Once again, the cover poorly represents the content. No, Norman Osborn (AKA Iron Patriot) does not fight Doctor Doom. Instead, the Dark Avengers slay dragons and stare at each other’s cans.
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DARK AVENGERS #4
WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
ART: Mike Deodato
COLOR ART: Rain Beredo
LETTERER: Chris Eliopolus
While our “heroes” battle Morgan Le Fay in ruined Latveria, Iron Patriot and Doctor Doom confront the same witch in 690 A.D. Killing her in the past would damage the timestream, so Doom instead banishes Morgan to the year “One Million B.C.”, where she must contend with both cavemen AND a T-Rex. Earth’s history in Bendis’ brain looks a lot more fun than boring, old, those-things-were-extinct-65-million-years-ago reality.
When Osborn and Doom return to the present, the Dark Avengers leave Doom to his wrecked kingdom. Alone, Doom uses his time cube to somehow restore his castle to its former glory.
En route home, Moonstone hypnotizes Marvel Boy with her gluteus maximus (or, as coined by Mix-A-Lot, her juicy doubles) and Norman learns of Ronin’s televised allegations. Osborn arranges a talkshow appearance, but a golden light interrupts his call. Sentry, looking pissed off, appears before their jet.
Yeah, yeah, Marvel released this issue last month, but the House of Delays pushed issue five into June anyway, so I don’t feel too guilty. Besides, more sinking in time means a better review. I originally intended to rate this issue at half its current score, citing unignorably bad Sci Fi logic (Exiling 690 A.D. Morgan to prehistory differs from killing her in terms of altering history? Doing so causes 2009 Morgan to disappear but not her monsters and the injuries they inflicted?) and a decompressed script even by Brian Michael Bendis’ standards. Over a quarter of the comic comprises dialogue-free pages, and while the series of double-page spreads culminating in Castle Doom’s magical restoration rings breathtakingly dramatic, that stuff makes comics feel quick and insubstantial.
Reviews, however, hinge more on subjective state of mind than many armchair Roger Eberts like to admit, and right now my Dark Avengers enjoyment defies sane judgement. Some of the charm remains intangible, but one can pinpoint concrete merit in the Doom-Osborn dynamic. Osborn has stumbled into the big kids’ playground, anxious to play with the dangerous toys, with Doom there to mockingly keep him from abusing time travel with spot-on arrogance. On the other hand, Norman, who stands to gain from traitorous Doom’s demise, seemingly saves the dictator out of–this is hard to say–moral obligation. When Norman yells “and YOU’RE WELCOME!!!” to cross-armed Doom, he really seems offended by the lack of gratitude. Doom, in turn, appears humiliated by his rescue, not at some code-abiding hero’s hands, but by someone who is supposed to be as scummy as he. This lends the aforementioned silent and lonesome reconstruction of Castle Doom a poignant new layer.
The attention on Doom comes at the cost of Dark Avengers’ more urgently compelling facets, like how these psycho-killers react to saving innocent civilians while maintaining a public face. Introducing this team with a covert mission against D&D monsters seems misguided, so I hope the consequences of this excursion return with a worthwhile payoff.
MOST PERFECT DOOM LINE:
“I thought more of you. But clearly I was projecting myself onto you.”
3 Moonstone ass-shots out of 5.
REVIEWED BY: CrazyChris