For those not following the series, the Dark Avengers were the previous incarnation of the Thunderbolts. Villains turned hero by choice and by force. They were happily on their way to earning their freedom and becoming a functional part of society once more. That is, until they decided to make a break for it which involved first travelling through time, and when they were returning to the actual 616 universe and time period things appeared to have gone very wrong.

They arrived where they had left off in New York City where various areas were now setup as police states run by heroes. Iron Man, Reed Richards, Doctor Strange, Ben Grimm, and Spider-Man all had their own unique areas. From what little pieces of information we have gathered it sounds like everything ‘was’ like the standard 616 universe until one day something changed. Did the Dark Avengers ruin the timeline while travelling through time? That was an idea to be suspect of but this issue we finally find out something far more sinister is afoot.

We actually find out near the beginning of the issue when a Reed Richards battered by Ben Grimm isn’t nearly out of the fight yet. Skaar is there as well and being forced to watched Moonstone being torchered but as two men in AIM costumes are slinking about Reed uses a device to keep one of them from being able to transport away and things finally start to make sense here.

AIM has created a sliver of displaced time that this alternate pocket universe has created and grown into. They are studying this extensively while using it at the same time. At this point it is unclear as to if they are trying to make new weapons, find weaknesses in the Marvel Superheroes, or show anything about what they have up their sleeves. What we do know is that this isn’t the Earth that the Dark Avengers are supposed to be in and once they all know that there might be a way out.

There’s a lot going on in this issue as the team is split up. In Hell’s Kitchen we see US Agent June Covington and Trickshot (Hawkeye’s brother) all webbed up by this alternate Spider-Man whose spider sense has evolved him into an entirely new creature. He ends up showing them his trust and they begin a trek to Dr. Strange’s area. While they take out some of Strange’s defenses it doesn’t last long as we end up with a dead Spider-Man.

In Iron Man’s little realm we see that the Pym of this world has gotten free of his mind control. At least enough to finally awaken Ragnarok who will be unhappy with the state of things when he fully comes to. In the next two issues I suspect this plot line is going to get wrapped up and our heroes are going to be transferred from Dark Earth back to their own reality. I’m very curious as to how the Dark Avengers are going to fit into the events of the Marvel Now universe and if they will get back pre-Age of Ultron or during the main event itself.

I’m dying to see how they will handle things when returned to normal continuity though have the sneaky suspicion we won’t find out until issue 190 or beyond.

Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Neil Edwards