- To me, my Avengers!
In the aftermath of the Skrull Invasion, Norman Osborn became head of the Fifty-State Initiative, the Thunderbolts Initiative and S.H.I.E.L.D.. He disbanded all three with different results. S.H.I.E.L.D. reformed into H.A.M.M.E.R. with Osborn as its Director, the Thunderbolts became a secret black-ops team for him and his Cabal and the Fifty State Initiative came under his control after its founder, Tony Stark, was blamed for the Secret Invasion and became a hunted fugitive.
Osborn's first action as Director of H.A.M.M.E.R. was recruiting former S.H.I.E.L.D. business affair operative Victoria Hand as his Deputy Director, while relieving Maria Hill from active duty. Now also in charge of the government sponsored Avengers, Osborn began recruiting new members in his favor due to the resignation of most of the original team. Among his selection were former Thunderbolts Bullseye, Moonstone and Venom due to their loyalty to Osborn during the final battle of the recent Skrull invasion whom he dressed up as other heroes with Bullseye filling the role of Hawkeye, Venom as Spider-Man and Moonstone as Ms. Marvel. Former Mighty Avengers Ares and Sentry remained on the team despite many of their original teammates' departure, offering their full services to their new director, Norman Osborn, with Sentry being offered help with his mental problems, and Ares merely following his new leader.
Despite his success, Osborn failed to recruit former Mighty Avengers team leader Carol Danvers (Ms. Marvel), who refused employment from the former super villain and mass murderer. Osborn's final recruits were the unstable, murderous mutant Daken (taking the role of his father, Wolverine, in one of his old costumes) and the alien Kree invader Noh-Varr (as the new Captain Marvel). Osborn completed the lineup as the Iron Patriot, an Iron Man suit painted to invoke the heroic imagery of Captain America. This new Avengers team was a dark splinter in the Avengers mythos that included vigilante-like new members and old roster favorites with hidden agendas.
After receiving a distress call from Doctor Doom, a member of his Cabal, Osborn led the Avengers on their first mission, to save Doom from the hordes of demons led by Morgan Le Fay. While the Avengers appeared to immediately win the battle after Sentry decapitated Morgana when they first arrived, he quickly disintegrated as Morgana returned. Due to her status as a time traveler, killing her simply resulted in her returning from the past. As more and more of the Avengers fell Osborn asked Doom to use the time-machine located in his armor. Doom agreed and the two of them returned to the past and defeated Morgana there.
Osborn soon came under attack from the original Hawkeye, Clint Barton who accused Osborn of being a madman and murderer who was manipulating the American public for his own purposes. While attempting to spin this in his favor on national television, San Francisco was attacked by Atlantean Terrorists. Osborn attempted to force Namor, a member of his Cabal to disown the terrorists and stop them, but Namor refused and left them. Norman instead dispatched Sentry (who had survived his disintegration at the hands of Morgana through unknown menas) who quickly destroyed the terrorists.
His Avengers continued to fight a variety of threats, such as Bor Burison's rampage in New York, renegade heroes like the Young Avengers and many more. After realizing that Osborn's team of Avengers were composed of villains and psychopaths, Noh-Varr decided to leave the Avengers. Osborn dispatched the Sentry to bring him back but failed when Noh-Varr managed to make contact with the Kree who bestowed him with new Nega-Bands.
After the mutant X-Men led by Cyclops established an independent nation on the shores of San Francisco, Norman resolved to deal with the mutant problem once and for all. He created his own "X-Men" team in order to appease mutants and deployed H.A.M.M.E.R. troops along with his Avengers in order to control the protests and social unrest that had broken out in San Francisco. Together with Dark Beast he worked on a way to dampen mutant abilities. He and his Avengers clashed with the X-Men but after being betrayed by Namor and Emma Frost, both of whom were members of his X-Men team and his Cabal, he was forced to retreat and leave the mutants to their own devices.
Osborn was contacted by a high ranking member of the government who asked Osborn to locate his missing daughter. Osborn traced her to a small town called Dinosaur where many people had gone missing lately. Osborn, his Avengers and a Hammer Helicarrier were sent to investigate. Things started going wrong almost immediately when Sentry - their first man on the scene - suddenly exploded. Osborn went in to investigate but found the Molecule Man present. The Molecule Man trapped each of the Avengers in a different way and declared the area under his control. The Sentry - whom the Molecule Man had disintegrated earlier - suddenly reappeared and confronted the Molecule Man. He revealed that he also possessed control over molecules and forced the Molecule Man to put everything back together. Sentry then disintegrated him.
Upon returning to New York, the Sentry's wife Lindy shot him with one of Noh-Varr's guns in an attempt to kill him. She appeared to have succeeded and revealed the truth of the Sentry's origins. That he was just a junkie that had stumbled upon a formula that granted him his enormous powers while looking for drugs. Lindy theorized that the reason he couldn't control his powers was that he was simply unworthy of them and that he built up an addiction to power and fame. Sentry simply rose however, this time with the Void in control and mocked Lindy's theories. After the Void made it clear that he was going to kill Lindy, Sentry attempted to kill himself by flying into the Sun. This failed however and with the Void now in control he returned to New York.
He began destroying New York until Osborn managed to talk him down. Osborn also ordered Bullseye to murder Lindy in order to make him more reliant and obedient towards Osborn. The Sentry's descent into madness, the volatility of the team all of whom attempted to undermine each other and Osborn and the stressful nature of his job further exacerbated Osborn's own descent into insanity as perpetrated by Loki.
Loki managed to convince Osborn of the danger of having Asgard on Earth. He claimed that this was a threat to the natural order and that Asgard needed to return to its rightful place among the Nine Realms. Loki and Osborn managed to trick Volstagg into destroying a stadium full of people when deflecting energy blasts fired by villains under Osborn's command. This gave Osborn reason to attack Asgard. Osborn mobilized all of the forces under his command such as the Avengers, HAMMER, Thunderbolts, etc. He also managed to trick Ares into believing that Loki had taken over Asgard in order to sway Ares to his side and make him draw up battle plans for the invasion.
The Asgardians were aided by the real heroes who fought Norman's forces. What both Norman and Loki hadn't counted on however was the madness and power of the Sentry. After the events of New York the Void was now the dominant personality within the Sentry. After Ares found out that Osborn had tricked him, he attempted to kill him but was torn in half by the Sentry. After Osborn was taken down by the heroes he ordered the Sentry to destroy Asgard which he did, leaving nothing but rubble.
Loki realized that he had gone too far and prayed for help from his father Odin. He used the Norn Stones to empower the heroes fighting on the side of Asgard in order to give them a chance. The Sentry - who had completely lost control of himself - noticed this and killed Loki. Tony Stark managed to take control of the HAMMER helicarrier and dropped it on the Void which made him revert to his human form. The Sentry begged the heroes to kill him but Thor refused, vowing to make him pay for his crimes. The Sentry began transforming back into the Void however which forced Thor to kill him.
In the aftermath of Siege, Osborn, his Avengers and his underlings were arrested, with the exception of Daken who managed to flee.
The New Dark Avengers
When Norman Osborn was broken out of prison and took control of a new H.A.M.M.E.R., with HYDRA, A.I.M. and the Hand following him, he assembled a new team of Dark Avengers formed by Ai Apaec as Spider-Man, Trickshot as Hawkeye, Toxic Doxie as Scarlet Witch, Superia as Ms. Marvel, Gorgon as Wolverine and Skaar.
His new team made their first public appearance when Victoria Hand advised them about a situation at Miami, while she delayed the New Avengers, who arrived later, when the Dark Avengers already established control. The New Avengers started fighting Osborn's team until they saw they weren't prepared for it, Doctor Strange teleported the team to a rooftop, but then Ragnarok appeared. As Ragnarok nearly destroyed the team with a mighty strike from his hammer, he injured Wolverine and overpowered Luke Cage then tried to kill Spider-Man. Both Luke Cage and Wolverine managed to almost destroy Ragnarok, who they left to Osborn after leaving the scene.
When the S.W.A.T. seized Avengers Mansion under Osborn's command, Cage's team became fugitives and hide in Victoria Hand's apartment. When the team was about to hunt the New Avengers, Skaar betrayed and attacked them.
When the Thunderbolts went missing in time, the Dark Avengers were recruited as their replacements. Luke Cage volunteered to be their supervisor with Skaar acting as Luke's muscle on the inside. The Dark Avengers were sent the Sharzhad on their first mission. They quickly came into contact with the forces of Dagan Shah in the form of monsters. They defeated them, displaying great team work; however it became clear that the Dark Avengers had an agenda of their own after taking off and leaving Skaar and Cage behind. They tracked down Wender and invaded Shah's palace in order to reach the source of his power; a Rigellian subspace pocket. After bringing Wender here he began to channel all of the energy present.
The Dark Earth
After the end of their involvement with the Thunderbolts, Toxic Doxie, Ragnarok, Trickshot, Ai Apaec and Moonstone were loaded onto a transport ship, escorted by John Walker and Skaar. When an explosion hit their ship, Man-Thing panicked and opened a wormhole. They found themselves stranded in an alternate Earth. In this world, all the major superheroes had become warlords of their factions, fighting over New York City.
Toxic Doxie, Ragnarok, Trickshot, Ai Apaec, and Walker were captured by Iron Man's forces. Doxie broke free, taking control of Pym, who worked for Iron Man, and the lab, using it to experiment on her teammates. Meanwhile, Moonstone and Skaar were captured by Doctor Strange, who used magic to enslave them. Doxie used her bio-engineering skills to restore Walker's lost limbs with the Venom symbiote, shrunk Ai Apaec to miniature size, and performed heavy surgery in Ragnarok's brain.
The Dark Avengers went to kill Strange, hoping to free Skaar and Moonstone. After fighting Thing's forces on behalf of Strange, Moonstone was able to sneak away back to the lab, finding Ragnarok awakening. Iron Man attacked them, by the awakened Ragnarok was able to defeat him, although Stark's consciousness escaped to another suit. Pym was killed in the conflict. After the surgery, Ragnarok was finally aware of his status as a clone cyborg. Moonstone brought him the Mjolnir of the Dark Earth's Thor, and Ragnarok was able to wield it.
Skaar, meanwhile, learned from Reed Richards and a captured A.I.M. agent that A.I.M. was behind the Dark Earth, having twisted reality with temporal manipulation, and this pocket dimension was about to collapse due to to the Dark Avengers' presence. Ai Apaec was able to kill Strange by poisoning him. Moonstone and Skaar were freed, and the united Dark Avengers went after A.I.M.. They escaped the pocket dimension as it collapsed, returning to New York proper. Skaar abandoned them, and Toxic Doxie stepped on a still-shrunken Ai Apaec. U.S. Agent appeared to be leading them, but Doxie was in fact controlling his mind.
The team would seemingly be disbanded, considering their members would later appear working on their own, or retired from superheroics.
Each teammates' arsenal
For the most part the Dark Avengers have been comprised of villains posing as heroes, impersonating heroes who have been part of the Avengers or associated with them. A list of assumed identities are:
- A Captain Marvel: Marvel Boy (Noh-Varr).
- A Hawkeye: Bullseye.
- Two Ms. Marvels: Moonstone (Karla Sofen) and Superia (Deidre Wentworth).
- A Scarlet Witch: Toxie Doxie (June Covington).
- Two Spider-Men: Venom (Mac Gargan) and Ai Apaec.
- A Trickshot: Charles Barton.
- Two Wolverines: Daken and Gorgon (Tomi Shishido).
Some either retained their original identities, or assumed brand new ones. In both cases, their role was often close to a classic function or symbolic of the Avengers:
- American Son (Harry Osborn), Norman Osborn's son, combination of American symbolism, Goblin and Super-Soldier Serums and armor.
- Ares, God of War.
- Iron Patriot, Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin, leader of H.A.M.M.E.R. and Dark Avengers. Iron Patriot Armor created from stolen Iron Man Armors. Combines both Iron Man and Captain America's symbolism.
- Luke Cage, instructor of the Thunderbolts Program
- Skaar, son of Hulk, Gamma-mutate and alien.
- US Agent, director of the Thunderbolts Program, Captain America-like identity.
- Sentry, schizophrenic God-like powered Avenger.
- Ragnarok, Clone-cyborg of Thor.
- Victoria Hand, liaison with H.A.M.M.E.R..
- 19 members of Dark Avengers (Earth-616)
- 144 appearances of Dark Avengers (Earth-616)
- 10 minor appearances of Dark Avengers (Earth-616)
- 22 mentions of Dark Avengers (Earth-616)
- 91 images of Dark Avengers (Earth-616)
- Gallery of Dark Avengers (Earth-616)