Secret Invasion #1
Bendis’ Secret Invasion concept was one I could get behind. But I was wary – Civil War was a concept I thought would be amazing and which the horrible writing made me drop after three issues. Obviously, there was some solid concept work going on. Plus, while I generally always hate Millar’s X-TREEM edgy take on…errr…everything, Bendis is top-notch on non-traditional superhero stuff. So, Secret Invasion was something I was both excited about and worried for. I picked it up and read it through, and…well, it wasn’t bad. It had promise, but as a first issue, it was ultimately lacking.
Now, here’s the thing about the story. It’s obviously well-planned, they obviously have some really cool things they want to do. As a first issue, however, I felt this one was a failure. The Skrull plan unfolds, and as a reader, guess what? We get to see what it’s like to be on the OTHER side of a sleeper story. There’s nothing wrong with that theoretically, but it turns out to just be a jumbled mess.
Before I continue, I must say: I am not reading New or Mighty Avengers, and haven’t been for a good long while. It is possible that reading all the tie-ins gets the story to you. But this feels too much like Countdown syndrome, the spine of a story that branches out in every direction and makes no sense unless you follow every branch. I know that you don’t actually have to, but I vastly prefer when I can get the whole story, rather than a book that trails off into inconsequential detours to promote other books that I don’t strictly have to read.
Speaking purely on the book, though. Not a lot happens, but what does happen, happens quite prettily. The story is purely set-up and spin-off fodder, but the dialogue is entertaining and quick, and most of the characterization is well-done. The final mystery of the issue, the appearance of all the 70s era heroes, is an interesting hook, and one that I look forward to seeing be unraveled in the coming issues, but it comes at the end of a book with no other hooks, just a lot of branching paths.
Ultimately, reviewing a #1 on any of these Mega Events is tough. This issue wasn’t bad – it was no Countdown/Civil War. I’m going to stick with it for another issue and see where it goes. If Bendis brings it together and the story actually happens, I’ll be pretty excited, because he’s got a conceptually great idea going here, but as of the end of issue one, Bendis seems to be focused more on getting me to spend as much money as possible on tie-ins, rather than on giving me a great story.
Final Crisis #1
Well, DC’s response to Secret Invasion is here, and it couldn’t be more different than Secret Invasion #1 if it tried…but different doesn’t necessarily equal better here. Grant Morrison and J.G. Jones’ mad epic that started, in a way, with DC Universe #0, opens up here with a LOT of interesting ideas, left undeveloped…for now.
As promised, Morrison opens with Anthro, the first boy. He’s given fire by Metron, and he proceeds to use it to help save a village attacked by Vandal Savage. Flash forward, and we see a number of events come together. The New Gods are dead, and Orion has landed on Earth. The Guardians of Oa are understandably upset by this event, and send Hal Jordan and John Stewart a 1011 – a call to investigate Deicide. Alpha Lanterns are sent, and we’ve moved on again.
That’s the theme of the book, really – “and we’ve moved on again.” Similar to Secret Invasion, the book jumps all over the place. Unlike Secret Invasion #1, it makes sense without tie-ins, but it also has a downside: we aren’t going anywhere fast. A lot of different things happen in this issue, a lot of crazy, epic things…but in the end, we don’t know enough about why it’s happening, or what it means. We see the beginning of a lot of things, but that’s really it.
The issue is interesting and fast-paced, but almost requires a second read-through to understand, and in full Morrison mode, there’s a lot of flash, but not quite as much substance as you might like. Still, the set-up is impressive, and the net is cast wide. Where Bendis was throwing webs in every direction, asking you to follow every single one to see where it led, Morrison just threw about 8 balls in the air at the same time, and he’s going to juggle like a madman until he either brings them all together…or drops them all in a tangled mess.