From Norman Osborn's perspective, the Skrull's "Secret Invasion" plunged the Marvel Universe into chaos, and the only way to restore order was with a strong leader armed with the right tools. Much to the chagrin of the rest of the Marvel U, the U.S. government made Osborn the man in charge by appointing him their top superhuman law enforcement officer. In the pages of the ongoing "Dark Avengers" series by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mike Deodato, Osborn donned a high tech battle suit, assumed the identity of the Iron Patriot, and put together his tools for restoring order: his own team of Avengers. Of course, they just so happened to be a team of superpowered sociopaths posing as some of the Marvel U's greatest heroes.
Up until this point, the biggest thing standing in the way of Osborn and his Dark Avengers has been each other. Some members have antisocial personalities that make getting along difficult, while others harbor dangerous secrets. CBR News spoke with Bendis about the Dark Avengers and his upcoming plans for the team.
The Dark Avenger with the biggest secret seems to be Osborn himself. In "Dark Avengers" #6, the former Green Goblin behaved strangely when he entered the vault of Tony Stark designed battle armors that he inherited when he took control of the Avengers. Then, in "Dark Avengers" #9 (on sale now), Osborn locked himself away in the armor vault, working on something mysterious. At one point, he actually called for help, but no one was there to respond. According to Bendis, readers will receive answers as to what exactly is going on with Osborn very soon.
"What is going on with Norman? Is he holding onto his sanity?" Bendis teased. "Is he having trouble? Is he burning the candle at both ends? Or is he working on something much bigger then people imagine?"
Another Dark Avenger who seems shrouded in mystery is the all powerful Sentry. In the introductory story of "Mighty Avengers," the Sentry's wife, Lindy Reynolds, was seemingly murdered. A few issues later, she was back among the living. The reasons behind Lindy's resurrection have yet to be revealed, but in "Dark Avengers" #9, it seemed like she was unhappy about being brought back from the dead...because she shot her husband in the face with an alien weapon after telling him that he was insane, saying that he wouldn't let her go.
"Lindy's dialogue is particularly important in that scene, and there is a big Sentry story coming in the next two issues, with a climax and a resolution," Bendis told CBR News. "I know that the Sentry can be a confusing character, and that he's both loved and hated, but that's kind of what I like about the character. He's not something you're used to seeing in a Marvel comic, and he's certainly not someone you're used to seeing on an Avengers team. No one really knows exactly what the Sentry is, except for maybe Osborn."
Another "Dark Avengers" cast member who is a bit of cipher is Osborn's assistant, Victoria Hand. Ostensibly, Hand performs administrative tasks for Osborn, but it's still unclear exactlywhy she does what she does or what she ultimately wants. "You're going to find those things out in 'Dark Avengers' #11. I'm a big fan of Victoria, and she's one of those characters who comes off as enigmatic because you have to establish her place in the Marvel Universe before you can ask, 'Hey what's her deal?' and then show what her deal is. Usually, you find out a character's motivation when you introduce them, but sometimes you have to do things the opposite way," Bendis explained. "It's funny, because I didn't imagine that Victoria would appear in as many comic books as she has. She's really made a lot of appearances, and some amazing artists have drawn her, which is nice, and you'll finally see what's going with her starting with issue #11."
Not all of the Dark Avengers harbor secrets. Some, like Venom, Bullseye, Daken, and Moonstone, are simply twisted, violent psychopaths who enjoy inflicting emotional and physical pain on others. The most frightening thing about those characters is not the fact that they're posing as heroes, but that they're starting to get along. In issue #9 of "Dark Avengers," the four characters were seen eating breakfast together and appeared to be having what passed for a civil conversation.
"It's a creepy situation that's going to build," Bendis said. "There's a pretty big scene coming up in issue #10 that I think I'm going to get some letters about. [Laughs]"
"Dark Avengers" #10, is in stores October 21 and kicks off a new story line that sends the team to Colorado to tackle a mystery. "What happens in this arc, the last one before a huge top secret story that begins in January, is that you get to see the Dark Avengers on an Avengers style mission, with all the twists and turns that entails," Bendis explained. "You are going to see Moonstone having her way with members of the team. She'll be both aggressive and passive aggressive and exhibit some stalkerish weirdness. I'm looking forward to people's reactions to that.
"You'll also find out what's happening with Venom. I think that's going to be funny for people, because Venom's medication just might have some bad side effects. Most of the Dark Avengers are medicated, but that doesn't always work out. Venom with side effects from his meds will be fun."
Venom's meds will cause problems at the worst possible time because the villain of the next "Dark Avengers" arc is the immensely powerful Molecule Man. "How do the Dark Avengers fight someone who can control the very molecules they breathe?" Bendis remarked. "The Molecule Man is what I consider one of those A-List villains who, in my opinion, doesn't seem to get the A-List treatment. So I'm going to treat him well. And, boy, you know who draws him well? Mike Deodato! He really gives the Molecule Man a great look."
Bendis was a huge fan of Deodato's work before they began their collaboration on "Dark Avengers," and since they've been working together, he's comes to appreciate Deodato's artistic skills even more. "Mike is perfect for 'Dark Avengers.' This book is written for him. I seriously haven't gotten one bad page from him," the writer stated. "Mike and I worked together briefly on 'New Avengers,' and I felt I was just getting the hang of him, and then we were done. So I'm thrilled that I got this other chance to work with him, because I really think that he and I have produced some great work together."
In December, Bendis brings 2009 to a close with the biggest month ever for "Dark Avengers" fans. That month sees the release of "Dark Avengers" #12, the special "Siege: The Cabal" one-shot, which sets the stage for the top secret story Bendis hinted at early in this article, and "Dark Avengers Annual" #1.
"The Annual is big. I'm very excited about it. It's about Noh-Varr, aka Captain Marvel, who escaped from Norman's clutches and is being hunted down by his former teammates, the Dark Avengers," Bendis said. "It's being drawn by Chris Bachalo, who I had an amazing time with on the couple of things we've worked on. I think his very unique art style matches the alien point of view that Noh-Varr's story will take. In the Annual, we introduce some new characters and set up Noh-Varr's status quo for the coming future."
Want to know more about the "Siege: The Cabal" or the top-secret story Bendis was talking about? Visit CBR Monday, October 12, for an in-depth interview with the writer about both projects.