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Brian Michael Bendis’ Avengers – Dark Avengers (Hardcover) (Review/Retrospective)

April (and a little bit of May) are “Avengers month” at the m0vie blog. In anticipation of Joss Whedon’s superhero epic, we’ll have a variety of articles and reviews published looking at various aspects of “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.”

Dark Avengers actually reads quite well as a self-contained volume. It’s relatively short, running sixteen issues (fourteen of which are collected here, with the other two collected in Utopia) and an annual. It sits between two gigantic crossovers, Secret Invasion and Siege, so it isn’t as frequently derailed as Bendis’ New Avengers was (or even Mighty Avengers was). Instead, it feels like a nice little self-contained chapter in the epic superhero saga that Bendis has been writing for quite some time, dating back to the first issue of New Avengers, an exploration of the modern superhero myth in this cynic world so keen to deconstruct our idols in the wake of classics like Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns. It’s not a perfect book, but it’s a clever and succinct summary of the themes the author has been exploring, in a fun and dynamic sort of way.

Maybe it should be called “Moodily-lit Avengers”…

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X-Men/Dark Avengers: Utopia (Review/Retrospective)

This is the fourteenth in a series of comic book reviews that will look at the direction of Marvel’s shared universe (and, in particular, their “Avengers” franchise) over the past five or so years, as they’ve been attempting to position the property at the heart of their fictional universe. With The Avengers planned for a cinematic release in 2012, I thought I’d bring myself up to speed by taking a look at Marvel’s tangled web of continuity. Get an overview of what I’m trying to take a look at here.

There’s an essay to be written about how Marvel has so carefully and meticulously replaced the X-Men with The Avengers as their biggest A-list franchise book (in fact, there’s a quite wonderful essay written here about that). During the nineties, the big event crossovers at Marvel seemed to exist at the leisure of their mutants – Age of Apocalypse and Onslaught being two of the more obvious examples. However, since House of M, the mutants have been consciously sidelined. They continue to have their own internal events and crossovers – Messiah Complex and Second Coming the most obvious examples – but they remain largely insular and detached from the regular goings on in the Marvel Universe. Except for Wolverine, because he’s everywhere.

Marvel announces Dark Avengers on Ice!

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