Sigh. When Marvel announced The List, the impression was given that this would be a major part of the Dark Reign meta-arc. Indeed, the Avengers book suggests that it might even be so, ending as it did with the capture of Hawkeye – a major development. Unfortunately, subsequent issues – X-Men, Daredevil, and now Secret Warriors – have all concentrated on moving forward the story of the titles in question rather than Dark Reign at all. Worst of all, Norman Osborn isn’t the one dealing with the entries on his “list”, they’re coming to him and winning. This is exactly the inverse of what the premise of the books was supposed to be!
So, if you’re looking for big Dark Reign moments that start the story down its path to completion – don’t look here. If you’re following Secret Warriors, the story might be much more important, though personally, as someone who hasn’t kept up with the series. I had trouble following this one shot – particularly the final “reveal” which felt a bit too much like Hickman playing up his own indie sensibilities as the story culminates in a multi-page spread of diagrams, with the reader left to decipher to determine the importance of the information within.
Although Nick Fury makes for an engaging lead character – and for the record, the other Secret Warriors don’t even show up – the characterisation of Osborn is far less convincing. In order to make Fury convincingly pull one over on the man who took his old job, Hickman has to dumb him down and remove the threatening uncertainty from Osborn’s character. It’s difficult to enjoy because of that. Where the book does succeed is in the espionage-based action sequences. It’s just a pity that Ed McGuinness, a man recently shown wowing audiences on Hulk with his complete lack of subtlety, should be put on such a title. Frankly, it’s a poor fit.
And so, ultimately, what we’re left with is another instalment in Marvel’s increasing body of comics that misrepresent themselves. This is not as important a story as we’re supposed to believe, and if the trend continues, it won’t be long before tie-ins and cross-promotion becomes completely meaningless. I suspect more than a few people will regret buying this one – not because it’s bad, but because it’s not remotely what it claims to be.