Avengers feature by Brian Michael Bendis (writer) & Marko Djurdjevic (artist); Daredevil preview by Andy Diggle (writer) & Billy Tan (artist)

It seems to be a prerequisite of all mega-maniacal geniuses in the Marvel Universe to carry a list.  Reed Richards has one.  I’m pretty sure Tony Stark’s got one too, although he may no longer be able to remember where he left it.  And now Norman Osborn has compiled his very own list of things to do now that he is the man in charge.  Compiled in part to finally assassinate people he’s had longstanding grudges with, it also contains some strangely logical goals, like dealing once and for all with Hulk’s mindless rampages, arresting Nick Fury for training “youth terrorists,” and apprehending the unregistered New Avengers.  In short, it’s a list that will change the very status quo the Marvel Universe has operated under until now because, as Osborn observes, if the old status quo had actually worked, he wouldn’t be in charge now.

The first eight months of “Dark Reign” have been largely uninspired and unfocused, full of talk and petty spats blown out of proportion by writers. The stories out of “Dark Reign” were made to seem more impressive than they really are. As the year winds down though, Marvel’s latest storyline moves into its second phase with “The List,” in which Osborn seems to be finally ready to take his abuse of power to new heights and let villainy reign supreme. I have to admit, from what I’ve read in this issue, my interest in this storyline is fully renewed, and I’m excited to see if “Dark Reign” can be salvaged.

The feature of this issue involves an incredibly intense, well-executed infiltration of Avengers Tower by Clint Barton, who is dead set on killing Osborn before he can cause any more problems for the superhero community. In a world populated by people who can fly and shoot lasers from their eyes, it’s easy to underestimate a hero like Ronin who has no powers, that is, until you watch him stalk the night and take on the Dark Avengers by himself. To his credit, Bendis has defied my expectations here and set the stage for what seems to be a story full of betrayal, ulterior motives, and lethal action, all qualities I wanted to see more of in “Dark Reign”.

Rounding out this issue is a preview of Daredevil’s role in “The List,” and I enjoyed it every bit as much as the Avengers story, which is mind boggling since I haven’t touched a Daredevil story since Miller left the title. Andy Diggle and Billy Tan seem to have a good handle on the character, and I was so impressed with the title’s new direction, first revealed in Daredevil #500, that I’m now planning on following the comic!  This one shot was a surprisingly entertaining issue and a great jumping on point for anyone that has managed to avoid the baggage of “Dark Reign” until now. I’m convinced that there’s real potential to be found in “The List.” I’m alsomore than willing to stick around and see what happens.

Grade:  B

-Tony Rakittke