Waiting For The Trade – Dark Avengers: Molecule Man

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Mike Deodato Jr, Greg Horn
Colourist: Rain Berado
Letterer: Cory Petit
Collects: Dark Avengers 9-12

What happens when two god-like superhumans come into contention…find out in this week’s episode of Dark Avengers! This second trade of the “far better than anyone expected it to be” hit Dark Avengers puts the ticking timebomb Sentry up against the titular MM (not Marvel Man much to some people’s dismay and far more’s delight) and the results are…well not quite as interesting as you’d expect, but somehow also awesome.

Allow me to explain. The actual confrontation and plot around the whole Sentry vs MM thing is quite pedestrian, actually the confrontation as a whole across all team members isn’t that interesting. However the character pieces which are woven into the battle are brilliant. It’s clearer here than in many other titles that Norman Osborn is barely hanging on to his sanity with his fingernails…in fact I’d say it’s pretty clear that he’s lost that particular battle come the end. But actually in the midst of his lunacy there’s a sort of down-to-earth nobility in his actions. He fights the battle not because he expects to win but because some fights just have to be entered…it’s the sort of thing Cap would do (but with very different motivation).

The relationships between the various Dark Avengers are the stars of the show. My favourite has to be some fleshing out of the character of Victoria Hand, giving her a motivation beyond “Norman’s lackey” and I hope setting her up to remain a player in the Marvel U for some time beyond Osborn’s inevitable downfall.
From Ms Marvel’s flirting with Hawkeye (which when you realise it’s Bullseye that’s the target of Moonstone’s affection) through to a really revealing opening chapter which explains the relationship between Ares and Nick Fury which comes to some sort of fruition in The List. In fact that highlights one of the (few) frustrations with this book, for something newly released it feels like it’s completely out of synch with the other Marvel trades and hardcovers at the moment. We start with a slightly troubled Normal but in other books he’s already completely doolally.

It’s also not great value, four issues in a $20 hardcover is at the wrong end of the pricing spectrum. Nonetheless I really enjoyed it. The art by Mike Deodato is great and there’s a fantastic use of Greg Horn in a couple of issues which nicely contrasts and makes a lot of sense in the context. I keep looking at my thumb pointing upwards and trying to persuade it to go more diagonal but it just won’t.

Reviewer: Dave Williams

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