By Kevin Mahadeo
This December, Noh-Varr finally decides if he really wants to be naughty or nice in the first ever DARK AVENGER ANNUAL by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Chris Bachalo.
The story picks up on a lingering thread from the main DARK AVENGERS series, namely Marvel Boy going missing after discovering that his team consists of murders and psychopaths. As Bendis explains, because of his alien heritage and time spent locked away, the young Marvel Boy had no idea about the true background of the team he joined. The young hero wanted to do some good in the world, but sometimes you don't always get what you want-and after finding out the ugly truth, Marvel Boy decided to run away from home and left Avengers Tower.
"Of course, Norman Osborn will not allow that to happen," says Bendis. "So, not only is this [annual] the chase for Marvel Boy, it is also about what Marvel Boy's place in the Marvel Universe will be in this Dark Reign world that we're living in. It's a very big chapter for the Dark Avengers and it's a very big chapter for Captain Marvel/Marvel Boy fans. And there's a Sentry versus Marvel Boy fight that will not end the way you think it will. People hear Sentry versus Captain Marvel and people might think that will be over very quickly, but not necessarily. He's got Spider-Man level powers and insect-related superpowers, but he's got a lot of tech, some of which we've seen in glorious display and some that we haven't. He's got an arsenal."
The annual also re-teams Bendis with Bachalo; the two creative powerhouses recently made comic book magic together on NEW AVENGERS during the "Search for the Sorcerer Supreme" arc. A longtime fan of Bachalo's pencils, Bendis jumped at the chance to work with him on NEW AVENGERS. After seeing the outcome, the writer immediately knew he wanted the artist alongside him for the DARK AVENGERS ANNUAL.
"It's the same feeling that I had when I started working with Leinil Yu," gushes Bendis. "I thought, 'This will be fun.' Then the pages came out and they're so fantastic. I asked him to do this annual because I thought his very unique cartooning style and his very dark and creepy view of things would be perfect for an alien's look at the world. It gives such a different perspective and would be such a wonderful match."
Bendis also looks forward to this annual as a way of exploring one of his favorite themes in the Marvel Universe, that of redemption, with one of his favorite characters. The issue explores the idea of whether Marvel Boy went too far or made a mistake so large he can't be redeemed. Bendis' redemption arc on the character actually began in during the NEW AVENGERS: ILLUMINATI limited series where, after Noh-Varr declared war on Earth in the name of the Kree Empire, the members of the secret society took the teenage rebel on a bit of an enlightenment trip and showed him what the legacy of Captain Marvel truly meant.
"I like someone having to grow up," says Bendis. "I like someone looking back at their youth and going, 'What an idiot,' and trying to get past that and become the man they should be. He's the Jerry Maguire of comics. I love him for the man he is and I love him for the man he almost is. It's really the best of what Marvel Comics are made of; with characters looking for redemption and looking for their special place in the world."
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