Dark Avengers #1
Brian Michael Bendis & Mike Deodato.
With Norman Osborn now in charge of the 50-State Initiative and homeland security in general, those loyal servants that served as Thunderbolts are now moving up in the world in the form of Osborn's new team of Avengers, along with a few heroes who have defected from the other Avengers teams. The new official Avengers team under his rule are front and center in the new title Dark Avengers, the first issue of which saw Osborn recruiting his new team and introducing them to the world at large. Osborn also appoints Victoria Hand as his deputy director and has a nice little chat with Maria Hill and Ms. Marvel. With S.H.I.E.L.D. disbanded, Hill no longer has her former status and has a few choice words with Osborn, unsettling him in his moment of glory. Ms. Marvel, former leader of the government's official Avengers team (which used to be the Mighty Avengers) resigns and becomes a fugitive, while it is revealed that Sentry and Ares have joined Osborn. Deodato illustrates this new title beautifully as the new line-up is revealed: Captain Marvel, Sentry, a new Ms. Marvel (actually former Thunderbolt Moonstone), Ares, Wolverine (actually Daken Akihiro, Wolverine's son), Hawkeye (who is actually Bullseye), Spider-Man (who is in truth Venom), and Iron Patriot (Osborn himself). I like this team, especially the ones posing as other people, because they are truly a dark mirror to the New Avengers. A great concept, and hopefully there will be some great confrontations between them in the future.
Dan Slott & Khoi Pham.
Not really tying in to Dark Reign yet, Mighty Avengers gets a new line-up of random Avengers amid a crisis that sees reality twisting and changing before everyone's eyes. It seems that Scarlet Witch is assembling a new team of Avengers, at the same time as Jarvis is doing the same thing, to thwart the mystical threat that has arisen on Wundagore Mountain. The two splinter groups join together in the end to face their foe and include: Scarlet Witch, Jarvis, U.S. Agent, Hulk, Wasp (the new codename of Hank Pym), Stature, Vision, Hercules, Jocasta, Amadeus (a smart kid) and (maybe) Iron Man. The book feels very much like a classic straight-forward Avengers book. Colorful action, light and a little silly, with just a bunch of random heroes assembled. Unfortunately, there are a lot of missed opportunities in this first issue. The big glaring one being...uh, the Scarlet Witch is here. While there's a little hesitation with some of the characters at her appearance, there's hardly the uproar that we've been waiting for. They take it in stride when her reintegration into society should be a huge deal full of repercussions. I know there's some other major stuff going on, but they trust her off the bat? Really? Not only has she been hiding for years, but she was the first domino that led to Civil War and Secret Invasion and this new Dark Reign. It should have been addressed first-thing. Also, doesn't Wasp care (or maybe he doesn't know?) that his daughter Stature is there with them? And why doesn't Scarlet Witch react to Vision? There's just not enough discourse between the characters. The events don't leave enough room to breathe and frankly, the stuff between the characters that has not been addressed is much more interesting than the main story! This Avengers title just seems a bit off so far.
Brian Michael Bendis & Billy Tan.
This issue just came out to comic shops today and is really involved in the events of Dark Reign, being the mirror to the Dark Avengers. Here we see Luke Cage get his baby back from skrull Jarvis and subsequently leave Osborn's team, despite his promise to stay. It was a pretty straight-forward issue really. At the end, the New Avengers see the Dark Avengers announced on television and vow to put a stop to Osborn's perversion. This team of New Avengers includes: Ronin (formerly Hawkeye), Iron Fist, Spider-Woman, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Luke Cage, Captain America and Mockingbird. And Jessica Jones is hanging around as usual.