siegeLeading up to Marvel’s SIEGE event, I’ve decided that now was the time to finally get caught up on as many of the “important” books from the current Dark Reign storyline as possible.

I started with New Avengers Vol. 11 – Power (my thoughts here), and followed it up with Dark Avengers, Vol. 1 (thoughts forthcoming).  Recently, as they’ve been coming out, I’ve been picking up the Dark Reign:The List one shots.   With only one left to go (Spider-Man),  and two one-shots released this week, I figured now was the time to post my thoughts on this wildly uneven set.

See, Norman Osborn’s got a list.  Essentially, it’s a hit list.  But to ol’ Normie, it’s a list of essential changes that need to happen in order for his reign to continue unchecked.  Who’s on the list?

  • New Avengers (specifically, Clint Barton)
  • Daredevil
  • Uncanny X-Men
  • Nick Fury and his Secret Warriors
  • Hulk
  • Punisher
  • Wolverine
  • Amazing Spider-Man

Now that I’ve read all but the Spider-Man issue, what are my thoughts?  Find out after the jump!

thelist_newavengersNew Avengers (writer: Brian Michael Bendis — artist: Marko Djurdjevic)

I really like the Clint Barton character, but I haven’t been the hugest fan of him as Ronin.  This issue is a prime example of why.  Super pissed at Norman Osborn (who has just pretty much declared war on the mutant Utopia nation), which he has been since the inception of Dark Reign, ol’ Clint decides that now’s the time to take Osborn down.  And not in a Superman/Batman “take down President Lex” kind of way, but in a “I’m gonna kill that mutha” kind of way.  Of course, none of Clint’s fellow Avengers are on board with this plan, since killin’s not really their thing.  Clint says “the hell with you guys” and he and Mockingbird (does she still go by that name?  I notice her new costume, but she doesn’t really get called by a specific name in this issue) decide to press forward with Clint’s plan to lay the smackdown.  Alas, Clint may be able to get to Norman pretty easy, and even take out most of the Dark Avengers without much of a hassle, but Ares whups his ass and now Clint’s in jail.

Is the book any good?  If you’re a fan of Bendis’  New Avengers, you’ll dig the book.  Djurdjevic’s art is pretty stellar, and overall the book is definitely worth picking up.

thelist_daredevilDaredevil (writer: Andy Diggle — Artist: Billy Tan)

I picked up Daredevil #500, the final issue of the Return of the King storyline, in which Matt Murdock takes control of the evil ninja clan known as the Hand.  It had a preview of this book, which I promised myself I wouldn’t pick up.  But I broke that promise and picked it up to see what the new DD team had in store for me.  Essentially Daredevil #500.5, The List: Daredevil picks up right after #500 and leads perfectly into the events going on in current DD continuity.  Osborn hires Bullseye to take out Daredevil and, while he doesn’t kill him (duh), Daredevil’s arrogance leads to a shocking turn of events.  Perfect jumping on point for new readers to get into the new Daredevil storylines, great art, great writing …. definitely worth picking up.

thelist_xmenUncanny X-Men (writer: Matt Fraction — artist: Alan Davis)

Yech.  I’ve never been a fan of Alan Davis art (well, I was in the 80’s, but not in a long time), but I’m a big fan of Matt Fraction, especially when he brings some of his trademark humor to a title.  Alas, there’s none of that in this book.  Osborn makes one of Namor’s old girlfriend’s a sea monster (I think) and sets her to attack Utopia.  Not enough happens in the book to warrant the price tag, honestly.  This is really more The List: Namor that just happens to take place on Utopia.  I really hope the Utopia storyline in Dark Avengers was better than this, since I’m picking that up soon.

thelist_secretwarriorsSecret Warriors (writer: Jonathan Hickman — artist: Ed McGuinness)

I dug this book. Nick Fury works with Norman Osborn to get something he wants, than screws him over.  Osborn’s gotta be tired of this happening by now, as in my limited exposure to Dark Reign, it’s already happened like SIX times.  Still, this book is a lot of fun, brining a ton of the old Nick Fury espionage and adventure that I’ve been missing.  And even though there’s a damn reprint in the back of the book, it’s related to the main story, and it’s a Steranko Fury tale, which I’d gladly pay an extra buck for.  The main story features art by Ed McGuinness, which works for this story, but I would have preferred a little less cartoony art, I think.  Nonetheless, Nick Fury’s LIST is the best part of this book, and a laugh out loud moment worth the price of admission.  This book made me want to pick up Secret Warriors…dammit.

thelist_hulkThe Hulk (writer: Greg Pak — artist:  Ben Oliver)

Is this what I’m missing by not reading Incredible Hulk monthly?  I hate Jeph Loeb’s Hulk book, which kind of put a gamma irradiated sour taste in my mouth towards the character in general, but damn…this book is awesome!  Of course, we know that Greg Pak guy can write a good Hulk book.  And who is this Ben Oliver guy?  Some great art in this book – like Ariel Olivetti a bit, but much better.  This is the type of Bruce Banner I like to see – smart, confident, and kicking ass with his brain.  While Skaar, the Hulk’s son, brings the brute force.  Sadly, the end of this book spells short notice on the Banner action, but I certainly might seek out a trade of what’s currently going on in Hulk, based solely on the strength of this book.

thelist_punisherPunisher (writer: Rick Remender — artist: John Romita, Jr.)

As soon as I knew John Romita, Jr. was drawing this and that it led into Rick Remender’s upcoming Franken-Castle arc in Punisher, I knew I’d be picking this up.  But I had no idea that it would be such an excellent book.  Easily my favorite book on this list, this is how I like to see my Punisher books written.  Punisher does battle with Daken, Wolverine’s son, and man … this is the type of battle like we haven’t seen in a while.  Needless to say, it doesn’t go well for Castle … but damn, what an awesome fight scene, and a well written book.  Dammit…now I have to read Punisher too.  I can’t say enough good about this book – I would consider this essential reading, and an early pick for one of my favorite single issues this year.  Seriously.  It’s that good.

thelist_wolverineWolverine (writer: Jason Aaron — artist: Esad Ribic)

Sadly, I didn’t care for this book as much as I did the Punisher one.  I’ve always been interested in the character of Fantomex, but in this book he just, honestly, reads like a Deadpool wearing all white.  He’s still a fun character to read, but from what I gather, this takes a lot of concepts Grant Morrison introduced in his X-Men run and furthers their storylines, which may be why this book was hard for me to understand.  I just didn’t really grasp too much of what was going on, and some of it just seemed a little silly.  Of course, it may have just been the fact that I read it right after that excellent Punisher book.

thelist_spidermanSpider-Man (writer: Dan Slott — artist: Adam Kubert)

I hope this book is as good as a super-team of Slott and Kubert deserves.  I love the way Slott writes Spidey, and Adam is definitely my favorite of the Kuberts.  This book comes out on 11/11, and I’ll be there!