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Throughout my experiences of reading various Marvel comics or graphic novels, it's usually the more typical storylines and characters that appeal to me. The Avengers is something that I've always loved: the idea of the best superheroes all joining together to save the world from supervillains and aliens. However, things have moved on a bit now, and the storylines have taken some rather strange twists.
Dark Avengers takes place not long after a huge battle between Earth's superheroes (mainly the Avengers) and a race of aliens known as the Skrull. By the time of this publication, the Avengers have all been disbanded, and Tony Stark's (aka Iron Man) multi-billion dollar enterprise based in Stark Tower has been sold. Following a last minute heroic effort by the former supervillain The Green Goblin, aka Norman Osborne, he has taken control and vowed to protect the world through slightly more unconventional means. To do this, he needs a new team, and one that can get the job done without emotions and feeling getting in the way.........
What I like about this series is that it combines a number of characters and introduces them quite well. Some of them have been featured to a certain extent before, but not with a great deal of exposure as the more recognisable characters. This 1st volume brings in a number of them as the team is built, in order to familiarise us as readers to what they can do, as well as keep the plot going all the time. There is a nice balance of the two elements of it here. It doesn't dwell on the character development too much, nor does it flummux us with excessive plot description and continuances.
An interesting concept is the characters who have been included. Instead of going for the conventional heroes, it's a bit of a dangerous collection. The best example of this is the inclusion of Venom, the alien copycat who assumes a dark Spiderman form and was Spidey's most dangerous nemesis throughout the later comics. To have a superhero's main enemy as one of the heroes of a new group to save the world is nothing short of risky, and the list doesn't stop there. With characters such as the volatile and incredibly schizophrenic Sentry, whose every good deed uncontrollably causes his alter ego, The Void, to do a bad deed. Wolverine's bastard son is included, with a ridiculous amount of anger to unleash, and Bullseye, Hawkeye's evil alternative, definitely leaves his morals at the door wherever he goes.
I'm really impressed with this rather bold and controversial collection of characters, and perhaps their leader (Osborne) dressed in the half-Iron Man and half-Captain America suit that you can see on the front cover is the biggest controversy. You'd almost like to think it's setting everything up for the original Avengers to come back at some point and sort everything out properly. However, I haven't read past this volume, which is very much one that serves as introduction and initial plot development. It ends quite nicely, making you want to pick up the next volume straight away.
The artwork is what is now the standard glossy computer created pages, with unrealistic muscle definitions and contours used in every frame. The slightest subtle elements remain, and you do have to examine a cfew frames to get everything that's going on, but it's not like it's too much of an effort to read. I do prefer the older, more original style of artwork from decades ago, but there is something appealing about the glossy nature of this style.
A well constructed and written volume of a series I'll be chasing up and reading the rest of. Author Brian Michael Bendis seems to have grabbed Marvel by the horns and has become the main man when it comes to continuing strains of characters and series. This is very well done, although not perfect and with a few potential holes and flaws. I think I'd need to be able to read the entire series to give a proper viewpoint on it all, but this is well worth a read, and you won't feel like it's a waste of time if you're not completely up to speed with events. It retails for around £15, but I believe is currently available from amazon.co.uk for around the £8 mark. Recommended.