You’re really growing on me. (Or am I growing on you?) That little tune is from the British glam rock band The Darkness. There’s no indication if Norman Osborn is a fan of them, but he is a fan of putting together his own dark bands of villains. In this latest issue of New Avengers we get a look at Norman’s most recent group of miscreants. Who makes up this version of the Dark Avengers and will they have what it takes to take down the New Avengers?
The New Avengers, vol. 2 #18
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato
Color Art: Rain Beredo
Letters & Production: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Mike Deodato & Rain Beredo
The New Avengers: Luke Cage, Ms. Marvel, Thing, Iron Fist, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Dr. Strange, Mockingbird, Jessica Jones, Victoria Hand, Daredevil.
Plot: Norman Osborn sets off around the globe to begin his recruitment efforts for his new team of Dark Avengers. He visits his associate Doctor June Covington for business reasons as well as some more personal, intimate interactions. Post coitus, Osborn lays out his plans for a team of new Avengers and the “Toxic Doxie” agrees to join up with Norman’s team.
The following day, Osborn travels to the Brazilian jungles to visit Ai Apaec, a monstrous spider-like man who was incarcerated with Norman in the super-secret underwater prison. Norman offers Ai a chance at a new life and gives him a pill which transforms Ai into a six-armed imitation of the black-suited Spider-Man.
The next day, Osborn’s travels take him to the Savage Land where he witnesses Skaar, Son of Hulk, beat down a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Skaar does not know who Norman is but accepts his offer to change the world in a significant way.
Barney Barton, Hawkeye’s criminal brother, is in intensive care at Bellevue Hospital. The guards watching his room explain that Barney was in Avengers Tower when it fell during the Serpent’s siege of New York and are amazed that he survived. A nurse enters the room and injects the unconscious villain with a needle, causing him to flat line. Later, the same nurse accompanies Norman Osborn to the morgue where she revives Barney. Norman welcomes the revived and healthy Trickshot to the Avengers.
Osborn had met with his new lieutenants to discuss his plans days before his recruitment efforts took place. At that time, Norman was introduced to Viper, also known as Madama Hydra; The Gorgon, leader of an army of former Hand assassins; and Doctor Monica Rappaccini, the Scientist Supreme of A.I.M. One by one, the leaders of the various terrorist groups offered their allegiance to Norman and H.A.M.M.E.R. The Gorgon and Osborn communicated telepathically about the demons in their respective minds and The Gorgon had agreed to sign up with Norman’s Avengers.
Dr. Rappaccini explained that A.I.M. has a lot of useful projects to bring to the table, but they lack the financial resources to continue their research. She presented one such project to Osborn, the clone of Thor known as Ragnarok. She promised to fix the clone for H.A.M.M.E.R. with their financial backing. Norman agreed saying that Ragnarok will be the crown jewel of his new team of Avengers. In present day, Norman looks upon his new team of Avengers with excitement.
The Dark Avengers: The Gorgon as Dark Wolverine, Dr. Covington as Dark Scarlet Witch, Skaar as Dark Hulk, Ai Apaec as Dark Spider-Man, Superia as Dark Ms. Marvel, Trickshot as Dark Hawkeye.
These are not dark days, these are great days: Deodato’s artwork is fantastic once again. I feel it’s safe to say he is my favorite artist at the moment. His attention to detail in the characters and costumes, as well as the rich scenery he provides is the best part of this comic on a monthly basis. There’s no over the top action or explosions in this issue, which he normally knocks out of the park. Instead he gets the chance to focus on a couple of great shots such as Skaar taking down a dinosaur with his fists or the Dark Avengers team shot in classic Avengers outfits. Deodato’s best scene was when Ai Apaec transformed into the Dark Spider-Man and posed in a manner similar to the famous Secret Wars comic cover featuring a black-suited Spider-Man.
I’m a big fan of this incarnation of the Dark Avengers. The last time Osborn put together his own Avengers he used more A-list villains, and this time he calls on some more obscure allies. I like how two characters from the Osborn miniseries, Ai Apaec and Dr. Covington, are taking front and center in this team. It’s good to see that that miniseries and some of the characters it introduced will have some lasting implications. The only character I really question so far is Skaar. I thought he was living in the Savage Land to protect his people so I am not sure why he would be so quick to leave and join up with this man he knows nothing about.
Having a dark version of the Hulk will pose quite a problem for the New Avengers, and I like how, along with Hulk, we are seeing some new, dark versions of classic Avenges. Using the clone of Thor against the Avengers offers a great storyline as well. I like the idea of having Tony Stark come face-to-face with one of his more regrettable decisions during the superhero Civil War. A dark Scarlet Witch is also a welcome additions. I think Superia’s take on Ms. Marvel will definitely rub Carol Danvers the wrong way after their previous encounter in the earlier New Avengers storyline, so I think that will be fun to watch unfold as well.
I love Osborn serving as a main antagonist to the New Avengers and I think Bendis is handling him well in these issues. I love the idea of all these other big criminal organizations uniting under H.A.M.M.E.R. and how Norman makes them admit that they cannot succeed without joining forces. You can tell that Norman has the leaders of these groups right where he wants them and is using them to help stroke his massive ego.
The New Avengers aren’t present in this issue, but on the recap page it was nice to see that Daredevil has finally been included in the ranks. His mug shot and name replaced Squirrel Girl so hopefully we’ll see the Man Without Fear get some more face time in upcoming issues.
We shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation: While I think this team is put together well and has great potential for upcoming storylines, the obscurity of some of the characters had me spend a bit too much time researching their backgrounds on Wikipedia. I think I may have spent more time on the internet than reading the actual comic. I thought the line “What am I, Google?” used by the guard watching Barney Barton was funny because of my need to look up the history of some of these characters.
However, I don’t remember seeing any mention of Madame Hydra and Norman having a history while doing my research, so I’m not sure why Osborn asked her if they had met before. Hopefully it’s something Bendis plans on fleshing out or adding to the Marvel continuity, as he is known to do. Bendis must have read up on The Gorgon as I did because the character’s monologue was quoted almost verbatim from his Wikipedia page.
Most Promising Dark Avenger: Ai Apaec as Dark Spider-Man. I like how they’ve given him the six-armed look and how Ai has been getting some screen time recently, including his recent appearance in the Spider-Island tie-in, Deadly Hands of Kung Fu. It should also drive Spider-Man mad trying to figure out who this new sinister Spider-Man is.
Least Promising Dark Avenger: The Gorgon as Dark Wolverine. In the last panel, is he just telepathically projecting an image as Wolverine or are his claws some sort of ninja weapon? I know the Gorgon has a history with Wolverine but he just doesn’t seem like a “dark” version of the character, especially compared to the former Dark Wolverine, Wolverine’s actual son.
Darkly Demented Osborn Moment: After proudly looking upon his new team of Avengers:
Norman Osborn: “So… does anyone know where I can get a decent suit of armor?”
Rating: Great, art. Good, story. Meh, characterization and writing. Poor, action. 4/5 Dark Avengers Assembled