Secret Invasion: Dark Reign #1: Review

Feb 2009
Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Maleev

Story Name:

(no title given)

Review & Comments

4 stars

Secret Invasion: Dark Reign #1 Review by (December 23, 2016)
This issue is included in the Iron Man Library because Norman Osborn will soon become Iron Patriot in Dark Avengers, and hence an honorary Iron Man. (Well if it's good enough for Dr Doom in Infamous Iron Man ...) And it's in the Thor Library because of Loki.

The book's name shows that it straddles the gap between Secret Invasion and Dark Reign. The Cabal meeting is also shown at the end of SI#8.

The group don't actually call themselves the Cabal here (or anywhere?). But then the Illuminati didn't call themselves that either.

The current situation of the Cabal members:-

Dr Doom has been in prison since Mighty Av #11, except when he was briefly freed by the New Defenders in Fantastic Four #558-561. He was back in jail awaiting trial for war crimes in #562.

Sub-Mariner lost his city and people in SM:Revolution. Since then:-
Marvel Comics Presents (2007) #7/3 has him bemoaning his losses.
In Hulk (1999) #107 during World War Hulk Amadeus Cho's team visited Namor in the ruins of Atlantis to ask for for help but recruited Namora instead.
In Order #6-7 Namor attacked San Francisco but then asked for asylum with the FF (but this has been forgotten about).
In Av/Invaders #3-4 he met his WWII self.
In Hulk (2008) #5-6 Namor and others helped Hulk against Red Hulk.
In Adam: Legend of the Blue Marvel #4 he meets up with old ally BM (who we never knew about before).
In New Av: Illuminati #5 just before SI. Iron Man showed the group the body of Skrull-Elektra, and Black Bolt turned out to be a Skrull too.
Uncanny X-Men Annual (2009) seems to suggest that SHIELD released Namor for this meeting, but he's not supposed to be in prison.

When the Asgardians were reborn in the Thor (2007) series Loki returned as a female in #5. She was secretly allied with Dr Doom there, but Doom got arrested and nothing more was heard of this alliance. They haven't met again until now, and the pair will seem to forge an alliance for the 1st time in the DR: Cabal 1-shot, which will bear fruit when Loki leads the Asgardians to Latveria in the renumbered Th#600-606.
Meanwhile Loki appeared in Th#5-10 and SI:Th#1 before this issue.

Parker Robbins became the Hood in his own mini-series, and organised his super-villain gang in New Avengers #33 after Civil War I. During SI in NAv#46 he discovered that his powers come from Dormammu, which is who Emma Frost senses when she reads his mind. He and the gang were last seen helping fight the Skrulls in SI#6-8.

The X-Men split up for the Divided We Stand arc after the Xavier Institute was destroyed in XM(1991)#207 at the end of Messiah Complex. They reformed in San Francisco in Uncanny XM #499. Since then, including during SI, they've been in the Manifest Destiny arc.

Since SI:XM Emma Frost has been in the Storm mini-series XM: Worlds Apart. Between receiving Osborn's invitation and attending the meeting she features in UXM#504-505 (she has the invite in #505).

(Her nightmare about Kitty Pryde refers back to Giant-Size Astonishing XM #1 where Shadowcat was lost in space in a giant bullet that she prevented from hitting Earth. The loss of their comrade is still affecting the team deeply. She'll be rescued in UXM#521.)

The threatening shadowed figure is revealed in Dark Av #15 to be Sentry's alter ego/nemesis the Void.

Osborn mentions Namor's sleeper agents pretending to be human (that he came across in Civil War: Front Line). But he possibly doesn't know that the entire Atlantean population was spread across the surface world in SM: Revolution.

Osborn says that Tony Stark arranged for SHIELD to finance the Avengers. I don't know when the Maria Stark Foundation stopped doing this.

Norman dissolved the current Thunderbolts in their #126-127. Some of them will resurface in his Dark Avengers, others have been got rid of, and he'll create a completely new villain team for #128ff.

Swordsman was part of the Thunderbolts before NO took it over after Civil War. He stayed on because Osborn promised to resurrect his dead sister Andrea, so I don't know why he thinks he's going to be sent 'back' to prison.
His death here is unexpectedly permanent, indeed lasting until the end of the multiverse. But he and his sister will be unexplainedly alive when the universe is recreated after Secret Wars III.

I don't know if we ever see another actual meeting of the whole Cabal (until a flashback in Infamous Iron Man #1). The members go their own ways, including in solo-ish stories in the DR: Cabal 1-shot.

I'll follow NO's career in Dark Avengers.

In the UXM Annual EF talks telepathically to SM before leaving the meeting and we learn that he was only pretending not to have met her before. Then DR:C/1 repeats Doom and SM's conspiracy, but Doom fantasises how he's going to defeat them all.

(Doom and SM have a lot of history. They've teamed up a few times. I remember FF#6, SM#47-49 and most of the Super-Villain Team-Up series.)

EF returns to X-Men stuff in UXM#506-507, but in the middle of #507 she meets with SM in the Annual. It turns out that long ago they were lovers, and they make a deal against the rest of the Cabal. Then in DR:C/2 she remembers her life's trials and how each has made her stronger - the Cabal will be another.

The DAv help Doom against Morgan le Fay in their #1-4. Meanwhile NO sends Hood's gang against the NAv in their #50-51, and we see Hood's ruthlessness in DR:C/3.

Doom helps the FF against a common enemy the Marquis of Death in FF#566-569. Loki has a cameo with NO in DR: Young Av #4 and then pretends to be Scarlet Witch in MAv#21-23. Meanwhile SM's DR:C/4 *does* mention the plot points from the end of SM: Revolution that the Atlantean people are all now scattered through the surface world and their military is in Latveria. And it introduces an Atlantean mutant Crosta who will go on to the X-titles.

Doom clashes with Dracula in issues of Captain Britain & MI 13. Meanwhile Loki cameos in Planet Skaar: Prologue and continues her regular business in Th#11-12 and Thor God-Size. Then the pair meet in DR:C/5 to form *their* alliance.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Secret Invasion: Dark Reign #1 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
In a dream Emma Frost hears Kitty Pryde berating her for not saving her. She wakes beside Scott Summers in their bed in San Francisco. She answers a knock at the door and a Thunderbolts Agent hands her a message from Norman Osborn.

She flies a plane to Avengers Tower in New York which Osborn has appropriated as his HQ. The security system welcomes her and takes her to sub-basement 9. In a room with a meeting table and chairs she finds Dr Doom, who orders her to stop trying to read his mind.

Namor enters and greets old ''ally'' Victor. They agree that they are here out of curiosity. Doom pretends he had a choice. Doom introduces Frost. Sub-Mariner says he''s heard of her and tries to ingratiate himself. Emma claims they''ve met before, but Namor is puzzled. Emma insults his smell.

Doom senses someone else present, and Hood makes himself visible. Frost reads his mind and tells the others his name is Parker Robbins, but she senses someone else in his head as well. He threatens her with a gun and tells her to stop. She makes him turn the gun on himself.

Victor Von Doom now senses the arrival of a god. The female Loki materialises. Stunned Namor comments that she looks better this way than as a man. She responds by flirting with him and he hurriedly backs off.

Victor and Emma both sense Norman Osborn approaching. He takes control of the meeting and reminds them that he''s taken over from Tony Stark as head of the Avengers and the Initiative and a replacement for SHIELD (still not named HAMMER). He has a deal for them.

His organisations won''t oppose them unless they do something he can''t brush under the carpet. They can pursue their individual agendas as long as they don''t conflict with each other. Ie cooperation like Hood has got a lot of supervillains to work as a team. Norman doesn''t demur when Doom suggests that what he gets in return is public approval for apparently keeping order.

That''s the carrot. The stick is revealed as a figure in the shadows who Osborn will unleash on anyone who doesn''t toe the line.

Norman then discusses each case individually.

Namor has no kingdom because Atlantis was destroyed (in the Sub-Mariner: Revolution limited series) and he has no plan what to do with his sleeper agents hidden amongst humanity. Osborn will allow him to rebuild his civilisation and rule under the waves. As long as he stays there.

Dr Doom also currently has no kingdom since he was arrested by the Avengers (Mighty Av #11). Norman will have that arrested declared illegal and will return Victor to Latveria where he can rule to his heart''s content. Again as long as he stays there.

Loki wants Asgard, and she also wants it off Earth and back in its own dimension. Osborn heartily agrees with that.

Emma Frost will be allowed to do what''s necessary to save the declining mutant race, and he''ll protect them from things like the concentration camps that some people are suggesting. And besides it''s good to have a telepath on his team to keep the others honest.

Hood''s gang must all Register and join the Initiative. But then they can continue being criminals without fear of reprisal.

He tells them that they''ll find out in a week what he''s doing about the Avengers. (Ie his Dark Avengers team to be revealed in their #1.) He says that Tony Stark signed the team and this Tower over to SHIELD so they would pay for them. But this means they now belong to Norman. And he''s got further moves to make against Stark himself.

Norman leaves them to think about it. Hood, Loki and then Emma Frost leave immediately. We learn that Doom and Namor had made a secret agreement beforehand. They expect Osborn''s Green Goblin persona will bring him crashing down eventually, and then they 2 will divide the world between them. And if NO doesn''t fall then they''ll just have to take everything from him by force.

Osborn returns to Thunderbolts Mountain to oversee the transfer of everything to Avengers Tower. He''s confronted by Swordsman. Half the Thunderbolts team have left, and Andreas von Strucker knows that Norman has made a deal with the other half. Which just leaves him alone, and he doesn''t trust the boss. He says he''s not going back to prison, and he has dirt on Osborn if he tries that. But NO just grabs his sword and stabs him through the stomach with it, and throws the body out of a window and down the mountain.

But then we see Norman trying (and failing?) to fight off the resurgence of the Green Goblin.

And Emma wakes screaming from the Kitty dream again.

Alex Maleev
Alex Maleev
Dean White
Alex Maleev (Cover Penciler)
Alex Maleev (Cover Inker)
Alex Maleev (Cover Colorist)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

> Secret Invasion: Dark Reign: Book info and issue index

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