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.

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!