Foilball’s Review Roundup #55 – A Secret Invasion in September

The New Avengers # 45 (****): The art plus explanations (can’t really say answers as I do not believe anyone was even asking these questions) makes this a solid read. Yes, “wasting” a page on the Queen vomiting in the toilet may have turned off some people, but I loved it. Vulnerability is always cool. I mean, this panel did wonders for Tony Stark.

The Mighty Avengers #18 (***): More Secret Warriors!!! I feel like I’ve read this story already, yeah? And the whole V for Vendetta/Alias/Every spy fiction fake torture sequence EV-VAR! thing was more than a lot a bit unnecessary in my not so humble opinion. Unlike the clone Reed Richards torture scene, I don’t think the scene in this book fooled anybody. Truth.

Avengers: The Initiative #17 (**): WOO! Wait, what am I so excited about? This was awful. The Queen doing her best “twirling moustache” routine at the end had me gagging on my own tongue, and then there’s that tossed in Star Wars reference… to one of the BAD ones? BLAH.

Black Panther #41 (*****): EPIC. And final. I’m glad we ended our relationship on a high note, T’challa. I would’ve been truly sad if your last arc had been balls. Although, I do wish the payoff for this arc had been that Storm was a Skrull the whole time. That may have saved the book for me.

Deadpool #2 (****1/2): Even better than the first issue, even with the predictable ending. BOOYA! Good Deadpool writing is back, baby!

Guardians of the Galaxy #5 (****1/2): GARSH! When did this comic get so good? Out of all the anti-Skrull plans, I think I like Drax’s the best: ‘Kill ‘em all.’ Perfection. OH, NOES! Cosmo… a Skrull agent? Say it ain’t so, dawg!

Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #33 (***): ‘War Machine: Weapon of S.H.I.E.L.D.’? ALL IN, DUDERS! I even like the Transformers ending. DING. This first story was mediocre, but I’m looking forward to this new direction.

Ms. Marvel #31 (****1/2): Technically no longer tying in with Secret Invasion, instead dealing with the post-SI aftermath, the “Dark Reign”, whatever that is. Man, where has Reed been hiding this story? It was so good! Character building moments! Good times! No fight scenes! So, questions: Why does Carol want to kill Norman Osborn? Could he be responsible for this “Dark Reign”? Is it related to what’s happening over in Thunderbolts right now?

Nova # 17 (*): UGH, this was the opposite of awesome. DnA are really letting me down on this title. To be frank, it sucks. It’s boring. I’m bored. Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. is boring. Quasar is boring. Dick Ryder’s family life is boring. Darkhawk is boring. BORED FOREVER!!! The most interesting stuff in this issue deals with the Super Skrull fake betrayal, but that’s over by the first couple of pages and then the book quickly reverts back to its natural state: boringtowne.

She-Hulk #33 (****): What a difference the art makes. Same writer. Same shitty story. But somehow the fabulous art makes everything more interesting.

Secret Invasion: Inhumans #2 (****1/2): finally got my hands on this and I was not disappointed. Tom Raney rules.

Secret Invasion: The Amazing Spider-Man #2 (***): Better than the first issue? I don’t know. It was still UGH-inducing.

Secret Invasion: Thor #2 (**): UGH. This book is FAIL. Why even make this a mini? There were absolutely ZERO interesting plot turns before Thor shows up at the end. Just skip the two filler issues and make this a one-shot where Thor beats the shit out of a legion of Skrulls. DING.

Skrulls vs. Power Pack #3 (-): This books makes me cry.

Thunderbolts #124 (*****): …and THIS book makes me giggle like your little sister on weed. WHEEE!!!!

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.

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 #31 – More Secret Invasion Tie-Ins!

 

So far, to pretty much everyone’s surprise, the tie-ins to the main Secret Invasion mini-series have been made of pretty high caliber stuffs. Especially, in my opinion, MI-13 and the Fantastic Four spin-off mini. This last month’s crop of books, of which I will review quickly here today (and which Desiato already did over here), have been no different.

First, I fricking love these covers, especially the Mighty and New Avengers “homages.” They really help give them that “everything ties into everything else” feeling. Second… let’s skip ahead to the individual reviews:

• Avengers: The Initiative #14 (****): This was a great issue of The Initiative, and I guess that’s mostly due to the fact that Dan Slott came on to co-plot this baby. He handled the Pym flashbacks/reveals expertly and his use of the 3-D Man was retro but at the same time very, very cool. I hungrily await the next installment.

• Fantastic Four: Secret Invasion #2 (****): The Fantastic Four mini has to be the most surprising of all the tie-ins. Although Aguirre-Sacasa is uber-talented and has done a fantastic job with the FF in the past, I don’t think anyone was expecting this one to be the great read that it certainly is. I think the quality has to be chalked up to AS’s obvious affection for these characters. The way he writes “The Brief Loves of Johnny Storm” is evidence enough of this, not to mention the touching make-out scene in the Negative Zone. I don’t know about you guys, but I really felt for these two characters caught on opposite sides of this holy war. I’m hoping maybe Lyja and Johnny get their happy ending… although, with Millar on the main title, I won’t hold my breath.

• Ms. Marvel #28 (*****): I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but… Ms. Marvel is my favorite of the bunch. WOW. Finally! We get some action! Some suspense! This one was epically written! There are not enough exclamation points in the memory of mankind to express how much I loved this issue!!! Her attitudes on war, murder and purpose? Loving this shit!

• Runaways/Young Avengers: Secret Invasion #1 (****): I love how, in the absence of the series’ creator, Marvel is keeping the Young Avengers franchise alive. Just like the Young Avengers: Presents, this crossover fills that YA fix nicely. Also, thank God that awful Whedon arc is over so we can get back to enjoying good Runaways comics. As far as the issue’s plot, I’m glad we finally find out what it is those freaking Skrulls were saying to each other over in Secret Invasion #3, and… what Teddy and Xavin’s respective roles will be in SI.

• The Incredible Hercules #118 (****): Not much to say here, besides pointing out how impossibly well written this book continues to be. Oh, and how about that Snowbird/Hercules hook-up? JEEZ! Herc sure does get around! AND, OH… Skrully coyote!

• The Mighty Avengers #15 (*****): The sordid life of Henry Pym… you know what? EFF that! Janet is such a ####! She totally left his ass, so like, he’s totally in the right to sleep with the first student/Skrull infiltrator that happens by… like, good for him, except, you know, when he gets beat up and replaced by an alien invader. That was kind of bad. And probably his fault. But, whatever. Screw, Janet!

• The New Avengers #42 (****): Jim Cheung is godly on the art. GODHEAD. Also, special thanks to one Mr. Bendis. The pieces finally fit. Everything fits! She’s been a Skrull since before the breakout? WHA!?!? …awesome. Now, all he has to do is explain that Skrull that showed up in one panel of Disassembled. Then, I shall be satisfied. Maybe.

So, yeah. High quality shit right here. This shipment of books has totally restored my faith in this event. I think the main action of Secret Invasion won’t really happen in the main book till we pass the midway point. Bendis is slow-rolling the hell out of this one. Which, I’m okay with, as long as the payoff is huge. Not talking “No More Mutants” huge. I’m talking “Death of Captain America” huge. Know what I’m saying?

 

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 #27: More Secret Invasions!!!

Mighty Avengers #14 (***)

So, these next two Secret Invasion tie-ins have been reviewed to death, but they still leave me with a few questions I’d like to address here. First, for Mighty it’s really only one question with a bunch of sub-questions: Was this issue written as fan wank or does it actually figure prominently into the overall SI plot? Like, is Bendis only answering “The Sentry Question” because he thinks the fans will call him on it, as they did with Greg Pak and World War Hulk? That question being, “If The Sentry is so EFFing powerful, couldn’t he single-handedly repel the entire Skrull invasion force?” Judging by the way he’s been built up in the last few years, then the answer has to be a resounding “yes, he could.” If Bendis is indeed answering this fanboy-ish question, then it’s my opinion that he is handling it… awkwardly? Seriously, the whole “just shapeshift into the Void” is equal parts logical and cheesy. I guess I’ll reserve final judgment on the matter until Bendis reveals whether of not Robert’s reversion to the Void will have any true impact on the plot of Secret Invasion. Heh, such a cop-out.

New Avengers #41 (***)

You know, it’s nice that after almost five years of waiting Bendis finally explains what the hell was going on in the Savage Land way back in New Avengers #6. But for me, it’s kind of too late. I don’t actually care anymore. I want to move forward, damn it! Now putting that aside, what I do still want to know is: Why the hell did Maria Hill blow up those Skrulls? Did she know they were Skrulls? If not, then who did she think they were? Was she trying to nuke the Avengers as well? Does this in fact make her a Skrull? Was she ordered by a third Skrull party to cover the incident up? WTF?!?! I hope these lingering questions are addressed eventually… until then, it’s kind of a huge gaping plot hole, dudes.

The Incredible Hercules #117 (*****)

Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente = Masterful Storytellers.

Things I liked about this issue of Herc:
Skrull Gods look sweet!!!
Hercules gets angry and kicks a tree.
Hercules gets angrier and kicks a bunch of trees.
Hercules knows his limitations.
The Ego of the Gods on full display.
Oh, snap! She fooled us all!

I’m convinced it’s not possible to keep this level of quality up. Someday the bottom will fall out… it has to! But, every day, I pray to Zeus it doesn’t.

Ms. Marvel #27 (**)

This issue blows and really the only reason I put it in the feature area of this Roundup is that I wanted to show you this:

Yes, that is another ####ING Helicarrier getting blown the #### up. GAH! Oh, and this really pissed me off. Carol, you suck. All things considered, we readers have to think that Simon might actually be in love with you. How dare you use him like that? UGH. I want to be done with this book, but I love Carol and every month I give it another chance to impress me. Sigh.

Quick Hits:
Black Panther #36 (*): What happened Hudlin? Why have you led us astray?
Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #29 (**): Knaufs!!! Why have you forsaken us!? Heh, getting biblical with this shit. Moore is competent enough, but it’s just not as good. And why the heck does this plot feel so much like what’s going on over in Invincible Iron Man? LAME.
Number of the Beast #4 (****): Alright, shit is heating up. I’m really like this series. THE HIGH!
She-Hulk #29 (*): David finally pulls back the curtain and explains about the missing time between his and Slott’s run. And you know what? Don’t care. DON’T CARE! Why? Your explanation sucked, Peter. Like your (current) writing.
Teen Titans #59 (**): Hey, it’s the Dark Side Club! Other than that, I’m so lost.
Thor #9 (*****): Still. So. Good. Loki? You rock.
Ultimate Fantastic Four #54 (*): Still. So. Bad. Why are we sexualizing Old Lady Harkness? Cancel please!!!
Uncanny X-Men #498 (****): Yeah, I happen to like the SF thread, and yeah, the Russian part of the story is better. But who cares, when’s the last time Brubaker wrote the X-Men so well? (This takes for granted that the “Rise & Fall” arc was not very good.)

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.