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    Saturday Showdown: Who is Norman’s Secret Weapon?

    By , , and | November 14th, 2009
    Posted in Columns | % Comments

    With Brian Michael Bendis’ Dark Reign culminating event Siege coming up, there is a lot of excitement. We have the return of the classic Avengers, we have an epic battle over the fate of Asgard, and much, much more. Yet perhaps the plot point that is being received with the most interest on the eve of Siege is this: who is Norman Osborn’s secret weapon? This entire time, Osborn has kept some serious heavy hitters (Loki, Dr. Doom, etc. etc.) in line by promising them their heart’s desire, but he’s also had something going for him: the support of a shrouded benefactor…someone whose support ensures that everyone else will not leave the company path.

    With Siege: The Cabal revealing this soon enough, we’ve decided to take an atypical approach to our Saturday Showdown this week. All four writers at Multiversity (Matt, Gil, Brandon and myself) have chosen who we believe will be the man behind the man, and then supported the ideas. There are so many good options out there, yet we all think we’re right. What do you think? Please share in the comments and keep the discussion going.

    Matt says The Sentry: The question of who is Norman’s secret weapon is a pretty hot item in the Marvel U right now when it comes to Siege. We have a lot of guesses as well as a teaser out there in order to create buzz to this, but I feel the answer is much simpler than that. There is one character that Norman has been preening for some time now, slowly gaining confidence with as well as developing a large level of trust with, and that hapless chump is David’s favorite character in all of the Marvel U: The Sentry.

    Now, the Sentry is neither inherently good or evil, to be quite honest. In his inception he did maintain status as a hero, but as time grew and he became more of a murky character due to being a schizophrenic and willing into existence the being known as The Void, the line for the Sentry has been blurred. He was a New Avenger. He was a Mighty Avenger. He was also an agoraphobic mess who wouldn’t leave his house. He hid in a cave for a while. Now he’s a Dark Avenger and he’s pretty much Norman’s golden boy (pun intended). He relates with Osborn on a level the others don’t, because Osborn too wrestles with his set of personal demons and nightmares like him. He looks at Norman as a sort of a mentor as well as a friend when it comes to battling inner demons, and he has pulled through for Norman in the past, like when the Atlanteans attacked San Francisco. The Sentry has stopped a bullet shot by the Punisher miles away from killing Norman literally a split second before impact, and the Sentry also dealt with Moon Knight on his vendetta against Norman. He will do what Norman says when Norman says and how Norman says at the drop of a hat. It’s easy enough to put two and two together here.

    We’ve also noticed two things about the Sentry in the past. The first is that he is very much unable to die and stay dead. In the opening arc of Dark Avengers when the Dark Avengers teamed up with Dr. Doom against Morgan Le Fay, the Sentry died. Yet, as the Avengers returned home to Avengers Tower, the Sentry was waiting for them with no explanation as to how or why. While in the latest issue of Dark Avengers he may have disappeared, I doubt that is the last we’ll see of him. That and it is clear Bendis loves the character, considering how the Sentry has stayed as an Avenger whenever Bendis starts up a new team book. That and the Sentry is on the cover of one the Siege tie-in books, so let’s bet on him not being “dead” again. The second thing we noticed is that the Sentry is very much a deus ex machina. Remember World War Hulk? Do you remember how that ended? Yeah, that wouldn’t have happened without the Sentry being brought in to rumble. As David stated in the past, he is so powerful a character he had to be written out of the previous events like Secret Invasion. Of course, what character would be all about exploiting power? Yeah. You got it. Stormin’ Norman.

    Continued below

    So will the Sentry pop up as the tide turner again? I’d bet on it, to some capacity. Sentry has been Norman’s little puppy dog for a while now, so that’d define him as a “secret weapon” in my book.

    David says Thanos:When contemplating who exactly I think will be the man behind Norman Osborn’s evil and mostly crazy back, supporting him throughout and being the strong arm behind him to make sure such powerful members of the “Illumi-naughty” such as Dr. Doom and Loki stay in line, you really have to think of some really key character traits.

    1. Who is the conqueror type and regularly tries to take over the world/universe?
    2. Who has the motivation?
    3. Who has the kind of power to make this happen?
    4. Who would make the best twist in the story?
    5. Who fits best in the timeline of Bendis’ extensive plan?
    6. Who has the most to gain?

    Before analyzing these questions, let’s cull the list to only include those on the front cover of the Siege: The Cabal’s “Who is Norman’s Secret Weapon?” poster. That gives us Nate Grey, Molecule Man, Odin, The Beyonder, Scarlet Witch, Thanos, and Mephisto. An intriguing group, assuredly, but one that seems to have some obvious choices to remove up front. Let’s assume everyone is an option though and carry forth.

    1. Who is the conqueror type and regularly tries to take over the world/universe?

    The Beyonder, Thanos, Mephisto.

    2. Who has the motivation?

    The Beyonder, Thanos, Odin (sort of)

    3. Who has the power to make this happen?

    All of the above.

    4. Who would make the best twist to the story?

    The only ones here that don’t work are Molecule Man (who cares really?) and Nate Grey (too out of left field).

    5. Who fits best in the timeline of Bendis’ extensive plan?

    Scarlet Witch, Odin, Thanos, Mephisto.

    6. Who has the most to gain?

    Thanos, Odin, The Beyonder, Mephisto.

    So based off that list, the only person who appears as an answer to every question is the purple headed tyrant himself, Thanos. Of course, there is one huge, huge, huge problem with that theory: he’s dead. Drax killed him in Annihilation, so that theoretically would remove him as an option. Of course, given that there isn’t a single person on that list that hasn’t been dead or isn’t currently dead, that is really a moot point isn’t it? Plus, we’re talking about comic books, not real life. Dead is a transitory phase at best in the world of mainstream superhero comics.

    So besides the fact that he’s the only character who appears as an answer to all of those question, why do I think he’s the man behind the man? There are a number of reasons. First off, there is the matter of New Avengers: The Illuminati. In issue #2 of that series, the Illuminati come together to attempt to collect the Infinity Gems and then to will them out of existence. They fail, but they do make the decision to give one gem to each member for safe keeping. Given that Osborn’s passion so far in Dark Reign has been to effectively create the reverse of everything the Illuminati did, you could make the argument that he’s making a move for the Infinity Gems.

    Word on the street is Thanos is kind of a fan of those, and given his history you could make the argument that he’d be willing to do anything to get them back: perhaps even becoming a lackey of a puny human. That Bendis has said in the past that he’s looking to bring the Infinity Gems back into the main part of the Marvel Universe (aka Earth) sets us up perfectly for the return of the Not-so-jolly Purple Giant.

    Another thing that has been bandied about recently is the tightening of Marvel Universe proper and Marvel Universe cosmic. For years and years, those two have been far apart both spatially and story wise, and it’s been mutually beneficial. Yet, with some of the all time greatest Marvel stories (Kree/Skrull War, The Dark Phoenix Saga) having origins in space, from what I understand, it’s time for our favorite heroes to go back into space. Take this quote from Bendis during his recent Twitter-thon, for example:

    Continued below

    oh yes!! RT @popculturezoo: @BRIANMBENDIS Any chance of some cosmic-level Avengers stories next year?

    Bendis himself essentially verifies this concept. But of course, they’d need an impetus to return to space, and what better impetus could you get than the raging purple Titan, newly realigned with his beloved Infinity Gems?

    Thanos, regardless of what I call him, is quite intelligent though, and he also knows that for him to get a strong foothold on the universe, he needs to debilitate Earth. Earth is where his greatest adversaries come from, and what better way to do that than to do that from the inside out. Supporting Osborn works out perfectly into his plans, and it really could end up being the flawless return of one of the greatest villains in Marvel history.

    Of course, I could be entirely mistaken. It could end up being Rom: Space Knight for all I know. My two cents though is when this character is revealed in Siege: The Cabal, our boy Thanos will be standing behind Osborn.

    Gil says Odin: Tell me all you want about all the random villains Osborn might have up his sleeve with regards to this Siege event, and I’ll mostly look at you with skepticism. There are a lot of theories, it’s true. But only one really makes sense to me. And that’s the all-father himself, Odin.

    He’s a god
    The thing about all the other possible characters conspiring with Stormin’ Norman is that I’d be hard pressed to figure out a way they would actually care about the gods or even humans enough to want to take on the Asgardians. Of the people we know about, only Odin would have the connection to Asgard (along with the disapproval of how it’s been run) to want to see the leading body ousted. There’s also no love lost between Odin and Loki. So to me, it just makes sense that he would find a way to get back into power by manipulating someone else’s army to take on the gods.

    Finally, he may be “dead”, but when was the last time someone we thought was dead…wasn’t? And when you consider Asgard itself was recently resurrected, it only makes sense Odin would come back with it.

    He’s Not the Sentry

    OK, sure, somehow the only people who can take out gods that aren’t gods themselves are Rulk and The Sentry. When’s the last time Sentry actually did anything? If there’s one thing Sentry doesn’t do, it’s being useful in an event. What’s that you say? A villain who easily outmatches the rest of the Marvel Universe, but is outclassed by the hero with the lamest origin in comics? Oh shoot, there goes Bob and his schizophrenia again. Or maybe it was the agoraphobia? I’m not sure. For all we know, he may have gone on a date with his wife.

    And I wouldn’t call Sentry Norman’s “secret weapon.” Sure, Norman has been influencing the Blonde Bummer from day one, but it’s exactly that reason that tells me it’s not him. This should be a surprise, someone “we wouldn’t think of.” Bob would just be too predictable, and I respect Bendis too much to believe he’d do that. Only Odin would be unexpected enough to where we don’t say “oh. Lame.” But also make exactly the right amount of sense.

    Frankly, if it’s Mephisto, it’s too easy.

    So a leader sells his soul to the devil to gain power on Earth? Been there, done that. In all honesty, this would be the biggest cop out this side of the Sentry. He was already used in the weirdest way possible to make it so Spider-Man never got married to Mary Jane. It would be so contrived it would completely take at least me out of the book entirely.

    The 80’s called, they want their plot devices back.

    That’s right Beyonder. I’m looking at you. Aren’t you a Cosmic Cube anyway? Same goes for you Molecule Man. You may have the mojo, but the motive? I don’t see it. While we’re at it, the same also goes for Thanos. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Thanos. He’s one of my favorite villains of all time, but again, really? Unless there are Infinity Gems in Asgard, why would he care?

    Continued below

    In Conclusion

    In my mind, Odin is the only character who makes enough sense to me. Sure, I could be wrong, but we all could be wrong as well. If it’s not Odin, my only other guess is Foggy Nelson.

    Brandon says ???: Who is Osborn’s secret weapon? Well let’s take this and think about it logically. Who would be scary enough to keep Dr. Doom, Emma Frost, Namor and the Hood in check? It’s gotta be someone burly. Then there is the question of who could be so powerful yet willing to work for Osborn? That’s the real question right there. Who would have something to gain from working to keep Osborn in control of such a mighty crew of villains? Well I have the answer!

    So who is it? Well, I am willing to bet the farm that Osborn’s secret weapon is…Brian Michael Bendis! That’s right good ole Bendis. Who could strike fear in those characters? Bendis! He’d kill them off in an instant and considering he’s Marvel’s main man they’d let him. Who has the most to gain by keeping that crew together under Osborn’s Dark Reign? Bendis! It was his story idea so seeing it succeed would benefit him more than anybody else.

    The other guesses here in the Showdown are really good guesses. Having said that I’m sure it’s clear to see that Bendis has more power than the Sentry and his gazillion exploding moons worth of power. He’s mightier than Thanos and his really pretty gemstone glove. He’s also more devious than Mephisto who many have guessed. I mean Bendis broke the Internet in half and depowered the Mutants. He also disassembled the Avengers. He is the most powerful menace the characters of the Marvel Universe face on a regular basis.

    So in conclusion, I feel that Bendis is the only one with the power and ability to pull of this mighty position of power in the shadows of the Cabal. Only Bendis would want to do something so evil as to keep the evil Osborn in power. I mean he did put him there. So try and disagree but I think you’ll see my reasoning and agree.
    Or maybe it’s Mephisto…

    //TAGS | Saturday Showdown

    David Harper

    David Harper mainly focuses on original content, interviews, co-hosting our 4 Color News and Brews video podcast, and being half of the Mignolaversity and Valiant (Re)visions team. He runs Multiversity's Twitter and Facebook pages, and personally tweets (rarely) @slicedfriedgold. By day, he works in an ad agency in Anchorage, Alaska, and he loves his wife, traveling and biscuits & gravy (ordered most to least, which is still a lot).


    Matthew Meylikhov

    Once upon a time, Matthew Meylikhov became the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Multiversity Comics, where he was known for his beard and fondness for cats. Then he became only one of those things. Now, if you listen really carefully at night, you may still hear from whispers on the wind a faint voice saying, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not as bad as everyone says it issss."


    Gilbert Short

    Gilbert Short. The Man. The Myth. The Legend. When he's not reading comic books so you don't have to, he's likely listening to mediocre music or watching excellent television. Passionate about Giants baseball and 49ers football. When he was a kid he wanted to be The Ultimate Warrior. He still kind of does. His favorite character is Superman and he will argue with you about it if you try to convince him otherwise. He also happens to be the head of Social Media Relations, which means you should totally give him a follow onTwitter.


    Brandon Burpee

    Burpee loves Superheroes, Alaskan IPA, 90's X-Men and is often one more beer away from a quotable.


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