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Friday December 12, 2008 10:05 pm

Reviewing and Betting on Dark Reign

Dark Reign

Last week Marvel’s event three years in the making ended anti-climatically with a last page that was an advertisement for this week’s one-shot, “Secret Invasion: Dark Reign”.

I have loved the team of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev since they began their run on “Daredevil” in 2001. Maleev’s gritty, yet realistic artwork complemented Bendis’ down-to-earth dialogue perfectly for a dirty, street level character like Daredevil.  These three ingredients sparked one of the greatest runs in comic book history, so it’s easy to see why Marvel would use this team to launch the new direction of the Marvel Universe. Unfortunately, the Marvel Universe is not one-size-fits-all, and what works on Daredevil won’t necessarily work for the Avengers.

Art wise, Marvel should’ve used David Finch. Maleev was out of place on Dark Reign. The squiggly and scratchy line work that worked in a street-level book like Daredevil felt out of place and sloppy in a book about the secret rulers of the world. Sure his Emma Frost and Loki were sexy, but his Doom was rusty, Namor looked like a troll, and Norman Osborn was not only bland, but lacked his trademark hair cut. If this is the anti-Illuminati I expect the artist to infuse the characters with majesty not grit. 

As for Bendis, as the architect of “Secret Invasion” and subsequently “Dark Reign,” it is only appropriate that he’s the one to set up the new status quo and he does a good job of it. He tells us who the power players are, why they are the power, and tells us why the characters are acting the way they are. But most of all, he gives us a mystery in the form of Norman Osborn’s very own Keyser Soze.

Who is so powerful they intimidate Loki and Doctor Doom? At first I thought it was Mephisto. He loves playing games with mortals and has the power to alter history (ask Spider-Man). Also, there were rumors when “One More Day” hit that a major magic based storyline was coming soon. The Beyonder? He certainly has the power.  What about Thanos? He killed off half the universe once and certainly fits Doom’s description about his plans “imploding.” I’m sure there are several others, but I can’t think of them off the top of my head, so call Vegas and start placing bets.

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