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Comic Book / Dark Reign

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"This is my country."
Norman Osborn, Thunderbolts #124

Marvel Comics' non-Crossover (read: a verse-wide storyline described by Joe Quesada as "it's not a crossover, just what's happening in the Marvel Universe") which follows the aftermath of Secret Invasion (2008). It's a Crisis Crossover-sized event, but is not a crossover in the common meaning of the word - comics were not tied to a strict plot, but were showing multiple heroes dealing with a Villain with Good Publicity becoming one of the most powerful men in the United States.

After Secret Invasion (2008), the general public blames Iron Man, then director of S.H.I.E.L.D., for not preventing the Alien Invasion. Meanwhile, Spider-Man's Arch-Enemy Norman Osborn, leader of the Thunderbolts, gains himself some huge points in the battle of public opinion, as news networks featured him being a leader in the fight against the Skrulls, and eventually ending the entire conflict by blowing the head off the Skrull queen before any of the assembled heroes could kill her. This televised act of heroism (which may have been staged, depending on whether you believe Deadpool or not) led The President to dismiss Stark and replace him with Osborn. Norman, very happy with how things went, quickly replaced S.H.I.E.L.D. with his own organization, H.A.M.M.E.R., and formed the Cabal — an alliance between him, Emma Frost, Namor, Loki, The Hood, and Doctor Doom. He also creates his own, twisted version of The AvengersDark Avengers, with most of the team members being supervillains in heroes' costumes led by Osborn himself in an Iron Man armor with a Red, White and Blue paint job, under the name of "Iron Patriot". At the same time, he sets up a plan to replace and kill half of his former Thunderbolts teammates, as they might have information that would make him look less appealing to the public at large (the other half joined the Dark Avengers). His allies from The Cabal are plotting against him, many heroes and a few villains want to get rid of him, but Osborn doesn't seem to care — he has a mysterious ally, somebody who can instill fear even in his fellow members of The Cabal.

Dark Reign spawned several tie-ins, but some plot points are also being resolved in titles not officially marked as such. Due to this, fans still consider everything which deals with Norman or any other member of Cabal as a part of the event.

Dark Reign started right after Secret Invasion (2008) and lasted a year before the Grand Finale four-part event Siege. It's followed by Heroic Age.

Has nothing to do with the Dark Reign game series.

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Limited series


  • Abusive Parents:
    • While Ares has been cunning to the point that he let Nick Fury take care of his son (which was what Phobos wanted) because he was afraid he would start to abuse him emotionally or physically, right now his son from ancient times is hellbent on revenge for the merciless neglect he received.
    • Hera has a classically dim view of her children/half-children/other relatives, and won't hesitate to chuck one out of a thirtieth story window if they talk back to her (where "talk back" is code for "Hebe not taking Hera's side over that of her husband Hercules").
    • Norman Osborn attempts to murder his son Harry and frame someone else for it because losing a son will win him sympathy points with the public.
  • All There in the Manual: For many people, the way the Void was defeated and killed at the end of Siege was idiotic. It does make a lot more sense if you had read Dark Avengers... and every single interview with Brian Michael Bendis published between the end of Secret Invasion (2008) and Siege issue #4.
  • And Then What?: Clint has a plan to solve all the crisis: kill Norman Osborn. Captain America first pointed the moral concerns, and then asked. Let's say you do that, then what? The others want to go to California to help Wolverine. He has the same question, go to California, and then what?
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Does being turned into the big bang to create a new frikkin' dimension count? If so, then Wasp. While Dan Slott expressing his annoyance with the end of Secret Invasion (2008) led to some hints of possible alternate dimension solutions coming into play, pretty much nobody expected for her to actually be the dimension in question.
  • American Robot: Normon's Iron Patriot persona, deliberately meant to echo both Captain America and Iron Man.
  • Anti-Hero Substitute: Hard to count (or easy — it's inverted as most of these guys are villains).
  • The Atoner:
    • Subverted. Osborn loves playing this card in televised interviews whenever somebody attempts to remind the public that he was the fricking Green Goblin.
    • Also played straight with Loki at the end of Siege. He deeply regrets having brought such a ferocious battle to Asgard when it reaches its breaking point, and so fetches the Norn Stones back from the Hood and uses them to empower the heroes as they all attack the Void at once. When Void notices that the heroes' uncanny power is coming from another source, he turns unto Loki, whose last act before being torn asunder is apologizing to Thor. Betcha didn't expect that coming from the Norse god of mischief of all people.
      • Somewhat averted in the main Thor title and elsewhere, Loki planned for his own death to avoid going to Hel, the land of the dead, and was both the source and the solution for the key problems plaguing Asgard after Siege. He has hinted to wanting to try and change, so it is yet to know how much is an act and how much may have been genuine.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals:
    • In Dark Young Avengers, Executioner proudly shows off a cat he's murdered and mutilated to Kate Bishop, who reacts with horror.
    • During the final issue of Sinister Spider-Man, one of the things Bullseye throws at Venom was a poodle. Amazingly, the dog somehow survives this and Gargan tosses it right back into the crowd.
  • Badass Boast: Quicksilver, while fighting with Mister X, please note that every dash equals Mister X being punched.
    Quicksilver: You can read minds enough to be able to predict any attack your opponent will make. So you will be able to — anticipate every move I make — and do absolutely — nothing about it — because -I-am-the-fastest-man-on-earth.
  • Badass Bookworm: Bruce Banner, after losing his powers, proved himself to have so many levels of scientific manipulative badass that Osborn plotted a scheme to turn him back into Hulk, because a giant green monster would be less dangerous.
  • Badass in Distress: Doctor Doom — The first mission the Dark Avengers took on was to save him from Morgan Le Fay. Right after that, Doom easily defeated Morgan.
  • Bat Family Crossover: Three of them are considered as a parts of Dark Reign.
  • Betty and Veronica: Harry's girlfriend Lilly has been choosing between Harry (Betty) and Norman (Veronica). She chooses the craziest Osborn.
  • Big Bad: Norman Osborn, who now has the keys to the house and in charge of enforcing the Superhuman Registration Act to use for his own ends.
  • Big Damn Heroes: During Siege, Captain America (Steve Rogers) leading the New Avengers, the Young Avengers, and the Secret Warriors against Osborn's forces, starting with Steve throwing his shield at Osborn and crying "Avengers Assemble!" for the first time in some three years.
  • Boss Rush: Can the "Gauntlet" storyline count as a comic book example? Given that Spidey has got to fight most of his Rogues Gallery in a row, well, yes.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Mr. Negative can do this to people via touch. The more good a person was, the more crazy he/she becomes.
  • Butt-Monkey: Mighty Avengers is working hard to rescue Pym from his status as one, by putting him back in his West Coast Avengers position of a Doctor Who style Science Hero. The series often lampshades it, too. A lot.
  • Cannon Fodder: The Shadow Initiative during the attack on the prison in the Negative Zone. Turned into somewhat of a Tear Jerker in an issue of The Initiative, as we get to see it all from the point of view of a Red Shirt who knows damn well he's going to die, and has taken steps to make sure that his best friend doesn't go down with him, and his family will be taken care of after his death.
  • Captain Ersatz:
    • For some people, Zodiac is a little too similar to The Dark Knight's version of The Joker in his actions. And he looks like Light Yagami.
    • Many readers think he looks a lot like the witness sketches of the original (there was also a copycat in New York) real life Zodiac Killer. Whether or not he's supposed to be that Zodiac, ramped up to a higher level of villainy, is never made clear, though for it to be possible, de-aging or other comic book alterations would have to be in play.
    • And of course Sentry is, as always, an Ersatz Superman.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Harry Osborn finally does this to Norman, who is far and wide considered one of the worst fathers in comics.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Zodiac, right to the point he went against Osborn because he finds his good publicity as an insult to those who commit crimes "for the sake of mischief".
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: In his own mini-series, Bullseye got a copy of his old costume as a part of the story's villains' plan to manipulate him. Later, when Osborn ordered him to go after Daredevil, Lester dressed in that costume.
  • The Chessmaster:
    • Zodiac - When he entered the scene, everybody, including the Fantastic Four, Osborn, and all of H.A.M.M.E.R. turned into his puppets and remained that way until he got what he wanted. And he even arranged things like Whirlwind's stint as Osborn's chauffeur and Manslaughter Marsdale's coma before the series started.
    • Loki is this as well, manipulating Thor, all Asgardians, Norman, Hood, and Mighty Avengers any way he wants to, even after some of them realized that.
  • Composite Character: Iron Patriot. Or at least, that's the idea Osborn wanted to give.
  • Continuity Nod: All over the place, but surprisingly, there's a nicely subtle one in the otherwise balls-out Zodiac miniseries. Osborn hires Whirlwind as his chauffeur, with a snide reference to his prior work history. Way back in the classic Avengers and Marvel Feature comics, David Cannon had worked under a false name as Wasp's chauffeur while planning an inheritance heist and kidnapping.
  • Costume Copycat:
    • Most of the Dark Avengers members wear the outfits of existing superheroes and Clint had taken Ronin's identity and costume when he resurrected, which was previously used by Echo.
      Ronin: So that's Bullseye? Bullseye, the crazy assassin?! Dressed like me?!
      Spider-Man: And you're dressed like Maya.
    • Of course, Spider-Man isn't too happy himself when he learns who's copying him:
      Spider-Man: They didn't even get the good Venom!
    • Taskmaster and Deadpool in Magnum Opus
    • Zodiac's gang includes the Clown, famously of the Circus of Crime... except it isn't the real Clown; it's his illegitimate half-brother impersonating him due to some identity crisis. The real Clown is currently a member of the Gamma Corps as the avian Griffin. Zodiac was aware of all this from the start.
  • Darkest Hour: This was the Darkest Hour of the Marvel Universe: Osborn was in control and the superhero community was either still too divided from Civil War (2006) to effectively counter Osborn, recovering from being kidnapped by the Skrulls, or actively on the run from Osborn. Additionally, most of its traditional leadership was unavailable: Thor was dealing with being exiled from Asgard, Iron Man was on the run and wracked with guilt over his actions, and Captain America was dead.
  • Death Is Cheap:
    • Explained in The Incredible Hercules as resurrection having become literally random chance, represented by casino games, thanks to assorted gods of the dead either having been destroyed or having abandoned their positions. Multiple heroes (including the recently offed Wasp), villains, and civilians are gambling for either an afterlife or a second chance, and in a joke harking back to the Geoff Johns run on the Avengers, and Avengers Disassembled, Jack of Hearts wins his resurrection while Herc and Cho are visiting (though he has yet to actually return).
    • Jack of Hearts finally came back to life in Marvel Zombies Supreme.
  • Debate and Switch: This storyline was the tool to undo all the changes of Civil War (2006): a morally gray situation is turned into a full morally black-and-white situation, so that the heroes can easily "win" and return to the previous status quo. And Stamford? Fine, thanks.
  • Demonic Possession:
    • Hood by Dormammu. Quicksilver by Chthon. Nightmare was trying to do this with Trauma.
    • Somewhat subverted during Spider-Man's Siege tie-in, when Ms. Marvel manages to pull Mac Gargan's body out from the Venom symbiote, and it tries to possess her instead.
  • Depending on the Writer:
    • To a lesser extent than Civil War (2006), but still there all the same: The Dark Avengers series and a few others have Norman Osborn buying into his own hype and genuinely opposing menaces he regards as threats to America and the status quo, while tie-ins like Dark X-Men and Captain America Reborn show him Putting on the Reich and working hard to put the Red Skull into Captain America's body.
    • Similarly, in the Captain America tie-in, Knight Templar Anti-Hero Victoria Hand inexplicably seems fine with Norman's willingness to help the Red Skull take over Captain America's body.
  • Depower: The Hood after losing to Doctor Voodoo (and then again towards the end); Bruce Banner.
  • Depraved Bisexual:
    • While he used it only to mock Venom, Daken has hooked up with people of all stripes, and thinks nothing of manipulating them for something he wants and killing them (directly or indirectly) when he's done with them. He even ''kisses Bullseye in the mouth'' in his Siege tie-in. And then readers found out the whole scene was All Just a Dream fed into Daken's head to show how screwed over he'd be if he didn't accept help from the fates.
    • Loki: At the beginning of the storyline, he's stuck in a female body, and has no qualms about using his/her attractiveness to his/her advantage.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Deadpool almost quotes this to Taskmaster in the alternative cover of Avengers: The Initiative #33 ("Dude! You knocked out Thor?"). Too bad it didn't actually happen in that issue, though.
  • Discard and Draw: The Hood, after losing connection with Dormammu, lost all his powers, only to get an entirely new power set when Loki gave him magic Asgardian stones. Just to be discarded again when Loki got the Norn Stones back to empower The Avengers so they could stop Asgard from being destroyed any further. And, as a last resort, Madame Masque takes him to see her father, Count Nefaria, so he can empower the Hood again, but he relents when he hears that he'll have to give all his money to Nefaria to be repowered. The New Avengers nab them before anything can be done.
  • Distress Ball: Clint Barton breaking into Norman's base alone and getting caught because of it.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • Osborn wants to take out the Asgardians in order to make himself look more necessary to the government, but the President won't allow him to do this "without due cause", prompting the need for an "incident" to turn public opinion against the Aesir. It's basically every conspiracy theory about 9/11 with a coating of Norse God.
    • In-story, it's an intentional evocation of the Stamford Incident that kicked off Civil War (2006).
  • Downer Ending: The What If? issue has Clint kill Osborn, but Clint is killed shortly afterwards.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: Norman works for the administration of Barack Obama, but they have polar opposite views of the world.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: The mortal, Bill, takes out an Asgardian that was about to murder Balder. With his last strength, he warns Balder of Loki and Dr. Doom's treachery. Bill is so badass that he is given an Asgardian style funeral. In the aftermath of Siege, it is revealed that his bravery has won him a place in Valhalla.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The heroes finally get their place back as the rightful people in the Grand Finale Siege.
  • Escaped from Hell: Gloriana, Captain Britain's wife managed to start a revolution in Hell and even defeat one of the Hell-Lords before she returned to the world of living.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Ares pointed out he may be a God of war, pain, and murder. But. Not. God. Of. Sadism!
  • Evil Matriarch: Speaking of Hera, she's become this even more than she was in classical mythology. Kind of surprising, when just a couple of decades ago in comics continuity, she actually aided the Avengers when Zeus accused them of nearly killing Hercules, but justified in that she's lost more than a few screws since gaining control of the entire Greek pantheon.
  • Eviler than Thou: Mr. Negative (who is a Superpowered Evil Side of some guy and believes in a Balance Between Good and Evil) told The Hood that because he thrown out all what was good in him, he'll fall for sure.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Subverted by Emma Frost in Utopia. Ares and Sentry joining Dark Avengers can be seen like one (Heel–Face Revolving Door in Ares' case).
  • For the Evulz:
    • Zodiac doesn't have any general reason to be evil, he just likes it.
    • Same with Bullseye. Even doped up on anti-psychotic medication, he still is completely evil and threatens his own teammates (who know full well that he tends to carry out such threats) with death for kicks.
    • And Mr. X - he murders people and reads their minds as they're dying, and finds it very entertaining.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Subverted with Norman Osborn. Whilst not a nobody by any stretch of the imagination, he goes from being Spider-Man's Arch-Enemy to taking Nick Fury's old job & rubbing shoulders with the villainous elite like Doctor Doom.
  • Gainax Ending: The Dark Avengers lead-in to Siege seems to show that Sentry/Void is basically an aspect of God Himself. Then, in Siege, his human side decides to stop living, and lets Thor kill him before any of it goes anywhere.
  • Gambit Pileup: Pretty much possible this will happen in Siege with Norman revealing his secret ally, Loki setting his schemes to the final phase, Daken and Moonstone with Bullseye making their moves against Osborn, Taskmaster looking for a chance to get the hell out of there, Scourge brainwashed by Agents of Atlas to kill Norman, Pym's and Barton's Avengers with Captain America getting in the middle of it, Tony Stark trying to help, return of Ultron, Hela revealing her deal with Dani Moonstar, Thor or Balder's defense plans and Sentry/Void as unpredictable factor.
  • Grand Finale: Siege, where it all comes down to a big battle in Asgard.
  • Groin Attack: Hercules proves to be a Combat Pragmatist
    Sentry: Do you really want me to unleash the power of million exploding Suns?
    Hercules: Of course not. I'll do it. [kicks Sentry in the nuts]
  • Heel–Face Turn: Loki, after realizing what he has done, transfers the Norn Stone's powers from Hood gangs to Thor and co. so they can defeat The Void. Void is not pleased and blasts Loki to death.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity:
    • Iron Man, who in a subversion of this trope, DID screw things up big time and pretty much brought all of his troubles upon him. Jessica Drew, because the Skrulls' leader was disguised as her, and even some heroes think she might still be the Skrull Queen. Not exactly an easy reputation to live down, especially when in the past she's been a member of HYDRA, a terrorist/spy group.
    • Subverted with Hank Pym, who was able to not only shake the taint of being replaced with a Skrull, but made most of the world fall in love with him and his new Avengers team by stopping several major threats that Norman refused to lift a finger to stop. As of Mighty Avengers #32, apparently, most of the other national governments see his team as the real Avengers, not Osborn's crew.
    • Thor, who has been exiled from Asgard after Loki's scheme led him to killing his own grandfather, Bor.
    • Wonder Man - when he went on TV and said that America deserved Norman Osborn as their top hero, as far as his response to Hawkeye denouncing Norman on live television/outed the Dark Avengers as bad guys, his career was effectively destroyed by the public backlash and he was denounced as crazy by David Letterman of all people.
    • Doc Samson, after Osborn used The Plan to force him into nearly killing Barack Obama and splashed it all over the news. Samson has a Face–Heel Turn completely unrelated to this incident, and thus doesn't really give a damn about it anymore.
  • Humans Are Bastards: After reading War Machine's files, Ultimo came to that conclusion.
  • Humiliation Conga: Everything that's happened to Iron Man since Dark Reign began.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Subverted with "Utopia" as the X-Men successfully outplay Norman and humiliate him via exposing his sadistic abuse of mutant prisoners for the whole world to see, then successfully flee to their new island home off the coast of California. Made even worse for Norman, in that Emma Frost also cuts a deal with Namor to get him to betray Norman, effectively robbing Norman of one third of the Cabal and alienating Doom (who doesn't take kindly to Norman's vows of revenge against his friend).
    • The Spider-Man tie-ins are worse: Norman keeps dropping the ball on Spidey and vice versa. It's made worse when Marvel decided that Norman was affected by the One More Day reality warp, meaning he no longer knows that Peter Parker is Spider-Man and seemingly doesn't care.
    • Norman not killing Tony Stark when he had him on life support and brain dead in the recent issue also counts, especially Norman had no problem beating Iron Man nearly to death in public prior to taking him into custody.
      • For that matter, beating the crap out of him on live camera in the first place. Prior public embarrassments may have been the result of people getting hold of information meant to remain secret, but the fact that Norman ignored Hand's warnings about the camera crew in the vicinity means this one's all on him. (Although the absurdly ridiculous level of stupidity of ordinary citizens in this story may have vindicated this.)
      • The former has a valid explanation: Osborn had to get it pulled but didn't have the medical authority and since the H.A.M.M.E.R. Helicarrier was a national embassy, Osborn had no way to overlook it without causing a national incident. The latter, meanwhile, was presumably deliberate and his trying to kill Tony both times is portrayed as a bad move.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: Spidey delivered it at least twice to Clint Barton and once to Harry Osborn. Clint, however, has the balls to respond by pointing out how much misery Norman's been able to cause because of Peter's moral high horse.
  • The Illegal: Now that Gyrich is in charge of S.W.O.R.D., he's declared every damn alien on the planet illegal, and is taking steps to deport them all, even if they previously had government permission or clearance to live on Earth.
  • I Have No Son!: After the American Son story, Harry is as good as dead to Norman. A Double Subversion since Norman's plan in that story was to have Harry murdered to garner him public sympathy.
  • Ironic Echo: In-house ads for the event had the tagline "Accept Change", a slightly more pragmatic version of Secret Invasion's tagline, "Embrace Change!"
  • Jerkass:
    • Reed Richards in Mighty Avengers. The yea or nay decision on whether to give Bill Foster's tech to Pym should have been Ben's, since Bill willed it to him, but Reed bulled his way into being the one to make the call, and then had to be a jackass to Pym on top of it and get snide when Sue called him on his jackassery.
    • Also, Maria Hill sometimes. Maybe it's because she's an Action Girl who had been drilled on to act fiercely as director of the post-Civil War (2006) S.H.I.E.L.D., but she absolutely didn't need (and didn't have any power, to boot) to issue a prison order to Speed when he came to deliver a spare armor to a recovering Stark so he could go up to Asgard and fight Norman in the Siege.
  • Karma Houdini: Daken, who got away scot-free. Mister X also avoided arrest.
  • Kick the Dog: Several villains, especially Norman, has a few. Lampshaded a little when Bullseye tossed a dog right into Venom's eye just to prove he can.
  • Knight Templar: Seems to be how Norman Osborn sees himself in the epilogue issue of Dark Avengers.
  • La Résistance: The New Warriors/Avengers, who are having none of this "villains as official Avengers" and take their stand.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Kind of hard for the return of Steve Rogers to be a surprise, given that it was blown all over mainstream news sites months ago. In terms of the comics themselves, the delays on Captain America: Reborn mean that he had reappeared in at least three titles and a special before he was even supposed to be back.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Ares described himself as one, placing "checking out if you have enough ammo before rushing into the battle" at the list of things that are part of his sister's domain, not his.
  • Legacy Character: Noh-Varr as the new Captain Marvel. Hank Pym as the new Wasp.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Loki is one to Osborn in both The Mighty Avengers and Siege.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Again, Norman. The man took over the remains of S.H.I.E.L.D., makes people believe he's actually good and convinces a group of either villains or troubled guys to join his Avengers. But Daken has his moments too, playing both the Dark Avengers and the Fantastic Four in his schemes.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Doctor Doom points this out when Kelda comes to get revenge for his part in Bill's death, saying that the guy was mortal and would die anyway, and she'd forget about him eventually.
  • The Mole: Grim Reaper in Lethal Legion. Diamondback in Osborn's Initiative. Zodiac had Whirlwind feeding him information on Osborn.
  • Motive Rant: Norman at the bitter end of Dark Avengers to the Goblin, espousing both his surprisingly valid fears and good intentions.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Loki, who turns out to be manipulating Norman Osborn and the others just so Asgard can reign supreme, not so that Asgard is destroyed by the Void. Once he realizes what happened, he pulled a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Naïve Newcomer:
    • Noh-Varr, of sorts. He didn't even know the team he was in (the Dark Avengers) was mostly composed of supervillains until Moonstone let it slip one night after they had sex and were watching Norman on TV. As soon as he did, he dropped out without leaving a note on the fridge.
    • Also Norman Osborn. He has been in the Marvel Universe since The Silver Age of Comic Books, but in every comic book he says something like "Who is that man?", "I don't know him", "I never heard about him", "I didn't know you were a mutant", "I didn't know you could do that", and so on.
  • Naked Nutter: Norman spent one night in his office, completely naked, clutching at his face and saying "Why won't this mask come off?"
  • Nonindicative Name: There are three Avengers teams out there: the Dark Avengers (legally sanctioned, led by Iron Patriot), the New Avengers (outlaws resisting the Registration Act, led by Luke Cage) and the Mighty Avengers (international, led by Henry Pym). However, none of them actually used those names in-story. They all called themselves "The Avengers". When they had to make reference to one of the other groups, they said things like "Pym's Avengers", "Osborn's Avengers", "the false Avengers", etc.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Word of God says that's why Ares' death was specifically demanded to be "as gory as possible" - as a signal he got Killed Off for Real.
  • No Party Given: Averted. Norman works for the Barack Obama administration, and it is made explicit. The way to prevent Obama's supporters from feeling alienated is that Norman is written as a Dragon with an Agenda. In particular, Obama signed a presidential pardon for the resurrected Steve Rogers, and Norman declared war to Asgard against Obama's explicit orders not to do so, getting fired and jailed because of all that mess. Plus, Norman really doesn't like Obama, badmouthing him behind his back.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Despite that Ares and War Machine are almost complete Foils for each other, the former consider the latter as his champion and believes they are quite similar deep inside.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: Invoked by Norman Osborn, to Hank Pym, regarding his infamous slap of Janet Van Dyne. Pym is quick to fire back with a retort:
    Norman Osborn: Are you still slapping women around?
    Henry Pym: Are you still dropping them from bridges?
  • Only Sane Man:
    • You know something is messed up in a group when Venom looks like the normal one. He even lampshades it in his mini, saying that compared to the nutcases on his team, he looks like Tom Hanks.
    • Ares sometimes has to act like one, both doubting Osborn's actions and calling his teammates out when they act too crazy.
    • Bullseye in the "Mission Briefing" of the Inititave's attack on Asgard that was included in Siege #1. He spends the entire thing essentially saying "Yes, BUT THEY ARE LITERALLY AN ARMY OF GODS".
  • Out-Gambitted: Osborn again by Nate Grey, who plays the entire Dark X-Men and Dark Avengers like a harp, nearly dismantling the entirety of Osborn's organization in a day. Unfortunately, Osborn has the last laugh, as Nate makes a fatal miscalculation as regards the Green Goblin persona (which he intended to unleash and put in control, destroying Osborn's Villain with Good Publicity image). However, since Osborn snapped very shortly afterwards during Siege, with Goblin make-up on his face, it could be argued that Nate's plan ultimately worked.
  • Papa Wolf: Ares. When he heard about Phobos being hurt, he rushed to save him and murders a man who was taking care of him, without even thinking twice about this information having come from Hera.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Sentry and Molecule Man. Bob proved to be the bigger one.
  • Pet the Dog: Bullseye has one, which is soon subverted given who we're dealing with here. He saves a woman being kidnapped, and then accepts the request to give an autograph... only because he wanted to use the pen to kill her as well.
  • Power Fantasy: Right after the first Cabal meeting, Doom imagines how he will overthrow Osborn, kill Namor and Hood and turn Emma and Loki into his slaves.
    Namor: Sometimes I wonder what's up in that head of yours.
    [Doom imagines himself killing Namor]
    Doom: Doom. Always Doom.
  • Power of Trust: Inverted - people's lack of trust in Pym gave Chthon more power.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Ares and Loki, who betray Osborn only for both of them to be killed by the Void.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: And after Secret Invasion (2008), he got tired of it, went to look for an Alternate Universe where he wasn't, and it inspired him to start working to solve everything. Unfortunately, this is still making him useless in a sense, as while he's busy with this, the rest of the team is having to deal with Osborn.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
    • Subverted - Kelda started to go on one after Bill's death, only to be not quite killed by Doom, without doing any harm.
    • Played straight with Tigra. After what The Hood did to her, she's pissed, and wastes no time starting to hand out the torture to the minions who assisted or were there to witness.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Bullseye, who claims to have killed both of his parents Double Subverted when his father appears only to be murdered by Lester.
  • Ship Sinking: Mockingbird, the old love of Hawkeye has returned. The one who died many years ago was a Skrull. But then it was revealed that when she declined her idea of asking for a divorce, she had already been replaced. Mockingbird has returned... but she's not married to Hawkeye.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: As expected, Spider-Man gets the final one on Osborn.
  • Sixth Ranger: Dracula wanted to become one for Cabal and his plan to conquer England was supposed to give him necessary position.
  • Smug Snake: Osborn himself is this. Though he's the head of H.A.M.M.E.R. and considered the main threat by the superhero community, his interactions with the rest of the Cabal has him attempt to deal those above his usual weight class.
  • So Proud of You: When Phobos managed to trick Osborn and then used his powers to scare the hell out of him, Ares was smiling proudly.
  • Social Media Before Reason: The Corruptor took over Captain America's mind, ordered him to kill Steve Rogers, and attempted to film it with his cell phone. Rogers manages to deflect the bullet, wich ricochets and get to the Corruptor's cell phone. He gets electrocuted as a result.
  • Straw Feminist: Boudica, Lyra's AI sidekick was programmed as one.
  • Strong as They Need to Be: Pretty much entire point of problems with Sentry.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: At the end of Siege, Dark Avengers, and the Reign itself, Norman makes his disgust for the insane, unstable world he wanted to help known, fears and anxieties that are surprisingly valid and human.
    • Though they are undermined by the fact that he is Norman Osborn, and is not exactly the person who should be complaining about other people being unstable or insane. Especially after this storyline, where his Character Arc consisted of one long Villainous Breakdown brought on by his denial about how he is, at the end of the day, a psychopathic supervillain, and one who is mentally ill on top of that.
    • The intended subversion is driven home by the fact that some of the things Norman says he fears are things he made worse for his own gain. For example, he worries that the Hulk will kill everyone, but it was Norman himself who turned Bruce Banner back into the Hulk so that Bruce would be too distracted to oppose him. Similarly, his fears about "the mutants" are rather undermined by his recruiting some of the most dangerous and amoral mutants for his "Dark X-Men." And then there's Norman deliberately putting the Void personality back in charge of the Sentry because it's more convenient for him.
  • Take That!:
    • The books read like a snub to all of the readers who thought the Stark Administration was evil.
    • One of the last pages of Siege shows the skyline of New York, as a digitally written "Superhero Registration Act thrown out" scrolls on a building. It almost seems the panel originally had confetti in it, really. Just add confetti and you'll have evidence that most of the writers had really had enough of the bucketload of crap Joe Quesada has put the Marvel Universe through. But since Quesada (as you can see in his comments about Siege in the pages of the miniseries itself) was so proud of the whole epic saga made up of the various Story Arcs (Avengers Disassembled, Civil War — and by extension, given it was exactly what Quesada was aiming at, One More DaySecret Invasion and now this), maybe he himself demanded the confetti to be removed.
  • Tangled Family Tree: Considering Ultron originally created Jocasta to be his bride, the fact that they finally marry (albeit a "political marriage", as she still really hates him) isn't too bad. Then you remember that Jocasta's brain is based off his "mother". And that he created her, making himself her "father" in a sense. And she was dating his "father" at the time... who was her brain-source's ex-husband. Jesus Christ, this family.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The Cabal. Though Osborn is the man in charge, he's having a hard time keeping his fellow members in check. Namor and Emma Frost turn on him, Doom has nothing but contempt for Osborn and betrays him as well at the start of Siege, his partnership with the Hood is tenuous at best, and Loki sees him as nothing more than a self-absorbed pawn for his own schemes.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill
    • War Machine provides the trope page's image.
    • Norman Osborn has the death of Punisher in his "To do" list. Hammer locates the abandoned warehouse where he has set his base. A tecnician proposed to deploy forces around it, to cover all exits and surround him. Norman refused the idea, that's a waste of time. It's just a man in a truck. You simply have to load the torpedos, aim to the whole port area, fire, and watch it all blow up. as you may suspect, it was not enough
  • Unwitting Pawn: After pulling off a major Gambit Roulette in Secret Invasion (2008), this quickly becomes Norman Osborn's role over the course of the storyline, as every other member of the Cabal betrays him for their own purposes by the end. It's rather strongly foreshadowed from the beginning, though, and doesn't really lead to Villain Decay since, as a Spidey villain, even though he's totally out of his league he's still punching above his weight.
  • Use Their Own Weapon Against Them: Elektra has a rematch with Bullseye in the fourth issue of her tie-in book. He tries to replicate the outcome of their original battle by stabbing her with her own sai, only for her to take one of his arrows and stab him with it.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Pym's reaction when Reed Richards said he knows more about Pym Particles than Hank.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The whole premise of Dark Reign is the United States government giving Norman Osborn, who is known to have been the Green Goblin, authority over superhuman affairs, who in turn demonizes and makes outlaws of the superhero community save the Fantastic Four. While the government's stupidity could be accepted, the fact is that the American public actually embraced Osborn and joined in the demonizing of the superheroes. It really makes one wonder why the heroes don't just let Galactus eat the planet.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Brother Voodoo. Rhodey did as well for a while. Becoming a walking, talking instrument of War that could add any arsenal to his body and unleash new levels of destruction, impressing even Ares and earning the title Champion of War.
    • Osborn doing this is the premise of the series; it's also his second in just over a decade, the first being when he came Back from the Dead and, firmly established himself once and for all as Spider-Man's Arch-Enemy, as well as becoming a purer and more powerful Corrupt Corporate Executive than he was in the 60's and 70's.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Norman stars in this story arc. Also, thanks to him, Henry Gyrich has one with S.W.O.R.D., and Taskmaster and Hood with The Initiative. But considering the wild parties he likes to throw and all, Taskmaster's story is perhaps more Bait-and-Switch Tyrant.
    • It's worth nothing that Gyrich managed then to be pain even in Osborn's butt, making him possibly biggest tyrant of them all.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Norman of course. Whenever he's in front of a camera he manages to make the public buy him as a respectful guy instead of the psychotic, manipulating jerk he was and did not cease to be.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • Recent comics have depicted Norman as being a hop, skip and a jump away from one of these, and his constant need to be a Villain with Good Publicity appears to be taking its toll. Perfectly in-character, though, as he was always portrayed as being mentally ill, more so than most.
    • And it doesn't help that Loki's making a good attempt at kicking him over the edge by manipulating him into increasingly risky plans. Like Having the U-Foes take on the Warriors Three in such a way that it might get the Asgardians blamed for the destruction of Chicago's Soldier Field and the deaths of everyone there, thus giving Osborn the right to invade Latveria to get at them. Key word on that: might.
    • Siege #3. As everyone expected he eventually would, he's lost it. Though, frankly, it wasn't nearly as impressive as some of the breakdowns he's had previously.
    • Osborn's breakdown in response to Deadpool was particularly indignant, and his instability is made all the more all the more apparent as he stops piloting the plane he's in just to stomp a mudhole in Deadpool. While the autopilot is OFF.
      Osborn: I owe (you)...? After all I've done for you people?! Do you have any idea who I am? All you people ever do is take, take, take! And it's never enough! I'm Norman Osborn! I saved this miserable planet and everyone on it! You owe me your lives! Every worthless last one of you!
  • Villain Respect: Bullseye, when Deadpool dodges a rocket he fired at him, causing it to travel through the entire truck he is in.
    Bullseye: ...okay, yeah, I admit it. That was #@$%in' awesome.
  • The Virus: The Ultimo Virus, which turns all carriers berserk and gives them eye beams.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • War Machine can be seen as this, because he acts like one-man version of The Authority. Osborn thinks he's one of these, but unsurprisingly, he isn't.
    • Loki just wanted the Soldier Field incident to happen because he thought it would send Asgard back where it belonged, away from mortal eyes. Instead, Osborn decides to go gung-ho and bring it down.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Rather amusingly, Norman pulls this on Luke Cage after he retrieves Cage's daughter from her Skrull kidnappers only for Cage to immediately break his word to him by refusing to join the Dark Avengers.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: The Corruptor and the Living Laser have the upper hand against Captain America and Steve Rogers, and the Corruptor wants to film Roger's death with his cell phone. The Living Laser tells him to stop playing games and kill them already, to no avail. Rogers even accepts that the Living Laser was right in that.
  • Wild Mass Guessing: Marvel encouraged this when it came to the identity of Osborn's mysterious and scary friend. One popular Epileptic Tree was that it was the newly-acquired Marvelman/Miracleman.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: It's been awhile since we've seen Molecule Man, but considering that he made imaginary friend duplicates of some of the most powerful figures in the Marvelverse, created his own pocket dimension to live in, and is vanishing anyone who gets too close to it, the years clearly have not been kind to his brain. Also, Sentry. In spades. Even once the Void's no longer in his head (and is off wrecking hell on the X-Men), he's still a walking ball of about a billion neuroses.
    • Fittingly enough, this is also what happens to Osborn, as while he's always been batshit crazy, the pressures of his new job as the top dog cause him to slowly break, after years of more or less managing to keep his Goblin side under control.
  • The Worf Effect:
    • Sentry suffers from it so much. Being all powerful doesn't really help much when you're too neurotic to use it effectively in a fight.
      • It happens so often that it's really scary when he becomes serious in Siege.
    • The entire Zodiac supervillain team is murdered mostly off panel (we see their bodies afterward) by the new Zodiac, who thought the name was cool and didn't want to deal with copyright issues. He also carried their heads around in a bag for awhile.
    • Ares is even more of a Worf than the Sentry. When the writes want to take out the Dark Avengers' big guns to show how dire their situation is, the Sentry usually just has a Heroic BSoD and runs off, while Ares gets beaten down, blown up, turned to stone, torn in half, etc.
  • Wrecked Weapon: Mjölnir, after delivering a deadly hit to Bor.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess:
    • Loki managed to play one of greatest Evil Plans in his career by manipulating Thor into killing Bor, thus getting him exiled, and convincing Balder to have the Asgardians move to Latveria. But just in case something could go wrong and restore status quo, he's got several other plans prepared, and apparently has backup plans for his backup plans.
    • Nate Grey pulls this off fairly effectively in Dark X-Men and, were it not for one miscalculation, would have ended Dark Reign all by himself.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Sort of. Erebus has always existed in the Marvelverse, but now that Hades/Pluto is no longer interested in maintaining the souls of the dead, it altered itself to become an arena of games of chance. Which, in modern minds, equals casino. It's also been relocated to Atlantic City.