daNorman Osborn shows some new colors, a new Spider-Man meets the public, and a Spider-Skrull gets eaten alive.

Revel in the age of superhero decadence!

And leave a comment!!!

WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
ART: Mike Deodato
COLOR ART: Rain Beredo
LETTERER: Cory Petit

Amid raining confetti and roaring crowds, a new team of Avengers debuts on the public stage. Who are they, and how did they come to be? Rewind to one week ago…

Norman Osborn appoints Victoria Hand deputy director of H.A.M.M.E.R., a new world security initiative to replace S.H.I.E.L.D., and cans Maria Hill. Ms. Marvel reports to stark tower, only to find Norman commanding instead of Tony. Worse, Ares and The Sentry have already signed up with the big bad, who’s promised them bloodshed and psychological help respectively. Ms. Marvels announces her resignation from the Avengers, now that Osborn owns the team, and flies out the window.

Norman insists she’ll come around, but in the mean time he needs replacements, and what better source than his loyal Thunderbolts? Bullseye and Moonstone don new costumes and identities, becoming Hawkeye and Ms. Marvel. Venom, after forcing a Skrull to shapeshift into Spider-Man and devouring him, ingests medication that reverts him to a more human size and shape. To him the title of “Spider-Man” is bestowed. Wolverine’s son Daken accepts his father’s mantle, and Noh-Varr, perhaps hoping to do some good, becomes this team’s Captain Marvel.

But the team is missing a symbol around which the public can rally. With some commandeered Stark technology and a bit of paint, the Iron Patriot, AKA Norman Osborn, is born.

Meanwhile, Morgana Le Fey appears in the present and attacks Doctor Doom as he arrives home to ruined Latveria.

Skim any Dark Avenger’s thread on any message board and you’ll see one nearly universal concern: price. At thirty-two pages, $3.99 is perfectly reasonable, but future issues cost as much for twenty-two pages. Furthermore, Brian Michael Bendis’ writing style allows for very quick reading, so one might dread paying half a movie ticket for a tenth as many minutes of entertainment.

Truthfully, you could rush through even this extra-long comic in under ten minutes, but only at a disservice to yourself. Stop, smell the roses, and take some time to soak in the unbelievable art. The glory isn’t just in Mike Deodato’s photorealistic characters, or even the transcendent detail; it’s in every page working as a masterfully-composed work of art in its own right. It’s in how the images make eyeballs dance across the page, feasting on every line. An extra dollar means nothing when each page looks like a million bucks.

Only one adjective best describes the writing: Bendis. If you’ve read a comic by Bendis, and I know you have because he writes about half of them, then you know you’re getting one sixth of a trade paperback about sarcastic super humans who speak in three word sentences. What’s more, it unapologetically follows Bendis’ “guy goes around and recruits team members for an issue” model, which the writer uses almost as often as “super humans sit around a table and talk.” The rationales for each member’s enlistment are logical, but uninteresting. Remember Mighty Avengers #1? This is the same thing, only “dark.”

Or maybe a better word is “Thunderboltesque,” both in the sense that villains posing and heroes was the same twist presented in Thunderbolts #1 and that half the characters, the major themes, and the artist were pulled directly from Warren Ellis’ brilliant run on the title. Time will tell if Bendis can pull of an equally vicious take, but I dig the notion of these ingredients set loose on more epic, Avengers-style storylines.

“‘Tis glorious crap.”

3 out of 5. Outstanding art and functional storytelling adequately justify this installment’s existence, but I’m getting sick of all the Dark Reign set-up. Norman has his power. He has his cabal and his team. Now it’s time for him to actually DO something with them.


Liked it? Take a second to support the Crawlspace on Patreon!