Foilball’s Review Roundup #59 – Secret Invasion and Final Crisis, The Tie-Ins!

Deadpool #3 (***1/2)

Not as good as 2, and way worse than 1. I hope this series has somewhere to go once the Invasion ends. Or maybe I don’t. Can I really afford another monthly?

Guardians of the Galaxy #6 (***1/2)

Wacky misunderstandings in space! Heh, but seriously, how the hell is Peter gonna convince all his buddies to come back and play nice? He basically brainwashed them! It would be pretty sweet if they all formed their own group and told Starlord to piss off.

Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #34 (**)

BORING. Is this what we should expect from the forthcoming War Machine ongoing? Perhaps I should adjust my pre-order?

Mighty Avengers #19 (*)

Complete waste as it failed at making me care about Marvel Boy. UGH. You can’t just go through the motions, Bendis, you actually have to write clever character stuff!

Secret Invasion: Frontline #4 (****)

Still the best tie-in. Do you get the feeling that maybe Ben Urich is gonna bite it at the end of this mini? I hope so. I like him, but he bugs me. Actually, Sally Floyd bugs me more. Kill her, Marvel!

Secret Invasion: Inhumans #3 (****)

This issue makes me very excited about the direction Marvel is taking the Inhumans. The War of Kings story is going to be epic, people!

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds (***)

I started to read this, and then I got bored. Heh, maybe I’ll finish later…

Final Crisis: Revelations #3 (***)

I don’t really know how to feel about this comic. It’s well written, but I’m not sure if I like it. Is that weird?

Final Crisis: Rogue’s Revenge #3 (*****)

THIS WAS AWESOME! Those Rogues are some cold-blooded bastards, right! It’s interesting that Captain Cold thinks murdering Inertia makes up for murdering Bart Allen/Flash/Kid Flash/Impulse. I don’t think that’s how it works, dude. And, oh man, having the Rogues cringe at the possibility of the return of Barry Allen as the Flash really gets the mind buzzing for next year’s big flash event. As far as this being a tie-in to FC and not just a cash grab? FAIL. Sure, this mini explains why the Rogues opted out of Libra’s Society, but did anyone really care? That subplot was completely irrelevant to the main plot, that being the murder of Inertia. I’m sure I would have enjoyed this book just as much without all the FC hoopla.

Bruce Castle Presents: 15 Comic Reviews! I Have No Time!

Ugh! I feel like Billy! I had hoped it wouldn’t come to this but sadly it has. I’ve been really busy saving civilization lately. Hopefully the aliens and super ninjas will stay away long enough for me to write some proper reviews soon. I have to at least write long reviews for Final Crisis and Secret Invasion. Anyway, enjoy my negligence!

Mighty Avengers #19 (***1/2) That’s two good MA issues in a row Bendis! You have one more left to go. Make it count!

Conan #4 (****) Always a solid read and hey the Corben stuff is making sense now. This book looks pretty as well.

Grant Morrison Doctor Who #1 (****) I’m not a Who fan, but this is still usual Morrison excellence. It’s very entertaining forgettable fun!

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #2 (****) A bit worse than last issue but this is still epic stuff. Plus, Perez’s art has never looked so good!

Final Crisis: Rogue’s Revenge #3 (****1/2) What a fun series! I’m so in the mood for that new Flash comic. Go villain books!

Green Lantern #35 (****) Yeah it was too long but that won’t matter much in trade. How many origin stories have been better? Oh, and how awesome is Reis?

Secret Invasion: Inhumans #3 (***1/2) More forgettable fun! Pretty art too!

Justice Society Of America #19 (****1/2) One of the most consistently great books out there right now. I like all the Eaglesham art but I don’t like waiting!

Punisher #63 (***1/2) That forgettable entertainment that looks pretty theme continues!

Secret Six #2 (****1/2) Fun! Fun! Fun! But not as great as last issue. Catman vs. Batman!

Amazing Spider-Man #573 (*****) Go JRJR go! Hooray for awesome comics! Stephen Colbert fans must pick this up!

Ultimate Origins #5 (***) Meh. I’ve forgotten it already. Weak last page!

Uncanny X-Men #503 (***) Write better Fracker! You slightly improved here, how about an extreme improvement next time?!

Astonishing X-Men #27 (****1/2) To hell with the haters! This book is awesome! I laugh so much!

Young Liars #8 (****1/2) Very interesting issue! Not as fun, but still fantastic! This is the best book you have never heard of!

Again, I’m so sorry about this crap. Hopefully I can remedy this problem and have awesome new reviews soon. Please comment if you want me to further explain my zany opinions. Sadly, I can’t show all the covers but I will give you this one!

Marvel Reveals Amazing Spider-Man's Colbert Cover

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!!!!

Bruce Castle Presents: Skrulls VS X-Men & Inhumans

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

We get more entertainment from the SI tie-in machine. This feels like a genuine invasion book that provides much merriment. What’s a perfect side dish for an invasion book? The X-Men should taste exquisite. You get to see how your favorite mutant crew handles the green meanies complete with some Cuckoos (Yay Morrison!) and some intriguing Nightcrawler business. Did I mention I have a soft spot for Cary Nord’s art? It’s not for everyone, but I really dig it. My only complaint is that this is a four issue mini instead of three. So, it’s not as tight as I’d like it to be, but that doesn’t detract much. If you’re looking for some good old fashioned alien squishing fun with a twist, pick this up.

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

I was about to write about how fun this comic is, but there was quite a bit of torture included. Even though torture is often seen as entertainment these days (cough…24…cough), I still find it a bit too unsettling to refer to this issue as “fun”. However, this is still entertaining. Tom Raney’s art still manages to impress (more historic stained glass windows yay!), we get to see the Inhumans kick plenty of Skrull ass, and Joe Pokaski presents a well-written and amusing Inhumans yarn. I just wish he would lay off the torture a bit (What? Do they tell TV writers that torture sells nowadays?).

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

Captain Britain and MI13 #4 (-)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Secret Invasion: Thor #1 (**)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bruce Castle Presents: The Skrulls Get Around

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

This book should have come out a lot sooner. That’s really the only complaint I have about this. The two main things that a tie-in has to be concerned about is one: have something to do with the event it ties into and two: spend at least a little time introducing the characters because you want to bring new readers into your story. I know little about the Inhumans. I don’t think I’ve ever read any of their books before so all I know is their names and a little about their powers. Not only did this issue tell me who the Inhumans are, it did so in a very creative way through stain glass windows. This gave Tom Raney the opportunity to show his prowess as an artist. His Kirby-esque rendering in those windows is an artistic treat. The characters are written wonderfully and we get to know all of them quickly. But this is still a tie-in, and when the Skrulls do show up they kick some ass in cinematic fashion. Due to the great work from the creative team, SI Inhumans is worth the price of admission.

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

If you haven’t been reading Thor Ages of Thunder from Matt Fraction, you really need to do yourself a favor and pick up those two issues. I have a friend who has been reading Thor for almost 30 years and he feels that Fraction has written the best Thor since Walt Simonson’s legendary run. So I was both excited and a bit nervous reading this because his other two issues of Thor were so good. But thankfully, this doesn’t disappoint. I’ll give a quick shout out to Doug Braithwaite who does the art on this fine issue. He brings us breathtaking images and genuinely godlike portrayals that leave you breathless. We get to see some cool things we rarely see like Donald Blake’s duties as a Doctor and of course the return of Beta Ray Bill which shows Fraction’s obvious affection towards the aforementioned Simonson run. The action was absent in this issue, but there was plenty of material to keep you entertained and the last page leaves you wanting more.

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

This was a hell of a first issue. I’ll first mention what drew me to this issue was Nord’s art. I’m a big Conan fan and since he’s off that book I have to get his pretty art anyway I can. So when I saw this I thought: X-Men, Skrulls, Nord art, and a pretty Dodson cover, I’m there! In addition to the glorious Nord art, I had quite a lot of fun with this issue. So the Skrulls invade San Francisco because remember, California was near defenseless until recently. The Skrulls land and start slaughtering until the X-Men arrive!  A lot of action ensues. So this is fun and has stunning art. What was interesting though is how serious the Skrulls were. They acted like they came right out of some bloody war. They had Skrully priests blessing the troops with the commander saying “These soldiers are saints already”. Who is this Skrull commander? He’s a pretty crazy character. He even refers to the Skrull invasion as a crusade. Oh and he executes another Skrull for messing up. The only thing that keeps this issue from being the best out of these tie-ins is the absence of an aforementioned tie-in ingredient. This isn’t a book for new readers at all. But if you like the X-Men, gorgeous art, and some extremely intriguing Skrulls, pick this up!

Review: Secret Invasion: Inhumans #1

So I was given the surprising opportunity to read SI Inhumans today before I get it in my DCBS Box on Friday (it’s certainly possible that it had something to do with my bitching to everyone within earshot about the agony of having to wait TWO WHOLE DAYS!!!!!! in order to read the thing), and I read through it while I was at work. There was a hell of a lot of anticipation on my end. I think if you had to create a pecking order for my favorite characters in comics, the Inhumans run a close second behind Galactus and his Heralds, with a personal affinity specifically engendered for the Royal Family, as you’d be hard pressed to find a more interesting and diverse group of folks under one roof. I have literally liked every story I have ever read about the Inhumans. The Paul Jenkins/Jae Lee Marvel Knights run is well regarded as a classic (and deservedly so), but series like the Pacheco/Ladronn four issue run, or McKeever’s twelve issues, or Son of M or Silent War are all great stories. So combine that with my love for the characters and love for the Secret Invasion event, and you’ve got some big shoes to fill. Also consider that this is writer Joe Pokaski’s first full length comic work (he wrote some of those Heroes shorts as well), and there’s a lot of pressure here.

Well, my fears or trepidation were put to rest on the opening pages, where we see Karnak (he’s a personal favorite of mine out of all the Royal Family) explaining the history of the Inhumans while preaching in front of these beautifully rendered throwback style stained glass windows to catch up readers new and old alike. The current status quo of the Inhumans is also quickly established, as the events of Silent War have not been swept under the rug as some have feared. Maximus is still king of Attilan, the Royal Family still hates his guts, and Gorgon is still in his more animal-like secondary Terrigenesis form. The characterization of the Royal Family is pretty much spot on. Gorgon is still constantly trying to reconcile his temper with his loyalty to his brothers and cousins. Karnak is still a stone cold badass. Medusa still mixes her emotions of fealty, royalty, pride, and honor with that tinge of vulnerability bubbling underneath the surface. And Maximus is (as always) a MASSIVE JACKASS (who constantly takes pot shots at Triton for no reason other than being bored). It is very obvious that Pokaski is either a legitimate fan of the Inhumans or did TONS of research, so it all works in relation to what came before.

From a story perspective, it’s what you’d expect. Iron Man delivers the Black Bolt Skrull to Medusa, who is kind of a bit upset about it, and the Inhumans proceed to examine themselves from within Attilan to see just what this means for them while they attempt to find their missing deposed king. But the Skrulls are ready for them, and much of Attilan is burning by the end of the issue. I won’t go into specifics because this is a book that really requires a fresh approach to enjoy the way things play out. But I will say that someone is messing with the Terrigen crystals, and whoever designed the Inhuman Royal Family Super Skrull that appears in this issue could potentially be my new best friend. I think that thing may honestly be cooler than the Illuminati Super Skrull from Secret Invasion 2. We’ve got an ending with a very strong allusion to certain events of another recent Marvel event, and we have that undeniable need to read the next issue RIGHT NOW and the long, dark soul searching month of quietude before the next onslaught of awesomeness. And truly, what more is there to ask for from a monthly periodical comic book?

I wanted to end this somewhat haphazard and hastily put together review by talking about Tom Raney. Now, I already mentioned how great those opening stained glass style panels look. And the badass Inhuman Super Skrull. But the rest of the book is drawn in this wonderful clean style that is a pretty big departure from what we’ve gotten used to from an Inhumans book. This book does not revel in the darkness the way that Jae Lee or Landronn or Frazer Irving drew the Inhumans. It’s much more along the lines of of the artists that worked on McKeever’s twelve issue series, but even that was relentlessly dark at times. This book is not done from that perspective. The colors pop. Everything is vibrant and clear as day. It’s VERY different, but not in a bad way. This is also a different style compared to Raney’s work on Annihilation: Conquest, which I think has a lot to do with the coloring as well, so hats are off to the folks at Guru EFX for doing a great job on making this book like no other that has preceded it. That’s not discounting Raney, of course, as his lines are confident and strong, and his expression work from the myriad of Medusa’s emotions to Maximus’ indifference to Gorgon’s rage and Karnak’s frustration enhances the words in a way you can only get from the comic medium.

To say this book lived up to my expectations would be no small feat considering how excited I’m been to read the thing ever since it was announced (or more accurately ever since New Avengers: Illuminati #5 when I desperately wanted to see what the Inhumans would do about Black Bolt), but the combination of the spot on writing and the great art and the little subtleties that come from both the writing and the art really make for a truly compelling piece of superhero fiction. My mind is at ease and still swimming in a sea of Inhumany goodness. Won’t you join me?