This issue seems like a transitional, setting-the-table type of offering. Additionally, Osborn’s team of ne’er-do-wells posing as Avengers displays the much expected infighting that this cluster of miscreants would undoubtedly erupt into as most fans have anticipated from the onset.
The majority of this issue is spent focused on Norman Osborn refuting the public berating laid upon him by Clint Barton — the one, true Hawkeye. It makes for good politics, but boring comics. Did anyone ever doubt that a) Osborn wouldn’t point to Hawkeye’s own former time as a criminal, b) claim to be influenced by outside forces, and c) conveniently be called into action during his high-profile interview session? The fact that these plot points are contrived, at best, makes this issue contrived, at best.
That said, the best part of the issue is Ares’ “discussion” with BullsHawkeye. The discussion is punctuated by the back of Ares’ hand and the full of BullsHawkeye’s face. Following that, there is some more subtle subterfuge going on as Ms. Moonstone Marvel seduces the Noh-Varr Captain Marvel and spills the beans by tipping her loathing hand in Osborn’s direction. Certainly the future of Dark Avengers will include a bit more infighting and a little more backstabbing.
Deodato’s art is rendered with the 1990s grit and grime underneath a photorealistic sensibility. His characters, as has always been the case with Deodato, are idealized visages of the human condition, rarely bearing much to distinguish themselves from one another save for costumes. Case in point is the panel with Venom and BullsHawkeye both unmasked, standing side by side. I found myself relying on uniforms to make the distinction after I realized that Madrox hadn’t joined these Avengers nor had he shaved his noggin. The art is energetic and vibrant, but in some instances that energy comes at the sacrifice of story. For example, as the location shifts to California, I found the club scene disjointed largely due to the storytelling. Sure, it sets the stage for the massive invasion, but that story beat hardly needed to be drawn out for two full pages.
On the whole, this “Dark Avengers” title seems to exist solely for the sake of controversy, as the story within the book certainly doesn’t offer enough for me to justify coming back to this well very often. We’ve seen pseudo-heroes played out masterfully with Kurt Busiek’s initial offerings on “Thunderbolts.” This book seems to have missed the masterfully part and is hoping to play up shock value as entertainment.