Mighty Week of Marvel #32

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There’s an awful lot out from Marvel this week, but we’re focusing on one group of books in particular here: the ones which tie into the ongoing Dark Reign event. The Darkness continues to encroach on the Marvel Universe…

The outlaw Avengers and Dr Strange take on Dormammu, the demon lord who had been empowering the Hood, in New Avengers #54. The Hood is defeated, depowered and hospitalized and Dormammu banished (the first of Norman Osborn’s Cabal to fall), but perhaps more significantly there’s a new Sorcerer Supreme in town, taking up where Dr Strange has decided to leave off-none other than longtime third string character Brother Voodoo, who has been chosen by the all seeing Eye of Agammotto to be its new wielder!

The Hood may not be out of the game for good though, as Loki visits him in hospital and offers him a second chance. And when Norman Osborn goes on TV to masterfully deflect the negative PR given to him by Clint Barton’s recent live broadcast ‘outing’ him as a mass murderer, Clint makes a momentous decision: if there is no other way to stop him, Norman Osborn will have to die…

Continuity: Jericho Drumm AKA Brother Voodoo first appeared in Strange Tales #169-173 (1973-1974) and has appeared sporadically in various titles since then but has frequently been regarded as something of a joke. Fred Hembeck featured a running gag in his strip in Marvel Age magazine in the 80’s and 90’s about someone finally realizing what a great character Voodoo was and giving him his own series. Judging by recent developments, the last laugh may be on Fred…

Spider-Man would probably agree with Barton’s sentiments as he is being tortured by Norman’s henchman Bullseye in Amazing Spider-Man #598, after being shot in the face by Norman last issue. Meanwhile, Harry Osborn learns about Norman’s plans to turn him into a super soldier code-named American Son…. but also learns the awful truth, that Lily Hollister (AKA Menace) has been playing him and that the baby she is carrying is his father Norman’s, not his!

Spidey escapes and battles Norman but is too weakened to beat him, so it’s all looking grim for our harried hero… until Harry arrives to save him, clad in the American Son armor! Ironic, given that moments earlier, Norman had been telling Spidey how he intends to sacrifice Harry and make him a martyr if the American Son project doesn’t work out.

Norman now seems to have several potential heirs thanks to his habit of cuckolding friends and family. Harry’s girlfriend is pregnant by him, and in one of the panels set in Osborn’s lab, a figure floating in a tube is labeled ‘G Stacy’-almost certainly Gabriel Stacy, Norman’s deranged, artificially aged son by the late Gwen Stacy, first seen in ASM #509-514 (2004) and last seen in Spectacular Spider-Man #23-26 (2005).

Norman’s empire appears to be crumbling even faster in Dark Avengers #6, as Marvel Boy has disappeared (presumably as a result of learning that his teammates are almost all criminal psychopaths), Osborn’s ‘ally’ Namor refuses to aid him in taking out an Atlantean terrorist cell who have attacked the US, and finally Norman himself begins hearing the voice of his alter ego the Green Goblin in his head. Could it be that we’re already nearer to the end of his Dark Reign than we expected?

Whatever the case, the repercussions of his actions are still causing problems elsewhere-notably in Avengers: Initiative #25 in which, with Camp Hammond closed down, the Initiative is now under the command of the Taskmaster-and Gauntlet and Tigra are on the run, Gauntlet threatened with the removal of his arm in order for Osborn to take control of the alien gauntlet itself, and Tigra with the forced removal of the unborn child she  is carrying; a human/Skrull hybrid…

Continuity: Taskmaster has come a long way since we first met him, running a training centre for the henchmen of super villains in Avengers #195 (1980).

Dark Reign: Sinister Spider-Man #1 focuses on another of Norman’s underlings, Mac ‘Venom’ Gargan, now impersonating Spider-Man in the Dark Avengers. Mac is enjoying his new life, playing superhero, being adored by the public (particularly the ones who throw their panties at him) and eating the occasional evildoer’s arms, but there always seems to be someone out to spoil his fun!

On this occasion, it’s his boss; Norman is not happy with the whole arm eating thing, or indeed with the whole playing superhero unsupervised thing. He’s probably jealous because no-one throws their underwear at him. Whatever the case, Mac isn’t going to take it much longer (And he may not even have a chance to, if psycho psychiatrist The Redeemer and his army of super villains get hold of him).

Continuity: Mac Gargan first appeared (as the Scorpion) in Amazing Spider-Man #19-20 (1964) and bought the Venom symbiote from Eddie Brock in Marvel Knights: Spider-Man #8 (2005). He began impersonating Spider-Man at Norman Osborn’s request in Dark avengers #1 (2009).

Dark Reign: Lethal Legion #1 begins with a lawyer visiting his newest clients at The Raft, New York’s floating supervillain prison. The clients in question? The Grim Reaper, Tiger Shark, Nekra, Grey Gargoyle, Mr. Hyde and the Absorbing Man, the latest incarnation of the Lethal Legion, recently incarcerated after launching a revenge attack on (surprise, surprise!) Norman Osborn. The question is though, who turned them in? Tiger Shark suspects it might well have been their final member-the Reaper’s brother, former Avenger Wonder Man…

Continuity: Wonder Man has been one of Earth’s mightiest heroes for years, on and off. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he is the traitor Tiger Shark believes him to be; after all, he has no love for Norman Osborn, and he did start out as a super villain himself in Avengers #9 (1964). The Lethal Legion as a group first appeared in Avengers #78 (1970), though of that original line-up only the Grim Reaper remains in the current incarnation. Nekra joined the Legion in West Coast Avengers #2 (1985) and was the Grim Reaper’s lover.

It’s hard to see why she’s still with him though, since he subsequently murdered her in Avengers West Coast #65 (OK, she was resurrected later, but I’m surprised she doesn’t hold a grudge against her longtime boyfriend, to be honest). All of the remaining new members-including Wonder Man- are actually former members of the Masters of Evil, but maybe someone else has grabbed that name…

Also tying into Dark Reign this week: Dark Reign: Zodiac #1 introduces a new player to the game, and also sees the return of Eliot Franklin AKA the crafty Clown, formerly of the Circus of Crime and now one of the world’s deadliest assassins. Another assassin’s problems go from bad to worse thanks to old foe Bullseye in Dark Reign: Elektra #4, Songbird resurfaces in Thunderbolts # 133, Daken takes over his father’s title in Dark Wolverine #75 (yes, really!) and Deadpool guest stars in Ms Marvel #40. Oh, and things have taken a definite turn for the worse in San Francisco in Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men : Utopia #1,  where Norman Osborn has just declared martial law…

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  • Andy Oliver

    Andy Oliver Jun 28, 2009 at 9:06am

    I remember the Hembeck Brother Voodoo gags in the '80s. I also remember Fred actually writing a BV tale in, I think, the MARVEL SUPER-HEROES anthology. Being a big fan of Marvel horror output in the 1970s I have all his various appearances in STRANGE TALES, MARVEL TEAM-UP, TOMB OF DRACULA, TALES OF THE ZOMBIE, etc. Nowhere near as bad a concept as people would have us believe!

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