Take 10

Take 10: Dark Reign

A final look at the few and not-so-proud who were able to shine during a dark period in Marvel history



Every week, a secret cabal of Marvel staffers gathers to discuss the best of the best when it comes to the House of Ideas.

Norman Osborn and his corrupt rule have fallen and the Heroic Age has begun, but the effects of the once-and-future Green Goblin's Dark Reign will linger around the Marvel Universe for some time to come.

As we say goodbye to the bad guys and greet the coming dawn, the Secret Cabal looks back at the major movers and shakers of Dark Reign.

For each character you get the quick rundown as well as a special spotlight comic courtesy of Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.

As always, these picks reflect the personal choices of the Secret Cabal, not the official opinion of Marvel or Marvel.com, and can be considered subjective at best. Enjoy!


First Appearance: IRON MAN #219 (1987)
Learn More About Him...here
Why He Makes the List: A perennial afterthought in Iron Man's gallery of foes, The Ghost reinvigorated himself in unsettling fashion as one of the Thunderbolts, constantly shifting his loyalties and developing his powers to a deadly new level. Positioning himself perfectly to grab whatever boons Norman Osborn would throw his way, Ghost even came within moments of achieving his greatest feat and ending the life of Tony Stark.
Spotlight Comic: THUNDERBOLTS #133-The Ghost attempts to play all sides when the Thunderbolts hunt one of their own!


First Appearance: DAREDEVIL #131 (1976)
Learn More About Him...here
Why He Makes the List: Perhaps no single figure in the Marvel Universe embodies what it means to be an Avenger less than Bullseye. Whereas some of his Dark Avengers peers have flirted with the idea of nobility, the ersatz Hawkeye has always been and forever will be an incorrigible psychopath who will kill for any reason, or even none at all. His standing as one of "Earth's Mightiest Heroes" only made Bullseye more deadly, giving him greater license to cause mayhem under the guise of doing good work.
Spotlight Comic: DEADPOOL #11 (2009)-"Hawkeye" hunts down his old rival Deadpool at Norman Osborn's behest!

First Appearance: WOLVERINE: ORIGINS #5 (2006)
Learn More About Him...here
Why He Makes the List: If there was any question prior to Dark Reign that Daken stands far apart from his father, Wolverine, there are no longer. Whereas Logan has always been known for his loyalty and straight-ahead brutal approach, Daken marked his period as a Dark Avenger with a series of betrayals and machinations that targeted everybody around him. He seduced Moonstone, drove Bullseye over the edge, and caused Norman Osborn no shortage of headaches. Ultimately, while his teammates ended Siege as captives, Daken managed to slip away, free to ply his mind games another day.
Spotlight Comic: DARK WOLVERINE #75-Daken's manipulations pits the Dark Avengers against the Fantastic Four!

First Appearance: AVENGERS #195 (1980)
Learn More About Him...here
Why He Makes the List: Not many individuals reached higher than Taskmaster during Dark Reign, and while his short-term gains were tremendous, long-term, he may well regret his actions. Before Osborn, the long-time mercenary had a decent gig working as an instructor in the Initiative, but once the darkness fell, he gained control over that institution and utilized his new power to live the good life alongside his criminal pals. However, a position in the Cabal seemed too good to be true for Taskmaster-and ultimately it was, as he found himself badly injured by Doctor Doom then ultimately abandoned by Osborn.
Spotlight Comic: DEADPOOL #9 (2009)-Taskmaster lends Deadpool a helping hand against the Thunderbolts!

First Appearance: THOR #129 (1966)
Learn More About Him...here
Why He Makes the List: For better or worse, Ares has long pledged to follow the greatest warrior, and following Secret Invasion, that was Norman Osborn. Through thick and thin, for a year, the God of War remained loyal to his general despite misgivings over his mental state. Dark Reign was not a wasted time for Ares, however, as he forged an interesting relationship with War Machine, led a group of soldiers to a noble sacrifice and most importantly reconnected with his son, Phobos. In the end, Ares would finally question Osborn, attempting to do the right thing, and paid for it with everything.
Spotlight Comic: DARK AVENGERS #9-Ares vs Nick Fury!

First Appearance: THE SENTRY #1 (2000)
Learn More About Him...here
Why He Makes the List: He could have been the Marvel Universe's greatest hero, but instead The Sentry will be forever known as among its darkest tragedies. For the past several years, good men like Steve Rogers and Tony Stark have struggled to help Bob Reynolds deal with his crippling mental issues, but ultimately they became distracted by larger conflicts. Ironically, Norman Osborn probably assisted Sentry in coming to terms with his neuroses better than anybody else, partially to utilize him as a weapon, but also at least a little because he could sympathize. However, regardless of his intentions, Osborn's meddling would lead to Reynolds' ultimate unraveling and the end of The Sentry as we knew him.
Spotlight Comic: DARK AVENGERS #2-The Sentry unleashed against Morgan le Fay!

First Appearance: INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #8 (2009)
Why She Makes the List: A low-level S.H.I.E.L.D. accountant who dreamed big, Victoria Hand thought just outside the box enough for Norman Osborn to see in her a greater potential. For one year, Ms. Hand attempted to steer Dark Reign in something resembling the right direction and keep her boss at least somewhat under control; she failed of course, but you can't fault a lady for trying. Before Osborn's rise to power, Victoria Hand was nobody, and now after all the thugs and murderers she attempted to maintain a hold over have gone on to their just punishment, she'll continue to fight the good fight, but this time on the right side.
Spotlight Comic: INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #8-Victoria Hand enters the orbit of Norman Osborn!

First Appearance: THE HOOD #1 (2002)
Learn More About Him...here
Why He Makes the List: Really, Dark Reign was The Hood's idea. Parker Robbins was the guy who united some of Marvel's most overlooked villains in the wake of Civil War and made them a force to be reckoned with. Norman Osborn merely took Hood's idea to the next level with bigger power players, and acknowledged his plagiarism by offering Parker a seat at his table. The Hood endured great loss during Dark Reign, becoming estranged from his family and losing control of his powers, but he also proved he could hang with the nastiest folks around, ensuring that we haven't heard the last of the would-be Kingpin of Super Villains.
Spotlight Comic: DARK REIGN: THE HOOD #1-Parker Robbins attempts to strike a balance between his family and quest for power!

First Appearance: JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #85 (1962)
Learn More About Him...here
Why He Makes the List: While Norman Osborn may have been running Dark Reign while the cameras were on, behind the scenes, the God of Mischief was pulling all the strings. Between prodding his "benefactor" in just the direction he hoped, allying with and betraying Doctor Doom as he pleased, and sending the Mighty Avengers on one wild goose chase after the other, Loki probably achieved more than any of his contemporaries-not that he thinks he has any-over the past year. He banished his hated half-brother from their home, he had Earth's Mightiest Heroes playing his games, and he even regained his masculine features. In the end what undid Loki was less that he didn't plan for every eventuality, but more that he just didn't care so long as he was enjoying himself.
Spotlight Comic: THOR #600-Loki's machinations get Thor exiled from Asgard!

First Appearance: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #14 (1964)
Learn More About Him...here
Why He Makes the List:
Dark Reign begins and ends with Norman Osborn. It was ignited by Norman being in the right place at the right time and being intelligent to take advantage of the tools at his disposal; it came crashing down because he reached far beyond his grasp, as pretty much everybody knew he eventually would. But perhaps no aspect of Osborn's year in power was as complexly fascinating as his somewhat unexpected inner turmoil. Despite setting out simply to amass power and further his own ends, the short-lived Iron Patriot did accomplish some positive things during his ride at the top and at times seemed to have the greater good in mind; unfortunately, the Green Goblins haunting his mind would never have let any noble ambitions truly flourish.
Spotlight Comic: DARK AVENGERS #1-Norman Osborn forms his Dark Avengers!


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Agree with you there, Jedi. I am surprised that Victoria Hand gets a spot and a high one at that. She had a lot of key moments, especially in the List:Hulk issue.