When the Skrulls invasion of Earth comes to a close, Norman Osborn—former maniacal criminal the Green Goblin—manipulates events to become humanity’s savior. He exploits the opportunity and seizes as much power as he can. He gathers six of the most dangerous people alive to do rule the world. Forming the Cabal, he promises them whatever they want in exchange for loyalty.
Formation in Secret
With Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man, taking the blame for the invasion and S.H.I.E.L.D. dismantled, the only peace-keeping task force remaining is handed over to Osborn, who merges the Initiative and the Avengers under one roof known as H.A.M.M.E.R. He calls a meeting with superhuman criminals and rebellious rulers: Namor McKenzie, AKA Namor the Sub-Mariner, the King of Atlantis; X-Men leader and telepath Emma Frost; ousted Latverian monarch, Victor Von Doom, AKA Doctor Doom; Loki Laufeyson, AKA Loki, God of Mischief; and the Super Villain Kingpin Parker Robbins, AKA the Hood. He offers them whatever they want in return for loyalty, to be brothers in arms all so he can say that he was the one who got these unruly rulers under control. His requirement for entry into such a secretive group was that they all register with the Initiative, and thus become legitimate, while supporting his position publicly for living life unpunished. Despite some misgivings from the Hood and Frost, they accept his terms.
Also known as the Dark Illuminati, the Cabal contains some of the most nefarious criminal masterminds. Osborn recruits Frost to read the other Cabal members minds, keeping them all honest, or at least, less able to lie and scheme. He expects that Doom would foster an alliance with Latveria and the U.S., and that the Hood would have his army register with his Thunderbolts team. Loki desires to rule Asgard and return it to the heavens, which Norman agrees to help him in as well. Osborn offers the undersea king Namor cooperation with those on land, something unattainable under Stark, Nick Fury, and S.H.I.E.L.D.’s regime.
While Osborn leads the group and threatens them with a mysterious figure should they betray him, each one of them does not believe he’ll maintain his position of power. Often pairing up and coordinating in secret behind each other’s backs, each Cabal member looks out for themselves.
Thorny Enemies and Tenuous Allies
Considering the Cabal is full of well-documented villainous members, or at least have a criminal history, their foes are legion. Though, their foremost problems come from within their ranks. First, there’s Loki, who plots to facilitate Osborn’s fall from “grace” and offers the Hood power to join his cause, which he gladly accepts after losing his mystical cloak. Loki even makes a side deal with Doom who offers the Asgardians a place in Latveria, but only if they banish Thor Odinson, AKA Thor.
Meanwhile, Frost cuts a deal with Namor—one easy enough to do considering their former romantic entanglement—to protect Namor from Osborn should he become a problem, in exchange for Namor’s protection of mutants.
Plus, Doom and Namor expect Osborn to fail, so they agree that when the time inevitably comes, they would be there to rule the land and the sea, respectively.
A History of Masterful Deceit
While all the Cabal members pursued their own agendas, remaining at Osborn’s beck and call, Loki schemed to rule Asgard and be reborn as their former self, having been resurrected in the body of shieldmaiden of Asgard, Lady Sif. To do so, she’d have to speed up Osborn’s downfall. Loki shaped events to play out in her favor by manipulating the Mighty Avengers to be troublesome to Osborn and made a secret deal with Doom to move Asgard to Latveria. Doom, however, had one caveat for the agreement and that was to banish his old enemy Thor. Loki agreed.
Meanwhile, the Hood lost his cloak in a battle with Daimon Hellstrom, AKA Hellstorm, Dr. Stephen Strange, AKA Doctor Strange, and Jericho Drumm, AKA Doctor Voodoo, who relieved him of Dormammu’s possession. Loki saw an opportunity to use the Hood for her own ends, and offered him the Norn Stones, which would restore his lost power. Parker accepted and with his ally Madam Masque, the trio traveled to Cuba to retrieve the stones. They did so and the stones offered Parker the power he was lacking.
Meanwhile, Frost saw an opportunity to protect mutants by making a decent proposal to Namor. Banking on their previous romantic interlude from years past, she offered to protect his mind from Osborn’s room of Jackals in exchange for his strength to defend mutantkind should Osborn come after her. Interested, he asked her to prove her allegiance to him and she offered him Sebastian Shaw’s head on a platter, since he had once attacked Namor in Atlantis with a Sentinel. Using her telepathic abilities, she hoodwinked Namor into believing she had killed Shaw but not knowing it, he agreed to her deal.
The tension between Namor and Osborn grew after Osborn’s mishandling of an Atlantean terrorist cell and after Namora, Namor’s cousin, tried to sabotage Osborn’s forces. Frost and Namor eventually faced off with the X-Men with Frost revealing herself as a double agent. She defeated Osborn’s forces with Namor by her side. Osborn then ordered his super-powered minions to bring him Namor’s head and Frost’s heart for their deceit.
When the Cabal was falling apart, Doom demanded that Osborn produce Namor during a Cabal meeting at Avengers Tower, with Anthony Masters, AKA Taskmaster, in attendance. In response, Osborn called forth the mysterious figure he had threatened them with at their first meeting—it was Robert Reynolds, AKA the Sentry’s dark half, the Void, who knocked Doom clear across the room and through a wall. But it wasn’t Doom, and instead emerging from his cloak were a myriad of robotic bugs that swarmed Osborn and infested the entire building, forcing the Dark Avengers out of the tower. Seeing that the Cabal was losing members, and after the Siege of Asgard and Osborn’s imprisonment that followed, the Cabal disbanded.