Dark Avengers! (Dum-dum-DUM!) The title reminded me of an old radio play. Hence the reason I wrote the first sentence in that manner.
As I looked at my choices this week, I honestly wasn’t that psyched. It came down to two or three options and I thought, hey, I like Powers when I read it, so why not take this Brian Michael Bendis comic out for a little spin around the block, maybe I can get lucky. Barf.
I’m feeling a little anxious about writing this review, because, well, I’m getting the feeling from other things I’ve read and heard that this is considered to be on the crappy side of things in comic land, as opposed to...okay, you guys have a non-crappy side, I just don't know what you call it. But I'd heard tell that this was not that cool and/or not that good.
But….and I’m feeling shy about saying this, but from a “Virgin Reader” perspective – this is a good comic book. I mean, no, look, it’s not amazing or anything. It’s not taking me to new places of thought, or encouraging me to reflect on my life. I'm not thinking about fractals. But it hit all the necessary marks that, well, I usually complain about, and I'm nothing if not consistent.
Recap page? Yes. Yes, there is a recap page. It’s not just a minor “last week, in the Dark Avengers…” It’s a nice, full picture of what has transpired and where we are now. The first-time reader is clear after this that a one-time-villain, Norman Osborn, who seems to be taking over the Avengers, might still be quite villainous. (And I kind of remember this guy from when I read Thunderbolts, so that helped too.) That picture of him is painted over and over again throughout each scene of the issue. Sure, there’s things to make fun of in it--I mean, it's still a comic about people who I for the most part have never seen, it's still sort of like diving into a pool and not waiting to get used to the temperature. Of course!
(How far does Ms. Marvel’s body suit go up her ass? For the record, the female honesty record – that is not comfortable. Especially the way they have it drawn. That’s the kind of thing that a girl can’t wait to get home and take off. And don't get me started on Moonstone. Moonstone, moonstone. Okay, I'll get myself started: I get the idea behind her. But really, if she were this ultra spiritual person, highly advanced in her meditation practice, she wouldn’t have been involved with Osborn at all. Wouldn’t have even opened her eyes. Besides that, she's so wishy washy. No. Nope. That doesn't make any sense.)
But see….the mocking stops there. I think they did a great job with the next part. I don’t know anything about Venom, although I've apparently said that twice in these columns and seen a movie with him in it, but whatever, I don't remember anything about Venom. (And don't get me started on that: I remember stuff that matters. I remember Batman's secret name, it's Charles Dutton. Venom doesn't count in my brain.) But just from this short bit of storytelling, I know that he hates Spider-man, and that, well, he’s his evil counterpart. See how easy that was? I'll remember him now.
But by the very end of the story, when I saw them all assembled, it was easy for me, pure little virgin that I am, to see that these Avengers aren’t who Norman Osborn says they are. That is not the real Spider-man. That is not Wolverine. And that is not Ms. Marvel. (Although that is her underwear.) Worst of all, Norman has made himself the Iron Patriot. Ew. However, the fact that that is clear to me, is why I give kudos to this comic book. Now, I know that was the point of the comic--that everybody else gets that, easy, and they start from getting that and I guess that's how they ended up past that, at a place where they didn't think this was cool--but it was kind of cool. Because I don't know who the Avengers are supposed to be. I don't know the real version of these characters, this Ms. Marvel, that Wolverine--and yet I got a little freaked out by these very bad, very mean, versions of those characters. I don't know the Avengers well enough to pick them out of a line-up. But I came away from this comic knowing that these weren't them, and that what this Norman Osborn was doing was wrong. I got it, and I didn't start with much. That's something. Is it the best comic I’ve ever read? No. No way. But it sure wasn't the worst.
-Nina Stone, 2009