After the shocking end of “Dark Avengers” #9, this week’s issue is a little disappointing since neither the murder of the Sentry or what Norman Osborn was doing in that room are addressed in any detail. One of Brian Michael Bendis’s weaknesses is ending one issue with a strong cliffhanger/tease and then not following up on it until two or three issues later, which is frustrating as a reader and makes the follow-up issue feel like a letdown. More than that, “Dark Avengers” #10 doesn’t offer a strong, engaging story to replace the anticipated follow-up to last month’s issue as a substitute.
The issue begins with the town of Dinosaur, Colorado and a couple of 20-something girls, passing through town, find the town is odd as their car disappears to dust —- and so do they. Meanwhile, the Avengers have completed a mission where they take down Man-Thing, and Spider-Man feels sorry for him, much to the amusement and bewilderment of the rest of the team. From there, the issue segues into the team learning about the oddity that is Dinosaur since one of the girls just happens to be the daughter of the Secretary of State, and preparing to deal with the situation.
While I’ve accused previous issues of reading like a light version of Warren Ellis’s “Thunderbolts,” this issue is almost downright campy in its lightheartedness. There’s good-natured mockery of Spider-Man as his medications make him a bit too sensitive and fun banter/flirting between Ms. Marvel and Hawkeye that is ever-so-obvious that Hawkeye points it out for us. It’s a neutered romp of a read that does point to these characters fitting into their roles more, but it’s also not what the book is about. It’s about psychopaths playing hero until they self-destruct, not everyone having a good time like it were a frat house. It’s a jarring shift in tone from previous issues.
Mike Deodato’s art even looks out of place as he doesn’t convincingly depict these characters getting along so well. The friendly, happy-go-lucky Hawkeye doesn’t look natural or suiting to this book. Or, there’s the opening pages with the two college students/skimpily-dressed models that don’t look out of place at all. Yes, it’s a comic book and women are almost always drawn in a specific way, but there are times when it stands out in a bad way, and the two girls at the beginning of the issue stand out horribly. Would it be so difficult to go for a little bit of realism, especially when Deodato obviously loves his photoreferences?
Despite the various problems of this issue, the second half does show improvement and the ending is very promising -— and in a way that Bendis has to follow-up on next month. “Dark Avengers” has been a solid, above average book so one lackluster issue isn’t something to get too worried about, but this one is a misfire.