Dark Avengers continues to be a thoroughly enjoyable read. I love what Bendis is doing with this title. Dark Avengers is so much better than New Avengers that it is hard for me to believe that both titles are written by the same writer. I am confident that Bendis has another entertaining read in store for us with Dark Avengers #4. Let’s hit this review.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with the Dark Avengers battling Morgan’s demons. Venom, under Morgan’s control, is trying to eat Bullseye. Moonstone races toward Morgan and blasts the witch off her dragon. Morgan falls to her death. We cut to Morgan Le Fay‘s castle in 690 A.D. Morgan tells Norman that he is a fool to partner with Doom. That at some point Doom will try and betray Norman. Norman replies that he wears his armor for a reason.
Morgan then tells Doom that he cannot kill her. That killing her will only hurt Doom’s timeline. That she is from Doom’s past and future and that if she does not exist then it threatens Doom’s existence. Doom then says “We will have to see.” Doom then casts a spell. Morgan is bound by magic rings that lift her up and carry her into her cauldron. Morgan screams out “No, Victor, No!!”
Norman asks Doom what he did with Morgan. Doom replies that Morgan was right about the fact that Doom could not kill her. That to kill Morgan in the past would jeopardize their own futures. Norman replies that it sounds more like that Doom does not want to kill Morgan.
Norman then asks why Morgan did not die when they killed her in their own present day time period. Doom answers because Morgan was alive in her own time period here. That her time had not ended. Norman quips that time travel gives him a headache. (Amen, brother.)
Doom then states that he sent Morgan somewhere where she cannot attempt to hurt them anymore. We slide over to Morgan standing in a jungle. Suddenly, a giant dinosaur chasing cavemen appears on the scene. Morgan runs for her life. We see that she is trapped in One Million B.C. England.
We cut back to Norman and Doom. Norman is fascinated that they are in the time period of King Arthur Pendragon. Norman wants to take some time to take this opportunity to “wiggle” some things around. Doom tells Norman to trust Doom’s superior intellect. Doom says that nothing good comes from abusing the timestream.
Doom continues that Norman is a man whose rise to power depended on the precise timing of a lucky moment and that Norman should be happy with exactly where the Fates have put him. Norman says Doom has a good point and agrees.
Doom then uses his time cube to transport them back to their present day time period. We see the Dark Avengers standing around the bodies of Morgan’s demons. Norman tells Doom that Morgan transformed Ares into stone. Doom casts a spell and Ares is transformed back into his normal self. Ares is back to his normal self and is angry with what Morgan did to him.
Norman tells the Dark Avengers that they dealt with Morgan and that she is no longer a threat. Venom apologizes to Bullseye for attacking him when Venom was under Morgan’s control. Bullseye barks that he is going to kill Venom. That one day, Venom will be dead and he won’t even know how Bullseye did it.
Moonstone then asks Norman if the Sentry is dead. The Dark Avengers survey the wasteland where Doom’s castle once stood and where the battle with Morgan took place. Norman takes off his helmet and says “Sorry, Bob. I thought you…Damn.” The Dark Avengers then comment how desolate Doom’s land looks since his Castle was destroyed. Doom sneers that he does not want any pity.
Norman comments that he will not give any pity. Norman says that he cannot be seen with Doom. That Doom is on his own from now on. Doom just stands there and does not respond. The Dark Avengers enter their quinjet. Norman yells “And you’re welcome!!” Doom just stands there silent. The Dark Avengers then take off in their quinjet.
Doom stands there until the quinjet disappears into the sky. Doom then uses his time cube to rebuild his castle. Doom then stalks into his castle.
We cut to on board the Dark Avengers’ quinjet. Moonstone compliments Marvel Boy for the way that he fought during the battle with Morgan’s demons. Moonstone walks away and Marvel Boy stares at her butt. Marvel Boy then realizes that Ares caught him staring at Moonstone’s booty. Marvel Boy quickly looks away. Ares then smiles in amusement over Marvel Boy’s embarrassment.
Ms. Hand contacts Norman and informs him that Hawkeye went public and revealed Norman as the Green Goblin and a psychopath and urged people to stand up against Norman and protest his position within the government. Norman orders Ms. Hand to set up some media interviews so that Norman can dispel Clint’s accusations. Ms. Hand questions if setting up media interviews is such a good idea.
Norman responds that “The man just went on National TV and accused me of being a psychotic murderer.” Bullseye interjects “But you are a psychotic murderer.” Norman looks at Bullseye and replies “Sit down.” Suddenly, everything an extremely bright yellow light blinds everyone on the quinjet.
We cut outside of the quinjet and see that they have arrived in New York City. We see a bright light beaming from above the Avengers Tower. The quinjet gets closer to the tower and we see that the Sentry is hovering over the top of the Avengers Tower. The Sentry is the source of the bright light.
The Dark Avengers exclaim that Sentry is alive. The Dark Avengers all have stunned looks on their faces. Moonstone asks if Sentry officially scares the crap out of anyone else. Daken asks “What is he?” Bullseye says “Better question: When he flips out once and for all. What, if anything, could kill him?”
We then get a close up of Sentry’s face staring at his teammates. We then get a close up of Norman’s face with Sentry’s light flickering in Norman’s eyes. Norman has a partly scared and partly awed look on his face. End of issue.
The Good: Dark Avengers #4 was another good read. Bendis continues to move this story along at a measured pace. This is certainly not a fast story with tons of plotlines. However, this is not a plodding story that offers a thin read, either. Bendis is in his element on Dark Avengers as he has managed to find a pleasant pace that is faster than what we get on New Avengers but is definitely not rushed or hurried. I actually like the slow burn approach to this title given the plot elements that Bendis is dealing with in this story.
The plotting is solid. No, Bendis is not setting up multiple plotlines like we get on team titles like Guardians of the Galaxy. Instead, Bendis is taking the time to focus on members of this new team and trying to set the team dynamic in place before overloading the reader with too many plotlines. Now that the first story arc has concluded, Bendis has quietly put into place several plotlines.
We have the simmering feud between Venom and Bullseye. We have the brewing attraction between Moonstone and Marvel Boy. And we have the mystery surrounding the Sentry and how Norman is going to handle Bob. And then there is the main plotline of Norman having to deal with the fallout of Clint’s rant about Norman on national news.
Bendis does not give the reader much action in Dark Avengers #4, but there is just enough to keep this issue from being a dull read. Plus, we have gotten tons of action on this title for the past two issues, so I do not mind Bendis stepping back a bit and focusing more on character work in this issue. And the character work on Dark Avengers continues to be well done.
The two characters who receive the bulk of Bendis’ attention are Norman Osborn and Doctor Doom. Norman continues to absolutely shine on this title. Bendis’ take on Norman is by far my favorite version of his character. Bendis is making a concerted effort to give the reader a much more nuanced and complex version of Norman. This is not your typical raving mad Norman Osborn that you so often get. Bendis is giving us so much more with his version of Norman than just a cackling maniacal killer.
Norman’s reaction to Bob’s “death” was well played. This moment showed that there is some compassion inside of Norman’s soul. In Dark Avengers #3 Bendis laid the foundation for the relationship between Norman and Bob. And I do believe that Norman can relate to Bob and sees so much of himself in Bob. Bendis builds off the previous issue and shows Norman’s true remorse over Bob’s “death” in Latvia.
Bendis also does a fine job with Doom’s character. Bendis gives us a properly egotistical and conceited version of Doom. The interplay between Norman and Doom was excellent. I liked that Norman saw through Doom’s bluster and use of the timestream as an excuse to not kill Morgan. Norman cut to the heart of the matter that no matter what Doom cannot kill Morgan due to his feelings for her. I also enjoyed Doom’s tweaking of Norman that Norman should leave the timestream alone and simply be happy with how the Fates have allowed Norman to basically luck into his current position of power.
The final scene between Doom and Norman was perfect. Doom’s silent arrogance emphasized the tenuous relationship that exists between Norman and Doom. This is an alliance that is certain to fail sooner than later.
The rest of the Dark Avengers are still largely in the background, but Bendis is starting to give them a little more panel time with this issue. I liked the scene between Marvel Boy and Moonstone. The possibility of a relationship between these two characters works for me. These are two “villain” characters that have the most potential to turn into full fledged heroes at some point.
Bendis injects plenty of well timed humor into this issue. The humor is well played and is consistent with the characters. The humor is never forced or breaks the flow of the story. And unlike over on New Avengers, Bendis does not take a funny line or joke and proceed to pile drive it into the ground over the course of several pages.
The comment by Bullseye that Norman really is a psychotic killer is an example of a funny line that is consistent with the characters and does not feel shoehorned into the story. I also loved the awkward moment where Ares catches Marvel Boy staring at Moonstone’s rump. Again, this was another natural moment that fit smoothly into the story and worked with the characters.
My favorite part of Dark Avengers #4 was the ending. It was just awesome. This was an extremely powerful scene that had the reader’s jaw hanging open. I love what Bendis is doing with the Sentry. It is about time that a writer finally attempts to grow the Sentry’s character.
I have always thought that the Sentry had the potential to be a pretty interesting character. Unfortunately, the Sentry has been stuck in neutral for years now as no writer appears to know what to do with his character. And the schizophrenic shtick where Sentry looses it in every battle and ends up curled up in a fetal position and useless to the team has gotten old.
If the Sentry is to be Marvel’s Superman class character then make him that type of character. The Sentry is supposed to have the power of a million suns, yet often, writers have him appear no stronger than the Thing. And Bendis appears to understand this about the Sentry. Obviously, Bendis is intent on emphasizing just how insanely powerful the Sentry is. Bendis achieves with this ending in making the Sentry incredibly awe-inspiring and scary at the same time. This is how the Sentry should be written.
I am excited and looking forward to what Bendis has in store for the Sentry’s character and the impact he is going to have on his teammates. And the look on Norman’s face was classic. It is clear that Norman underestimated the incredibly powerful weapon that he has on his team in the form of the Sentry. And it is also clear to Norman that he may not know how to properly control this incredibly powerful weapon.
Mike Deodato’s artwork is simply gorgeous. We get treated to numerous double page splash shots which gives this issue a cinematic feel. The varying points of view are excellent. I dig how often Deodato shows Doom with a POV from the ground up.
Deodato does an excellent job conveying the emotions of the various characters. The art is easily capable of carrying the dialogue without any dialogue at all. The little subtle details that Deodato puts into the art helps the characters seem three dimensional. And Deodato’s art with the final scene was just fantastic.
The Bad: I did not find the hostility between Venom and Bullseye that interesting. This type of in-fighting was exactly what I was worried we were going to get in a heavy dose with this title. Luckily, Bendis has kept it limited so far. I will be all right with a little bit of this type of posturing between the members, but I do not want to see this team de-evolve into nothing more than a pack of pit bulls always at each other’s throats.
Overall: Dark Avengers #4 was another good issue. Bendis keeps the hits coming on this title as Dark Avengers continues to be a pleasantly entertaining read. I would certainly recommend Dark Avengers even if you do not like Bendis’ work on New Avengers. The two titles are nothing like each other. With the conclusion of the first story arc, Bendis has been able to deliver a title that has delivered plenty of action scenes as well as solid character work. Dark Avengers is definitely worth giving a try.