Dark Avengers #12


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Dark Avengers #12


  • Words: Brian Michael Bendis
  • Art: Mike Deodato & Greg Horn
  • Inks: Mike Deodato & Greg Horn
  • Colors: Rain Beredo
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Dec 16, 2009

In pulp fiction, many times the villains are more interesting than the heroes. Juxtaposing this conceit with a typically action oriented title is what you’re given every time you open up Dark Avengers.

To call it an Avengers book is almost part of the joke. This is not a team. This is not a force for good or evil. This is a consortium of ne’er do wells that have been manipulated, bribed or straight up forced to stand there and take orders. There is no camaraderie, team work or sense of purpose. These are mercenaries with attributes, costumes and codenames.

Many readers seem to be displeased with this title because of this, calling it a retread of Thunderbolts, overly wordy or upset that this “team” hasn’t really accomplished a mission. At best, Osborn’s victories have been fumbling out of utmost disasters without heavy casualties. Maybe that’s the point of the book, not to have a bad ass Avengers team, but to show us just how bad a manufactured Avengers team can get.

In issue #1 of New Avengers, the start of all of this nearly seven years ago, Captain America made his case to Tony Stark on reviving the Avengers. He surmised that the birth of a team happens by chance and necessity, its members predetermined by circumstance. Since then, both Tony (in Mighty Avengers) and Norman (in Dark Avengers) have forgone this birth of necessity and tried to manufacture a team each. Tony’s team ended in failure during/shortly after the Invasion and we are just waiting for Norman’s to fall. This is the over-arching story of Dark Avengers.

A year into the title, we are seeing that Norman Osborn is holding onto what he has so tightly, that pieces are slowly slipping away between his fingers. Like a small child playing with matches, he has been manipulating the most powerful figures in the Marvel Universe. Say what you will about the validity of The Sentry as a character, but Bendis is doing his best to create a sense of purpose and define the “man” once and for all.

In this current arc, the Dark Avengers are sent on a mission to retrieve a missing Senator’s daughter, which puts them in the cross airs of a very powerful b-lister, Molecule Man. How do you stop someone that can control the very molecules around you? Well, they don’t. Each member has their collective butts handed to them in very fitting fashions. More specifically, Norman is mentally tinkered with, having his nightmarish visions illustrated by Greg Horn, sharing art duties with the series regular Deodato, is a really fun touch.

The story takes a turn when Sentry, earlier being violently dispensed of by Molecule Man, reappears and is able to counteract MM, blasting him all over the sky. This leads to Bob finally understanding a specific facet of his powers. He can control molecules. He can create, destroy and supersede any obstacle, including death. What makes this such an important development is the obvious and spoken allusion to the Scarlet Witch. When she became mentally unstable, she eradicated 90% of the mutant population. Bob is already, very mentally unstable and now he is aware that he can bend the world around him to his will.

Bendis quietly and effectively has stacked the deck against our heroes and put the most powerful weapon known to man in the hands of a delusional schizophrenic. To make matters worse, there’s another reveal on the last page showing us that Norman is being subtly (and mischievously) manipulated as well. Everyone in the book is a pawn. There are no exceptions. Every layer that the creative team peels back, the rabbit hole goes deeper and the story gets more and more intriguing.

I ask those displeased with this book to revisit it with fresh eyes. This is not an Avengers book that’s meant to stir you emotionally. This is a book meant to stew and deconstruct that mirror image of a hero, solidifying my enjoyment of the New Avengers even more.

There are no heroes here… and that’s just the way Dark Avengers has to be.

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