It’s the strike you knew was coming.
If you’ve been following Dark, New or Mighty Avengers, or have been following the efforts of Norman Osborn in any of the “Dark Reign” titles, you know there’ve been burrs under his saddle, so to speak. Despite his efforts to clamp down on all the heroes of the Marvel Universe, many have slipped through his grasp or have just been out of his reach. But never fear – Osborn has a List.
What’s on his list? Well, it’s not so much a question of what as it is a question of who. Readers will get to find out just who’s on Osborn’s list beginning in September in the Dark Reign: The List specials – eight one shots featuring Osborn’s strikes against eight heroes or groups who’ve not yet come under his control.
We’ll be talking to all the writers of the specials in the coming days, but to kick things off, we spoke with Tom Brevoort, who’s overseeing all the Dark Reign: The List specials (the individual books are being edited by the series’ editors), and he gave us some perspective on what Norman will be up to in these specials.
Newsarama: Tom, before touching on The List one shots, let’s talk about the larger picture that the Marvel Universe is under right now. Can you give us a touch of an overview of what Norman's larger plan is? Each book that he appears in has a piece, it seems, but can you stitch them together for us a little? He's never been one to take power just to have power - so in what direction is his endgame with Dark Reign?
Tom Brevoort: I don't think Norman has a larger plan so much as an agenda. Both a political agenda and a personal agenda. And that's what pushes him forwards. This is a guy who's a self-made man, who built his fortune through his own blood and sweat and savvy and ruthlessness, who became a super-villain through a fluke but who as a super-villain similarly was all about building himself a power base. Norman is driven by ambition--he always wants more than he has, and he's willing to do whatever he needs to in order to get it. So his endgame, such as it is, doesn't really have an endpoint. He wants to consolidate his power base and expand it, by whatever means necessary, and at the same point neutralize or co-opt or undercut those powers that might stand in his way.
NRAMA: We've seen the “Iron Patriot Acts” teaser art, and that image maps pretty much dead on with The List specials - so that teaser's text - are the "Iron Patriot Acts" a specific thing such as the Patriot Act, or does it refer to the Iron Patriot himself acting against those that he sees as his enemies?
TB: "Iron Patriot Acts" is just a clever play on words, rather than indicating any sort of legislation--we've perhaps had enough stories about legislation in the Marvel Universe for awhile. What you'll be seeing in the List books is Norman or one of his proxys acting directly to further his agenda. Sometimes that means H.A.M.M.E.R., sometimes that means one of the Dark Avengers or the Thunderbolts or a member of his secret villain Cabal, and sometimes it'll involve Norman getting his own iron hands dirty.
NRAMA: Without giving too much away, what is "The List" and why are these specific heroes on it? Some have had a lot of interaction in Dark Reign, but for others, like Daredevil, this is his first time to be involved with the whole affair...
TB: In the aftermath of the Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia storyline, a circumstance is realized in which Norman sees an opportunity to deal with any number of issues or situations that have been floating in the ether. How can Norman let the Hulk walk around causing havoc wherever he goes? How can he let the Punisher continue to wage a propaganda war against his administration from the shadows? How can he let Nick Fury remain at large? And how can he allow rogue teams of Avengers continue to operate? So Norman makes what amounts to a to-do list, and each of these Specials will concern itself with one of the items on his list. Norman's list isn't as simple as just eight guys he wants to eliminate--some of these characters will be pulled into their stories indirectly, as Norman or his agents deal with something in their sphere of operation.
NRAMA: By the point of the The List specials, just how powerful would you say Norman is, and what kind of pall has he cast over the Marvel Universe?
TB: He's as powerful as he is right now, with a strong mandate and a lot of support from the average people within the Marvel U. But the pressure is beginning to get to him a little bit, and we'll be seeing more and more of the Goblin side of him beginning to peer out from behind his eyes. On the part of the heroes the situation is beginning to wear thin as well, and tempers are beginning to fray under the constant frustration of living in a world in which they simply cannot catch a break. So we're heading towards a showdown or some kind, but I believe it'll be somewhat different from what everybody expects.
NRAMA: Moving on to the specials themselves - they're all written by the regular writers for the characters in their series. Why'd you go that route with them, rather than pulling in other writers to help the main guys with their busy schedules?
TB: These are all going to be stories that are crucial not only to the more abstract Marvel Universe as a whole, but to the ongoing storylines in each of these titles. So there really wasn't any other choice but to have the writers on the ongoing titles craft these Specials as well.
NRAMA: You've also got quite the collection of artists on these - can you just run down the list for us with any words on how you got them? I mean, Adam drawing the Spider-Man special? Yowza...
TB: This is a major initiative for us--it's like a big crossover event, but structured in a different way in response to what we've been hearing from readers and retailers and our sense of the marketplace. But like any of our previous event series, we stocked THE LIST up with our best and our brightest. It wasn't really difficult to get any of these artists on board for this--it's a big deal in terms of our publishing plan as a whole.
So, to run down the list:
Avengers: Brian Bendis and Marko Djurdjevic
Daredevil: Andy Diggle and Billy Tan
Uncanny X-Men: Matt Fraction and Alan Davis
Punsiher: Rick Remender and John Romita Jr
Wolverine: Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic
Secret Warriors: Jonathan Hickman and Ed McGuinness
Hulk: Greg Pack and Ben Oliver
Amazing Spider-Man: Dan Slott and Adam Kubert
NRAMA: And just to wrap this up – in Norman’s mind, if his plans in The List work…what would the world be like?
TB: If Norman is able to check off all of the items on his to-do list, then the way should be clear for him and his future assured. And there's a ninth item on Norman's list, which will take us into...but it's too early yet to talk about that...