Foilball’s Review Roundup #45 – Secret Invasion, Five Months In!

Captain Britain and MI13 #4 (-)

Well, funny story. It was in this week’s shipment, and I’m positive I read the first few pages… but when I went back to read the rest, it was gone. Apparently, my nephew slipped in, seized it, and then threw it down a well. I’ll pick up a replacement copy next Wednesday and I’m sure it’ll be great, but man, that boy needs to be taught a lesson on proper comic book etiquette, and I really don’t care that he’s only 15 months.

Secret Invasion: Frontline #2 (****1/2)

I can’t believe how good this is almost as much as I can’t believe how good Brian Reed is on this! For me, he’s accurately capturing what this invasion would really be like for the average citizen, something the main mini fails miserably at (Bendis’ idea of this is having random people shout “OH MY GOD” and then cut away). Reed’s also accomplishing this over in Ms. Marvel, the only other book to address this neglected dimension of the event. Surprise, surprise.

Secret Invasion: Inhumans #1 (****)

This was a solid start to a four issue mini series that despite its crossover implications appears to be another great addition to the ongoing Inhumans epic. One minor quibble: is anyone else tired of the “push Tony Stark around” scene? How many more times do we need to see this? Okay, let me mention the art. IT WAS PURE EXCELLENCE! Now, the biggest complaint I had going into this story, was trying to figure out why after capturing him the Skrulls would keep someone as dangerous as Black Bolt alive. The plot of the mini centers around rescuing him, so if the writer couldn’t come up with a reasonable explanation for this there was no way it could work. Well, he did, and it’s so obvious I feel stupid. DUH, the Skrulls built a weapon around him!

Secret Invasion: Runaways/Young Avengers #2 (****)

I liked this issue more than the last, mostly because the back story was succinctly told in only a couple of pages—and then we immediately jumped into the action. I’m not sure the Elektra Skrull being the most dangerous Skrull in the armada was a particularly inspired idea, it kind of takes away a little bit of the coolness of the original Skrull Elektra, but that’s a minor nitpick. I’m glad Yost took the time to show us the Runaways’ reaction to the death of the Vision… although, as we saw in Secret Invasion #5, he didn’t actually die. And yes, Old Lace eating Skrulls was pretty rad.

Secret Invasion: Thor #1 (**)

This… sucked, and not just because a book with the name “Thor” in the title won’t actually have Thor appear in it. Fraction, while grasping the style of ancient Asgard quite easily, is completely out of his element here. This is supposed to fit with JMS’ Thor? I don’t think so. This is the first tie-in to truly disappoint me.

Secret Invasion: X-Men #1 (****1/2)

I loved this comic almost as much as I loved the Black Panther tie-in. Why? Because finally, reasonable invasion type stuff happens that makes me feel the scope of this event! And! More POV from the invaders! THANK YOU!

Okay, now for some wordy semi-ranting. The more issues of Secret Invasion that I read, the closer I come to pinning down why I’m not enjoying the main mini series as much as most of the tie-ins. Here’s my theory: I think what we have here are two types of Secret Invasion comics:

Type 1) This is where a comic is written solely from the perspective of the invaded, the invaded being the super heroes and civilians of Planet Earth. This type of comic reads very fast because we don’t actually get readable Skrull dialogue from the writers. It’s all in Skrullanese! I’m so bored!! Faceless invaders are not scary, guys. Not in comic books anyway. See the main Secret Invasion mini and Ms. Marvel (although Ms. Marvel makes up for it in other ways) tie-ins for this type.

Type 2) This is where the comic is written from both the invaded and the invader perspectives. This is where the writer takes the time to explain the FUCKING motivations of the invaders. This is INTERESTING! This is GOOD writing. This is COMPLEX writing. This is adds LAYERS and SUBTEXT and makes the overall event and its ideas more agreeable. See Black Panther, SI: X-Men, SI: Runaways/Young Avengers, Captain Britain and MI13, SI: Fantastic Four, Mighty and New Avengers for this type.

I know Bendis has explained that you need to read Mighty and New Avengers to really understand Secret Invasion, or get the entire story, because frankly, it’s the only way to get the Skrull’s POV on shit. Fine. I accept that. But, I think the choice to almost completely cut out the Skrull POV from the main title and instead put most of that action in the Avengers books was a mistake. It’s too great a disconnect. Another misstep was the choice to not translate the Skrull dialogue immediately after issue #1. It was fine in the first issue of SI, but to continue to do that all the way ‘til issue #5 was bullshit, and felt all kinds of cheaty, or worse, lazy. So far, my favorite issue of SI was #4, the one where Skrull Spider-Woman makes her 4-5 pages speech to Tony Stark about what she plans to do to Earth. THIS is the subplot I’m interested in. I want the Skrull’s POV in the main book, damn it. Relegating that POV to the side or tie-in titles really rips the meat out of your story, Bendis. When you fail to establish empathy for the bad guy, you lose tons of conflict since the readers know exactly who to root for. In Black Panther, because Aaron took the time to introduce his Skulls, I’m kid of torn. I feel for the commander of the Skrulls and I kind of want him to earn his retirement. In X-Men, I relate to the Skrulls on a human level when I read the scene with the Soul Shepherd. Humanizing the invaders matters, because if you don’t, then I don’t care about them. And if I don’t care about them, then by extension, I care less about the invaded. “The heroes are only as good as the bad guys”. It’s cliché but it also happens to be true.

I’m not saying the Skrull POV needs to be evenly distributed throughout the three main books, but in my opinion, the SI mini needs more of it, if only just a little bit. I now believe that this could be one of my biggest complaints about this event, the others being decompression and pacing, but we’ve talked those to death so I’ll leave them be. Instead…

I do have another complaint that I’ll only briefly mention. I’ve hinted at this before, but I want to flesh it out more here. I don’t feel that the tie-ins to SI actually matter. Meaning, the events that take place in the majority of the tie-ins will have no bearing on the outcome of the main mini series. The tie-ins feel weightless. They’re really fun and awesome reads, but they don’t mean anything. It’s a continuity complaint, and I hate to make it, but this is an event that has been billed as all-encompassing, and yet I can’t help but feel disconnected from the main event every time I read one of the tie-ins, despite how well-written they are.

While serviceable the way it is, I feel that Secret Invasion had the potential to be more than just a “popcorn event” and that really disappoints me, not just as a Marvel Zombie, but as a lover of all things comics.

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4 Responses to Foilball’s Review Roundup #45 – Secret Invasion, Five Months In!

  1. Desiato says:

    It really is one of those situations where the editorial staff has so many factors to consider when creating events like this from the perspective of reader or writer incredulity weighed against artistic intent weighed against economic considerations and so on and so forth. So (for one example) you could understand the claim that editorial would want to keep the tie ins separate out of fear of alienating those that aren’t reading them for being bombarded by seemingly random storylines, but that of course has the downside of making the tie ins seem ephemeral in their importance as you pointed out.

    This is the type of shit I would be talking about if I ever got off my ass and actually finished my overview of event types.

  2. Desiato says:

    Oh, and I got shorted Captain Britain by DCBS. Apparently they got it late. You sure it was in your box?

  3. Billy Zonos says:

    then get off your ass already!

    yeah, i had it and it was checked off my invoice. i remember reading the first page, flipping through the rest of it, and then deciding to save it for later when i could thoroughly enjoy it.

    …and then the little monster ate it.

  4. Desiato says:

    Considering that today is my last day of work, and I’m going to be sitting on my ass for the next two weeks searching for jobs in Boston and occasionally packing my entire life into a truck (while collecting unemployment…Woohoo!) before I head out to Reading, PA for the CGS Super Show, I’ll probably have time to finish those articles off.

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