Propaganda goes Dark – Dark Avengers issue 1

Published On February 9, 2009 | By Richard Bruton | Comics, Reviews

Dark Avengers # 1

by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato

Dark Avengers cover.jpg

It’s the aftermath of the recent Skrull Secret Invasio; the Skrull invaders have been revealed and defeated by the combined forces of Marvel’s greatest super heroes and villains. And up steps Norman Osborn; he of the weird hairstyle; ex-Green Goblin and current homicidal, psychotic, power-mad Thunderbolts leader who rather decisively cemented his position as lord high commander of whatever he damn well pleases in this post Secret Invasion world with the kill shot that took down the Skrull Queen.

In this post Invasion Marvel Universe Tony Stark’s gone from running SHIELD and The Avengers and Osborn has managed to manoeuvre into position to become head of both agencies. So this is the new Marvel order: evil rules the roost and they’re going to have fun. These are not the adventures of the nice, trustworthy Avengers you once knew. Hence the title.

It’s a good enough idea: make up an Avengers from the bad (and rather morally ambiguous) guys: Venom as Spider-Man, Moonstone as Ms Marvel, Bullseye as Hawkeye, Ares, Sentry,  Wolverine’s son (Wolverine has a son? This is how bad I am at keeping up with Marvel stuff) and Grant Morrison’s terminally underused hero: Noh-Varr as Captain Marvel. The entirety of this first issue follows Osborn recruiting his Dark Avengers team and is really just one long set up for the series. It’s not great, but neither is it particularly bad. And I imagine that once it gets the inevitable collection it will make a fairly good no brainer summer blockbuster type adventure. But this first issue just didn’t have enough of anything in it to justify the $4 cover price, no matter how good some of the dialogue is between Norm and his new deputy director:

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You’re my new deputy director”
“Of what?”
“H.A.M.M.E.R.”
“Does it stand for anything?”
“Yes”
“What?”
“Get to work on it for me. That is one of the many things on your to do list

Because it’s written by Bendis you know that this sort of dialogue will be peppering the book, and like I said before, it’s a nice enough idea. But Dark Avengers #1 from the point of view of this sometimes observer of the Marvel Universe is a little bit too much of a confusing mess. Too much cross continuity, too much knowledge taken for granted. Perhaps this is the way in the Marvel Universe now. But I just don’t think it should be like that. I can remember picking up countless Marvel UK titles reprinting old Marvel US strips and being introduced to all sorts of new characters and always coming out of a single issue knowing enough about the characters to want to find out more. Dark Avengers doesn’t do that, it just assumes complete knowledge and I just don’t think that’s good enough. I think that’s just a case of preaching to the choir and sucking the last drop of money out of the existing readership using a comic that’s all concept and dialogue and nothing more that takes 32 pages to say what should take about 6.

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One silly little thing that’s worth comment: although Deodato’s artwork is pretty good in places for the story he’s trying to tell, there’s not only the obligatory ridiculous ass shots of Ms Marvel, which we’ve all sadly come to expect in a standard superhero comic nowadays, but there’s also a laughable tendency to make all of his heroes try to adopt the same stupid, chest out, hips thrust to one side posing. Have a look at the panel above; it’s meant to be the heroic introduction of this dubious team, but one look at the faux Wolverine just had me smirking. Probably not the impression Bendis wanted to pull off when he described that panel to his artist?

Richard Bruton
remembers the days when Avengers were real Avengers and continuity was real continuity and not this pesky modern uber-continuity stuff

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About The Author

Richard Bruton
- Started in comics retail aged 16 at Nostalgia & Comics, Birmingham. Now located in Yorkshire, he's written for the Forbidden Planet International Blog since 2007. Specialising in UK Comics and All-Ages comics, Richard's day job in a primary school allowed him to build the best children's graphic novel library in the country.

2 Responses to Propaganda goes Dark – Dark Avengers issue 1

  1. I’m developing a theory that any time anyone comes up with a decent stab at a comic at Marvel these days, it ends up getting shoehorned into Bendis’ AVENGERS. This time, its Warren Ellis’s take on THUNDERBOLTS.

    I nearly typed “Warren Ellis’s THUNDERBIRDS”. That was called GLOBAL FREQUENCY. Boom boom.

  2. Kenny says:

    I think we are in danger of unrealistic expectations of expecting too much. They’re superhero comics – if you picked up issue 15 of the original Avengers (back in 65/66) and then issue 16 where the team changed without knowing anything about the characters you wouldn’t have had a clue what was going on. I was a fan and so 16 was a total landmark event. Same applies today – but even more so given that the cost price now inhibits people from dipping randomly. Bendis knows he is writing for an audience which knows most, if not all the characters – no need to waste a lot of space on exposition really. As for the art was it not ever so since the dawning of the McFarlane/Lee school? Doesn’t appeal to me much but doesn’t really offend me – I expect exaggeration in superhero comics.