Comic Fodder

Tpull's Weekly Marvel Comics Review – Part One

Part One this week consists of all of the Secret Invasion tie-in titles, plus Amazing Spider-Man. Part Two will be everything else!

The Amazing Spider-Man 569

by Dan Slott and John Romita Jr.

Sigh. Spidey has a brain trust of four writers, plus people like Quesada who mandated Spider-Man and Mary Jane split up. Here’s what Mephisto said: “You will not consciously remember this bargain… you will lose your marriage.” The consequences are that the marriage never happened, that nobody ever remembers the marriage happening, or any of the events that might have come out of the marriage, PLUS nobody remembers that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. PLUS, Peter was put back the “way he was,” with some additional side-deal that MJ made with Mephisto. So what do the writers do? A thought narrative on the first page by Peter:

“Ah, right. He doesn’t remember anymore. He has no idea I’m Spidey. Nobody does. Everything we did is still up and running. I’m safe.”

Unless Dan Slott is planning a new explanation for the events of “One More Day,” this is nonsense. When Peter woke up after agreeing to the deal with Mephisto, it was as if he had not gone through each and every event where somebody found out he was Spider-Man. The only exceptions are him and MJ. He knows he is Spider-Man of course, and MJ knows. But what in the world did “we” set up to keep Peter safe? He doesn’t remember any deal with Mephisto! He can’t; since he does not remember that he gave up his marriage, of what deal would he have knowledge? It would be a one-sided deal, if he remembers Mephisto erased everyone else’s memory And saved Aunt May’s life, but Mephisto got nothing out of the deal. Everything we have been shown is that Aunt May is safe and happy and oblivious, and Peter is too.

So what does this mean? It means that a) the “brain trust” is lacking even one brain and Slott messed up royally; b) nobody at Marvel has any idea how to craft a consistent story form one issue to the next; c) Slott is ret-conning a new explanation for everyone’s collective memory wipe, or d) all of the above.

Setting aside any bad feelings about the “One More Day” storyline (and the fan poll results in Wizard Magazine 204 had 80% of fans saying they should still be married, and 74% booing the whole “Brand New Day” story), if you’re going to do something like that, at least stick to it! Instead we get a bad storyline leading into a new era of retro-Spidey, and they can’t even keep their story straight from one panel to the next.

Now for the rest of the issue. Check out the “Colbert ’08” sticker on the laptop at the Coffee Bean. Colbert certainly is taking the Marvel universe by storm! Norman berates Harry, then Norman moves on to arrest his favorite webhead. The combination of having Green goblin, Venom, and Radioactive Man (who might be able to mess with Peter’s powers) on the same team could be interesting, if they ever get to fight him all at once. The Anti-Venom story starts here, but I won’t spoil anything, in case you want to read it for yourself.

From the sounds of things, retailers did not order enough of this comic because Marvel came out with two covers, but did not notify the retailers ahead of time. Usually if a book has two covers, that means increased sales for the people who absolutely have to have the variants as well as the original cover. We won’t know until the numbers come in how impressive the sell-out was, or if this was just a case of the normal fans trying to buy two covers, but the retailers didn’t have enough on hand the first time, because they ordered only a certain number of copies for a one-cover book.

Avengers: The Initiative 16

by Dan Slott, Christos N. Gage, and Stefano Caselli

Just like the cover says, we are introduced to the new Skrull Kill Crew, mostly the same old Crew. War Machine leaves on a secret mission for Tony, Yellowjacket-Skrull seems inept, just like the regular Hank Pym, and Ant-Man tried to stay behind and ends up on the front lines. It’s fun and cool as the Kill Crew works its way through the Initiative teams, culling the single Skrull in each team from the field. There are at least three teams that are clear of Skrulls now! The only disappointment is that it’s hard to develop any sense of surprise over who the imposter might be each time, because in most cases, this is our first exposure to a particular team.

The Mighty Avengers 17

by Brian Bendis and Khoi Pham

Just when I thought Bendis couldn’t slow things down any farther. Back during the Civil War tie-ins, Bendis wrote a bunch of single-character stories, showing how the Civil War affected each hero. It was cool, but now he’s doing it again with Secret Invasion, but I am soooooo bored by now. Bad enough he had to stop off and visit every freaking hero he could possibly think of, Bendis went a step towards the useless side when he concentrated on the fake Captain America Skrull. Instead of showing us how a REAL super-hero got replaced, he slowed the progression of the story down to show us how a fake Skrull had been made with no real hero substitution. Like we didn’t already get a lame Captain Marvel mini-series consisting of the same topic.

This issue, after already showcasing Henry Pym a couple times in this endless saga, we now get a front row seat to a fake Hank Pym melting down. Bendis is not satisfied with all of the crap they have thrown at Pym between him and Chuck Austen, Bendis has decided Pym is such scum, he is so messed up, he even threatens to disrupt an entire alien invasion, because his mental status causes his dupes to crack. As a stand-alone read, it was actually a somewhat decent story for a change. But I am so bored waiting for this to all be over, so we can move on to something else.

Hey, I’ve got an idea! Let’s let Bendis write three more titles after Secret Invasion! All of them will consist of the characters of each super team sitting around a table, and trying to figure out if they got every Skrull, or if one or more of them is still a dupe. It’ll sell like hotcakes!

New Avengers 44

by Brian Bendis and Billy Tan

Speak of the devil. Even the words Bendis puts in Namor’s mouth betray how repetitious and boring this is getting for everyone. Professor X brings together the Illuminati to discuss the Skrulls. Namor says, “Again?” Don’t worry, it’s not really Namor. None of them are the real deal. As a matter of fact, they are not even fake Skrulls this time around. They are all Skrull constructions, so Bendis can have his artist draw a bunch of talking heads again. The verb seems to have been taken out of this group. Instead of the “Avengers,” they should be called the “Let’s sit around the table and talkers.”

This entire story is how they trick a clone of Reed Richards to solve their problem for them and become undetectable. And get this, they still don’t tell s what the trick is! You know what? I’ve changed my mind. I was tired of reading about my super-heroes anyway. Let’s just sit back for another three years and have nothing but shape-shifters and clones and genetic constructs who look like our heroes sit on their thumbs and talk us to death. I bet these stories will win awards!

When will the pain end?

New Warriors 15

by Kevin Grevioux and Koi Turnbull

No matter which artist they put on this title, I can’t make out everybody, although the listing of the cast in the beginning helps. There are just a few too many D-list characters that mean nothing, and a useless, time-consuming fight based on your never-ending cliché of misunderstood super groups. One which Night Thrasher ends with a wave of his energy sticks. Bet you didn’t know his glow rods were powerful enough to deck everyone, including Rage, did you? Why, he’s almost at Iron Man power levels!

Thrash takes off his helmet (about three issues too late) to end the fighting, revealing himself as Donyell, Dwayne Taylor’s brother, which most of us had already guessed ages ago. For some unfathomable reason, this revelation manages to convince everyone present that nobody there is a Skrull. Instead of suggesting Donyell could easily be a Skrull, everybody just drops the subject, and assumes everyone is who they say they are.

We don’t find out much, other than the fact that Dwayne did indeed die in Nitro’s explosion during Civil War. What’s really hilarious is a bunch of wounded, beat up S.H.I.E.L.D. agents telling the group with super-powers that the kids are in rough shape, and S. H.I.E.L.D. will handle the mop-up of the Skrulls. Yeah, because they’ve been doing such a great job so far. This title remains a big mess.

Nova 16

by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Wellington Alves, and Geraldo Burges

After a couple attempts to give Nova his own series, who would have thought it would turn out so well a third time? This is the best we have ever seen from Nova. Granted, we have to put up with a Secret Invasion tie-in, but it’s well-written, well-drawn, and more happens in this one issue than in five issues of the Secret Invasion mini-series itself.

Nova gets ambushed, gets rescued, make his way to Earth, gets betrayed, and all while staying out of the Savage Land for three straight issues. How much you want to bet DnA will be done with Secret Invasion in one or two more issues, and moving on to bigger and better things?

Secret Invasion: The Amazing Spider-Man 1

by Brian Reed and Marco Santucci

The title might be misleading for this series, because Peter’s support cast shows up. We get absolutely no Spider-Man here, at least not in this first issue. Oh, unless you count the Skrull who tries to impersonate him badly. Things get a little silly as Harry Osborn and his girlfriend have something like two personal Skrulls after them; the one inane thing about the Secret invasion is that the Skrulls are literally everywhere. Why all the years of strategizing and planning your every move, just to waste two Skrulls with super powers to have them chase down a couple of nobodies?

Setting aside those gripes, the rest of it is written well, and I like the art too. If you’re enjoying Secret invasion, you will probably like this too.

She-Hulk 32

by Peter David and Vincenzo Cucca

Mike Deodato on the cover, so cool. She-Hulk is still trying to figure out who she can trust, and what to do with the Skrull high priest when she sees people in trouble. So what does she do? She hurls a tree at a Skrull spaceship that just kidnapped a bunch of humans, who are allegedly “the best and the brightest.” Let’s leave out the question of how a tree, no matter how forcefully thrown can disable an entire starship, but how in the world could She-Hulk take that risk with the lives of all the kidnapped innocents on board? If Cap were alive, he’d be yelling in her face right now!

Meanwhile, two of the “best and the brightest” are rednecks who have just hijacked She-Hulk’s RV while she’s gone. Things pick up when the super-Skrull enters the scene, and the high priest gets free, leading to a cliffhanger, or at least a decent attempt at one.

Thunderbolts 123

by Christos N. Gage and Fernando Blanco

In a break with every other comic doing the Invasion tie-in, Gage makes sure to repeat the scenes form the Secret Invasion mini-series, so anybody reading only the Thunderbolts title will get the full story. People reading everything will feel like it is a re-run from the mini-series for a couple pages, but it’s needed here to keep the regular story flowing properly.

It’s a full-scale war now, which means the gloves come off for the villains. They can do pretty much whatever they want, and boy does Bulls-eye take advantage! The entire episode is deliciously evil, filled with backstabbing and delightful evilness. One of the better titles this week.
Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.