Shiny Shelf

A Dark Reign on the horizon…

By Mark Clapham on 06 December 2008

WARNING! Contains spoilers!

Really, really don’t read this if you haven’t read ‘Secret Invasion’ #8. That’s your last warning! OK, on with it…

So, ‘Secret Invasion’ ends with with Norman Osborne as America’s greatest hero, having blown faux-Spider-Woman’s head clean off live in full view of a grateful nation, then allying himself with a cabal of villains and amoral players (Doom, Namor, Loki, Emma Frost) to control the world from behind the curtain. This is the set-up for ‘Dark Reign’, the next big Marvel thing.

I like villain books, and King Goblin of America is a fun idea (and may be the holy grail of Marvel comics, the story that finally makes Norman’s resurrection post-’Clone Saga’ seem like a worthwhile idea). But I do wonder whether the idea is going to sell as well as Marvel would hope.

For a start, following the election of Barack Obama and the mood of clean-slate optimism that created, it’s arguable that a story about American power so thoroughly corrupted and twisted is running directly counter to the zeitgeist. Norman as smiley leader, the Pied Piper leading the American public astray, is pure Dubya-era horror, and may seem out of step. (Then again, maybe distance is what a story like this needs, and it would have been too close for comfort five years ago.)

Secondly, isn’t this turning the entire Marvel universe into a spin-off of ‘Thunderbolts’. I like ‘Thunderbolts’ more than it’s quality has ever really justified, partially because even while the execution has been weak to middling to awful and back, the concept is a really, really strong one. But even with the sales boost under Warren Ellis it’s not exactly topping the charts, so using it’s logic as a cornerstone of the entire Marvel universe seems odd commercial logic. The DC equivalent would be tieing the entire DCU line into a story spinning out of ‘Birds of Prey’.

Consider me cautiously intrigued.

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By Mark Clapham

Mark Clapham is a Devon-based writer and editor. You can find out more about him at the egotistically named

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