• Jake Wright

Dark Avengers: The Most Complex Team You've Never Heard Of

Many of you will be familiar with possibly the most popular Marvel team at the moment, The Avengers, but I can guarantee that you may not be as familiar with their maniacal counterparts, the Dark Avengers. First appearing during the Dark Reign of the Marvel universe, the Dark Avengers were formed by Norman Osborn at the height of his power when he was in control of EVERYTHING.

You’re definitely asking yourself – how could this of possibly happened? Well, that could be the only logical thought of course, but there was once a time when Norman Osborn (yes, the Green Goblin) had jurisdiction across pretty much everything on earth. This all came into play during the climax to the 2008 Secret Invasion storyline in which the shape shifting alien race of the Skrull's infiltrated earth and invaded New York and Norman Osborn was seen as the ‘hero’ by taking the killing shot on the Skrull Queen live on TV.

(via: Marvel Entertainment)

How Were They Formed?

The Secret Invasion event caused massive shockwaves across the Marvel universe triggering there to be no trust among heroes. Tony Stark was replaced by Norman as the head of S.H.I.E.L.D and it was then changed to H.A.M.M.E.R, operating as more of a militaristic organisation. This then led to Norman forming his own version of Marvel’s Illumanti called The Cabal and recruiting Doctor Doom, Emma Frost, The Hood, Namor the Sub-Mariner and Loki to support him in overseeing the world.

(via: Marvel Entertainment)

From this, the Avengers initiative came under the control of H.A.M.M.E.R and of course Norman Osborn and he formed his own version of the Avengers comprising of members of his former villainous Thunderbolt’s team. This Avengers team consisted of Bullseye taking on the mantle of Hawkeye, Moonstone as Ms. Marvel, Daken as Wolverine, Mac Gargan (Venom) as Spider-Man, The God of War Ares, Noah-Varr as Captain Marvel, the Sentry and Norman himself donning an Iron Man armour and masquerading as Iron Patriot.

Taking control of the overwhelming vulnerability due to the Skrull invasion, the Dark Avengers came into power at the perfect time. They were viewed as heroes and saviors and the actual heroes were outlawed and seen as untrustworthy and unreliable. Although all seemed well in the public eye, of course Osborn was taking part in some extremely shady doings behind the scenes.

Why are They so Good?

The very idea of the Dark Avengers flips the status quo of superhero comics on its head from the get-go. Super villains winning and in charge of running the most iconic team on Earth? That is huge and at the time was something that readers and fans had never seen before. It was possibly one of the most character defining eras for Norman Osborn as it highlighted his villainous ways outside of the persona of the Green Goblin. It showed us the full aspect of Norman that we had not seen as much of and although his Green Goblin persona was of course still there, it gave us a complex Norman Osborn that was capable of diabolical deeds as well as cunning plans without the use of the Green Goblin.

(via: Marvel Entertainment)

Amongst this, the Dark Avengers were comprised of character’s who weren’t used to the limelight but were more than capable of handling themselves. And this comes into possibly the most intriguing way that the team operated, the fact that most were mentally unstable, villainous psychopaths who had to put a persona of a good-doing hero. How can killers like Bullseye and Mac Gargan contain their bloodlust? Well, if you are familiar with how the Dark Avengers turned out, they simply can’t. Osborn had to make sure his team were under tight wraps all the time as any slip up could inevitably contribute to the downpour of his empire, but this was not the case as numerous occasions saw Bullseye being the prime culprit for letting

bloodlust get the better of him.

(via: Marvel Entertainment)

The Dark Avengers work so well because of the dynamic with the team, a group of egotistical pretenders putting on a front for the public so their ultimate wishes can be fulfilled once their time of ‘do-gooding’ is up. That very idea is extremely entertaining but also complex and they have all sorts of interesting battles such as fighting Morgana Le Fay alongside Doctor Doom, Daken (Wolverine) hunting down the Punisher, Bullseye (Hawkeye) coming to blows with Deadpool and the ultimate climax for the Dark Reign event which saw the Dark Avengers attempt to destroy Asgard and come to blows with the real Avengers team.

A Formidable Team?

Why of course! The key to the Dark Avengers being so powerful was Norman Osborn having the best ace up his sleeve possible… The Sentry. The man with the power of a million exploding suns, Sentry is a lesser-known character within the Marvel universe but certainly one of the most formidable.

An intriguing character who is mentally unstable with a much darker alter ego (named The Void), he is utilized as a guard dog of sorts for Osborn through manipulation and although traditionally not a villain, he was used for more villainous acts by the director of H.A.M.M.E.R. He was practically the reason why Norman Osborn was untouchable since no one would dare to threaten him knowing that he had Sentry/The Void backing his every move.

(via: Marvel Entertainment)

Osborn’s manipulation was all too prominent of Sentry as he took advantage of an extremely vulnerable and unstable man. If you’re familiar with The Sentry then you know that his multiple personality disorder and schizophrenia is a huge part of his character and seeing him utilized in this way was particularly interesting. But know this, with Sentry under Osborn’s control there was fear felt all over the world and was one of the key reasons for the Dark Avengers to remain supreme.

We haven’t seen any hint of a Dark Avengers team re-emerging but as we look back on ‘Dark Reign’ and reminisce on how great that era was we can only hope that we get to see the Dark Avengers appear somehow in the near future.

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Who is your favourite member of the Dark Avengers? What do you think of the team? Let us know in the comments below.