Now that Norman Osborn is the U.S. Government's top superhuman law enforcer and his Dark Reign over the Marvel Universe has begun, the villain has access to vast amounts of power that he can use to advance his nefarious schemes. But for someone like Norman, is there ever such a thing as enough power?
In our latest installment of THE OSBORN SUPREMACY, CBR News talks with writer Jeff Parker, who hopes to answer that question and more in his new ongoing "Agents of Atlas" series, illustrated by Carlos Pagulayan.
The Agents of Atlas are a team of heroes whose ranks include Gorilla Man, a soldier of fortune who's been cursed to wear the body of an ape; M-11, a mysterious human like robot; Namora, the cousin of Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner; Venus, one of the fabled Sirens of Greek myth; and Bob Grayson, formerly known as Marvel Boy, an Earth man whose access to alien technology and strange abilities stems from the fact that he was raised by the inhabitants of Uranus.
The team first gathered in the 1950s, under the leadership of FBI agent Jimmy Woo. They later reunited in the critically acclaimed 2006 "Agents of Atlas" miniseries to help Woo achieve his destiny and take control of the Atlas Foundation, a vast criminal empire founded by the descendants of Genghis Khan. Since then, the team clandestinely took part in defending the Earth from the Skrulls' Secret Invasion, but they've spent most of their time laying low and helping Jimmy solidify his control over the Atlas Foundation.
It appears though, that the Agents of Atlas are done with laying low. In the recent "Dark Reign: New Nation" one-shot, the team showed up on Norman Osborn's radar by stealing a U.S. gold shipment that the former Green Goblin had earmarked for use in another sinister scheme. "Osborn was initially angry with them, and then in true Norman Osborn fashion, started seeing how an alliance with ATLAS could further his agenda," Jeff Parker told CBR News. "Of course, that was exactly what team leader Jimmy Woo was hoping for when he embraced the criminal reputation of the Atlas Empire."
Osborn may be psychopath, but he's a shrewd psychopath who doesn't do business with someone without researching them first. "Osborn knows more or less what S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Derek Khanata reported in his time with the team in the miniseries. So he knows what the team can do, and how they came about, but all in a very superficial way," Parker explained. "He believes Jimmy has really followed in the footsteps of the Yellow Claw as a power monger. He knows Venus used to be a Siren or Naiad of mythology, and sees her as a man-killer instead of the peace lover she is."
Parker continued, "It's not clear how much influence [Osborn] has with the FBI, and that's where he'd need to go to find out more about [the Agents of Atlas'] past adventures. Their past figures in quite a bit though, as you'll see starting in issue two when we jump back and forth between the modern day and 1958."
Even with his bits of knowledge about them Osborn is still being very careful in his dealings with Jimmy Woo and his associates. "He's not stupid, he generally doesn't trust anyone and Atlas are no exception," Parker remarked. "But he believes they can work together because he can keep the law off their back, and they can provide numerous services as a global criminal network."
Like all master criminals and powerful men, Norman Osborn isn't the type to get his hands dirty directly, especially when working with a relatively unknown party like Jimmy Woo's Atlas Foundation. "He tends to send minions out to interface with the Agents. And theoretically being in the same position, so does Jimmy," Parker explained. "As 'Master Woo' Osborn only sees holograms or video transmissions of Jimmy, though the Agents will deal with him in person."
Norman Osborn's desired alliance with Jimmy Woo's empire means his presence will be felt in the new series, even though he may not actually appear in every issue of "Agents of Atlas." "They have to consider him quite a bit in every move they make," Parker confirmed. "It's easiest to view this through Jimmy's eyes, and to Jimmy, it wasn't that long ago that he was a trusted FBI man. He's essentially trying to set up an enormous undercover sting just like he used to do with the Bureau, except now he has to go up against his own government. Which isn't easy for him, Jimmy considers himself a very loyal American."
In the "Secret Invasion: Dark Reign" one-shot, Osborn strengthened his power by setting up a "Cabal" of some of the most powerful figures in the Marvel Universe. AoA member Namora is related to the Sub-Mariner, one of Osborn's partners in the Cabal, so readers can expect him to factor into the Agents sting operation against Norman Osborn. "Will The Sub-Mariner confide in his cousin Namora? Of course, will any of that Cabal even know about Atlas?" Parker teased. "I love that Namor was also in The Illuminati, that was a great choice."
Jeff Parker is enjoying the chance to kick off the "Agents of Atlas" ongoing series by tying-in to Marvel's ongoing Dark Reign saga, as he gets to write Norman Osborn. "I like a hyper-competent villain and he creates interesting gray territory with everything he does," the writer said. "When you also factor in that the Atlas Foundation's royal advisor is a very manipulative dragon [named Mr. Lao], you have to feel a little bad for the team. They're between any number of rocks and hard places."
"Agents of Atlas" #1 is in stores February 4 from Marvel Comics.