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Editor Review: SECRET INVASION: DARK REIGN #1 from Marvel Comics

Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev weave witty dialogue and gritty detail into a mesmerizing look at the villains behind Marvel’s next crossover event.
In the aftermath of the Skrulls’ attempt to infiltrate our world—replacing key politicians, businessmen and heroes with their own kind—the finger of blame inevitably points to Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Stark is ousted and the international peace-keeping agency is shut down. With Stark out of the picture, and the future of The Initiative in question, the keys to the kingdom are handed to…Norman Osborn, the man once known as Spider-Man’s greatest enemy, the Green Goblin!

Osborn’s new position grants him almost limitless power and one of the first things that he does is call together a sort of "dark Illuminati" comprised of Namor, Dr. Doom, Loki, The Hood and Emma Frost, formerly the White Queen of the Hellfire Club. Taking a cue from The Hood’s own "strength in numbers" road-to-power philosophy, Osborn offers the assembled villains (plus Emma) whatever they want—the throne of Asgard, immunity from prosecution, money—as long as they publicly reform and agree to get along. Despite his implication that he has a secret enforcer to back him up should any of them think about turning on him, Doom and Namor start plotting against Osborn the second he leaves the room.

Back at Thunderbolts Mountain, Osborn reveals himself to be the raging maniac that we all know him to be. When Swordsman complains to Osborn about his role—or lack thereof—in the new order of things, Osborn loses it, eviscerating Swordsman with his own weapon and tossing him out the window of the compound. Meanwhile, Emma Frost’s dreams are haunted by the spirit of Kitty Pryde…

Bendis is known for his incredibly deep plots, smart, natural dialogue, and inability to work within the status quo. He "disassembled" the Avengers, helped create the Ultimate Universe, revealed Daredevil’s secret identity and had him imprisoned, and replaced many of our favorite characters with shape-shifting Skrulls! While short on action, does not disappoint. It’s an interesting character piece focusing on some of the main players of the upcoming crossover event and the motivations and machinations behind their interest in working with one another. As always, Bendis manages to write scenes that give the reader a greater understanding of the "texture" of the world he is playing in, such as when Emma Frost turns to Namor and asks, "Do you always smell like that?" By posing the question, but not answering it, Bendis actively forces the reader to participate in the story. Just what does Namor smell like anyway? Does he smell like salt water, like fish? How about Doom? Does he smell like motor oil, like ozone?

Alex Maleev’s darkly textured art is a perfect complement to Bendis’ words. His gritty, grainy "camera" style helped define the look of Daredevil and makes these villains more menacing by making them more "real." Only Maleev could draw an image of Dr. Doom at a conference table that evokes equal parts menace and mundane.

Who is Osborn’s secret muscle? What is Doom’s plan? Will Osborn kill again? What’s up with Kitty? The story continues in Dark Avengers #1 and New Avengers< #48!

4 fists: 4 Strong Fists

Check out all of Brent Sprecher’s exclusive interviews with today’s hottest comic book professionals!

Click HERE for an exclusive interview with UK sensation Liam Sharp!

Click HERE for an exclusive interview with Secret Invasion artist Leinil Yu!

Click HERE for an exclusive interview with Wolverine artist Marcelo Frusin!

Click HERE for an exclusive interview with Hero By Night creator DJ Coffman!

Click HERE for an exclusive interview about Bluewater Productions’ latest comic adventure, Spaced Out!

Click HERE to watch an exclusive interview with award-winning writer Grant Morrison!

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Brent Sprecher

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