Desiato Returns for the End of Secret Invasion

Currently writing this from back home in Pennsylvania. I finally acquired myself a job, and even though I don’t start until January 5th, things have been quite hectic. Even still, I’ve got some free time right now so I wanted to throw out some reviews before I return to Boston.

Mighty Avengers #20 (****)


This is Bendis’ last issue of Mighty Avengers, and is really the true “requiem” issue for the Wasp (as opposed to Secret Invasion: Requiem, which will primarily be reprints of important Wasp issues). This issue features the Wasp’s funeral, and primarily deals with Hank Pym’s attempts to reintegrate into society after escaping from the Skrulls and discovering the death of the love of his life. We’ve got three artists on this book, with Lee Weeks covering the opening couple of flashback pages, and Jim Cheung and Carlo Pagulayan drawing the rest of the issue. It’s a funny thing, because one of the annoying things about this issue was the device that Bendis used to catch Hank Pym up on the goings on of the world using five silent full page splash collages of House of M, Civil War, Cap’s death, World War Hulk, and Secret Invasion. It’s a waste of pages, but the work Jim Cheung did on these was fantastic. It reminded me a lot of the Young Avengers Presents covers, as well as that double page spread from the first Secret Invasion New Avengers book featuring Spider-Woman’s history. So I didn’t like the pages being there, but they were beautiful to look at. Ambivalence. I loved the funeral scene, and while it’s another example of everyone piling on Tony Stark post Secret Invasion, I think it fits here because of the emotionally charged nature of the scene, and the way Hank didn’t necessarily get the full story of the events he missed when Carol Danvers caught him up. This book did give us a much more appropriate send-off to the Wasp that we didn’t see in SI 8. It’s a strong way to leave the book for Bendis, and I’m looking forward to what Dan Slott plans to do with the book from this point on, because this team seems to be the odd one out.

Secret Invasion: Front Line #5 (****)


Front Line #5 is structured in a very similar way to issue eight of the main series. The title of this issue is “Dark Reign,” and it basically follows the end of the Central Park fight (starting with the Wasp’s doomsday device whatever thingie being activated), quickly finishes that plot thread and moves on to confronting the idea of a world led by Norman Osborne. You can definitely understand why Ben Urich being the main character of the book was done, because it pays off in spades due to Urich’s long personal history as a man from the Spider-Man family with a long history with Norman. The scene where Ben confronts him and both he and the crowd completely blow him off is great. It also does a nice (if perfunctory) job of wrapping up the other characters we saw throughout the five issues. I still like the premise and import of the Front Line idea, and this was a worthy companion to the Secret Invasion event.

Secret Invasion: Dark Reign (***1/2)


Okay, so we all know that Maleev messed up Namor something fierce. Crazy homeless Bendis isn’t exactly what you would expect from the long faced, regal king of the seas. However, I do think Maleev did an excellent job with the rest of the characters in the book (Norman’s hair notwithstanding), and the art in a book like this isn’t as important as the writing. It’s a bit easier to ignore the art in a board room book compared to something that’s heavier on action. And I think that the board room scene itself was well done. The goals for this book are simple. You’ve got six people in a room with explosive personalities and different agendas. You have to find out why they’re all agreeing to work together and how Norman Osborne could keep these people in line. So obviously this is designed from the perspective as a callback to the original New Avengers: Illuminati and Road to Civil War books, and I think Bendis pulls this off creating a twisted mirror of craziness where the trust is completely nonexistent, and no one is looking out for anyone other than themselves. Really, Emma is the only one here who’s acting from the angle of potential altruism, as she seems to be willing to partially compromise her beliefs in order to make absolutely sure that the mutants will be kept safe. I’m not exactly sure what made Bendis decide to bring in the two vingettes about Kitty Pryde and Swordsman, as they could probably be better served in the X-Men and Thunderbolts books, but at the same time, I do also see them as quick little hooks that might make you want to pick up some X-Men or Thunderbolts issues, so maybe that’s why we saw those framing scenes. I think the characters were written well, and I’m looking forward to the other shoe dropping for Doom and Namor, as well as where we’re going to see the continuing story of The Hood. I liked the book for the most part, but it was generally inconsistent in both the writing and art categories.

Secret Invasion Part 11

Deadpool #1 (****)

It’s a good start. Basically continues the standard approach for Deadpool with the added wrinkle that he’s not got a second set of narrative captions that is arguing with the first. There’s obviously not a lot to the character. He’s not an essential piece of the Marvel Universe. He serves a purpose, which is basically to act as a humorous foil to what is going on in the books that may need a bit of levity. He’s very similar to Ambush Bug in that respect, both from the perspective of constantly breaking the fourth wall and lampooning the goings on of major continuity events. Here we have the Deadpool look at Secret Invasion. Basically, the Skrulls are forced to deal with another hero on Earth they didn’t count on. And someone as unpredictable and dangerous as Deadpool could easily unravel their plans simply by being himself. So the Skrulls throw everything at him and can’t take him down. But of course, this is Deadpool, so things aren’t going to play out the way you think, and you have a nice little crazy cliffhanger that is perfectly within Deadpool’s character. The humor is there, the art is good, Deadpool reads true and things are starting well.

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

This is the best X-Men storyline going on right now, and it’s mostly because of the side story involving Nightcrawler. He’s always been among my favorites of the Claremont Byrne X-Men, and I do enjoy the way Mike Carey uses Nightcrawler as a way to link the X-Men and the Skrulls as agents of change. Between the main book and the tie-ins, these may be the most well developed villains we’ve seen in comics in a long time. They combine excellent tactical skill with religious zealotry, which is certainly an odd and dangerous mix for an invading force. So even though the Skrulls were immediately caught by surprise without the knowledge that the X-Men had relocated to San Francisco, they still managed to gain the upper hand. It’s really only the appearance of X-Force that turns the tides. You’ve also got some nice moments with Emma and the Stepford Cuckoos. This isn’t high art, but it’s a good book with nice characterization.

Secret Invasion: Front Line #3 (****)

It’s a bit disappointing that this book has not yet touched on the Embrace Change movement, but the story being told is compelling in its own right, so it’s no bad thing. Front Line is such a good concept that everyone seems to bad mouth due to the last few issues of the Civil War installment. It’s good that Brian Reed is really focusing on the core of the book and looking at just how the average Joe would actually deal with the Skrulls’ largest invasion force dropping right over his head. This book continues the thread of multiple story lines, but these all comes together in the locked down Stark Tower that has the claustrophobic fear of a classic horror movie, where the aggressor stalks the populous in an enclosed area. This book just reads differently than the other SI books, and it’s always a refreshing cleanse of the pallet.

Secret Invasion: Young Avengers/Runaways #3 (****1/2)

As someone who has read little to no Young Avengers or Runaways books in the past, the biggest thing about this three issue series for me was learning about how charming these characters are. But that doesn’t mean that these issues were a simple flight of fancy. The story of Xavin and Hulkling continues and the tension within Xavin between loyalty to the true heir of the Skrulls and their current religious holy war outlook. I also quite enjoyed the continuation of Xavin’s back story in relation to the Skrull that taught him how to fight in the army, who of course shows up during the invasion for a confrontation. This isn’t the kind of book that is going to be necessary for the main story (unless they decide to make Hulkling a bigger part of the ending), but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a three issue series of really good writing and art. It was more than worth the money, and both the wrapped SI minis thus far have been very enjoyable.

Ms. Marvel #30 (***)

We see what the hell happened in the Raft at the end of the issue, and it’s not exactly what I expected. It’s fascinating that the best and most powerful Super Skrull was actually created by HYDRA, and of course he’s completely and totally unstable to the point that his bloodlust is undeniable and unquenchable. The book ends up devolving into a long fight, which is a shame considering the potential here. Brian Reed probably should have done more with the concept here. Seems like he’s throwing more of his time into Front Line (just because it’s better), but that could be completely off base.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #52 – Even More Secret Invasion Reviews!

Deadpool #1 (****)

Deadpool #1 was fun and pretty at the same time. I’m not always 100% on board for Daniel Way but he seems to have a story to tell, and I like it so far, so I’m gonna let him tell it. Paco Medina kicked the crap out of the art in this issue, especially the Skrull characters. Cable & Deadpool was decent fun (hardly ever pretty fun), but Deadpool has always worked better as the star of his own book and Way is taking advantage of that trademark charisma with the introduction (or re-introduction?) of “Pool-o-Vision”. Also, kind of an unrelated question but, are we sick of the Skrulls yet?

Ms. Marvel #30 (***)

Ms. Marvel fights a Super Skrull this issue. Just like last issue. And the issue before that. Oh, but this time said Super Skrull is actually a product of HYDRA science. Oh, and then we’re treated to a SI-epilogue that’s just weird. Huh-wha?

Secret Invasion: Frontline #3 (****1/2)

Are people reading this? Because it’s awesome! Easily one of the best tie-ins. Brian Reed confuses me though, as a talent, I mean. Sometimes, like with this book, his writing is incredible, and then there’s Ms. Marvel which is so hit-or-miss lately. Ugh, BRIAN REED! Focus!

Secret Invasion: Runaways/Young Avengers #3 (****)

They swooped in, got their story told, and got out. Three cheers for three issue tie-in minis! And in three issues there was so much character development it was almost too much. Is Terry Moore going to address any of what happened here in his new Runaways ongoing? And what about Heinberg’s new Young Avengers series? WHEN IS THAT COMING OUT!?!

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

I don’t want to beat a dead horse, so you won’t see me telling you how much better this is than Secret Invasion. It is, but I won’t say it.

Secret Invasion Part 9

Captain Britain should be coming in my shipment tomorrow, so that’ll have to be in my next set of reviews (I’m getting ELEVEN Secret Invasion books in my box tomorrow).

Secret Invasion: Runaways/Young Avengers #2 (***1/2)

It’s the little things in life you treasure, and that’s a lot of what I enjoy about the Secret Invasion books. No stone is left unturned. This book continues the thread of Hulkling and Xavin’s attempts to reconcile themselves with the invading Super Skrull forces in New York City. We don’t see a whole lot of new, so this book is mostly focused on character development with that bit of flavor tying into one of the main themes of the tension between the Skrull monarchy and the religious sect that is leading the invasion. It’s standard fare, but it’s still good.

Secret Invasion: Front Line #2 (****)

Front Line is such a fun idea. It’s almost a microcosm of what worked with Marvels. The Marvel Universe has always been a street level universe, so why wouldn’t they make a book like this for every event? It makes perfect sense. And considering the change in direction toward “Embrace Change” and the ads we’ve been seeing post issue five of SI, I can see this book becoming VERY important for the rest of the run. Brian Reed is writing it more than competently, and this feels like an essential component of the story to show us all sides of what’s going on here.

Secret Invasion: Thor #1 (***)

It was okay. But I do agree with Billy that this doesn’t jive enough with the JMS stuff. I’m glad they’re putting it here in a separate mini instead of crowbarring it into the actual Thor ongoing. So we’ve got a Thor series that’s about Beta Ray Bill with Donald Blake sans hammer helping out the people of the local town. There’s some nice narrative work, but it doesn’t have the same pop to it that Fraction’s one shots have had. There’s potential there, especially with the Stormbreaker wrinkle, and I hope it picks up a bit.

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

Now this was surprising to me. Very similar to Black Panther from the perspective that we’re jumping back and forth between the Skrull invasion forces and the X-Men. It furthers what I like about these books, giving the Skrulls more depth than simply being a faceless marauding force. It’s the difference between Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Battlestar Galactica. We need those three dimension villains to allow us to latch onto something and not blindly root for the good guys. We’ve seen this here. We’ve seen it in Black Panther. We saw it in Secret Invasion 4. And it’s what makes the entire story compelling, just like with Front Line. I do like the way the X-Men caught the Skrulls by surprise due to some older intel and got the quick upper hand. But that’s not the end of the story. This book is much more about the Skrull invaders than the X-Men so far, which seems to be a smart move considering how muddy the X Continuity is right now. Solid read with some different art that catches the eye.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #42 – Wherein I Love Comics Again!

Green Lantern #33 (****1/2)

Very cool. It doesn’t bother me in the least that Johns is borrowing so much from The Trilogy (obv you should know what trilogy I’m speaking of), and he’s basically admitted as much in interviews. Spence, I know you want to jump in here and call me a hypocrite, but this is totally different than what Mark Millar is doing. First, Johns doesn’t hype the shit out of his work. Second, it’s really well-written. Talent really does mean that much. Anyway, okay, I do have some issues with this issue. First, is there going to be some kind of “mind-wipe” action in Sinestro and Jordan’s future? How come they don’t remember any of this? I can see the Guardians pulling this off to protect their secrets. In fact, if this does happen, it adds so much to an already mythic run and totally validates Johns’ need to tell this retconned origin story. Second, the ring-less fighting promised for next issue… um, why are we repeating ourselves? I’m hoping there’s a reason for this, and as always with Johns, I’m positive there is.

Ms. Marvel #29 (****1/2)

So, question: Has Brian Reed just been killing time in this book ‘til the “Invasion” or what? Is this why his SI tie-ins have been so awesome and the 10-15 issues preceding them had been such trash? Or, is Ms. Marvel finally reaching the climax of her “I want to be the best hero ever!” arc? I love the irony that being the best hero ever also means not being very heroic. Killing Skrulls, for example, even in times of war is still murder. Heroes don’t kill. I mean, Superman would find another way, right? I hope there are repercussions here. I hope someone in the Marvel Universe brings this up later. Like, do you guys remember the first couple of issues of the Kurt Busiek Avengers, when Carol got kicked off the team for killing someone? I want some drama, damn it! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. This book rocks! I just hope it’s also serving as the setup for even greater things to come.

Thunderbolts #122 (*****)

How does one follow up the epically fantastic Ellis run? I have no idea, but Gage is off to a great start. He somehow manages to maintain the tone established by Ellis, but at the same time injects enough of his own insanities into the characters to give us a little bit of the new, the fresh and the excitingly evil. Gage ain’t just aping Ellis; he totally owns this book! “Ellis who,” I found myself asking after finishing this issue. And it’s still ####ing funny!

Wolverine #67 (***)

Better than the last issue, mostly because the expo wasn’t so heavy-handed this time. Millar kind of relaxed a bit and let us enjoy the pairing of Hawkeye and pacifist Wolverine. Loved the Ghost Rider gang and loved the Hawkeye violence, but hell, I love violence in general, so that’s not saying much. The “Hammer Falls” thing is the most inspired idea in this arc so far. The teenage “Spider-Girl” wannabe is the least. I’ll finish the arc, because I’m a completist and I own every other issue of Wolverine, but I’m still waiting for that HUGE jaw-dropping moment. The fact that it hasn’t happened yet is encouraging, it means maybe Millar is saving it for the end, which would mark a change for him since in the past his endings have been the weakest parts of his stories. Oh, maybe a showdown with the Hulk? …also, yes, the art is amazing.

Quick Hits:
Astonishing X-Men #25 (*): I waited to read Uncanny X-Men #500 (in depth review to follow shortly) before reading this on the recommendation of the Pull List guys, I believe, and you know what? Didn’t help with the enjoyment, got to say. WOW. This book is terrible. First, the art: YOU CAN”T FUCKING SEE ANYTHING!!! It’s so dark! Second: WHO THE FUCK ARE THESE CHARACTERS!!! CSI X-Men is right. I’ll rant more about this when I do my UX:500 review, tomorrow or Saturday, because these books definitely go hand in hand in terms of quality. UGH.
Black Summer #7 (****): And it’s finally over. And I liked it. And I may have to re-read the entire thing again. It got a little preachy at the end, but it made sense. I like that Ellis remembered to answer the question he posed in the zero issue. And I agree with him. For a second there, I thought he’d gone off the deep-end and was advocating violent regime change. Thankfully he’s still only half-crazy and not full-on bonkers crazy.
Fantastic Four: Secret Invasion #3 (****1/2): This is exactly the type of mini I wanted (a story focusing on the interpersonal conflicts caused by the invasion) and it totally exceeded my expectations. I liked that it tried to reconcile old FF-Skrull continuity with new Bendis-Skrull continuity. This book was pitch-perfect in every single way except one: Lyja deciding to stay behind in the Negative Zone. This sounded like “Hey, Bendis says he doesn’t want to use Lyja in the main event, so get rid of her before the end of the mini.” That sucks, but at least they didn’t kill her. Anyone else wish RAS was still writing an ongoing FF book?
Invincible #51 (****): I like the new costume and direction, but I wish Kirkman would cut it out with all the fucking subplots. Like, tell a main plot once in a while, dude! The final page reveal was not shocking or unexpected. That guy is totally the resurrection type of villain. Oh, and for all the haters, I don’t know what your problem is with the coloring, I actually think it looks tons better.
Justice Society of America Annual #1 (****): I hate Earth 2, and yet… this was so good! OMG, why are there two Power Girls!?! OMG! Why is JSA so awesome?! OMG!!!
New Avengers #43 (****1/2): Out of all the New/Mighty flashback stories, this one has been the most satisfying so far. It gave us tangible answers about what’s currently going on in the SI mini. Like, all the dudes in the ship are Skrulls. Mystery solved. Mockingbird is a Skrull and she doesn’t know it! Drama! Bendis, you sick bastard! And you’re a liar. You said you were finished torturing Hawkeye, but dude, what happens when he finds out she ain’t who she says she is? Great drama, that’s what! Also, I liked that I was made to feel sorry for Cap-Skrull. Three-dimensional villains– Hooray!
Robin #175 (****): Other than losing a star for that terrible final page, the pose and dialogue made me cringe, I really liked this issue and I don’t think it portrays Robin out of character at all. Not at all. And, he finally voices his anger over what Stephanie did: the “I know you loved me and shit, and you would have liked to have known, but like, sorry I couldn’t be bothered to let you know I was still alive” crap. Yes, real human emotion has returned! I miss Dixon too, but Fabian appears to be an excellent second choice.

Review: Secret Invasion Tie Ins, Part 8

One disappointing book and a whole boatload of awesome fit into the eighth installment of Secret Invasion reviews.

New Avengers #42 (*****)

Awesome! Bendis takes one of the biggest questions of Secret Invasion (what the hell is the deal with the Skrull Ship from the Savage Land?) and explains it beautifully. It shows the dedication of the Skrulls, to the point that they’re basically using suicide bombers. The fact that all the Skrulls on the ship are completely and totally convinced that they are the real deal just adds to the madness and confusion, which is exactly why they were sent there in the first place. Skrully Cap refusing to acknowledge his true nature despite having already reverted back to his true form was some powerful stuff. We’ve also got the running background commentary from Spider-Man, and very few people today can write Spider-Man as well as Bendis. The work he has put into building up the Skrull invasion through slowly revealing their machinations and behind the scenes plotting adds an immense amount of enjoyment to the overall story. It’s very subtle and logical storytelling that is perfectly structured in every way.

Avengers: The Initiative #15 (****1/2)

I do enjoy the way that Slott and Gage write 3-D Man here. This is a guy that is certainly in a no win situation. He sees Skrulls as humans and humans as Skrulls, so of course he has no choice but to trust and confide in the exact folks that he shouldn’t. Of course, Crusader is a kind soul, and decides to switch sides and fight against the Skrulls (in a way that is very similar to the end of the Captain Marvel miniseries), and he’s got the added bonus of manipulating the Freedom Ring (made out of a piece of the cosmic cube) so he is one of the few people on Earth that can see through the Skrulls’ disguises. I like the way that the undercurrent of paranoia in the main Secret Invasion books is taken over by the OVERT paranoia of 3-D Man, who’s a guy that is breaking apart at the seams trying to figure out what to do with the false information presented to him. There’s another thing I really like about this (that ends up being a theme of this batch of books), but I’ll get to that during the She-Hulk review later.

Ms. Marvel #29 (****)

Ooooh, baby. I will concede that the first half or so of this book could be considered more of the same. More Ms. Marvel dealing with the Skrull attack on New York. More of her mistreating civilians in a time of war and panic. But she eventually moves on and tries to figure out what’s going on by buzzing by Stark Tower and eventually moving a group of citizens to the Raft for safe keeping, and this is where the issue turns. Something has been going on at the Raft. Whatever that something is, it’s pretty goddamned creepy. I won’t go into it because it’s really the type of glorious WHAT THE FUCK moment that really needs to be experienced freshly and first hand or you lose a lot of the moment. I have no clue what’s coming from the rest of this arc. I also have no clue how this jives with some of the events of Secret Invasion #4, but the timeline is a funny thing, so I’ll give it some more issues to suss itself out.

Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four #3 (**)

Well that was…odd. The opening kid drawing pages were certainly strange, but I have no clue what the writer was thinking in writing the narrative from the perspective of Franklin. It doesn’t read particularly well, and it certainly doesn’t seem to mesh well with what I know of Franklin as a character. There were some good moments, and I like the way the resolved things with Lyja, but this book fell off a bit of a cliff here, and it’s certainly disappointing after the first two issues. Ah well.

Black Panther #39 (*****)

Hoo boy. This one’s a doozy. Hello, Jason Aaron. I’ve never actually read anything by you. Turns out, you’re a pretty sweet writer. Talk about EPIC. So apparently there are two things you don’t do in times of war. You don’t attempt to invade Russia in the winter, and YOU DO NOT FUCK WITH WAKANDA. We follow two different plot strains here, from Black Panther preparing the troops for war to the Skrull captain just trying to get through one more invasion so he can retire to a remote planet and be with his family. Turns out it’s not going to be that easy, as the Wakandans are more than capable of defending themselves. I’m quite impressed with the amount of characterization Aaron manages to give this Skrull captain in such a short period of time. Perhaps the fact that it’s a familiar character trope, but it’s impressive either way. I wouldn’t necessarily put it up there with Hercules or Captain Britain yet, but this was a fantastic read. This book also feeds into what I saw in Avengers: Initiative and She Hulk

Thunderbolts #122 (****)

I’ve never read Thunderbolts before. I think Gage does a great job of operating from the assumption that a lot of folks will be jumping on to Thunderbolts for this arc, so he uses the device of Norman Osborne and Moonstone giving the entire team a psych evaluation to introduce us to the team, one by one. And this is certainly a quirky cast of characters. They fight Swarm (yes, he of the random MTU Sinister Syndicate card), and their odd methods for defeating the enemy leads to the best line of any comic I’ve read so far this month (“Why do you think we haven’t been allowed to go after Daredevil? Or Luke Cage? Perhaps because we can’t stop a Nazi made of bees without eating him, while you hide like a shrieking schoolgirl because you ‘don’t like bugs’!!”). We move on for some pretty creepy shit involving Swordsman (that dude’s got issues. And to stand out like that in a book like this is impressive) leading into Captain Marvel busting stuff up, Secret Invasion #1 style. This is a really entertaining book with some seriously engaging and well defined characters. Good stuff.

She-Hulk #31 (****1/2)

Thank you, Peter David, for taking away the bad taste in my mouth that was X-Factor #33. This is a GREAT issue that introduces a seriously cool concept into the Skrull mythos. The Talisman as a character and as an idea is just super cool. This is some high concept shit that I did not see coming. But here’s what I love about this book that I loved about Black Panther and Avengers: The Initiative. We’re starting to see the chinks in the Skrull armor. 3-D Man can see Skrulls. Darwin has revealed the true nature of The Talisman. Black Panther discovered the Skrull agents in Wakanda and gave them what for before humiliating a Skrull invasion force. Captain Britain is turning the tides in England with the help of Excalibur. We’re starting to see just how the humans might be able to beat back the storm, and none of it is coming from the big guns. It’s the fringes where the Skrull forces are spread out and weak that we’re starting to see the cracks form that could eventually expand and take down the entire fleet. This is FANTASTIC storytelling by everyone at Marvel. You can tell that they’re unified and all working on the same massive puzzle, even if they’re confined to their own little corners. This is what happens when you get everyone on the same page but still give them room to tell their own stories.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #39 – Wherein I’ve Fallen Way Behind On My Reviews!

Yes, summer lovin’ and pool party chicanery is getting in the way of good old-fashioned comic bookery!! I’m just about halfway through reading the latest shipment from DCBS (which was late, btw) and now my e-mail tells me the next shipment will be arriving on the 5th… OH NOES!!!

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

With Brian Reed taking over the reigns of this “series”, I think the Frontline concept might finally reach its full potential. This was another great tie-in to the main SI event, and deals with all the crap that’s been missing from the main book: honest reactions from the civilian population. Everything in this book worked for me. Literally everything. The down on his luck cabbie didn’t feel cliché. The spoiled teenager reacting to the imminent divorce of her parents felt real. Even the ER doctor who courageously keeps the hospital open to the wounded despite the threat of Skrull… okay, that stuff was kind of hokey. But I can forgive it because it was mostly well-executed and I can’t wait for more! Also, why is Brian Reed so awesome here and on Captain Marvel but so miserable on Ms. Marvel? Does not compute.

War Is Hell: The First Flight of The Phantom Eagle #5 (*****)

I wish I had waited for this in trade because I know I probably wouldn’t have complained about the early issues nearly as much. Garth Ennis continues to surprise me with his massive (innuendo?) talent. If you love war comics, or anything else by Ennis in this genre, you’ll love this book. Pick it up in trade. Oh, and as much as I usually loathe Howard Chaykin’s art style, I have to give credit where credit is due. The man put a lot of quality time in on this mini and it ####ing shows. I hear Ennis has more of these planned for the MAX imprint, and if that’s true, I’ll be getting each and every one. But, I’ll probably skip the monthlies and wait for the hardcovers next time.

Quick Hits:
Avengers/Invaders #3 (***1/2): And we’re finally starting to hit out stride here. I loved the Namor on Namor beatdowns. I love how cocky Bucky is. When he messes up Stark? GREAT STUFF. And! I love that this book fits solidly in continuity. Not sure where yet, but it’s definitely in there.
Batman #678 (**): WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?!?!
Batman: Detective #846 (*****): Another great issue from a severely underrated run. Paul Dini is dominating this series. Simply dominating!! I don’t understand how it is that more people aren’t talking about this book. If you love good, solid “Batman” style detective stories and can do without the confusing continuity riddled Morrison book, this is the Batman for you.
Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge #1 (****1/2): WOW. Almost as awesome as the main event, but for completely different reasons. I love that the “revenge” that the title implies is aimed at Inertia and not at Wally. This is going to be SICK.
Iron Man: Legacy of Doom #4 (***1/2): As with every issue, I was very surprised at how modern this comic read. It was, of course, a flashback issue, but it didn’t read like something ripped from the 90’s. Kudos to the creative team. I would definitely be interested in more minis like this one. Although next time, I’ll wait for the trade.
Moon Knight #20 (***1/2): No idea what this issue was trying to setup, but it was one hell of a good read. This felt like a “one-n-done”, which is cool, as long as we get more quality Moon Knightery in the future. I love this character and I loved how this series started. If we can somehow get back to that, I think I may stick around for a while more.
Nova #15 (****): Worldmind erased and heading for Earth. I don’t like how we got here, but I like where we’re going.
X-Force #5 (****1/2): I don’t understand how this book keeps getting better and better!! How?!?! If you aren’t reading this book, then you hate the X-Men. Period. End of sentence.

…also, I’m well aware that I owe you guys a new “Origin Stories” and a couple of “Planetary Reviews”. It’s in the works, but life just keeps getting in the way… and my pool needs attention. Like, massive amounts of attention. Like, 4-5 hours a day kind of attention. So, you can see my problem, right?

Review: Secret Invasion Tie-Ins!

That’s right. For the past two weeks, I received seven Secret Invasion books in my DCBS box. Let’s take a look (In the order that I read them).

The Incredible Hercules #118 (*****)

This book is still completely awesome. In this installment, we’ve got the God Squad (complete with collectible trading cards on the recap page with special Amadeus Cho rookie card) trying to find the lair of the Skrull Gods. In order to do so, they have to try and barter with Nightmare in order to receive a map that will lead them to their destination. Of course, Nightmare won’t just give it up, so we get to see montages of the various fears of the God Squad (including Amadeus Cho) until they are able to deceive Nightmare, steal the map and get the hell out of there before he uses the energy he received from absorbing their fears to take over the world. The banter is still awesome. The writing just sparkles at every turn. It’s genuinely funny, and I don’t see any way that people can’t be charmed by the Herc/Cho team up. They play so well off each other. This is a quality book month in and month out, and they’ve kicked it into high gear for Secret Invasion. Plus, considering the final splash page, the rest of this is probably going to be a hoot.

New Avengers #42 (****1/2)

The continuing saga of Jessica Drew brought to you from the perspective of nearly every major event since Bendis started generally steering the Marvel U. We get implications that the events of the Savage Land arc of New Avengers, House of M and Civil War were not only advantageous to the Skrulls, but possibly planned by the Skrulls. We also get a further continuation of the mythology behind this Skrull religion, as the act of fully immersing someone in a new identity takes the position of basically being a ritual, and a very cool one at that. Jimmy Chung also does a hell of a job on art chores (I LOVE that double page splash covering the background of Jessica Drew with her posing in the middle). This book is certainly covering the “secret” part of the Secret Invasion equation (while the main mini is much more of the “invasion” section), and I love the hell out of it. Secret societies, secret meetings, tons of conspiracy, tons of paranoia. And it all weaves its way beautifully through everything Bendis has been writing in the main Marvel U since Avengers Disassembled. Fantastic work.

Mighty Avengers #15 (****)

And the train keeps rolling. And Hank Pym’s skrully origin is revealed. And we get another bad ass ritual sequence. And we get some very cool art with Klaus Jansen and Tom Palmer working off John Romita Jr. breakdowns. It’s very reminiscent of JRJR and yet not at the same time. Groovy. I love the way the skrull constantly pumps Hank Pym for information (as well as other things…OH!) and makes it come off as the genuine gushing of a super hero groupie. And yet everything is for a specific purpose. These are all wonderful little puzzle pieces that are non essential to the main plot of Secret Invasion, but fill in that extra little bit of credibility that makes us really understand how the hell the Skrulls managed to pull this off so effortlessly. Plus, we’ve got a mention of the Beyonder, which is going to drive the people who think the Beyonder is behind all this up the wall. The only problem we have here is a bit of a timeline issue with New Avengers 42, which seems to feature Jessica Drew skrull talking to Hank Pym skrull, and that seems to take place before the events of Mighty 15 where he gets replaced. But it’s a minor continuity quibble, because I’m just enjoying the ride at this point.

Avengers: The Initiative #14 (****1/2)

Now THIS is fun. Slott’s back on co-writing duties for this issue (and I would assume the rest of the Secret Invasion arc, but I haven’t really been paying attention to the creator credits on solicits), and we’re dealing with the Skrull threat at Camp Hammond. Mostly from the perspective of 3-D Man, who is himself one of those altruistic Skrulls (similar to the Skrulls that pal around with She-Hulk, MI:13 and the Runaways…oh, and Hulkling), who is understandably trying to hide his identity in these trying times. Long story short, he finds out a way to see through the Skrull’s masking effects using a special pair of goggles, and proceeds to discover that EVERYONE at Camp Hammond is a Skrull. Of course, one assumes that this is not actually the case, and few if any of the people in the final double page spread are actually Skrulls, but it’s going to make for a fun little side story of one man against a world of people he thinks are guilty but are most likely innocent, and the hijinks that ensue. And nothing is more enjoyable than hijinks ensuing. The extra half star comes from that final splash, and the way 3-D Man’s yellow tinted goggles give off a sepia tone vibe and makes those last two pages look like some demented old-timey photo. Great stuff.

Ms. Marvel #28 (****)

Yes! I hoped this book would pick up once it got to the thick of things, and it surely did just that. First of all, Greg Horn is one of the best cover artists working today, and this issue is no exception. We join Secret Invasion already in progress with Ms. Marvel trying to deal with the armada attacking New York City. I mean, the book begins with a little twist on a very famous T.S. Eliot line (“This is the way the world ends. Not with a whimper…No…We should have known better than to think it would end with a whimper”) and I’m a big T.S. Eliot fan, so good on you Mr. Reed. And even better, we’re no longer bogged down with all the messiness from the last couple issues with the multiple Skrull Carol Danvers’ running around and too much of an emphasis on her interpersonal relationships. We’re full up on action now. And while not much actually happens in this book, it sure is staged well. We’ve got some nice story beats (the Skrulls react to Ms. Marvel’s power levels by shape shifting into defenseless innocents and blending in with the crowd) and good art. I don’t know if this book is as good as I rated it, but I think it’s such a step up from the last few issues that that probably had some influence on my score.

Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four #2 (****)

I love the way they take the time at the beginning of the book to point out how many times Johnny Storm has been screwed over by members of the opposite sex. It’s one of those character moments that lets you understand the complete exasperation that Johnny deals with when he discovers that Lyja is the Skrull that infiltrated the Baxter Building. And I also like the way that Lyja realizes very quickly that she bit off far more than she can chew once the Baxter Building is attacked by all kinds of nasty inhabitants of the Negative Zone. Plus, we’ve got Annihilation Wave bugs! And a giant robot piloted by Franklin and Valeria! And the added bonus of the gang needing to rely on breaking some folks out of the Negative Zone prison for the next issue! This book is just pure fun, which is exactly what we should expect from a Fantastic Four book (Mark Millar, I’m looking in your direction). And Barry Kitson is still bringing the kind of awesomeness that makes me miss The Order. Nothing wrong with this book at all. It’s a bit on the flighty side, but still a solid read.

Secret Invasion: Runaways/Young Avengers #1 (****1/2)

Exactly what I wanted. More issues of dealing with the trust factors of someone on a team being a Skrull (this time we’re dealing with Zavin of the Runaways), but at its core, this book is all about Hulkling. Because all things told, he’s an extremely important character for this entire overall event. This guy is the true heir to the Skrull throne. And we get to see the continuation of what happens after he took both barrels to the face during Secret Invasion #3. Zavin, after pulling a card from the deck of Captain Skrull-Vell and pretending to play along with the Invasion in order to further his own agenda, realizes who Hulkling is, and the chase to rescue him ensues, played out in front of the backdrop of a lot of his friends getting hurt and possibly killed. It’s human drama (though none of those involved are actually, you know, human). And it’s pulse pounding. And put simply, it’s great. As someone who doesn’t know who any of the Runaways actually are, I was able to get character traits down right off the bat (thanks, Chris Yost!), which allowed me to follow the excellent story unimpeded.

I am SHOCKED at how good all of these tie ins have been so far. This is an incredibly rich tapestry that is billowing in the wind behind the somewhat straightforward and austere book that is the main title. Yes, the tie ins are generally of a higher quality than the actual Secret Invasion mini. But that doesn’t bother me one bit. Everything informs everything else, and we’re left with this living, breathing organism of an event that is very costly if you want to experience the whole thing, but completely well worth it. Phew! That was a lot of words.

Foilball’s Review Roundup #17

Rating System: The Best of Jim Starlin

5 Stars: WARNING: The Infinity Gauntlet
4 Stars: Adam Warlock and the Infinity Watch
3 Stars: Cosmic Odyssey
2 Stars: Dreadstar
1 Star: Marvel Universe: The End

Avengers: The Initiative #12 (***)

Once again, Iron Man compromises his position on the SHRA and allows a group of fugitive super heroes to “escape”. I just don’t understand editorial’s inconsistent stance on this. In a shared universe, you can’t just abandon bits of story and character development every time a creator writes himself into a corner. For those of you who would say that Iron Man’s resent behavior IS a sign of character development, I say, “I don’t think so.” I don’t feel the writing here, or in the other books where he isn’t the title character, would support that argument. I think it’s just editors letting writers do their own thing. Would Tony really act like this? He fought a war over his beliefs and he got his best friend killed. If that honestly changed how he felt about registration, he’d have gone rogue already and we’d probably see him fighting to repeal the Act. He hasn’t and he’s not. I expect this type of shit from DC, not Marvel… the masters of continuity.

Ms. Marvel #26 (*)

I’m really starting to dislike this book. Too much exposition and too much useless dialogue. It’s Reed aping Bendis, and he’s aping him badly. I want to drop this book, but I really like Carol Danvers. But I’m also pretty sure I only like her when Bendis is writing her. Dilemma!!! Oh yeah, and this issue doesn’t feel like it fits in with Secret Invasion at all. I know that’s kind of a ridiculous thing to say, because there’s a bunch of Skrulls in here… but these Skrulls aren’t acting very Skrully, that is to say, their Skrulliness isn’t consistent with how Bendis has set them up in Avengers and SI. Like, this Skrull chick is way too forthcoming with the infos. I want to like Reed and his Ms. Marvel, but this book is less fun than it used to be and now I’m starting to wonder if it was ever any good. And another thing, pretty convenient for Reed to introduce this Agent Sum guy’s background information a couple of pages before it’s relevant to the story. UGH. So bad.

Rann-Thanagar: Holy War #1 (**)

I didn’t preorder this, but I picked it up on Wednesday because back in the day, Starlin and Lim were a creative team to be reckoned with. I went in with semi-high expectations, I tried very hard to keep the nostalgia factor in check, and the book failed to exceed them. Actually, it didn’t even come close. I was bored; bored to tears. That’s about the worst thing you can say about any piece of art. Sorry, guys. This sucked. Oh, but I did laugh at these two pages. Robin sits there completely invisible till the very last panel where he gives Starfire permission to go on the mission. Hold on, Robin is still a kid, right? Starfire’s the adult? HAHAHAH… stupid. I won’t be reading #2.

Superman/Batman #47 (***1/2)

Hey FYI, Busiek wrote this idea already over on Superman. I don’t remember the specific issue number, but it was about six months back I think. The idea: a team designed and trained by the US government to take out Superman if he ever goes rogue… been there, Green. But it’s okay, since surprisingly, Green does a better job with this idea than Busiek. You don’t have to be original all the time, most of the time we’ll settle for interesting. And this, this Doomsday kryptonite creature, this thing is interesting… to me at least.

Ultimate X-Men #93 (***1/2)

So… a reboot? Yeah, I can live with that. Does this mean Fantastic Four is the Ultimate book on the chopping block? I hope so. Does anyone like Ult. FF? About the issue: the fight between Apocalypse and Phoenix was just long enough to satisfy my need for cosmic violence without boring me. Also, thank you Robert Kirkman for reversing the “Dark Phoenix” expectations we were all… expecting. We don’t see Light Phoenix very often and it was a welcome surprise. There was some lame here, mostly due to the super-muscular art. UGH-UGH.

Quick Hits:
The Mighty Avengers #12 (****): Nick Fury, you fool! I wouldn’t kick that Skrull out of bed, she was the super hots! Maria Hill is one of the best, most complex characters Bendis has ever written… too bad she’s almost surely a Skrull. The meeting between Spider-Woman and Fury on the bridge was perfect. I think I’m looking forward to this story more than Secret Invasion proper.
The New Avengers #40 (****): I think I’m 4-starring this mainly for the Jimmy Cheung art. The story was neat too… and I loved how pissy the Skrull King gets. What’s also neat? Plenty of Skrull art to steal for some future Vs. set.
The Immortal Iron Fist #14 (****): So much fighting in this issue! Just when you think the fights over, Fraction and Brubaker toss out a dozen more fist-pounding panels! Have I mentioned how much I love how they print the names of the special moves in big white font? HEH.
Justice League of America #20 (**): I wasn’t even aware Flash wasn’t in the JLA right now. I mean, I’ve been reading the book for over 10years, but it’s been so forgettable lately I just had no clue. Apparently the editors felt we needed reminding. Thanks editors!!!
The Order #10 (**): A decent ending to a mediocre series. I’m glad the Order hasn’t disbanded, but I don’t care about them much past that.
Teen Titans #58 (-): Dropping this book. Now that we won’t be making any DC sets for a while, it’s finally safe to drop all the DC titles I can’t stand.