The Revolution has enjoyed the first four issues of Dark Avengers. Unlike New Avengers, Dark Avengers appears to have an actual point and purpose. Hopefully, Bendis can keep the ball rolling with Dark Avengers #5 and crank out another solid read. Let’s do this review.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato
Story Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Norman sitting down to do an interview with a reporter who was given a list of pre-approved questions that she could ask Norman. The television interview begins and Norman gives his speech about how much he loves his country and that this is a new era that requires much hard work.
We cut to Avengers Tower six hours ago. Iron Patriot flies out of the quinjet and comes face-to-face with Sentry. Norman asks Bob if Bob can hear him. Bob keeps asking if he was dead. Norman replies that Bob did not die and is fine. Norman says that he wants to talk to Bob. Sentry replies that he is Bob. Norman replies that he does not think that the Sentry is Bob right now. Sentry then asks “Who am I?” Norman says “Not the Void.”
Norman continues that this is why people are scared of Sentry. Because of weird stuff like this. Norman says that Bob needs to go somewhere and pull himself together. Norman says that he will take Bob someplace so he can do that. Sentry asks if he is in heaven or hell. Norman replies that there is no Void. Sentry asks “How am I alive?”
Norman says that is a good question. Norman says that Bob is obviously more powerful than they originally thought. Norman continues that they need to look into that and understand it. That is the only way Bob will be able to get a hold of himself. Sentry says nothing. Norman says that there is no Void. Sentry starts to freak out. Norman takes off his Iron Patriot helmet.
Norman says that there is no Void. Sentry replies that he knows that fact. Norman then tells Bob to say it with him. Sentry then sees Lindy watching from the Avengers Tower. Norman says Lindy his Sentry’s wife. Bob’s wife. Norman says for them to go say hi to Lindy, relax and talk. Inside the quinjet, Bullseye asks what the hell is wrong with the Sentry. Moonstone replies that she has no idea and that she asks herself that same question about Bullseye.
We slide back to the television interview with the reporter and Norman. The reporter asks Norman to respond to Clint Barton’s statement on television about Norman being evil and the Green Goblin and not responsible to head up HAMMER and the Initiative. The reporter then replays the footage of Clint’s televised rant. (Wow, not being subtle about wasting panel space in this issue, huh?)
Norman responds to Clint’s rant with the admission that Norman was indeed the Green Goblin. Norman continues that his past as the Green Goblin is public information and well known. However, Norman has not been the Green Goblin in a long time and he should not be confused with the men who have worn the Green Goblin since Norman reformed. Norman continues with how he was suffering from a severe chemical imbalance just like millions of other Americans. And in his terrible state, Norman was taken advantage of by unsavory people who pushed Norman into violence.
Norman continues that what Clint Barton did not say was that Norman sought and received help. That Norman is no longer the Green Goblin. And that most of what the people think about when they think of the Green Goblin was not Norman. That other men after Norman wore the Green Goblin costume. And that the Green Goblin has even publicly attacked Norman and his family before.
Norman says that he is now a well man and has letters from Nobel prize-winning doctors to back it up. Norman says that it would make no sense for the President and the Joint Chiefs of Staff would allow a murderous madman to run HAMMER and the Initiative.
We slip back to the Avengers Tower five hours ago. The Dark Avengers are all in the main meeting room snacking on a very nice looking buffet of different types of food. Venom tells on Bullseye to Norman about how Bullseye threatened to kill him. The two bicker until Ares stands up and tells them to shut up.
Ares continues that it does not matter what kind of men the Dark Avengers used to be. All that matters is that the gods have chosen them to lead and fight together as Avengers. Ares says that from this point on if the Dark Avengers choose to act like children then Ares will treat them like children. Ares promises to spank them like children. Ares says that if the Dark Avengers act like noble men then that is how Ares will treat them.
Bullseye mocks Ares. Ares bitch slaps Bullseye in the face. Ares asks Bullseye if what he was before made him feel like a whole man. Ares continues that Bullseye has always dreamed of being a greater man. Ares tells Bullseye to be that man.
Bullseye says “You don’t hit me.” Ares responds “I slapped you. If I hit you, you’d be broken.” (Ha! Great line.) Bullseye stares at Ares. Bullseye then takes his medication. Ms. Hand then tells everyone to get some rest and stay out of each other’s way.
We slide back to the television interview between the reporter and Norman. Norman points out the fact that Clint Barton is also a reformed villain. Just like Norman. And that Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver were mutant terrorists before they reformed and joined the Avengers. Norman says that Clint’s rant was a cry for help. Norman says that he would like to help Clint. That he would like to find Clint only to help him before he hurts himself.
Norman says that the Lord gave Clint a second chance when Clint left a life of crime in order to join the Avengers. Norman says that the Lord is now giving Norman a second chance with running HAMMER and the Initiative. Norman says that the entire country fell during the Secret Invasion. And now the entire country has a second chance. Norman says that when he was at his worst he used to pray to God that he would get a second chance. Norman responds “Look where he put me. Look where he put all of us.”
We cut to the Bronx three hours ago. We see Ares walking into his apartment and calling out for Alexander (Phobos from the Secret Warriors). Ares sees the mail piled up with truancy notices from school. The apartment is empty. Ares gets a pissed look on his face.
We hop back to the never-ending television interview. The reporter asks Norman about the identities of the Dark Avengers. Norman replies that he will not tell the reporter anything about the members of the Dark Avengers. Norman says that people do not care who is in the military. The people just want a military that will take care of them. All people care about is that they are being protected. Norman says that the Dark Avengers will be protecting Americans.
Norman says that it is important that the brave members of the Avengers have the freedom to wear their costumes. The same freedoms that they are protecting. Norman says that his Avengers have a right to be able to live their lives, too.
We slide back to Avengers Tower. We see Marvel Boy walking from the bathroom to his bedroom. Moonstone opens the door to her bedroom and asks what Marvel Boy is doing. He replies “Nothing.” Moonstone then tells Marvel Boy to come into her room. Marvel Boy enters her room and the door closes. We then see Bullseye standing in the hallway watching the scene like a creep.
We cut to Los Angeles in the present time. We see a man and a woman outside of a club. The valet pulls up with the man’s car and splashes the woman with water from a puddle on the street. Suddenly, a laser beam blasts the car. We then see an army of flying manta-rays in the sky. Atlantean warriors are riding on them and blasting the buildings and cars in the street.
We shift back to Moonstone’s room in Avengers Tower. Marvel Boy and Moonstone are in bed together. Marvel Boy reveals that Moonstone is the first human he has had sex with. Marvel Boy asks if this is how humans usually have sex. Moonstone replies “Sure.” Marvel Boy responds “I’m not sure how I feel about that.” (Ha! Another good line.)
Moonstone then realizes that she forgot that Norman was going to be on television. Moonstone says that she wants to see how Norman sells to the public the fact that he put together a team of criminals and psychopaths for the Avengers. Marvel Boy is stunned and asks Moonstone to repeat what she just said. Marvel Boy says “Wait, you’re all criminals? I thought…” Moonstone replies “Just like you, right?”
Suddenly, Norman’s interview gets interrupted by a special news report. We cut to Norman and the reporter being informed that their interview has just been interrupted. The reporter says that something is going on in Los Angeles. The reporter then says for the news feed to be put on the monitor screen. The reporter and Norman stare at the news of the attack in Los Angeles. Norman calls Ms. Hand and tells her to get the Avengers awake and ready to roll. End of issue.
The Good: Dark Avengers #5 was extremely disappointing. Still, there were several bright points with this issue. I enjoyed the two page scene with Ares dressing down the Dark Avengers. Ares is a character that has been wasted potential ever since he joined the Avengers. Ares should give the writer a fun toy to play with. This character is basically Thor with an attitude.
Unfortunately, Bendis has not written Ares on the same level as a Thor in terms of godly attitude and power. Ares should not be written as just a dumb knuckle dragging super strong brute of a metahuman. This character should be written as a god with all the godly attributes that other gods possess. And Bendis finally captures that godly feel to Ares’ character with this scene.
Ares may not be as kind as Thor, but he is still a god that prizes honor, valor and bravery. I liked how Ares points out that all the criminals on the roster finally have a chance to be the great men that they have always wanted to be. And I dig that Ares is willing to give respect freely if his teammates earn it.
Of course, seeing Ares bitch slap the team pit-bull in Bullseye was a great moment. It emphasized that Bullseye, for all his bluster and deadly attitude, is basically a gnat in comparison to Ares’ power. I look forward to Bendis further exploring the heroic warrior aspect to Ares’ character. And I dig that just like Thor was inspirational for the original Avengers; that Ares could become a source of inspiration to get his villainous teammates to try and reform themselves. We know it won’t happen, but Ares’ effort and possibility that some of these villains might reform will make this title a more interesting read.
This scene with Ares played nicely into Marvel Boy’s realization at the end of this issue that the Dark Avengers is comprised of criminals. Marvel Boy is no saint, but he is not on the same level of characters like Bullseye, Moonstone and Venom. Bendis appears to be kick-starting the inevitable friction between the ex-Thunderbolts and the more heroic characters in Marvel Boy and Ares.
Bendis does actually perform a tiny bit of plot progression in this issue with the quick two page scene with Ares checking in on his apartment only to find his son, Phobos, missing. This scene lays the foundation for what should be an exciting conflict whenever the Secret Warriors end up locking horns with the Dark Avengers. That should be an enjoyable family reunion between Greek gods.
Now, even though I largely disliked Norman’s interview scene; I did like how Bendis had Norman defuse Clint’s televised attack on him. Bendis picks up on the fact that the Avengers have a history of taking reformed villains onto their team. Norman pointing out how Clint used to be a criminal and that Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver used to be mutant terrorists was a smart move.
This strategy robs Clint of his self-righteous indignation and places him in the category of a person who lives in a glass house and that Clint should not engage in stone throwing against someone like Norman. Bendis draws a nice parallel between Norman’s past and Clint’s past and how both of them got the chance at redemption with the opportunity to be an Avenger. And Norman’s response offers a logical enough explanation that would succeed in getting much of the general public to accept Norman as the head of HAMMER and the Initiative.
The Bad: Bendis gagged up his weakest effort so far on this young title with Dark Avengers #5. I have been concerned that the pacing and plotting of Dark Avengers would begin to decline and it most certainly did with this issue. Outside of the two page splash shot of the Atlanteans attacking; there is no action at all in this issue. And I can forgive an issue lacking any action scenes as long as the writer delivers tight dialogue and good character work.
Unfortunately, Bendis fails to do that. While Bendis does a nice job with Ares, the personalities of the rest of the team remain largely bland. And the dialogue was poorly crafted. This was sloppy dialogue that was long-winded, rambling and boring. Dark Avengers #5 was death by exposition as Bendis tries to drown the reader in a flood of unnecessary dialogue. However, I have to admit that it is impressive that Bendis can use so many words and never say anything at all of substance.
The pacing on Dark Avengers #5 was poor. The story crawls along at such an incredibly slow pace. The plotting was weak as Bendis failed to perform any real plot progression with this issue. The reader could skip this issue and pick up Dark Avengers #6 and not miss anything important. Bendis has failed to create many plotlines on this title. And that is a cardinal sin when working on a team titles.
Team titles mandate that there are more than just one or two plotlines running at the same time. Bendis could learn a few lessons from DnA on how to properly plot a team title by examining DnA’s work on Guardians of the Galaxy where they have crafted multiple long range, mid range and short range plotlines.
There was simply an inexcusable amount of filler in Dark Avengers #5. The scenes with Norman and the reporter were just ridiculous. Seven pages was way too long. Not only does Bendis deliver a ton of pointless and meandering dialogue; he also becomes repetitious as he re-hashes Clint’s television rant once again. The interview scenes with Norman would have been much more interesting and had more impact on the reader if Bendis had condensed it down to a more proper length of three pages.
The scene with Norman talking to Sentry was also pure filler and a waste of four pages. This scene was incredibly uninteresting and simply re-hashed what Bendis dedicated almost an entire issue to in Dark Avengers #3. I am one of the very few readers who likes the Sentry. And even I found this scene to be dull and unnecessary.
Dark Avengers #5 does not sport Deodato’s best artwork. Of course, much of that is Bendis’ fault as he did his artist no favors by requiring Deodato to mostly draw talking heads against a blank background. Still, Deodato did the best he could given the script he was given. Deodato’s double page splash shot of the Atlanteans attacking was awesome.
Overall: I hope that Dark Avengers #5 was a temporary hiccup and not a sign of things to come on this title. The last thing I want to see is for the Dark Avengers to sink to the same level as New Avengers. The dialogue, pacing and plotting were so poor that I have to wonder if Marvel even has an editor working on this title or not. Dark Avengers #5 had maybe seven pages of substance that was fluffed up with pure filler in order to stretch it out over the entire 22 page issue. I would not recommend wasting your money on Dark Avengers #5 since it is obviously a filler issue slotted in between two major story arcs.