armour and other weapons will be replaced by Osborn tech. Hand agrees to take the job as long as Maria Hill gets the boot.

This was something Osborn was going to do anyway. Next day he meets with Hill in Thunderbolts Mountain. He fires her because SHIELD failed to detect Skrulls in its ranks and because they did such a bad job in the Invasion (mainly because all their Stark tech failed due to a Skrull virus). Maria is glad he ordered her here to be fired personally. It gives her the opportunity to say that she'll be waiting for when he inevitably falls from grace.

Norman's next appointment is with Bullseye. He commends the Thunderbolt on his excellent work during Secret Invasion. His current meds allow him to function very well. Osborn says he has a new job for him in Avengers Tower.

Next day NO summons Ms Marvel to his office in Avengers Tower. He says that SHIELD owns the place since Stark used their money to rebuild it after it was destroyed during World War Hulk. SHIELD has also been paying for the Avengers, and now he owns SHIELD. And he wants her to continue as leader of the team.

Carol Danvers turns him down and resigns from the Avengers. Osborn reminds her that she is a military officer and can be ordered to do the job. She still refuses and says none of the others will work for him either. But he calls in Avengers Ares and Sentry to arrest her. Ares has no compunction about working for the man who ended the Skrull Invasion (by killing Queen Veranke). Sentry says Norman has promised to help him (with his psychological problems).

MsM flees the intolerable situation. NO lets her go, saying he has his own Ms Marvel.

Then its back to Thunderbolts Mountain where Moonstone is meditating. Norman throws her an old Ms Marvel costume (the design based on the original Captain Marvel, rather than the current blue with yellow lightning flash). He offers Karla Sofen a choice:- Continue as criminal Moonstone under guard in the Thunderbolts. Or operate as a free woman as Ms Marvel in the Avengers. She accepts but asks to be team leader (as she was of the Thunderbolts).

Elsewhere in the Mountain a Skrull captive is given to Venom. Venom gets him to imitate his enemy Spider-Man and then eats him. This version of Venom looks like a monster. Norman gives him a potion that transforms him to human shape, retaining the basic look of the black (ie in comics convention dark blue) Spider-Man costume. Mac Gargan is now more presentable to the public.

The next day Osborn, Hand and Ares are in New Orleans to meet Daken Akhiro, the character with retractable claws who beat up Wolverine. They are astonished to learn that Daken is Wolverine's son. But Norman suggests that's even more reason to annoy Logan by joining the Avengers as Wolverine.

The day after that (3 days before the public début of the new Avengers) NO visits Noh-Varr/Marvel Boy in the deserted Cube prison. Norman is fascinated by Noh-Varr's history as a Kree from an alternate universe who declared war on Earth but then defended it against the Skrulls. He offers him the role of Captain Marvel, another Kree defender of Earth.

Now all the members are gathered in the Tower. Miss Hand says she'll recruit a housekeeping and security staff to take the place of Jarvis. Norman still thinks there's something missing. Ares suggests it's the symbolism of leaders like Captain America and Iron Man.

Osborn has already sent for the Ghost to break into Tony Stark's secure lab in the Tower. Norman tells him he has plans for the anti-capitalist (but not in the Avengers). Ghost phases through the vault door and opens it from the inside. Within they find a large array of Iron Man armours.

Our final interlude is on the morning of the big announcement. HAMMER troops are transporting Dr Doom to Latveria and the ruins of his castle. When they land they don't find the friendly welcoming committee they expected. Instead Doom and Morgana Le Fay start a magical battle.

Now we return to the press conference for the new Avengers. The guy in the Hawkeye costume we realise is Bullseye. Daken is wearing a Wolverine outfit. Noh-Varr retains his own look as Captain Marvel. (Well the original's uniform would have been confusing with Karla's Ms Marvel spinoff.) Iron Patriot wears an Iron Man armour painted in Captain America's colours, and takes his helmet off to reveal himself as Norman Osborn.

Mike Deodato Jr.
Mike Deodato Jr.
Rainier Beredo
Mike Deodato Jr. (Cover Penciler)
Mike Deodato Jr. (Cover Inker)
Rainier Beredo (Cover Colorist)

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