Secret Invasion: Dark Reign
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Alex Maleev
Colors: Dean White
From: Marvel Comics
I make no bones about my fondness of the Marvel Universe and my overall enjoyment of Secret Invasion and its ultimate outcome. To say I was looking forward to this special would be an understatement. After reading this bridge issue between Secret Invasion and Dark Reign, I am even more stoked for the future of the Marvel Universe and the story potentials that have spun out of the new status quo.
What Secret Invasion: Dark Reign does well is to give the reader an overall idea of what would bring this cabal of evil together as well as setting the stage for the fallout of Secret Invasion. The special itself explores the closing scene of Secret Invasion #8, showing the recently empowered Norman Osborn addressing Emma Frost, Namor, Dr. Doom, Loki and The Hood, giving many of its pages over to pure exposition and plot. While being a parallel story to the Illuminati Special from last year in its structure the intent is a bit more nefarious and Brian Bendis really manages to stir the pot.
Throughout the issue Bendis dives into the heart of each character as Osborne lays out his plans for the new world order to come. The hint at Emma Frost’s motivation for possibly being part of this group is tantalizing and brings a plotline from Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men run front and center. While the overall introduction of the cabal is brief this issue is really Bendis readying Norman Osborne for his new role in the Marvel Universe.
That being said, I did have a few problems with this issue. Bendis’ handling of Namor’s dialog throughout the issue had me groaning a number of times and he never once comes across as regal. All is forgiven though as we get to the final scenes of the issue and Bendis takes various moments of recent established continuity and moves them forward in such smart fashion that you would actually think that someone had a plan for these characters.
The art throughout the issue was classic Alex Maleev which is a photo-realistic style applied to the colorful world of spandex. You either accept the style or you don’t, fortunately I found the art to be well-suited to the story and added some additional weight to the underlying tone of the issue. I did have a problem with Namor looking very similar to the writer of the book as it was a constant distraction (not to mention that Namor has more hair on the cover then he does throughout the book). As for Maleev’s rendition of Dr. Doom…the air of menace that surrounds Doom throughout the issue was almost palpable as his annoyance cut across a number of scenes with great effect. Kudos should also go to colorist Dean White whose somber color palette really added another layer to the mood and atmosphere of the story.
This change to the Marvel Universe will not be for everyone, but I will give credit to Marvel for actually coming through with change. Secret Invasion: Dark Reign is like a sorbet from hell; it cleanses the pallet of Secret Invasion, but opens the door for all kinds of trouble.