Out of the dark


  • Books
  • Friday, 13 Feb 2009

Dark Avengers # 1 (Marvel) (US$3.99) Writer: Brian Michael Bendis Artist: Mike Deodato Jr

During the last Year of the Ox (in 1997), Marvel repackaged a group of B-graded villains into stand-ins for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (who were whisked away into a pocket universe). Then, with the right media coverage and backing, Baron Zemo pulled off a major con job by remodeling his Masters of Evil into the Thunderbolts. However, the team’s goody two shoes act was so convincing that some of its members decided to stay on the side of the law.

Eventually, they got the legal recognition needed and Civil War set them up comfortably as Superheroes Registration Act enforcers.

Fast forward to the present day where the same script is rehashed as the Thunderbolts undergo another masquerade act. While Zemo saw opportunity with the Avengers-stand-ins, Norman Osborn improvised by forming his own Avengers instead – albeit a darker version.

The roll call may not trigger any Spider sense alert, especially when you have the Sentry, Ares, Ms Marvel, Hawkeye, Wolverine, Spidey and Iron Patriot involved.

But there is certainly something lurking in the corners with some of these characters.

As for “Iron-who” – he’s definitely not a rookie-draft from the Young Avengers. But Osborn himself, he acts as a “symbolic nexus” between Iron Man and Captain America. With his popularity ratings sky high, after emerging as the man who killed the Skrull Queen (Secret Invasion # 8), Osborn’s practically got no resistance to run America in his own manner.

Well, this issue marks his “Day One” as Tony Stark’s successor and his first act smacks with hostility – especially if you used to work at SHIELD or you were the ex-leader of the Mighty Avengers.

Overall, what attracts me most to this issue is the characterisation involving Osborn. Coming from the guy who killed (and even bedded) Gwen Stacy, Osborn’s a certified nutcase who has just been elevated to the saviour of humanity.

While the Goblin stigma may have hindered his big time megalomaniac role, Brian Michael Bendis brilliantly injects his villainous aura with a dose of anti-heroism. Think along the lines of a crossover between a mean Tommy Lee Jones and Lex Luthor (the Azarello version) and you’ll get a “reborn Osborn.”

With things expected to heat up in the following months – courtesy of a clash with the New Avengers and Morgan le Fay, expect to see this title topping the charts for a long time. Dark Avengers Assemble!

Evil # 1 (of 4) (Marvel) Writer: Paul Tobin Artists: Patrick Scherberger and Jacopo Camagni

The presence of Doom alone is bound to elevate the excitement factor in any story – hence can you imagine the impact on the heat-o-meter when the Latverian monarch shares the limelight with the Sinister Six (Kraven, Doc Ock, Chameleon, Vulture, Sandman and Mysterio). Now to manage your expectations, try picturing the Sinister Six taking the subway enroute to a heist at Stark Enterprise!

Set in a Marvel Adventures-esque environment and out of Earth 616 continuity, this light-hearted tale has Doom working his world domination schemes through the Sinister Six. Having thrashed them in record time, Doom orders them to do his bidding – which involves a showdown with Iron Man and Dr Strange. Not exactly vintage Doom-material but one of those tales that brings you down memory lane.

New Avengers # 49 (Marvel) (US$2.99) Writer: Brian Michael Bendis Artist: Billy Tan

EVERY parent fears having their child kidnapped and the situation is no different even if the parents have super powers. Ask Luke Cage and he’ll share with you that having steel hard skin isn’t going to make you react better, as he makes a pact with the devil (Norman Osborn) to recover his baby daughter.

During the events of Secret Invasion, Jessica Jones unwittingly leaves her baby with a Jarvis-Skrull. With the Skrull invasion ended, Jarvis absconds with the baby – prompting an all out Skrull-hunt for the baby’s whereabouts. With most leads ending up as wild goose chases, Cage stumbles into a solid lead when he discovers a Skrull meeting place. While he is willing to honour a deal with his kid’s abductor, his new employer has other plans – especially when it comes to dealing with Skrulls!

Final Crisis # 7 (of 7) Writer: Grant Morrison Artists: Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy

IT’S finally over ... and one word sums it up – “Phew!” And I do mean it in a disappointing sense. While the past Crises (Crisis on Infinite Earths, Identity Crisis and Infinite Crisis) have all contributed towards defining comics history – this Final outing desperately falls short of ex pectation and overwhelmed by hype.

After seeing the Dark Knight succumb to a fate worse than death in the last issue, the grand finale is all about how the Man of Steel saved the day in the most ridiculous fashion. Darkseid deserved a better ending and fans deserved value for money. “The day evil won?” “Heroes die. Legends live forever?” Bah! Mr Morrison, you’ve lost the plot!

Faces of Evil Deathstroke (DC-one shot) (US$2.99) Writer: David Hine Artist: Georges Jeanty

This one shot features as a comprehensive epilogue to the events of the DC Universe: Last Will and Testament one-shot, where Deathstroke was almost killed by Geo Force. Since that near death encounter, Slade Wilson has been rehabilating under maximum security.

While the Titans can attest to the fact that Deathstroke’s in-prisonable, the shocking news here is that he’s lost the will to live and intends to share his last moments with his daughter Rose @ Ravager. Hence, it’s a choice between the usual family circus satire or a jail break incident – but knowing how the Wilsons’ reunions have always ended, you can expect lots of sparks (and bodycount) to fly!

> Comics courtesy of Earth 638 (Lot 2.13J, 2nd Floor, Atria Shopping Centre, Jalan SS22/23, Damansara Jaya, Petaling Jaya, Selangor (Hotline: 03-7729 6380 or e-mail: earth638@streamyx.com).

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