Comics Nexus Staff Discusses New Avengers #16.1: The Return of Norman Osborn

With New Avengers #16.1 , Norman Osborn brought back by Brian Michael Bendis, and the staff weighs in.


Matt Graham is sick of Osborn: New Avengers needs to stop forcing Osborn like this. I liked the turn in Siege, but the Cult of Osborn? I’m not really thrilled to see the Dark Avengers return. Neal Adams is cool, but the plot hasn’t aged as well as he has.


But Grey Scherl really liked the return of Osborn, in theory: There was a lot of potential in bringing Norman back with a new Dark Avengers, even if Bendis actually capped that entire era pretty nicely with Siege. Norman as a figure head for evil I can get behind, but just….not like this. He feels more like Lex Luthor than Norman Osborn, and that includes just how by the numbers his break out is. You know it’s coming and I doubt most readers will be faked out by the initial swerve. Or any swerves. I hope the arc spinning out of this is good, because this issue is cookie cutter. It’s also a waste of Neal Adams whose work looks good enough, but nowhere near what I was expecting from the legendary artist. I’ll give it a 6/10, and acknowledge that the opening pages reminding us that Norman is still psychotic saves this issue. There’s only so much Lex Luthor I can stand in my Osborn, so something distinctly Norman helps.

Glazer’s Take: I really liked Norman in Spider-books, but, if we’re being honest, his character arc ended before most of us were born.  So, since he’s back, mostly because no one stays dead, he needed a new point in existing.  The unstable leader of a team of government villains worked for a former captain of industry.  Running everything, no matter the route he took, when he’s a publicly known criminal and mass murderer who dressed as a goblin and threw pumpkin bombs?  That stretches credulity more than I can really handle.


That said, Dark Avengers was a good plot, you just kind of have to divorce Norman from his past.  If you look at him as just an unstable villain in a huge position of power, well, he’s essentially Lex Luthor, but at least that character works.  Then Bendis got cute and followed Ellis’ lead and had the fact that he’s the Green Goblin rubbed into our faces, only without any nuance.  That really strained the stories, particularly how outright villainous he was being without anyone really questioning it.  Again, had he been mostly good, but had it out for Spider-Man to the point of obsession, this is then a situation that works, but that’s not what we did.  The guy went nuts and the empire collapsed none too soon, since the story had collapsed far sooner.


And now we have a book with the magical escape of a character who should be long dead and couldn’t last time support the incarnation they had him in by the writer who couldn’t make that incarnation work to begin with.  All of this is to say, Osborn is back in circulation, it feels too soon, and the story that accomplishes it?  Nothing special.  All this Cult of Osborn stuff is going on with or without him, and, really, this group is much less threatening than, say, Hydra.  Osborn without the government backing is a Spider-Villain with henchmen.  Maybe this will work when the new Dark Avengers turn up, but until then, it’s a mess that’s asking a lot of the character because of plot demand, not his earning it.  But, hey, Neal Adams art! 5/10 ( the art props it up).

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