IRON PATRIOTISM: Ares, Moonstone & Captain Marvel

Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia

"Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia" on sale now

A crucial component of Norman Osborn's Dark Reign over the Marvel Universe is his team of Dark Avengers. Staffed by villains impersonating some of the world's premier superheroes, the Dark Avengers have been causing trouble all over, but one city has been conspicuously free of Osborn intervention - until now.

In "Utopia," the hugely anticipated storyline running through "Uncanny X-Men" and "Dark Avengers," the X-Men's new home of San Francisco is about to have some very unwelcome visitors. With the arc finally beginning today, CBR concludes IRON PATRIOTISM - our exclusive series of chats with "Utopia" writer Matt Fraction about his take on the Dark Avengers - with a look at three of Norman Osborn's most formidable warriors: Moonstone, Captain Marvel and Ares.

In putting together the Dark Avengers, Osborn wanted someone really evil with a lot of experience convincing everybody she's really good. As a longtime member of the Thunderbolts, Karla Sofen -- a.k.a. Moonstone -- seemed like the perfect candidate for just such a charade, and has indeed proven to be very effective at pretending to be Ms. Marvel -- so much so that when Osborn brings his team to San Francisco, Sofen will be front and center as his designated field leader.

"She's sort of like Osborn's lapdog. She's the, 'does what daddy says' character on a team full of people who don't do that," Matt Fraction CBR News. "That urge to please is why she's the field leader. She's a narc, a tattletale, and the teacher's pet of the team. So aside from having to kick X-Men ass she's got to watch her own back because her teammates think she's a groveling, ineffectual suck up."

Moonstone's eagerness to please comes from the fact that she truly seems to enjoy impersonating Ms. Marvel, something that stems from the one trait she does share with many of her teammembers: a violent, anti-social behavior. "She's got this gaping hole inside her. She's got this desperate sort of neediness and clearly that's made her into a bad guy. She's got some wires that are detached," Fraction explained. "She's a happy worker bee and is living life like she's actually an Avenger. More than anybody else on the team, she buys Osborn's line of shit. She's completely batshit, so it's great to see her as the voice of law and order on the streets."

Indeed, Norman Osborn offered each member of the Dark Avengers something they needed. For most of them, it was a chance to let lose their vicious and vindictive impulses, but to get Captain Marvel on the team, Osborn had to make the alien youth believe that by joining the team he'd get the chance to do something noble.

"Captain Marvel is a young man trying very hard to do good," Fraction said. "He recently discovered the desire to do good and he's kind of getting hoodwinked. So he's another pot of water that's slowly boiling and an unspeakably powerful one at that."

Captain Marvel was conned by Osborn because the young hero is still very new to Earth and has never faced a manipulator of Osborn's caliber. "He was lead astray by his naivete and lack of experience," Fraction said. "His sort of experience is beyond our world. That didn't quite prepare him for what he faced here."

Captain Marvel may be nobler than his teammates, but as with most teenagers, Noh-Varr does have a dark side. "His temper is something he's going to have to be constantly checking, challenging, and dealing with," Fraction said. "After all this is the guy who wrote, 'Fuck you' across twelve New York City blocks. So he's got a temper."

As such, Noh-Varr is certainly going to get into a fight (or several) in "Utopia." "It's fun pitting a character with alien technology and alien super powers, like Captain Marvel, against terrestrial folks like the X-Men," Fraction said.

Of course, another kind of action is on the mind of teenage boys, and amongst the X-Men, Captain Marvel is bound to find opponents who will make him think of more than just fighting. "Boy there sure are a lot of pretty girls in the X-Men," Fraction hinted.

Before he was Captain Marvel, Noh-Varr was the star of "Marvel Boy" by writer Grant Morrison and a J.G. Jones, and it's a story that Matt Fraction is a huge fan of. "I think Noh-Varr is a really fascinating guy to write. We've got some cool stuff planned for him. I love where the character comes from and have been looking forward to getting my hands on him."

Rounding out the Dark Avengers is Ares, a god who brings new meaning to the phrase "the art of war." If war is indeed an art form, then Ares is Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Van Gogh and Picasso all rolled into one, and he's looking to turn San Francisco into his latest canvas.

"He's noble in as much as any warrior can be noble; perhaps within the rules of battle" Fraction said of Ares, who is perhaps not quite as evil or psychotic as his Dark Avengers teammates. "But the question is, do you find that noble? That's a bigger debate. And as a god, Ares doesn't experience what we know as loyalty. He's a god and because of that there's a profound disconnect from humanity. There's an arrogance there. He's a fucking god! And one of war, at that."

For their part, the X-Men are a large force composed of super powered mutants, lead by one of the Marvel Universe's most experienced leaders, Cyclops. But that doesn't make Ares nervous at all. In fact, going up against the X-Men is going to be quite fun for the violent diety. "He's the God of War and he's found a huge one," Fraction said. "He's finally found a war worthy of his time and talents. He's ready to go."

Ares may be ready to go to war with the X-Men, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're ready to pick a fight with him. "How the fuck do you beat Ares?" Fraction said. "Scott Summers is a master strategist and don't think he doesn't ask himself that question the minute he sees Ares. It's bad enough Osborn has got the Sentry, what do you with the God of War?"

Norman Osborn's Dark Reign descends upon San Francisco in "Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia," on sale now from Marvel Comics.

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