Newsarama posted an interview with Brian Michael Bendis about the upcoming Dark Reign story arc and the Dark Avengers book that will be spinning out Secret Invasion and all I could think was “it really is the ’90s all over again.”
The best they could come with is “Dark Reign”? At best, that sounds like the name for an extremely generic video game. And a new Avengers book called Dark Avengers? They’re not even trying to hide the “grim and gritty” anymore.
And while we’re comparing current times to the ’90s, the Avengers are now easily the equivalent of the ’90’s X-Men:
- Formerly a team of colorful costumed heroes, now mostly turned into “dark, morally ambiguous, anti-heros”? Check.
- One good book turned into a whole line of mostly mediocre books? Check.
- All of those books constantly hijacked, with their own stories thrown on the back burner, so that they can be used for franchise-wide, shallow, continuity jumbling crossovers? Check.
- Creating new characters at a break-neck pace? Check. And what’s worse is, while the X-Men were at least limited to mutants, the Avengers can take any character, currently existing or new, and somehow shoehorn them into the Avengers line in order to boost sales of one book or another (Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker’s Immortal Iron First was good enough to stand on its own, but I don’t think it was coincidence that Bendis happened to add him to the New Avengers team just when the new book was launching).
- All of this at the cost of decent plot, depth, and characterization? Check.
So when does the next bust come?
Is there good news in this story? Yes, and his name is Jonathan Hickman. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get my hands on much of his work in my area, but what little I’ve been able to sample I have loved and The Nightly News is near the top of my wish list. Hist involvement in the new Secret Avengers book alone is enough to perk my interest.
Besides that, the idea of S.H.I.E.L.D. being crippled is one I like. To me, the organization has been too far reaching in the Marvel Universe, especially since they became global, and they’ve been inconsistently portrayed as, at times, all-knowing, all-seeing, and all-powerful and, at other times, totally inept and useless, depending on the whims and needs of the author writing them. It needs to be taken down a notch, but my fear is whatever is coming with Dark Reign will only be worse, or merely a temporary stunt. We shall see.