Leading up to Marvel’s SIEGE event, I’ve decided that now was the time to finally get caught up on as many of the “important” books from the current Dark Reign storyline as possible.
The book I was most hesitant to pick up from the Dark Reign run was Dark Avengers, even though I knew it was going to probably be the most important book of the event, due to its starring of Norman Osborn and his band of misfits. However, I’m just not a big fan of books starring villains. Sometimes they’re fun, but I really have to be in the mood for it, and, not only that, none of the characters in this book seemed to have any redeeming qualities, a must for any book starring villains (at least in my opinion).
While I love the hell out of what Bendis is doing with New Avengers, it took me some time to get into Dark Avengers. In fact, I didn’t really get into the book until it’s almost over. It has a lot of strikes against it – primarily, the characters. I’m not a huge fan of the Lex Luthor-era of Norman Osborn, but Bendis manages to make him the strong point of the book. Unfortunately, the rest of the characters don’t fare so well – I don’t really like Mac Gurgan as Spider-Man/Venom, Daken as Wolverine seems pretty lame (though I hear Dark Wolverine is a heckuva book), Dark Ms. Marvel … eh. I do enjoy Bullseye as Hawkeye, but when you throw the Sentry in there, one of my least favorite Marvel characters (we get it, he’s crazy – when the hell will this storyline finally come to a head?), it just hurts the book.
However, it goes to show how good of a writer Bendis is, because he manages to overcome all of these hurdles, and turns up creating a pretty decent book. Norman Osborn’s interactions with the Sentry are the strong point of the book. Unfortunately, the one negative I have to say about it is that the majority of the team really does get lost in the shuffle. It’s hard in team books to really get into each character and give them great character moments, but Bendis does manage to do it in New Avengers.
Mike Deodato’s art is a little uneven – I really don’t like that he draws Norman Osborn as Tommy Lee Jones. In fact, I HATE it. I just don’t see Jones as Osborn, and I just don’t like my comic characters looking like movie stars, unless I’m buying a film adaptation. The action suffers a bit, too, as Deodato gets a little lost in it, drawing his characters a bit too small to really gather what’s going on.
Though Dark Avengers is not as strong as New Avengers, it certainly manages to overcome the obstacles that could make it worse than it is. This first collection doesn’t seem like essential reading to the Dark Reign saga, but it’s worth checking out.