By X35 16 Comments
I rile on Dark Reign a lot and not because it's terribly bad but because it's goddamn stupid. Like most Marvel products these days it's like a half-hatched idea groomed by a committee of inattentive idiots. The concept of Dark Avengers was an decent idea and the actual line-up itself was pretty intense and interesting but the idea that Norman Osborn chose these people to help his agenda is unbelievably stupid. Why would a guy who is so intently deranged at the sight of Spider-Man recruit a guy to pretend to be Spider-Man? Why did his team only have people impersonating two heroes the public would even recognise as classic Avengers? Why the hell bother getting similarly underpowered and psychopathically unloyal pawns like Daken, Bullseye and Venom for your team when you have access to so much more?
Okay, well, if I was Norman Osborn... here's basically 10 ideas that would've been far more sensible for Norman Osborn's agenda.
10. Ant-Man (Eric O'Grady)
You want an amoral asshole to dress up as an Avenger, Norman? You do realise you have a guy who dresses up as a founding member of the Avengers on your payroll who you shuffled off to your black-ops group? Although, Ant-Man did switch allegiances in the end, he would've been a far more powerful tool to Norman on his Avengers team if just to continue his Avengers team's deceitful public image.
Let's see... which former Avenger does Norman Osborn know who has returned to a life of crime? Oh, that's right, the guy who didn't appear at all during Dark Reign. In general, Sandman would've been a perfect candidate for anything in Dark Reign. You have a guy who does have some aspirations to be more than just a criminal and he'd jump at the chance to get paid to be a hero. He didn't even join the Initiative, for pete's sake.
8. Swordsman (Andreas Von Strucker)
Just before Norman's rise to power, he worked with a guy who dressed up as a former Avenger. Norman's first action of Dark Reign? Kill the guy. Yeah, Andreas and Norman were quite antagonistic towards each other (but then so were Norman and Bullseye and Norman and Moonstone and Norman and everyone). Stupidly, their final confrontation came almost entirely because Norman didn't bother to make a place for Andreas in his Dark Reign. So, Norman's genius idea is to aggravate a guy you could use and then kill him because he aggravated you.
7. Black Widow (Yelena Belova)
I'm not gonna touch on the tedious retcon/undercover stuff because the end result is that Norman still had access to Yelena Belova. So, you've got the second Black Widow, Norman. Why don't you put her on an Avengers team for an easy transition since the last team before you also had a Black Widow? Nahhh, you'll just keep her locked up in a tube somewhere and do nothing with her. Good plan, Goblin.
6. Captain Marvel (Khn'nr)
This one isn't entirely Norman's fault since the guy died during Secret Invasion. And, heck, Norman already began manipulating him during Secret Invasion so if he survived he could've easily been sold on Norman's team. He was slightly mentally damaged and would've been a damn powerful Avenger for Norman to have at his disposal. And, unlike the Captain Marvel his team went for, this one actually wore the Captain Marvel uniform.
5. Dark Beast
Norman recruited a guy who already called himself the Dark version of an Avengers Member and didn't put him on his Avengers team? Norman recruited Dark Beast for his X-Men team which did make sense but was kinda a dumb move in retrospect since Osborn never bothered using his X-Men team. Beast again is seen by the public as a "Classic Avenger" and for the sake of media image would make far more sense than a Dark Wolverine.
As one of Osborn's only loyal soldiers to the end, the idea Nuke got shoved off onto Osborn's Thunderbolts was a silly move. Nuke is a deranged patriot who would do whatever the "government" - in this case Osborn - asked of him. He would've easily made a Dark Captain America or more appropriately a Dark US Agent, but instead Osborn decided the people who obey him would be best not implemented in his plans.
3. Hulk (Thaddeus Ross)
There's another American patriot floating around acting as a villainous counterpart to another founding Avenger. Jeez, Norman, you're really the king of oversight, aren't you? I'm not entirely sure how red Hulk chronology stacks up with Dark Reign, but again, recruiting the red Hulk for his team made too much sense so Norman ignored it.
2. Thor (Ragnarok)
YOU HAVE A ROBOT CLONE OF THOR IN A BASEMENT SOMEWHERE AND YOU DON'T EVEN THINK TO PUT IT ON YOUR AVENGERS TEAM? Norman is a grade-A idiot in this regard. Thor is one of the most recognisable Avengers so why the hell doesn't Osborn think it's a smart idea to have a robot version of Thor on his team? Sure, he's only a third as powerful as the real Thor but that's still powerful and he's an evil Thor, for god's sake.
1. Captain America (William Burnside)
The Captain America of the 1950s is an insane guy who believes anyone "different" is communists but more importantly has had plastic surgery to look EXACTLY like Steve Rogers. He was wandering around in limbo and had no direction in his life when Norman rose to power. Norman even later wished to recruit the Red Skull in Steve's body to be his team's Captain America. Norman, you buffoon, there's a guy perfect to be your Captain America who is easy to manipulate and looks identical to Steve Rogers.