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Comic Book / Dark Avengers

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Our "heroes", from left to right: Alien Terrorist, Psychotic Recluse, Manipulative Bitch, Ax-Crazy Mad Bomber, Blood Knight War God, Serial Killer, Professional Killer and Humanoid Abomination.

After Secret Invasion, Iron Man, who had previously taken over S.H.I.E.L.D. from Nick Fury, was upstaged by Norman Osborn, aka the Green Goblin, who was given control over super human affairs as "top cop" in the Marvel Universe. Osborn disbanded S.H.I.E.L.D., remade it as H.A.M.M.E.R., and decided to hand pick his own team of "public image superheroes", crafting what would be known as Dark Avengers as the result: super-criminals who assumed the codenames and costumes of heroic predecessors. The team, with the majority of the members carried over from Osborn's time leading the Thunderbolts, included:

  • Hawkeye (the psychotic assassin Bullseye, a.k.a. Lester),
  • Ms. Marvel (the arch-manipulator Moonstone, a.k.a. Karla Sofen),
  • Captain Marvel (the alien terrorist Marvel Boy, a.k.a. Noh-Varr),
  • Wolverine (Logan's amoral snake-of-a-son, Daken),
  • Spider-Man (the original Scorpion, a.k.a. Mac Gargan, at the time the 3rd incarnation of Venom),
  • Ares (The Blood Knight brother of Hercules) and,
  • The Sentry (a god-like being who is also his own worst enemy), the last two as themselves.

They were led by Iron Patriot (Norman Osborn himself, in a repainted Iron Man suit). Together they fought crime... kinda. The series lasted for 16 issues (March, 2009-July, 2010)

The team were disbanded along with H.A.M.M.E.R. after the events of Siege, when Osborn was imprisoned for his crimes during Dark Reign. Another team of Dark Avengers was put together after the events of Fear Itself, when Osborn was broken out of jail, and the new team was formed and funded by a combination of A.I.M., Hydra, the Hand, and Osborn's restarted H.A.M.M.E.R. Their goal was to overthrow the current status quo in the super community, namely, the self-appointed authority of the Avengers. And, like last time, Osborn would lead them. However, two in the group already had mutiny on their minds and they were defeated by The Avengers. The second team included:

  • Hawkeye (Hawkeye's criminal brother Trickshot, a.k.a. Barney Barton),
  • Ms. Marvel (the super-powered misandrist Superia, a.k.a. Deidre Wentworth),
  • Scarlet Witch (the sociopathic geneticist, June Covington),
  • Wolverine (the undead swordsman, Gorgon),
  • Spider-Man (a South-American chimera god, Ai Apaec),
  • Hulk (Hulk's half-alien son, Skaar) and,
  • Thor (Thor's Axe-Crazy cyborg clone, Ragnarok).

Following issue 175, Thunderbolts underwent a Retool introducing some of the second Dark Avengers roster into the cast, as well as renaming the book to Dark Avengers. This setup lasted 15 issues and ended with the final issue of the run, issue 190.

The first series provides example of...

  • Aborted Arc: Despite a big fuss being made about the New Dark Avengers, they were completely curbstomped in one issue. Hell, Norman, who got absorbing powers, was defeated when all the Avengers touched him. Not blast, beat, or trap, they just touched him and he melted down.
  • Ad Hominem: After Clint Barton goes on TV to make an angry rant denouncing Norman as a crazy person who shouldn't have the power he does, Norman goes on TV to give an interview claiming he was insane, but he's totally fine now and, hey, Hawkeye used to be a criminal too. Please bear in mind, Clint Barton never murdered anyone, while Norman has killed multiple people. And yet it works, and Norman is allowed to go on his merry way for a year longer.
  • Asshole Victim: Issue 4 ends with a bunch of yuppies in LA being yuppies, yelling at a valet over nothing, just so we don't feel too bad when some Atlanteans storm through and murder them all.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • Almost all of them, but especially the Sentry and Norman Osborn.
    • You know you're in trouble when most of your team is either on meds or seeing a therapist. You know you're in REAL trouble when the actual licensed therapist on the team is herself an amoral puppetmaster and sociopathic killer.
  • Badass Normal:
    • Bullseye. Compared to the rest of the team, he's very underpowered but still amazingly talented at what he does and completely lacking remorse.
    • Victoria Hand also qualifies. Although not superpowered at all, she's rarely intimidated by the likes of Moonstone, Venom or Bullseye, and actually called Osborn out on his erratic behavior a couple times. She was also not intimidated by Banner and his son Skaar.
  • Batman Gambit: Daken pulls off a nice one in his own title when he successfully manipulates the Fantastic Four into facing off against Osborn, weakening Osborn's own position while earning the Fantastic Four's trust. He comes out smelling like a rose, while Bullseye, who rightfully suspects what Daken is up to, comes off looking like a paranoid maniac.
  • Because I Said So: Issue 5 has Norman call up the Cabal to brief them on an Atlantean terrorist attack on L.A., and tells Namor he must go on TV to publicly denounce them. When Namor asks why, Norman bellows "BECAUSE I TOLD YOU TO!" Namor responds that, nah, that's not enough for him, and leaves.
  • Black Comedy: Watching the news report about them, Bullseye wistfully comments that it's a shame he killed his mom, since she'd have liked seeing him on TV. When everyone stares at him in horror, he admits he's lying. She wouldn't have cared.
  • Book Ends: Mighty Avengers began with Iron Man decommissioning the old helicarrier and replacing it with one of his own design. What does Dark Avengers begin with? Norman Osborn decommissioning the Stark helicarrier.
  • Breath Weapon: June Covington starts out being able to exhale Deadly Gas.
  • The Chessmaster: Osborn, though he's not as good as he thinks he is.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: As always when Mike Deodato is on art, Norman Osborn looks like Tommy Lee Jones.
  • Composite Character: In-universe. Norman couldn't find suitable people to replace Captain America or Iron Man, which was a big blow to the team's street cred as the two most recognizable Avengers. Thus he created the Iron Patriot persona for himself as a way to be both at the same time.
  • Costume Copycat: Norman has several team members (Moonstone, Venom) adopting the identities of more well-known heroes who wouldn't cooperate (Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man), trusting that the remaining paranoia of Skrull imposters will prevent the originals from objecting — or doing anything about it. Spider-Man actually takes advantage of this by posing as Venom.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Daken has been known to flirt with both men and women, but doesn't really care for either, and is only using anyone he flirts with to further his own goals.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Averted with Victoria Hand who manages to be one of the few halfway decent people on the team (along with Noh-Varr and Ares).
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Back in her days as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Victoria Hand felt Nick Fury wasn't doing enough to handle HYDRA, so she sent him a stern letter. In response, rather than just ignoring it, Nick has her Reassigned to Antarctica, just as Hand's girlfriend had warned her.
  • Dynamic Akimbo: Iron Patriot and Venom (Mac Gargan) use it, in deliberate mockery and imitation of the superheroes they're pretending to be.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Don't insult Daken's dead mom. Ares does when Norman invites him for a job interview, expressing surprise any woman would allow themselves to sleep with Logan. Had Norman not been there to play peacemaker, Daken probably would've tried very hard to kill him.
  • Evil Is Petty:
    • What convinces Daken to join up? Mainly, pissing off his old man.
    • In his miniseries, Venom goes AWOL against Osborn's orders and starts a gang war to mess with Mayor J. Jonah Jameson's ratings, and then vomits a half-digested squirrel onto Dexter Bennet's desk as revenge for an unflattering article in the Daily Bugle. The latter becomes a Brick Joke in the Siege of Asgard when Spider-Man (Peter Parker) comments with Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers) that "because of Mac Gargan, half of New York thinks I eat squirrels".
  • Eviler than Thou: Inverted. Venom took the time to answer some letters during his Dark Reign tie-in.
    Mac Gargan: I know I'm not the nicest guy on the Earth, but try to compare me with the rest of my team. Daken has to kill four people per day to count it as good, Bullseye once killed a kitty that got struck on a tree just to prove he can, Norman seduced his son's girlfriend, and Ares is the fricking GOD OF WAR. Next to them I'm looking like Tom Hanks.
  • Evil Versus Evil: The team's first mission? Saving Doctor Doom from Morgana Le Fay.
  • Flanderization: In Warren Ellis's Thunderbolts, Venom ate part of Steel Spider's arm because he lost control of the symbiote in a fight. Here, he's constantly eating or wanting to eat people.
  • Hikikomori: Lindy Lee, the Sentry's wife, spends most of her time curled up in her bed. The Sentry, being who he is, doesn't seem to understand why.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Victoria Hand thinks Norman Osborn, who used to dress up in a green and purple goblin costume and throw people off buildings, is the sort of person who'll listen to reason. Also, the entire population of Earth, who keep ignoring all those superheroes going on TV to say "this guy's a freaking lunatic".
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Venom. Though that's more the symbiote than the man.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Bullseye's entire schtick is that he can use seemingly harmless objects, such as paper clips, to kill using his freakishly accurate aim.
  • It's All About Me: Morgana Le Fay attacks Doctor Doom, thinking he snubbed her, when in fact he'd been imprisoned by the Avengers. Morgana never once considers that his absence could have been the result of anything other than a plan to insult her.
  • It's Personal: Osborn saw fit to threaten Luke Cage's wife and child. Bad move... or possibly a very good one, since Cage went into Unstoppable Rage mode the next time they met, while Osborn was able to keep his cool.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • In the final issue of the first series, everyone gets what they had coming, everyone except Daken who escapes scot-free.
    • Victoria Hand appears to avoid punishment, but being assigned to the New Avengers certainly isn't a pleasant role for her. Not because she doesn't want to, but because no one there trusts her (especially Jessica Jones and Spider-Man, and especially after the fiasco with Superia where Mockingbird nearly got killed); they just tolerate her because Steve Rogers put her there.
  • Love Is in the Air: Daken's mind-control pheromone powers make resisting him next to impossible.
  • The Mole: Skaar for the second team. Cap knew Osborn would try to get to him, seeing as he's not-quite-Hulk (well, he's the big green's son, so yeah), so he got to Skaar first without Osborn knowing.
  • No Medication for Me: Averted; Gargan was even benched in one arc when it was clear he was having an adverse reaction to his medication.
  • Only Sane Man: Ms. Hand is clearly the only sane person out of all of these guys. Not that that's hard mind you, but still...
    • Marvel Boy and Ares try as well. Venom thinks he's one but... no.
  • Pet the Dog: Osborn recruited the Sentry by... empathizing with his struggle with schizophrenia and offering to help Bob "get [his] #@$% together". He's genuinely saddened when it appears the Sentry died during the team's fight with Morgana le Fay.
  • Powered Armor: Norman built the Iron Patriot armor based on the Iron Man armor. Except repulsors don't work so well when projected from a star-shaped arc reactor.
  • Psycho for Hire:
    • Bullseye and Daken.
    • Venom may or may not be. His relationship to Osborn was originally contractual in the Spider-Man books. By the time they joined the Thunderbolts, Venom had a more casual relationship with Norm than the other T-Bolts. It's possible that Venom may be legitimately loyal to Osborn, for not treating him as a "second stringer".
  • Redemption Equals Death: Ares realises that Loki has been on Osborn's side, not Asgard's, and charges him. Then Sentry rips him/his ribcage (hard to tell, probably a good thing) in half
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Noh-Varr jumps ship early on when he finds out he's been siding with a psycho. It takes an one-night stand with Moonstone followed by them watching Osborn's interview on TV (and Karla commenting on how ridiculous he looks playing the victim) for him to connect the dots.
  • Serial Killer:
    • Lester, Venom, and Daken to varying degrees.
    • Don't forget Osborn. As the Green Goblin, he fit the bill better than anyone.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: In Dark Wolverine #84, Daken and Bullseye.
  • Smug Snake:
    • Daken's "greatest fear" is that he's one of these. During his Siege tie-in, the Fates identify him as the bringer of Ragnarok and attempt to sway him to their side by first showing him illusions of his "greatest desires" - like killing Iron Patriot and a world in chaos - and then, after he tells them that no one controls him, by showing him his worst fears: he tries to manipulate the loyalty of his team by saving their asses and telling them they're awesome, but Hawkeye instead tells him he can go to hell and Iron Patriot is the one to rouse everyone back up. Daken does not respond well to this.
    • Osborn as well. He's smart, but he's so selfish and messed up and genuinely mentally ill that he fails to put it to proper use. He's his own worst enemy.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Karla Sofen was the only female on the first team.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: Osborn's Green Goblin side continually acts up. He also brainwashes the Sentry into giving control over to the Void.
  • Targeted to Hurt the Hero: Lindy Lee was killed by Hawkeye (Bullseye) on orders from Norman Osborn in order to make Sentry release his full potential and successfully attack Asgard.
  • Token Good Teammate:
    • On the first team, Ms. Hand, Noh-Varr, and possibly Ares. Two of them eventually turned on Osborn.
    • On the second team, Skaar.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted; most of the team was seeing a therapist.
  • Two Girls to a Team: The second team has two females; Superia and Toxie Doxie.
  • UST: Between Daken and the rest of the cast, most notably the Love Triangle developing between him, Karla, and Lester. Well, more like a lust-hate-obsession triangle, but still.
  • Villain Protagonist: The entire cast.
  • Yawn and Reach: Hilariously, Mac tries this on Daken, but chickens out at the last second. Daken responds by reaching between Mac's legs... and taking a handful of popcorn from the bag Mac has sitting on his lap.

The retooled Thunderbolts team provides examples of:

  • And I Must Scream: The alternate Jan Pym is stuck inside a petri dish, being attacked by bacteria and protozoa, thanks to Pym Particles in that reality not working properly. Hank's trying to rescue her, but being enslaved by Iron Man means he can't dedicate himself to that full time.
  • Badass Normal: Like his brother, Barney Barton has no powers, just being very good with a bow and arrow. Comes in handy against an enemy who can futz with powers.
  • Bad Future: The team visits one which looks an awful lot like the setting of Judge Dredd.
  • Boxed Crook: Theoretically, the Dark Avengers are like the Thunderbolts, a squad kept in line by nanites. Problem is, most of the Thunderbolts were selected with more rigorous methods. The Dark Avengers prove much harder to control.
  • Brain in a Jar: The evil Iron Man has been upgrading himself so much that his brain is the only organic part of him left.
  • Character Development: Ragnarok, the evil Thor replicant, starts getting some, culminating in him proving himself worthy to wield an alternate Thor's hammer.
  • Composite Character: Boss Cage is a mix-up of Captain America, the Punisher, Ghost Rider and Judge Dredd (with a little bit of the Silver Surfer thrown in). He's also Luke Cage's grandson.
  • Continuity Nod: The evil Doctor Strange uses magic to make Moonstone look like Captain Marvel, which causes her to complain about everyone wanting to make her dress like Carol.
  • Crapsack World: The world the team gets stuck in, which has been messed around with by AIM. All the heroes have turned villainous and psychotic, before turning on one another and ruining the place.
  • Lampshade Hanging: After getting stranded by Doctor Doom, the Thunderbolts swear colorful vengeance on him, except Boomerang, who just mutters "I'll talk about getting vengeance, then never get around to it."
  • Laser-Guided Karma: F.A.C.T., who have been a pain in the ass for the entirety of the Cagebolts run, get caught doing some very illegal stuff, which ends with most of them getting squished by a falling bit of rubble.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: The Dark Avengers decide the best way to introduce themselves to Luke Cage is to try and murder him. Only F.A.C.T.'s intervention stops it.
  • Not Quite the Right Thing: When the Dark Avengers bust free, they cause their quinjet to crash. Swamp Thing tries teleporting it to New York, which he... sort of does. Just not the regular New York.
  • Nuke 'em: Boss Cage's bike is nuclear powered. If pressed, he can make it explode.
  • Poisonous Person: June Covington, initially.
  • Pretender Diss: Ai Aipec has stern words regarding Ragnarok.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: The evil Iron Man of the pocket universe.
  • Re-Power:
    • As of the retitled Dark Avengers, June Covington can modify herself to change her powers.
    • Cain Marko, who'd been depowered as Juggernaut after falling out of favor with Cyttorak, gets repowered to help deal with Sultan Magus.
  • Retgone: The Thunderbolts realize if they get back to the past and stop the event that caused Boss Cage's future, he'll cease to exist. Boss Cage decides to help them because he's okay with that.
  • Serial Killer: June Covington, known as Toxie Doxie.
  • Throwing Off the Disability: John Walker, who'd been crippled during the events of Siege, and denied any prosthetics, is given new limbs by June Convington ignoring his desires due to the urgency of the situation, in her profession as a Mad Scientist. John is pretty pissed about it.
  • Token Good Teammate: Skaar is put on the team by Luke Cage to try and keep the Dark Avengers in line. Results are mixed.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The series follows on from the end of Thunderbolts, with the team travelling through time, while the Dark Avengers deal with a problem in the modern day.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: In issue 175, the Thunderbolts find and save a horrifically burnt man from some megalodons while in the past. When he recovers, the man - Victor Von Doom, who'd been dumped in the past by his master - rigs up their time-travel system to dump them in the future, because he'll be damned if he lets anyone know a bunch of petty crooks saved him.
  • Unwilling Roboticization: How the alternate Iron Man "recruits" people, by stuffing them into Iron Man armors.
  • Villain Protagonist: Not to the same extent as the first team, since they're a team of Boxed Crooks, most of whom are less psychotically evil than Norman's bunch.