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Marvel Spotlight: Dark Reign

Posted: Tuesday, January 13, 2009
By: Shawn Hill

Marvel Comics
Contents: Interviews with Bendis, Slott, Parker, and McCann. Also features on new and ongoing Dark Reign titles with some preview art.

Comments: Iím not sure what youíre looking for from this title, which has eight articles on Dark Reign related topics, but I know why I bought it--Iím interested in what Dan Slott has planned for Mighty Avengers.

As to the rest, just so youíll know going in, I donít plan to read War Machine or Iron Man or the Secret Warriors (Nick Furyís new band of clandestine legacy quasi-heroes), so I didnít even skim those articles. The Agents of Atlas plans look intriguing, and are definitely set to bring Marvelís quasi-fifties ďlostĒ super-team into the Marvel mainstream. Namora seems likely to continue her stream of guest appearances.

The Nick Fury stuff will likely have more impact for me on the Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D. title, and Sheila Johnson offers a tidy profile on her storied history. While I donít think itís fair to blame Jessica for what Veranke did in her guise, I understand the appeal of beginning a new series where the character has to recover from disgrace (we already did this to an extent recently with drunken Ms. Marvel and disbarred She-Hulk, but okay), and this is finally the chance Bendis has wanted for years to write his favorite heroine his way. I sincerely hope itís every bit as good as his work on her doppelganger. Definitely the promise of a Bendis/Maleev team is promising considering their long run on Daredevil, who is a similar street level character used to dealing with petty corruption. Of course, this Jessica will now face alien invaders, but still.

Bendis admits in the first interview that the new villainous Cabal is meant to be a mirror to his Illuminati, who were evil by accident due to being arrogant idiots. Apparently a confrontation between the two clandestine groups is brewing (is Namor going to have to punch out himself?), but the only thing I can get out of it is that Bendis rightfully thanks Warren Ellis for making Norman Osborn such a believable dirty politician in Thunderbolts. Still no word on what Emma Frost is doing there, except for a general impulse not to leave the mutants out of this event as they largely did with the last one.

My main question is this: what is up with Scarlet Witch appearing in Slottís Mighty Avengers? No way is she just going to show up and waltz back on the team at this point as if sheís been on a little leave of absence. The New and Dark Avengers seem to have some odd membership issues as well, as preview art shows a Ms. Marvel on each team. Slott is maddeningly non-specific as to details, but he does seem to get that Mighty Avengers is supposed to be the antidote to all the darkness going on in the other versions of the team, and whether itís down to time travel or alternate universes or Ultron constructs, Iím more excited about his turn on the title than about anything else coming up for Marvel in 2009.

The, promotional aims of this in-house issue lead to a glaring error in the explanation of New Avengers: Reunion. Iím otherwise well disposed to the Hawkeye/Mockingbird title to be written by Jim McCann. McCann, however, is very focused on West Coast Avengers #100, where Bobbi took her own life. But that wasnít her last appearance. Weíve seen her ghost several times (as a zombie in the third volume of Avengers, hanging out with Dead Girl in Hell, and being punished by Mephisto in the Hellcat mini-series. Are we to believe those appearances were the Skrullís ghost, for some reason not able to revert back to his true form even in death? In a universe were ghosts and souls and Hells are all quite real, you canít just wish such things away. Glad as I am to have Bobbi back, thereís a lot more work to do for it make any sense.

So out of the ten or so new or affected titles discussed here, Iím still interested in four of them after reading these feature and creator interviews, but planning to give the rest a wide berth.

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