I think it goes without saying that eventually Dark Reign has to end. The real question, IMO, is the when, how, and why of it (not where so much). So what do you guys think? How do you want to see it go?
In introducing the whole "The List" series, it was also explicitly stated that this would serve in many ways as the end to Dark Reign, transitioning over to the next major event.
To me, it looks like there are a few prime candidates for how Dark Reign ends, and a few power players who, in some way or another, will have to have their say in the matter.
1. Nick Fury: With the revelation that
SHIELD was a part of HYDRA the whole time
, it seems like this guy's pissed off and ready to go. He has a team behind him, he's the one who's arguably lost the most, and he, perhaps more than anyone else, knows what's at stake and how he has to position himself to put a stop to all of this. Anyone care to speculate what role he'll play?
2. Heroes for Hire:
Apparently Luke Cage and Iron Fist will be joining the Thunderbolts.
This makes absolutely no sense to me, so I have to assume that it is part of some larger plan. Thoughts?
3. Wolverine, Ms. Marvel, Ronin: Their identities were co-opted by Norman. I have to imagine that htat makes all of this even worse, in its own way, and I expect that we'll see them all pretty clearly reestablish themselves as the worthy wearers of their costumes.
4. Spider-Man: At the end of the day, I have to assume that Spider-Man's going to be the one who gets the final word with Norman. That's the way that it should be, at least.
5. Captain America: With Steve Rogers coming back, he seems to be the natural figurehead that a real resistance movement could organize behind. Added bonus is that he is probably the only surfacer who Namor actually respects, so that might work in his favor. Namor's certainly come to his aid against government forces before.
6. Iron Man: As interesting as this current run on Invincible Iron Man has been, I don't see him actually succeeding at his end goal. Eventually, he's going to have to come up and face the fact that none of this could have happened if he hadn't taken the stance that he did in the Civil War in the first place. For all of the people who have ragged on him since Civil War, this is probably his best shot at redemption in their eyes.
7. Fantastic Four: Up until now, they've mostly stayed out of the whole thing--though that seems to be mostly Millar's doing--but their conflict with Osborn is finally heating up with the DR crossover. Personally, I think that it's outright idiotic of Norman to play hardball with them, since he could have kept them on an extremely long leash and probably avoided conflict altogether if he had wanted to.
Descriptions of "The List" referenced the fact that, fresh off of Utopia, Norman is feeling emboldened. This must mean that his conflict with the X-Men is a pretty resounding success.
All in all, it seems like the X-Men had enough of their own stuff on their plate, to the point that they probably weren't too inclined to get involved in all of this. It looks like Utopia is about HAMMER taking it to them, though, and, add in the upcoming formation of the Dark X-Men, and conflict is bound to happen.
9. Captain America (Bucky): As far as what I would like
to see, this is it. Bucky, realizing that there will always be corrupt individuals like Norman who seek to rule the world and must be... dealt with, realizes the necessity of the Winter Soldier. He resolves that he alone is able and willing to take care of the whole Norman problem, and goes back to WS, at least now knowing that he can finally call the shots. Once Norman's power base is destabilized, Bucky kills him, essentially giving the Marvel Universe a chance to start over, with the combined help of the teams and heroes listed above. In the aftermath, Bucky understands that someone like him (now that he has accepted his role as WS of his own free will) cannot be Captain America, so he gives up the shield, essentially compelling
Steve to reassume his old role, however hesitant he may have been. This is one of the only scenarios I can see where both Bucky and Steve come out of everything as better, nobler, and more interesting characters.