Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review – Part One

I did things a little differently this week. Part 1 is every Secret Invasion crossover, and Part 2 will be everything else.

Avengers: The Initiative 15

by Dan Slott, Christos N. Gage, and Harvey Tolibao

Picking up from last issue, Crusader manages to fake out 3-D Man just long enough to get away. The virus that invaded all of Stark’s technology spreads to pretty much every aspect of the Initiative and S.H.I.E.L.D., to include War Machine! Slott makes sure to incorporate the religious aspect that is providing the motivation for the entire invasion, and we just have to forget that we have never heard of this religion previously in order for it to work on any level.

Since Marvel has ceased doing their editorial obligations, the flashback that Crusader mentions about Titannus comes from the latest incarnation of Marvel Team-Up #25. The major focus of the rest of the issue is on Crusader, and it’s fairly good, but one of the drawbacks to this series is that they have not managed to make any one character really stand out. Tons of people love Iron Man, Wolverine, Spider-Man, and so on. For a comic like this Ensemble piece, you need enough “screen time” given to a character to make us care about what happens to him or her. As it is, they jump around too much. If this series is going to have a chance to increase readership, it will have to give more attention to some characters, rather than the Initiative itself.

New Avengers 43

by Brian Bendis and Billy Tan

Homage cover to Avengers Annual #2, first series.

We are stuck in the Savage Land, and we have gone further afield than ever before. It wasn’t enough that we had to plod sloooowly through the story of each person taken by the Skrulls, now we have to sit through the story of the fake Skrulls who represent people that haven’t even been kidnapped.

The big reveal? The massive shock? Captain America is a Skrull, just like everyone else, just like we all thought. It is mildly interesting that they still use the same transference process on the Skrull, even though they are not copying Cap’s DNA or soul or anything, they are using different people’s memories and video footage basically. We get Billy Tan art, too, so it’s a very nice issue to pore over with your eyes.

The basic problem is the same with the entire Secret Invasion event, we are spending a year’s worth of stories with not enough happening. Instead of revealing how three or four characters got kidnapped/duplicated/imitated, we are going the opposite direction. We aren’t even seeing a genuine hero get captured; we are seeing a rank-and-file Skrull solider volunteer to become Cap. While Tan’s two-page splash panels are gorgeous, at the end of the day I want to see more story. Plus, the homage covers are starting to get on my nerves. Skrulls are just a little too close to zombies, and we’ve already seen plenty of zombie homage covers, and most of them done better.

My prediction for next issue? More flashbacks that are supposed to be shocking, but will mostly be boring, and not enough progress in the present. Rinse and repeat. They have to finish this someday, yes? Right? Before I qualify for Social Security?

New Warriors 14

by Kevin Grevioux and Koi Turnbull

Speaking of lousy homage covers, this one is even worse. The original picture comes from Uncanny X-Men #100, and the recreation is not as dynamic, not as colorful, and has less meaning, because the two groups don’t even fight in this issue, they just barely meet up.

I was hoping for a new writer and artist, and a change-out of characters, what with Justice and Rage and company leaving the Initiative barracks, but no luck. Last issue the original group pretty much just sat around, complained about their lack of trust in Night Thrasher, and generally did nothing about it. This issue… pretty much just sat around, complained about their lack of trust in Night Thrasher, and generally did nothing about it. See how easy it is to do a re-run? I just typed one myself!

This group has got to be one of the worst rendered groups, always hard to recognize which one is which, and a couple of them are characters I used to like, but now bear no resemblance to what they once were. I propose we reveal them all to be Skrulls. After all, they have Justice jump to that conclusion about Night Thrasher just to have a justification for a tie-in.

I’m expecting a notice of this title to be cancelled any day now.

She-Hulk 31

by Peter David and Vincenzo Cucca

It’s part two of a tie-in story, and Peter David made sure to tell us about reading X-Factor #33 first, and on the front page, no less! Oh, thank you for veteran writers who still care about the readers. The inking is very sparse for the issue, and does not add much to the existing art, which is too bad, because it could use a little touch-up. She-Hulk knows better, but decides to go along with the stupidity of the classic misunderstanding between heroes that leads to a fight. If that is not simply an excuse, perhaps Mr. David will expand upon this in later issues, and get to the crux of why Jennifer feels this way. Hulkish combativeness, or something more personal?

In yet another example of a good writer doing better with a tie-in event than the one who thought of it, Peter David writes circles around Bendis with a plot that is more interesting than anything going on in any Avengers title lately. It will also be concluded sooner. Not bad for someone who spent ten years having Hulk change colors and personalities repeatedly. Maybe having several titles cancelled on Peter David through the years finally convinced him to tighten up his story-telling and not weave multi-decade tales, unlike some people not to be named (cough-Claremont-cough cough-Bendis-cough).

Thunderbolts 122

by Christos N. Gage and Fernando Blanco

The team is back in the field! Everything is up for reassessment after the mental number that was played on them for the last several issues. The interplay between the characters is great, as everybody is delightfully nasty towards each other. We also have some reasonably good artwork.

Not only does Gage give us a transition between the last storyline and bring us up to speed with where the Thunderbolts are in the Secret invasion tie-in, but he also gives us a new Andrea Strucker! (Are you taking notes on pacing, Mr. Bendis?) Is she a Skrull? Is she a genuine clone? Gage hints at the involvement from Arnim Zola, based on a one-shot he wrote earlier. While Deodato was preferred as an artist, the new creative team looks to have some pretty good chops themselves, making this transition a good one, and maintaining my recommendation to keep reading it.

Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.