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Following the Skrull Invasion, Norman Osborn, formerly the villain known as the Green Goblin, was placed in charge of the law enforcement agency formerly known as S.H.I.E.L.D. (now H.A.M.M.E.R.) after he dealt the killing blow to Skrull Queen Veranke. The 50-State Initiative fell under the Thunderbolts Initiative, itself under Osborn's control. Tony Stark was blamed for the invasion and became a fugitive, allowing Osborn to seize Avengers Tower and control over the officially sanctioned Avengers team.[2]

Void (Dark Sentry) (Earth-616) and Cabal (Dark Illuminati) (Earth-616) from Dark Avengers Vol 1 15 001

Avengers Tower

Seeking to cement his grip on power Osborn formed the Cabal, a covert group made up of Namor of Atlantis, Emma Frost of the X-Men, Doctor Victor Von Doom of Latveria, Loki of Asgard, and the criminal known as the Hood. Under Iron Man's, Nick Fury's and S.H.I.E.L.D.'s watch, the Cabal members' agendas could not be achieved, but Osborn promised to give them all an opportunity to reach their goals. In exchange, Osborn could appear to be the one who finally got the unruly members of the Cabal "under control", and could call upon them for mutually beneficial favors.[3]

Frost was recruited due to being the leader of the X-Men as well as former leader of the Hellfire Club, and because he believed a telepath might keep the group honest. Dr. Doom could forge an alliance between the the U.S and Latveria. The Hood was instructed to have every member of his syndicate register with the Thunderbolts to be assigned to teams. Loki would eventually gain full control of Asgard and Namor could finally mutually cooperate with surface dwellers.[3] To ensure the loyalty of the Cabal, Norman threatened to unleash the Void on them if they stepped out of line.[4]

The members of the Cabal agreed to the arrangement, but all of them would continue to pursue their own goals. Namor and Doctor Doom had a longstanding relationship, and both agreed to let Osborn's schemes play out, with the understanding that after he inevitably imploded, Doom would rule the land and Namor the seas.[3]

As part of her scheme to be reborn, Loki would manipulate Osborn to hasten his fall. She manipulated the Mighty Avengers to make them a thorn in Osborn's side. Shortly after Thor released all the trapped Asgardians from their mortal vessels, Loki contacted Victor von Doom and struck a bargain, offering the Asgardians a home in Latveria if they banished Thor. After the Son of Satan, Doctor Strange, and Doctor Voodoo joined forces to magically purge Dormammu from his vessel, the Hood, Loki visited Robbins, revealing to him her desire to use him as an additional instrument to hasten Osborn's collapse, and gave him a "second chance", thus making him indebted to her. Loki, Madame Masque, and the Hood journeyed together to Cuba and located the Asgardian Norn Stones to serve as a new power source for the Hood.[5]

Sharing a romantic past, Frost made a secret deal with Namor, vowing to protect the latter's psyche from Osborn if and when he would betray them, in exchange for Namor swearing an oath to protect mutantkind. Namor and Osborn's own disagreements arose from the handling of a cell of Atlantean terrorists. Namor's cousin, the Agent of Atlas Namora, attempted to sabotage Osborn and his forces, further weakening their partnership. As the X-Men and Osborn's "Dark" X-Men prepared to face off, Emma finally revealed her role as a double agent, hardened through her discovery of Xavier's torture at the hands of H.A.M.M.E.R., and defeated the Dark X-Men with Namor's assistance. Osborn ordered the Dark Avengers and Dark X-Men to bring him Namor's head and Emma Frost's heart, and to make sure that Summers saw them do it, but was forced to stand down after and grudgingly accept the new mutant nation of Utopia.[6]

After beginning to lose control of his sanity, Osborn has a violent confrontation with Doctor Doom, which results in Doom bombarding Avengers Tower with a bio weapon before resigning from the Cabal. The Cabal is officially disbanded after the Siege of Asgard which results in Osborn's imprisonment.[7]


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