The Dark Reign event starts right here in Thunderbolts #128. But what exactly is this Dark Reign and what does it mean for the Marvel universe. Well, Norman Osbourne, a.k.a the Green Goblin, is now in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D, the world’s largest and most expansive (and intrusive) espionage agency. Of course, having a known killer running things is going to result in some serious problems. Hence, the Dark Reign event. But Dark Reign hardly starts with a bang, it starts with some politics with the man on everyone’s mind, Barack Obama.
That’s right, Barack Obama’s first order of business is to play an idiot who needs convincing to choose between Norman Osbourne and another man, Dr. Samson, trying to prove to the new president something everyone already knows: Norman Osbourne is off his rocker. This is where the whole idea behind Dark Reign falls apart. The whole thing is absurd. Apparently President Barack Obama, and the rest of the world, is okay with a known killer and psychopath running the top espionage agency in the world. This is a man who has been repeatedly shown to murder and steal frequently to the public, they actually don’t care. The whole event is built on the entirely unbelievable turn of events of Osbourne in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D, and therefore everyone just comes off stupid. Also, Barack Obama's place in this issue is overkill, he’s only in the comic book to drive up sales, ever notice how the Canadian prime minister in an Alpha Flight comic book last year was female, not very accurate to the current Canadian political climate. But the absurdity of the situation points to the new “leader of the free world” as idiotic. But if one can get past this, the politics within the series, or at least the debates between Samson and Osbourne, are interesting at the very least. It’s a relief from the violence heavy Secret Invasion, and the Thunderbolts is where to do this. Thunderbolts has become much more introspective, and Andy Diggle keeps this tone and focus for this issue. Also, the rebuilding of the Thunderbolts with a new roster is very cool too; with the team now consisting of Ant-Man, one of the Black Widows, and a guy named Ghost who I am not familiar with. But the roster shake-up is welcome in my eyes, not through prior incompetence, but because these characters have potential for some interesting interactions.
Roberto De La Torre’s pencils get a little confusing this issue. All the white males look the same and it’s difficult to differentiate Osbourne from the countless C.I.A agents sprinkled through the background. But the scene involving a C.I.A agent really brings this to the forefront as the agent looks exactly like Osbourne to the point where I was confused on why a character on the front of the comic as a member of the Thunderbolts is attacking Osbourne. But the shaded areas add to the tone of the comic book and Barack Obama is not as blatant in the art as in the writing. Obama is within De La Torre’s style and his likeness is not to the point as the Amazing Spider-Man last week.
5/10 Good art, absurd concept which undermines whatever is attempted.