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Osborn: Evil Incarcerated Paperback – June 15, 2011
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Norman Osborn is in prison following his rise as head of world security, boss of H.A.M.M.E.R., the Thunderbolts and his dark Avengers team, then his fall at the end of his coup d'etat and siege of Asgard. The former Green Goblin and Iron Patriot is being held without charge. A senate committee on human rights debates on how best to proceed with his trial but a ballsy senator transfers him from the Raft, the usual place of incarceration for super criminals, to a secret location. Meanwhile, a secret "Goblin Cult" of followers would see Osborn free from his shackles.
Norah Winters of the Daily Bugle is using her investigative journalism talents to good use as she follows a story on "where is he now?" She ends up caught in the middle of a prison riot and Osborn's escape attempts.
I bought this trade paperback as I was intrigued with Osborn after he appeared in Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis - Volume 3 by Brian Michael Bendis (Nov 28 2012) proclaiming to the world's media and the President of the USA about his lack of due process and his illegal imprisonment. Until that point I had only read Siege which details his dark Avengers attack on Asgard and his subsequent downfall.
At the time, I found this story boring and the book ended up gathering dust on a shelf. However, now that I've caught up a bit more on Osborn's rise to power during the Dark Reign era, including the Dark Avengers books, I've re-read this story and found it a much better read and I have a better understanding of why he would have his own cult.
This is still just an ok story though. It could have been so much better with perhaps more recognisable villains and even the odd superhero making even just cameo appearances. Iron Man, for example, would have been an obvious choice for me, seeing as though Osborn ousted and replaced him as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Spiderman too, for obvious reasons, could have made a cameo appearance. The super criminals that help in Osborn's escape are all new and were created for this story, and are therefore not overly memorable. Dr June Covington however, is an interesting character, and we even get a bonus back-story about her in this book by Warren Ellis, which is actually quite interesting. I gather that she does make an appearance or two, along with Ai Apaec, later on in a couple of Spiderman and Dark Avengers storylines, but Carny Rives, Pryor Cashman and Ai Apaec are instantly forgettable.
This had promise, but unfortunately did not live up to expectations. Kelly Sue DeConnick is a good writer, and whilst there are good parts to this book, they are not consistent throughout. She does however, nail Osborn's character brilliantly. His coldness, his intellect, and his insanity, all come out to play here and this bumps it up from 2 stars to 3. It could have been even 4 stars with better artwork - no disrespect to Emma Rios and Becky Cloonan, whilst decent pencils throughout, they're just not to the high standard of artists that I currently prefer.
I am keeping this book, as opposed to being consigned to the eBay pile, as I'm becoming a fan of all things Osborn related, and I would urge you to get this provided you know enough about Osborn's past achievements (and failures) that got him to this point.
Of all 2010's superhero joints, this one provides a combination that you're unlikely to find elsewhere in the genre: fresh ideas, fresh characters, and art that makes you sit up and take notice immediately. Would you necessarily expect this from a mini-series capping the story of the over-exposed villain from Marvel's summer "event"? And yet, here it is.
If you buy Marvel comics and you don't own this one, it's time to fix that. You won't regret it.
The skinny is:
Overall I would give this comic about 2.5 stars out of 5. It wrestles with a lot of big ideas and is more thought-provoking that 98% of superhero comics. However it is too ambitious with all the topics it wants to cover in the limited space it has and therefore some ideas suffer. Osborn: Evil Incarcerated does successfully paint Osborn in a new more morally complex light without departing from the core character feature of him being pure evil. I would recommend this comic to anyone looking for deeper superhero comics with the caveat that some of the ideas will fall flat.
Synopsis: Norman is transferred to a secret prison with a few other psychos I've never heard of and crafts a plan to escape.
We mainly follow a reporter who works for Ben Urich that attempts to find out what really happened to Norman after he was arrested.
The writing isn't page turning, but is engaging enough to see the book through. We get to see inside Norman's head and follow a little political intrigue that surrounds him. Buy this book if you enjoyed Siege or like the spiderman universe.