Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review – Part Two

Look alive, it’s tie-in week! Three new #1 issues for Secret Invasion mini-series.

The Last Defenders 6

by Joe Casey and Jim Muniz

The main idea has finally been revealed, but it might have made things more interesting if they got to this point sooner in the series. The proper “formula” for the makeup of a Defenders team was correct with archetypes: Dr. Strange, Hulk, Nighthawk, and Namor, but those particular individuals were not the “correct” formula. Yandroth appears to have laid the foundation for the proper members to assemble, in the personage of She-Hulk, Krang, Hellstrom, and a new Nighthawk.

The art is rather simplistic, and the story wraps up in a nice little bundle with Richmond out-maneuvering Tony Stark, which strikes me as entirely too convenient, but it allows a sense of conclusion at the end of this mini-series. One gets the sense that somebody was trying to test the waters for a new Defenders series, so they give us an ending that has become all too cliché for a mini-series, with an all-knowing person remarking on how this particular team may be “reality’s greatest hope.” We’ve had too much of that from Chris Claremont lately, but this type of ending would have allowed for Casey to launch a new series and run with it.

My prediction is, they did not secure a good enough artist, and they could have put another idea into six issues, so whatever plans for more Defenders have probably been shelved, except for Millar’s New Defenders over in Fantastic Four.

Secret Invasion 5

by Brian Bendis and Leinil Yu

Oh good, things finally start to happen in issue 5. The Skrull implant of Captain Marvel is easily swayed, as Norman Osborn plays with his emotions quite easily. It’s almost as if the writer forgot that Skrull-Marvel was faking it anyway, to go undercover with the Skrull invasion force. Next Bendis gets to play out his little joke by posting a two-page spread that includes almost every celebrity and political figure you can think of as a Skrull, showing that they were playing at least three sides of the fence. How many of these were Skrulls all along, and how many were Skrulls only for the duration of this one newscast, we will never know, so it is ultimately useless, except for a quick two-page filler joke. Made me chuckle, though.

Agent Brand single-handedly invades a Skrull ship and saves Reed Richards, so I suppose this highly-trained invasion force full of nothing but soldiers is about as dangerous as any average branch of Hydra, which means they should be able to wrap this up in two more issues instead of three. Bendis just takes a scene from one of the Diehard movies and puts Brand in the place of Bruce Willis, and presto! She cuts through every enemy without a whiff of trouble, taking out more than two dozen enemies, sometimes without even looking in the direction she’s firing! I so wish I was that good with a gun…

Then, Maria Hill initiates a self-destruct sequence for the Helicarrier all by herself. Not like Star Trek where you need two or three people for control and verification, nosiree Bob! Here’s what happened: they put someone into Nick Fury’s place that they thought would fail, used her as a place-holder until somebody better came along (Tony Stark), moved her to second-in-command… and made sure she could single-handedly destroy a fifty-bagooglejillion dollar flying carrier with a few cheesy words (and not even at a computer station, just easy as you please out on the top deck). Isn’t it so nice to know that your average paranoid world leaders who wanted to register and control every superhuman… give the power of destruction to one loser person they thought couldn’t handle her job in the first place?

What if Mentallo or someone had taken over her mind, what would have stopped her from turning the Helicarrier into Swiss cheese then? Bendis keeps trying to do these Hollywood movie scenes, but he doesn’t think things through. He is in such a rush (after having done mostly nothing for four issues straight), he just waves aside pesky details like two-person control. They have these controls for nuclear weapons, and the Helicarrier has nukes on board, so why would one person be able to blow the whole thing? Granted, the next page with her flying in front of the wave of destruction is cool, but the story-telling before it was so poor, it’s hard to give credit at this point.

I will give him credit for this, though: we finally get to leave the (censored) Savage land!!!! I am so glad that he finally starts moving things along. Reed gets rescued, Reed MacGyvers up a doohickey to take out all the fake Skrull-heroes, and every single one of them is revealed to be a Skrull… just like I pointed out as soon as they all got off the ship, way back in the first issue. Maybe I wouldn’t have been this harsh, but Bendis made the mistake of hyping this up in interviews as if he was throwing all kinds of brilliant herrings at us, but he hasn’t fooled anyone for even one second. And conveniently, for the sake of moving the story along, all of these fake-heroes that have been giving our real heroes a hard time for going on three issues now? They all simultaneously fold like a house of cards.

Next issue, the heroes will fly back to New York and start saving everyone. Gee, I can’t wait to see what genius surprises they still have in store for us. It’s hard to top revealing Paris Hilton as a Skrull. (Editor’s Note: end sarcasm here)

Secret Invasion: Inhumans 1

by Joe Pokaski and Tom Raney

Just as in DC’s Final Crisis, the best stories are the tie-ins to Secret Invasion, not the main event itself. We open on a history lesson that conveniently leaves out the brutality of the Kree, allowing for the Skrulls to be easily seen as the enemy later. History buffs of fake universes will remember that it was the savage Kree who first attacked the Skrulls first when all this started, umpteen-thousand years ago. Setting aside this slight deviation from history, let’s just go with the idea that it’s the Skrulls who are the main problem from which all bad things come, shall we?

Iron Man finally gets around to bringing the corpse of Skrull-Black Bolt to the Inhumans, throwing their entire civilization into chaos. Maximus jumps on this, going from bored-to-tears to mischievously happy in a couple seconds, perfectly in fitting with his character. There is a cool scene where Triton helps to convince Gorgon that Karnak is not a Skrull, although if Tony Stark had briefed the Inhumans fully, they might realize that a Skrull-Karnak might still be able to have Karnak-like powers. Regardless, the scene is way cool.

Unlike previous invasions, the Skrulls have been very thorough, and have planted spies in every culture, to include the Inhumans. The final scene is interesting, and the art for the whole comic is great, with Scott Hanna providing inks for Tom Raney artwork. Stephan Sejic made a great cover too, so tune in to this series for a visual feast, and what looks like good stories.

Secret Invasion: Runaways/Young Avengers 2

by Chris Yost and Takeshi Miyazawa

The art is still too CGI and simplistic, but they make a better attempt at using the Skrulls to play a bigger part in the meta-story that is Secret Invasion. Xavin explains his desire to defend his new home on Earth, and rails at Teddy from the Runaways for basically being a slacker. The enemy throws yet another Elektra-Skrull at them (I think because they have run out of good ideas, and are recycling faux-Skrulls, not realizing that every time they do it, they are diminishing the impact of the first fake-Skrull imposter).

If this had been better orchestrated (and better drawn), it could have played a much bigger role in the overall Invasion story, but it reads like a missed opportunity. If there’s one tie-in that is just as poor as the main mini-series this is it.

Secret Invasion: Thor 1

by Matt Fraction and Doug Braithwaite

Talk about thorough, not only have the Skrulls planted their kind on Earth and with the Inhumans, have they also managed to get spies into the recently-risen-again Asgard? Matt Fraction is in his best writing form as he balances an earthly conflict with Don Blake, and the responsibilities of Thor, even throwing in a realistic consequence that shows what his summoning of a big storm has upon the local populace. Loki is just like Maximus with the Inhumans, reveling in the easy chaos that can happen when you cast doubt on your friends and neighbors. Insert your favorite modern metaphor concerning America’s struggle to properly identify terrorists here.

Braithwaite does a great job, and Beta Ray Bill fans will rejoice. Are you still reading this? Go buy the comic already!

Secret Invasion: X-Men 1

by Mike Carey and Cary Nord

Even though Nord’s name is on the cover, it didn’t hit home until I saw the credits that Cary Nord was doing the art. While he worked great on Dark Horse’s Conan relaunch, the way he draws the X-Men puts me off. Art being subjective as it is, I’m going to give it another issue or two before I decide how much or how little I like it.

This series attempts to give us a military look at how the invasion is going, even though they do tend to drip heavy with all of the religious references as they go about the invasion. For people who were supposed to have been technological in nature (with their magical tendencies embodied in their Wraith species evolutionary offshoot), they certainly do seem to have all gotten religion with this Secret Invasion stuff. Makes you wonder if someone came along at one point in the last couple years and yelled at them for not going to church, and now they are all overcompensating.

The Skrulls quake in fear as they recognize the feared X-Men. Armor gets to throw a ship with Colossus, reinforcing the idea that she gets super-strength along with her energy armor, which is a change from what I thought she was originally supposed to be. Cyclops gets a little out of character, claiming he’s a mutant, not a human. Last I heard, the X-Men had spent all their lives trying to point out that mutants are humans too. It doesn’t ring true for him to be spouting what amounts to racist/species garbage. Even though his eyes can fire optic blasts, he’s still got two arms and legs, eyes, a heart a liver and a kidney like everyone else. The idea that the x-Men have stopped claiming humanity is gross, and reminiscent of Nazi eugenics theory. I hope they discontinue this trend immediately.

The religious member of the team, Nightcrawler, discovers a device that may make things interesting; it is the most captivating part of the entire issue. Cyclops should recognize that Kurt is distracted and call him on it, but chalk it up to the fog of war and the fast pace of events. The creative team could utilize the team a little better, for instance having Emma use her diamond form when engaging in combat, but for the most part they are portrayed well. Good enough for me to come back and check out part two next month!
Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.