Dark Avengers is an American comic book series published by Marvel Comics. It is part of a series of titles that have featured various iterations of the superhero team Avengers. Unusually, the series stars a version of the team that, unknown to the public in its fictional universe, contains several members who are supervillains disguised as established superheroes.
The series debuted with issue #1, dated January 2009, as part of a multi-series story arc entitled "Dark Reign". In the premiere, writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mike Deodato (working from a continuity begun in a previous, company-wide story arc, "Secret Invasion", involving an infiltration of Earth by the shape-shifting alien Skrulls and that race's eventual defeat) chronicled the aftermath of the U.S. government's disbanding of the federally sanctioned superhero team, the Avengers. Bendis described the thinking behind the team: "These are bad-ass, hardcore get-it-done types. They'll close the door and take care of business and he's dressing them up to make them something that the people want". This is in contrast to the changes Osborn is shown making to the Thunderbolts, where, according to writer Andy Diggle, he turns that team into "something much more covert and much more lethal: his own personal hit squad".
The government assigned the team's redevelopment to Norman Osborn (the reputedly reformed supervillain the Green Goblin) whom the government had previously assigned to head the superhero team the Thunderbolts and who had become a public hero for his role in repelling the Skrull threat. Osborn, also given leadership of the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D., reforms that agency into H.A.M.M.E.R. and creates a new Avengers team under its aegis.
The premiere issue introduces this new version, mixing former Thunderbolts with other characters. The initial line-up consists of the Sentry, Ares, Noh-Varr (now Captain Marvel) as well as disguised supervillains Moonstone (portraying Ms. Marvel), Venom III (portraying Spider-Man after being given a formula that resets the symbiote back to the size it was when it possessed Spider-Man), Bullseye (portraying Hawkeye) and Wolverine's disgruntled son Daken taking on the Wolverine mantle. Osborn also takes on the identity of Iron Patriot in a red, white, and blue themed Stark-tech armor.
In the first storyline, the team is shown rescuing Doctor Doom from Morgan le Fay.
As of Dark Avengers #1, the members are:
- Iron Patriot (Norman Osborn)
- The Sentry
- Spider-Man (Venom)
- Wolverine (Daken)
- Hawkeye (Bullseye)
- Captain Marvel (Noh-Varr)
- Ms. Marvel (Moonstone)