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Dark Avengers #188 – Review

DARK AVENGERS #188

By: Jeff Parker (Writer), Neil Edwards, Terry Pallot (Artists), Chris Sotomayor (Colorist)

The Story: The Dark Avengers are trying to convince Daredevil and his gang of their intentions as Reed Richards tries to understand what is wrong with the world along with Skaar.

The Review: This is hard to admit, but I am beginning to wonder just how Jeff Parker can even conclude this whole thing in a satisfying way in just under two issues. What started as a big world building exercise seems to have become just this, only with a title that does not seem particularly fitting.

Indeed, is it just me or are the Dark Avengers kind of boring in this series? For a very long period of time, they did close to nothing, then as soon as they went on as a semi-formed team, they got their ass handed to them by a team of freedom fighter composed of Misty Knight, Iron Fist, Shang-Chi and a more monstrous Spider-Man. They are not particularly explored as characters, nor do their actions scenes are particularly interesting to watch.

What’s much more interesting is the actual world that Jeff Parker created, with familiar characters twisted into sinister or darker version of themselves. This world’s Thing, Iron Man, Hank Pym and Doctor Strange are actually much more developed than the Dark Avengers themselves. It helps that they got more screen time since the beginning of the arc, a fact that does not help the book at all. If this was a book like Exiles, it would make quite a lot of sense for Parker to focus much more on this world than the regular cast, yet the title of this book is Dark Avengers. To see close to nothing having been influenced by the team so far is a little bit disheartening.

Even though the titular team was not the focus of the book, the plot still advanced quite a bit. We have some teases on one side to just what might be wrong with this world as one of the agents that had been presented in the backgrounds is captured by the Thing and Skaar. We also have a team-up of Daredevil’s gang with the Dark Avengers as they aim to bring down the Sorcerer Supreme. Meanwhile, we have Ragnarok who just came back to his senses. All of this is exactly what happens here as Jeff Parker moves his pieces toward the big finale. At this point, I have to admit that I find it hard to believe that the explanation for this world and the role the Dark Avengers will play in it will actually be satisfying.
What was quite satisfying, though, was Neil Edwards art in this. He can still draw great monstrous beings, machinery and action. Some of his backgrounds are a little bit simple and some of his facial expressions are a little bit wonky, but most of what we see here is pretty solid thanks to his work. Some praise should also be given to Chris Sotomayor, who manages to make the colors look energetic enough, with a good choice of palette. The way he makes the energy radiates on the pages is also particularly well done.

The Conclusion: While this title clearly had some potential, it seems now to just move along as the book focuses a lot more on the world than on the actual titular team. With everything moving into pieces, it is clear Jeff Parker is getting ready for the conclusion, whether it will be big or not.

Grade: C

Hugo Robberts Larivière

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4 Responses

  1. This just continues to wander in the wilderness. The Underbolts had far more personality in far fewer issues. Won’t miss them.

  2. I agree that Parker isn’t doing the characters justice, though it isn’t entirely his fault. I think that the constraints of fitting what could have been a pretty epic story into a hard deadline has really hurt the flow. If Parker had two or three more issues to work with, I think this arc really could have been something great. As Hugo stated, the artwork is decent, the premise of the story itself, and the alternate reality seemingly manufactured by A.I.M, is very interesting. In order to explain this other world and tell the story before the book is cancelled, Parker had to cut corners somewhere, and it’s obvious that character development is where those cuts were made.
    The story angle involving U.S. Agent waking up with his limbs once again intact and back in action could have made for some great character exploration, but the space to tell that story is taken up by explaining the world that the Dark Avengers find themselves in. You can feel this story being rushed as you read it. It’s really too bad, because even as is, I find the book interesting enough to follow it until the end, but this story could have been so much more if it just had more time to be properly developed.

    • It’s a shame, really, for a lot of these characters could have benefited from the kind of character work Jeff Parker is known for. He’s the guy that made me love the Red Hulk and the cast of Thunderbolts, after all. There were seeds of development for Ragnarok and Trickshot here and there, but some of the other characters got the shaft, like U.S.Agent.

      I’ll follow the book until its demise, of course, both as respect for Jeff Parker and the whole team, but also because it is nearly over. It would be a shame not to see the conclusion to all of this.

      • I totally agree Hugo. I think that Parker really wanted to tell this story despite knowing he may not get to tell it the way he wanted. The result is a good story arc that could have been great if Parker had the time to better flesh out the characters.
        I really enjoy books like T-Bolts and the Dark Avengers, because it gives a stage for the characters that will always be underdogs. Whether it’s “knock-off” characters like John Walker, or villainous counterparts like Toxie-Doxie and Trickshot, there’s plenty of opportunity for books like these to explore these characters and take them in different directions. You can do things with these kinds of characters that you just can’t do with their “A-List” superiors. I just wish we’d gotten more of this exploration from Parker on this arc. Here’s hoping that whichever characters (if any) survive this final storyline are picked up in another book.
        Great review by the way, very thorough.

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