Publisher Marvel Comics
Writer Brian Bendis
Pencils Billy Tan
Inks Matt Banning
Colors Justin Ponsor
So I’m getting to the point where I think maybe I’m a little masochistic as I keep getting this book and it keeps on absolutely killing me. Add to that it is also a $4 book for the same page count and you have another thing I hate and yet I’m getting this book. If nothing else this book stirs my passion about what is wrong with Marvel at times and Bendis in particular.
Let’s start with the good points first. The whole Dark Reign thing appears to be Bendis’ baby and turning things upside down has been interesting many times in the past few months. Bendis idea of making these Avengers as renegades has been fun also, although they are very public renegades. His actual grouping of Avengers is also unique as we have Bucky Cap, Hawkeye Ronin, Wolverine, Ms. Marvel, Luke Cage, Spider-Man and Spider-Woman. Not a classic grouping but still a lot of potential and the last member Doctor Strange, who is more of a retired member at this point. The overall story idea is interesting in that Dr. Strange is no longer Sorcerer Supreme and we are trying to find out who it will be. So on the surface Bendis does a lot right.
The execution of the idea is where it all falls apart. His dialoguing of this group makes me think Bendis is a frustrated sitcom writer and he probably is laughing his ass off as he writes this stuff. Occasional humor in comics is great and I have had many moments when I have laughed out loud reading a comic. The problem her is it is too sophomoric and is Bendis shoving lines into these characters mouths whether they fit the established personality or not. It hurts to read some of the dialogue coming out of these characters mouths. If I read it without following the lines from the word bubble 80% of the time it could be any character talking as they all talk the same. Then there are other things where an Avenger calls Wolverine over because they need his nose. Spider-Man says he hates guns, Bucky Cap tries to have everyone carry a gun and finally Brudder Voodoo showing up as he is the new Sorcerer Supreme apparently. Why Bendis has to have him saying Brudder Voodoo to affect some accent is beyond me, but I guess having the new Sorcerer Supreme become black makes sense in Marvel liberal land.
One other issues I’m having are Hawkeye as Ronin. Hawkeye was and is an archer and making him into a pure hand to hand fighter goes against the grain in a thousand different ways. I know over the years he has played other roles, but if you are going to have Clint Barton, he needs to be Hawkeye. Next issue is the overuse of the Hood. The Hood has been so steeped in Bendis’ books, that we are going to like him and think he is a great super villain kingpin and that it that in Bendis’ mind. Another issue is the taking Doctor Strange down a peg. I hate it. Doc has been hanging around the MU for years under utilized and we know ala the Ancient One Doc can be around for hundreds of years, so replacing him just stinks. Also using Brother Voodoo feels like pandering to the fact we have a black President as opposed to anything that makes any comic book logic. Finally the lack of continuity between the Dark Reign books is another problem for me. I’m not expecting everything to line up perfectly. Heck with characters like Wolverine and Spider-Man, they have too many books to worry about it at all. The lower tier characters like Ms. Marvel and such are different and what is happening in their books when it is major should be reflected in other books.
So what keep me hanging around on this book are a few things. The art by Billy Tan is certainly well done and good art is always a plus in a visual medium. Also this is a core Marvel Universe book. I could stop almost every other Marvel book and just get New and Dark Avengers and at least stay in the loop a little bit about what is happening in the MU. Since I do a webcast, the blog and enjoy talking about books it is important that I keep a perspective on what is happening and following this and Dark Avengers gives me that perspective. I do not have to follow any of the other Dark Reign books and currently only get Electra and the FF mini-series, everything else with Dark Reign I have tried and dropped or never tried and I plan to continue that trend for now.
Overall Grade C – Solid art and some interesting ideas, butchered by sloppy characterization and a writer who needs an editor that is allowed to edit the book for content.