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Review Group Dark Reign: The List - Avengers

Written by John Martin on Tuesday, September 15 2009 and posted in Reviews
McKegan had the pick for new comics shipping September 10th and he selected Dark Reign: The List - Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis, Marko Djurdjevic, Mark Morales and Marte Gracia. {nomultithumb}

The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week that we each take turns selecting. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse’s Newstand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate in.

In a week that probably warranted an Outhouse drama alert, the Review Group wasn't so much touchy feely as it was angry gropey.  On a Bendis week, we wouldn't have it any other way.

Review by House of J

Why doesn't Daken have pupils or irises?

Wow, this was the worst thing I've read in a long time. I've pretty well checked out of the Marvel U since Secret Invasion, which was crap. Although I intend to give the new FF team a fighting chance, if this is any indication I am not missing much and saving a lot of cash that would otherwise be wasted on a book like this, a $3.99 book bloated with ugly-looking previews I don't intend to read.

The argument between Clint and Parker read like two cranky five year olds, it got worse when characters like Jessica Drew, who's killed God knows how many people, chimes in against killing. The worst, though, are Carol Danvers' & Bucky's lines.

Everything was ugly, from the way the faces were rendered to the color palette used, to the cover.

I feel remorse having bought this book.


Review by doombug

So Clint Barton once again decides he's going to kill Norman Osborn because well...he's Clint and likes to do stupid shit sometimes. This leads to a very awkward fight with the whole team minus Luke who is apparently out of action.

Mind you this leads to some very interesting conversations with each character that you'd expect offering their unique viewpoints. Bobbi supporting Clint no matter what was touching and Bucky kind of being blase about the whole thing was pretty amusing. He would have gone with either side.

The real highlights of the issue come when Barton storms the Avengers building where he manages to show Bullseye exactly what he thinks about him wearing that costume and shows Daken that he's nothing like his father.

Oh and Bendis even makes use of Karla and Clint's past in a very fun call back to Kurt Busiek's run on Thunderbolts. Really was a highlight for me.

The ending is the only thing that bothered me as we all saw it coming and if Ares hadn't been there to save him, Osborn would have been done.


Interesting start to a story that we have to wait till November to see resolved.

Story: 7.5
Art: 9
Grade: 8

Review by Kerny

I've been enjoying Dark Reign, a lot actually. I'm also a fan of Bendis. New Avengers however, have been off and on, and I jump on and off with certain arcs

This honestly felt like it should have been a NA issue. Clint is pissed and takes matters into his own hands. What follows is Clint taking down the whole Dark Avengers. (Really?) I did like the nod towards Clint and Karla's past. Clint goes and greets Osborn and delivers the final blow.......only for Osborn to have shields and Ares popping out to bitch slap Clint. I could see hardcore old school Hawkeye fans taking issue with Clint's actions here, but I don't really mind

All the Bendis-isms, good and bad, are present here, but overall I'd say I like those more than I hate them. Still the story never does anything impressive.

The art is great. Some of the faces are weird, but eh, much better than what’s been in the regular book (with the exception of Immonnen). Plus I heard he drew it in 9 days, which is impressive

Story 5
Art 8
Overall 6.5

Review by Daringd

Well, I really don’t know what to think of this to be honest. Part of me enjoyed it but after thinking about it this is decent at best. The art here is actually pretty solid, I wish Djurdjevic could be this good on Thor. Bendis on the other hand IF he plays some of the plot developments here right could really do something great. But as far as this issue stands not a whole lot here. On another note why the hell is this $3.99? Why include the DD preview and the X-Men preview…come on Marvel.

Overall 7.0/10

Review by starlord

Well I just can't wait anymore. Here we are with another Bendis book and once again I'm torn between the word meh and the word... huh. I won't rehash the plot since others have already done that. Let me point out what I thought were the strength and weaknesses of this book and leave it at that.

Strong: Bendis nails Spidey's dialogue every time. In fact, I'd probably put him in the top three writers of all time who actually get this character.

Weak: Has he even read a book with Clint Barnes in it that wasn't pre nineteen-seventies? Talk about throwing a character's personality back thirty years.

Strong: Loving Norman Osborne more and more. This is a character in desperate need of upgrading and Bendis is doing a fine job.

Weak: Bendis dialogue. Other than Spider-Man they all sound the same.

Strong: The art! Excellent!

Weak: This story should have been in the New Avengers book because lately it seems we're not actually seeing the New Avengers much in their own book.

Strong: The potential that Bendis has set up is very strong.

Weak: Did I mention the dialogue. Don't believe me, read the opening scene: Classic Bendis. Let's spend four pages discussing what should be done and has been done.

Strong: The scene between Clint and Moonstone was very nice and a great nod to their past.

Story: 7
Art: 8
My Score: 7.60

Review by Chris

Story: Dark Reign has been treading water for a while now, and The List seemed to finally be the point in this line-wide event that would mix things up a bit.. but I feel like this issue was an exercise in wasted potential. The issue certainly had some cool moments, but there really wasn't anything there that we either already haven't seen before, or that wasn't predictable as hell.

We've seen the Avengers hanging out, debating about what to do with Norman Osborn. We've seen Clint say he wants to kill Norman. In this issue, he finally makes a go for it... but it was way too predictable. Honestly, the second we saw Norman mention Clint being on his "list" in the firsts few pages, it was pretty clear how the issue was going to end.

Regardless of how the book turns out, as a single issue, it didn't do much for me.

Art: Is it just me or did Marko Djurdjevic change his style? It seemed much more simplified, and probably faster as a result... and I liked it! If this means more regular pencil work, I'm all for it.

Story: 5.5
Art: 8

Total: 6.75

Review by Old Man


Well, to be honest, I don't hate Bendis. I hate the way he writes. I've never met Bendis, although I have been at 2 conventions where he was a guest, and heard and watched him speak once. His smarmy smile irritates the hell out of me. I've read several stories by Bendis and never been blown away by any of them.

I used to read Comics Internationale. I bought it for several years. It was loaded with reviews. And what I noticed was that, for the most part, when a book got a review of 8 or better, it was usually a book that I bought every month. If the review was a 7, it was a book that I just sorta enjoyed. If it was a 6, it was something that I had already dropped.

I don't think I have ever read a Bendis book that I enjoyed enough to rate it at 6. That's just how little enjoyment I get from a Bendis-penned book. So let's start at 6 and see where it goes from there.

SPOILERS, BTW. Although I don't see how spoilers matter with this book.

On pages 1 and 2, I find the first thing (I'll list many) that irritates me: the coloring. Green is my favorite color. But I have never been in a room that is lit in green. The color is tinted yellow, bluish-white, or reddish-white. Incandescent lighting is yellowish, older fluorescent lighting is bluish white, and the newer fluorescent lighting is reddish-white.* I really hate it when rooms are colored in greenish tint in comic books. There few instances where green lighting would apply, yet in comics it is every fragging week. Bendis trope #1: countless word balloons on a 2-page sequence that say little. Ares and Ozzy Osborne endlessly yammering on.

Page 5: Clint Barton screaming at everybody, everybody standing around looking timid/afraid of Clint. I don't know about you, but I don't have conversations with people who scream like that. Even when my friends are angry, they seldom even raise they're voices like that. I woulda punched the jerk in the face had I been in that room.

Page 6: repeated panels. This is another trope that's getting overused these days. I understand that it is sometimes used so the artist can take a day off, but at $4 a book, I want my money's worth.

Page 7: Spider-Man using air quotes. Gahhrrr.

Page 9: Spider-Man giving Barton the father to 8-year-old son speech about life ain't fair. Gahhrrr.

Page 17: Clint is standing outside a window. A man is sleeping inside the room. Clint grabs the guy and throws him out a hole in the window. How did the hole get there? The hole is at least 6 feet in diameter, more likely 8 feet. That's a big hole. Where did the glass go? Reading further in the story, it is supposed to be a secured room. It must have been very thick glass that would be very heavy, yet the guy in the bed didn't hear Clint entering the room. Perhaps 1 of the first 10 pages of talking heads could have been sacrificed to better tell this part of the story.

Page 17: It is revealed that the guy in the bed was Venom. Who is Venom? Another permutation of Venom? It says right there on the page, "Venom tried to escape!" (Okay, I get that it's a typo, but WTF? This is a Disney book. I expect proofreading in Disney books.)

Page 19-20: Clint shoots "Hawkeye" (at least 5 times), saying, "Too bad you'll heal." Then "Hawkeye" heals in the next panel, growing Wolverine-type claws and revealing his Mohawk (which would fit the character of "Hawkeye"), then is called Daken by Clint. Who is this "Hawkeye"/Daken, the new Super Adaptoid? Yes, I see after further examination that "Hawkeye" is really Bullseye because I can see the trademark Bullseye on his forehead, but this is confusing storytelling on the part of the writer AND the artist. The top of Bullseye's head is never shown, thus hiding his hair style, then Daken magically appears in the panel with the Mohawk hair, but his forehead is not shown at any angle to indicate it is not Bullseye.

Page 21: Clint shoots Daken in the head with an arrow. The sound effect is 'CHUCK', which is used 3 times on another page. Is this the only sound effect Bandis knows? Obviously not, as he uses others in this story. Did Bendis lose a bet with a friend named Chuck and the payoff is getting the friend's name in the book as much as possible?

Page 21 and 22: A woman named Karla magically shows up. Clint calls her Karla, and tells her to get her Moonstone. Is she Moonstone or another character that uses the Moonstone? There is no way to tell. On page 21, she blasts Clint with what appears to be flame or a force blast. Magically, it doesn't hit him, as he is saved by a force field, which Ozzy Osborne orders in the next panel. Lucky Clint, he is inside the force field; Karla is outside and can't blast him again. And how did Karla manifest her powers if she didn't have her Moonstone? Unless it is also a Personal Massage Device. She obviously didn't have it ON her -- perhaps IN her?

Pages 23 and 24: Even with the 'Security Lockdown' alarm flashing in the background, Clint manages to get into Osborne's meeting room. We know it is a meeting room because of the tacky plastic chairs. Apparently Sharon Osborne decided that too many force fields would be tacky, so Clint walks right in. There is a dramatic pause while Osborne and Clint stare at each other. Then Clint shoots Osborne. But, NO! Personal force field! Clint is made of fail! Then Clint says he is going to throw Ozzy out the window.

Page 25: Magically, Ares appears. He throws Clint through the window Oh, the irony! But wait (even again)! The window doesn't break. Guess Clint's threat to good old Ozzy was just bluster.


There are too many 'wait' moments in this story. Too many 'luck' moments. And way too many characters who are NOT introduced. Not introduced by name, and not being any part of the story except to magically appear at the moment Bendis needs to make a story change or point.

Who is the woman Clint sleeps with? Is it Mockingbird? Who are the characters who make appearances in the story, yet go un-named? Which Captain America is this? Spider-Man and Spider-Woman are obvious. Is Ms. Marvel still calling herself Ms. Marvel? Who is the flying guy with the 'S' emblem? We know it can't be Superman. Superman is published by DC, not by Disney Comics.

In writing adventure stories, it is a cheat to have chance favor the protagonist. It was a cheat to have the fire/energy/whateveritwas blast not hit Clint because the force field just happened to happen just then. It was also a cheat to have Clint still have the lucky break of still getting to Osborne after the force fields went up. Just as it also was a cheat for Ares to sneak up behind Clint on the penultimate page.

"Every comic is somebody's first comic." So said someone years ago. If this was my first comic, I wouldn't see any reason to come back for more. Wouldn't know who or what about anything. Even with prior comic book experience, if this was someone's first Disney Comic story, they'd be lost. And if someone hadn't read any Disney comics in 5 years, they'd still be totally lost as to what is going on. This is pretty poor storytelling.

Start at 6 (because it's Bendis, remember; I normally start at Cool. Subtract 1 for crappy storytelling by the artist through most of the book (although he did a pretty good job on pages 13-16. Subtract 1 for the annoying green coloring on pages 1 and 2. So 4.

4...a pretty lame comic book. Unless you are a Bendis fan, an Avengers fan, or a Marvel zuvembie, you don't need this comic.


Norman Osborn is in no way related to Ozzy Osborne. The name Ozzy Osborne was used here for comedic effect; I found it funny, even if you didn't.

This review was originally intended to be posted 24 hours ago, but I'm old, man. I got tired and took a nap.

*Standard fluorescent tube lights are size T-12. The newer fluorescent tube lights are size T-8. The number after the 'T' is the number of eighths-of-an-inch, so T-12 equals 1.5 inches, and T-8 equals 1 inch. (US measurements, naturally.) For some reason, the newer lighting gives off more red light. If you have a sunburn, it looks horrifically bad under the new lights.

Review by Fintan

I'm not sure about this one. I was expecting it to be double length or something. Really just felt like a New Avengers issue. I liked it but they wasted a few pages on the argument over killing Norman which they'd already done. Everything else was good. Except that I was also confused for a minute by the Daken and Hawkeye page. Other than that I enjoyed the art.

Story 6.5
Art 8
Overall 7

Review by guitarsmashley

Well that was a piece of shit. Why? Because I wanted it to be. I don't give a shit about any of this since we've already been told that this is all over by the end of the year or early next year. People who read, like and follow this crap are just confused at how little this stuff actually matters. The art is hollow and no different than half the art out there. I don't like it when he paints and like it even less when he pencils.

Last week I said I looked forward to giving this comic a 2, well I can't do that.


Review by GHERU

I kinda liked the book. My main problem with it was the repetitive nature of the issue itself. Why do we need Clint saying again that we need to kill Osborne, then have the same argument about it again?
There were parts of dialogue that I felt were a bit meh except for Spidey and Osborne.

What I liked, damn, that was a cool ass fight scene. Actually hearing Osborne 'justify' is actions based on all the of Fury's screw ups was an interesting point of view. The throw back to Clint and Carla's relationship was cool.

This book was awkward because it was written as a first issue of an event for people that have read past event books (SI and CW) thus the no need to introduce the characters, but as a book for people that do not read Avengers books, thus the need to rehash plot points that have already been covered.

I liked the cliffhanger, but hated not knowing what to read next...

Story 6.7
Art 7
Total 6.85

Review by 48THRiLLS

There are books that I like and expect everyone else to like and there are books that I like but I understand why some may not like it... and this falls under the second category. I like Bendis, I like Dark Reign, and I liked this book. It has a great handle on Spidey, I loved the sequence where Clint asks about killing Hitler and Bucky says he did. I love where this book leaves Clint and can't wait to see what happens, Norman was entertaining to watch and seeing Clint blow through the Dark Avengers was great. I also loved the art, I liked Djurdjevic on his recent stint on Thor but I liked this even more, put him on Mighty NOW. I have seen people complain that this should have just been an issue in NA and I agree I guess but I won't hold it against the score.

ART - 9

Review by amlah6

I can't make myself care about anything Dark Reign related. Norman Osborne in his current watered down Ellisbolts incarnation just isn't that interesting. I suppose you could make a case for this being about the moral issues of killing, but it's not like Bendis has a new take on the subject or has something thought provoking to say, he just goes through the motions. I did like Clint and Bobbi's brief interaction, but everything else was just Bendis being Bendis and I got bored with that in Avengers books a couple of years ago.

It doesn't really matter if Djurdjevic took 9 days to draw this issue or 90, the finished product is all that matters. I think the art here was adequate and more than likely greatly helped by Mark Morales' inks. Djurdjevic's layouts aren't terribly dynamic at this point in his career, spending a year or two working on a monthly title would do him a world of good. The colors were fairly drab, you would think for an event book featuring Marvel's flagship teams, they could have gotten some of the top tier talent on this.

Story: 3
Art: 6
Overall: 4.5

Review by Punchy

Story - This may be an uncool thing to say, but I like Brian Michael Bendis. I think he's a great writer, he puts thought into everything he writes, he plans ahead, and he's one of the very few mainstream writers with a recognizable style, which is to be commended, not mocked, having distinctive dialogue is a good thing people. And saying this is going to make me even lamer, I even like Dark Reign. Primarily because it's being orchestrated by Bendis, and partly because it's such a great idea being executed very well by almost every writer in Marvel's stable, Bendis himself has been doing some of his best work in the two Avengers titles he writes (New and Dark), and has been subtly entwining them together, Norman and Clint's tit for tat Media battle being the most prominent example. And it is this battle of wills which brings us to Dark Reign: The List, a turning point in the Status Quo, and an escalation of Norman's will.

I've noted before how it can be quite difficult to review an Event book, simply because they are designed to make a reader forget their critical faculties and mark out like they were 10 again, and I must admit, some moments in this one-shot did do that, Ronin taking out Bullseye, Clint and Karla, BuckyCap saying he killed Hitler, and the ending... these are all great moments. But there is more at play here than just Clint Barton being a bad-ass, Bendis has stuff to say about his new status quo, and about the nature of heroism.

The plot of this one-shot is simple really, in the aftermath of the Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men crossover, all the mutants are trapped on an Island, kept there like prisoners, and this has pissed of the New Avengers and inspired Norman to begin tackling some of the other problems he faces as leader of the free world. I love how all these events are building up and flowing into each other, it feels natural and unforced, it shows how committed Marvel are to Dark Reign, and that they have thought things out. The first 2 pages of this issue are basically a preface to this whole series of one-shots, Norman's list, and we get mentions of a few of the upcoming books, Hulk, Secret Warriors and Spider-Man. Personally I think that these one-shots are going to be great, and the good thing is, does Norman maybe have a point? Why is the Hulk just allowed to bounce around the desert? Is Nick Fury really a terrorist? Dark Reign is all about the line between hero and villain and how it has been blurred in our 21st century, post-Authority comics, and I hope The List tackles this. Plus the creative teams are awesome! Ahem.

Bendis continues to address the Line between hero and villain in the next scene, which stars the New Avengers, and continues a debate they have been having occasionally in the last few issues of the title, namely, should they kill Norman Osborn? Ronin says yes, Spider-Man says no, everyone else is sort of in the middle. This is a great back and forth, and it really makes you consider which side you're on. One thing I found hilarious was that this conversation mirrored several I have had online. Some readers have found that Bendis' somewhat kill-happy take on Clint Barton is at odds with the character's past, but Bendis acknowledges this, he has Spider-Man say how crazy it sounds, and then has Clint bring up something I myself have, about how they are on the edge, and it's new circumstances. It just goes to show how intelligent a writer Bendis is, he hasn't just thrown this together, he's thought about it and anticipated the Internet's complaints. Don't you see? You're playing right into his hands! You fools! Mwahahahahahaha. Cough.

This debate also contains a great moment where Captain America claims to have killed Hitler. I don't know where that came from, but it's awesome, I hope Brubaker or Bendis play with that in the future. There then follows a nice quiet personal scene between Clint and his wife, Mockingbird, having Bobbi back has been one of the best things to come out of Secret Invasion, and this was a great scene.

And then Clint does something stupid. Or awesome, depends. The rest of the issue is an extended action sequence where Ronin takes on Avengers Tower all by himself. This is full of great moments, as Clint takes on the Dark Avengers, first he chucks Venom (or Venmom, lame typo!) out of a window, then takes out Bullseye, who he has good reason to hate, since he's dressed up as Hawkeye these days. And his fight with Daken was very well done, he kicked him in the nuts, come on, that's just cool. And then there's Moonstone. Karla Sofen and Clint had a relationship back when Clint led the Thunderbolts, and I've been wanting to see it get acknowledged ever since she became the new Ms. Marvel, call it my one concession to continuity porn, and Bendis did a good job here, Karla has always been complex, and she actually seemed willing to help Clint before the cameras were on. And then there's Norman himself. These two have been going at each other since New Avengers #50, so it's no surprise when Clint actually fucking shoots him. Shame about the personal force field. Shame about Ares too, who takes out Clint quick as his cousin Hermes, and with that, the issue is over, Ronin is under arrest.

This was a great chapter in the ongoing Saga of Dark Reign, it built on several running plot points, Norman and Clint's media war, the X-Men crossover, the divide in the New team, and went somewhere new. Is this a turning point? Norman has his list, and the New Avengers are without their leader. I can't wait to see where this is headed, how will Norman execute his List, and what are the Avengers going to do now? Bendis continues to weave these multiple threads with confidence, but there are some problems, the story does end rather abruptly, and I could have done with more information on what Norman's List will entail, but I did really enjoy this book, it contained some fantastic action sequences and character bits, and added to a tapestry very well. Bendis' dialogue fizzed well, as usual, and I thought his Spider-Man was better than usual. If you've been following Dark Reign, don't miss this.

Art - Cover artist Marko Djurdjevic makes the jump to full interiors with this issue, and he does a good job. It's not quite as beautiful as his cover work, but it's strong, kinetic stuff. To me, it felt like an amalgam of Mike Deodato's shadowy work on Dark Avengers, and Stuart Immonen's sharper edged New work, very fitting for a book which brings the 2 teams together. He even managed to make the Ronin costume look cool. I think his best work here is the shot of Clint standing on a Roof looking across at Avengers tower, a very strong image. Add to this the fact that he apparently drew all 26 pages in only 9 days, it's even more impressive, I suspect Mark Morales' inks were a big help, he's one of the best in the business. I love Djurdjevic's covers, and on the strength of this issue, would love to see what he can do if not rushed so much.

Best Line - It's either 'Security Lockdown!' or 'I, uh, I killed Hitler'


Review by MrBlack

I will admit that I have greatly enjoyed the Dark Reign event so far. It is exactly what I wanted Secret Invasion to be: a slow burn that builds up to something huge. I like seeing the bad guys actually in charge for once, and while I know that the good guys will eventually triumph, it is fun to see a full blown super villain with such a huge amount of power over a long period of time.

Having said that, I really like the idea of the List. Norman has consolidated his power base, and he is now moving on to step two, which is taking care of the many individual problems plaguing his administration.

Clint Barton volunteers to be number one on the List.

I am not a longtime Marvel fan, so I really do not have an opinion regarding Clint's threats to kill Norman. Regardless of whether it is in character or not, Clint finally makes good on his threats here, infiltrating the Dark Avengers' headquarters and seeking Norman out.

Notwithstanding what others have said, I liked the Bendis dialogue here. I liked the fact that Bucky Cap was not necessarily against killing Norman, but that he wanted to insure that it was the right thing to do and that Clint had an exit strategy (and yeah, I thought "I killed Hitler" was hilarious). I liked that Spiderman was so dead set against it. I liked the dialogue, okay!

The fight in Avengers Tower was pretty well done. Clint credibly took out three Dark Avengers, again demonstrating that he is a badass. It ended the way it should have. Clint is good, but there was no way he was taking down Osborne alone.

The story as a whole was entertaining, but it did not knock my socks off by any means. Still, I enjoyed it, and I eagerly await future issues of Dark Avengers and New Avengers to see how this plays out.

The art was decent in places and awkward in others (looking at you Bullseye). The inks were strong, and the coloring, while a bit drab, fit the mood of the book. Overall, the art was good, but not great.

Story: 7
Art: 6
Overall: 7

That gives Dark Reign: The List - Avengers a group score of 6.05.  Bendis lovers rejoice!  This book scoring over 6 is as close to a moral victory as you're going to get.

For further discussion about this issue and lots and lots of discussion on how to avoid the flu (don't ask, I opted to sit out that tangent), feel free to join us in this week's thread ( found in the Newstand forum where you are also invited to post your own review.

Kerny has the pick for September 17th and he has awesomely selected Beasts of Burden #1 from Dark Horse Comics.  Look for the new thread after it becomes available Wednesday morning to post your own review. 

Beasts of Burden #1

Writer: Evan Dorkin
Artist: Jill Thompson

When supernatural occurrences sweep the community of Burden Hill, it's up to a heroic gang of cats and dogs to keep residents safe from harm.

A bizarre disturbance leads these four-legged neighbors on a wild-goose chase into the depths of the nearby forest, where loyalties are tested and lives come to an abrupt end.

Award-winning comics creators Evan Dorkin (Milk & Cheese) and Jill Thompson (Scary Godmother) first introduced these heroic characters in the anthologies The Dark Horse Book of Hauntings, Witchcraft, the Dead, and Monsters, for which they won coveted Eisner Awards for Best Short Story and Best Painter.

Adventure, mystery, horror and humor thrive on every page of Beasts of Burden -- a comic-book series that will capture readers' hearts and haunt their dreams.


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