Review: Secret Invasion #8 – Spoilers!

It’s finally over. Ok, so I could just bash the hell out of this, but I don’t want to. I’ve been doing that since about issue two when everyone loved this book. Now it seems most people are on the same page as I am. Dclebeau just wrote a pretty good lengthy review that points out a lot of the faults that I would have. So if you want his negativity, go here. If you want my negativity on previous issues, go here, here, or here. But as for this issue, I’m going to keep it positive.

I know what you’re thinking. What nice thing can I say other than I like the art? Well, I do like the art, but everyone has said that already, including me. Um, Tony went old school. That was cool. That can’t be all I liked, right? Let me flip through my book here. Wasp dies? Don’t care. Norman kills the Skrull Queen? Um, yeah that’s kind of…uh, I liked Ellis’ Thunderbolts? Iron Man finds all the people who were captured (And doesn’t get credit for it). Well, I guess I’m glad they’re alive. So, yay? Luke Cage’s baby is missing and that isn’t resolved? That’s kind of…lame? Don’t care. Don’t care. Thor gives Tony more shit and Bucky gives him the dreaded silent treatment. Why Marvel why? Can’t they all just get along? I have to live with their ten panel team-up in a book I didn’t like? Damn you! Shit this is getting negative, isn’t it? Ok here we go. They kick Tony, a hero, out and bring Osborn, a pumpkin bomb throwing monster, in? You suck, faceless Marvel president! I like that though. It shows the crazy things people do when they’re scared. Well, I already knew that, I’ve lived in America for the last eight years, but kids may not know that. But I do like the idea of villains in control. So maybe Marvel comics will be cool if you can get past their new 3.99 price tag? Maybe, I guess I’m done talking about this issue, but while you’re here, I’ll talk about those new Dark Reign books I’m interested in.

Dark Reign

How can I not buy this? So what do you guys think of this Evil Illuminati or Evilnati as I’m sure it will soon be called? Or if you take the Illumin as illuminate, would you then use the antonym? Would that be darken? Darkenati? Whatever floats your boat I guess. So what do you think of the members? Loki? I liked him before Stracynski gave him an operation. The Hood? Yeah, I do like him and hey I like Dormammu as well. Emma Frost? Love her, but I guess I am one of the many who hopes she isn’t evil. She’s had to fight that lack of trust for eight years! Give the lady a break Bendis! Namor? So he continues to go both ways? Way to be a turncoat fish boy. And what evil alliance would be complete without Doom and Stormin’ Norman? I approve of these baddies.

Large Cover of New Avengers #48

I wish I could quit this book, but I’m too far down the rabbit hole. So Spider-Man is back in the old blue and red. That’s fine. Wolverine is back. I see they still have to make this team as popular as possible. Captain America? More popularity? That’s ok. Bucky on a team will be interesting. Will he have to lead? Luke Cage? Cage on a Bendis team? No way! And Ronin? Will this still be Clint or will he be too busy lovin’ his girl now that she’s back? I still think Daredevil will be on a Bendis team at some point. So what do you think of this new team? It’s even more street than before! At least the last team had magic. Can these guys handle a cosmic baddie? Or even a flying one?

I heard Fraction talk about this a long time ago. Iron Man’s “Born Again” arc. It’s eight issues I believe. The first seven issues of this series have been pretty fantastic. I hope that will continue. Maybe after this, Tony will at long last cease to be Marvel’s whipping boy. It could happen. Please?

Large Cover of Punisher #1 (50/50 Variant)

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull be back in”. I love Frank, but I was just about to break up with him. Ennis and Fraction left the building. Punisher MAX not only decreased in quality but will also cost 3.99 soon. So I was just about to leave until I saw this cover. The villains control everything? Bring in the Punisher! And hey, this book isn’t 3.99! Yet.

Large Cover of Dark Avengers #2

Damn it! I can’t find a good picture of New Avengers #50, but you all saw it, right? Plus it would be weird to put a New Avengers cover for Dark Avengers. I only bring it up because you can really get a good idea of what the line-ups will be. Oh, first I should add that it looks like Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman will be on the New Avengers. So they do have some women and one member that can deal with flying or cosmic threats. That’s a little better. For the Dark Avengers you have Iron Patriot (Osborn?), Marvel Boy (Yay!), Ares (Yay!), Sentry (So once again, the New Avengers should totally get their asses kicked when they face this team), Black Suit (Venom, but no teeth and less bulky. New host?), Hawkeye (Should be Bullseye which would be cool), Daken (If you’ve seen the cover of NA #50 and you know what Daken’s claws look like, you could confirm this too. That middle claw is clearly below his knuckles), Ms. Marvel classic suit (Moonstone probably). So what do you think of this team? I’m a big fan. Again, I love villain books, so this should be a blast. Oh and I also loved Ellis’ Thunderbolts run and we have Deodato back. Can Bendis fill Ellis’ shoes? Probably not, but it’s still worth a look.

So please let me know what you guys think! And again, doesn’t that new four buck price suck?!

Secret Invasion #8, and the Event as a Whole

Spoilers, natch, for all of Secret Invasion, as well as the Dark Reign solicitation freebie.

I’m not even going to attempt to look at this from the perspective of just the mini. We’ve got the DC boys to do that. First, some comments on issue eight, followed by my thoughts on the total package.

So really, issue seven was the end of the series. The first third to half of the book basically consisted of Norman Osborne telling the President (as well as television reports) what happened at the end of the battle that led to the Skrulls retreating. Their big gambit with Janet Van Dyne failed thanks to the efforts of Thor. Norman Osborne used the tech/information he stole from Deadpool to kill the queen. Issue seven already proved that in a fair fight, the Skrulls have no chance against the combined power of the heroes of Earth (and why would they? They never have before), so when their bomb didn’t work and their queen was killed, they came to the decision that they would be better off running and attempting to find somewhere else to live. Works for me. I especially liked the quick shout out to Annihilation, where Teddy and Xavin had to let the heroes know that Earth really was a last ditch effort, and they have no planet to call their own. Janet’s death galvanized the right people (Thor, Iron Man, and Ms. Marvel, all of whom have been very close to Janet for years and decades), and the invasion was thwarted. We then see Iron Man discover the ship full of all the heroes that were replaced (something that was earned in a tie in issue, and as such I didn’t have a problem with it). Mockingbird is there, which is…well…kinda weird. It’ll be interesting to see just what that means in the grand scheme of things. We then get to probably the best part of the book, when Jessica Jones sees Jarvis on the ship and realizes that she left her baby with a Skrull. Kudos to both Bendis and Yu for making that moment have some true emotional depth to it. We get some tie ups and some reunions, followed by the second half of the book basically being devoted to the fall of Tony Stark and the rise of Norman Osborne.

Tony really gets beaten down here. The world sees him as the reason the Skrulls were able to get a foothold on Earth. Everything the Skrulls were able to do was made possible because Jarvis uploaded the virus to Starktech and single handedly shut down SHIELD, SWORD, The Raft, and countless other defensive measures. Tony’s bravado and his decision to put all his eggs in one basket ended up nearly dooming the planet. Then, in the middle of the climactic battle with all the media attention swirling around it, Tony was forced to flee the scene and fix his armor. So all the media sees is a coward who can’t clean up his own mess. Sure, he gets back to the battle in time to pitch in at the end in an older suit of armor, but Norman Osborne takes out Queen Veranke. Adding to that, the heroes still haven’t exactly forgiven him for his role in Civil War as architect of the Superhuman Registration Act. Thor hates him. Bucky hates him. The media is attacking him from all sides and both Osborne and the President want him to answer for his actions. He is a broken man.

And on the other side of the coin is Norman Osborne. A man that has been working tirelessly to sieze power ever since he was put into the position of Director of the Thunderbolts. We all know he’s an evil, evil man, but the world sees him as a reformed and conquering hero. He led his team in the battle that saved Washington DC from the Skrulls (Thunderbolts 124 and 125). He secretly stole the information that contained the way to kill the Skrull Queen (Deadpool 3). He then fought on the front lines (where the media would certainly see him there) and killed the Queen in front of everyone. The grand hero rising from the ashes of his former misdeeds. He is rewarded for his heroism (which truly is heroism. Let’s not discount that. It’s just done from a place of less than moral motives), and takes the place of Tony Stark as the man with the keys to the Marvel Universe. SHIELD is disbanded. Stark is on the run. Fury has to go back underground. Both the Superhuman Registration Act and the Fifty States Initiative are still in effect, now under the control of a crazy bastard. And of course, we’ve got that last double page spread with the new faces of the Marvel Universe sitting around the table while Norman tells them the score.

So that covers issue 8. What about the event as a whole? I just combed through my comic database, and as of today I own 87 comics that are branded as either lead ins or tie ins to the Secret Invasion event. That doesn’t include the Spider-Man Brand New Day mini or the New Warriors issues, all of which I plan to pick up in bargain bins at cons next year. That’s a lot of comics and a lot of money spent over the past year. So was it worth it? Was it worth $300 plus (cover price wise) of comics to tell this one story? Yes. I think that when you take all of this together, you have a massive, sweeping epic that touched nearly every corner of the Marvel Universe (except that wacky Daredevil) in some way. You see the ambition of the Skrulls. You see a race that has been the butt of everyone’s jokes. They’ve been decimated by Galactus and the Annihilation Wave. They’ve been played for fools by the Illuminati and the Kree. They’re the whipping boys of the universe. So they took one last shot. They made it a grand scheme. They planned for decades. They took the necessary precautions to make things go as smoothly as possible. They started replacing people slowly to allow for attacks from both inside and out. Then they attacked everywhere and everyone all at once. And at the beginning, it was looking pretty good. We saw heroes being beaten down in the US and Britain. In Wakanda and on the moon. The Skrulls were winning; they had finally done it. But then you started to see the cracks form. Brian Braddock returning to stop them from taking control of the world’s magic. A sneak attack in San Francisco from the X-Men. Hercules and his God Squad taking out their god. Black Panther and Storm sending them a deadly message. The Inhumans taking their revenge. It all unraveled in the way the Roman Empire did. The Skrulls spread themselves too thin and didn’t have the requisite forces to take everything down individually. Of course, this was their only real choice in the matter, because if everyone had banded together to take them out, they knew they couldn’t win (and indeed, they didn’t when it came down to that). This was the story of a last ditch effort from a broken down and endangered race biting off more than it could chew.

I read so many great books in the last year that came out of Secret Invasion. I was introduced to Norman Osborne’s crazy and dysfunctional Thunderbolts (which led me to pick up the Ellis run in back issues). I saw Black Panther kick unholy amounts of ass. I saw Hercules and Amadeus Cho put together a kind of dirty dozen team of gods. I saw the Inhumans band together and reinforce their familial bonds in the face of grave and total danger. I saw a new team take shape in Britain. I saw the history of the Invasion and just how deep the beliefs of the Skrulls ran.  Some of it was fantastic. Very little of it was bad (thanks, Larry Stroman). But most of it was great. These were such good books. They all had their stories to tell, and they told them in engaging and fascinating ways. There is SO MUCH to this event that most people won’t see. And hell, I can’t blame them. It was an extreme monetary investment. And I can also see how your average comic fan that just read the eight issue mini would be let down. Bendis just scratched the surface. It was really all he could do with the pages with which he had to work. Nobody’s wrong here. And as I said before, I have difficulty commenting on just the main mini, because when I read an issue, I have all the tie ins in the back of my head. So I see the fall of Tony Stark and the rise and Norman Osborne as the culmination of months of Thunderbolts issues instead of a few pages in Secret Invasion. I know what everyone outside of New York and the Savage Land put on the line to give Earth a chance against the invading horde.

And I know that I’m super excited for the potential of what could happen in Dark Reign. Paging through the little Previews booklet, all I could see was stories that I wanted to read. I don’t want to buy these things because I’m a fevered collector and I have to get everything. I want to buy these books because the stories look extremely interesting to me. Who are the Dark Avengers? What the hell is Scarlet Witch doing in those Mighty Avengers issues? Who is the new lineup of the Thunderbolts? Just what is Emma Frost’s part in the “Evil Illuminati” going to be? I’ll give you a hint: SHE’S NOT EVIL. Where’s Marvel Boy going to end up? This event did not play out in a way that I think anyone was expecting. But I made sure to keep an open mind and go with the flow, and I got a truly enjoyable and epic story that I will revisit time and time again.

So yeah. 1700 words later, it worked for me. Good show, Marvel.

Bruce Castle Presents: Old Friends Fight Skrulls, Alternate Earths, and “Louie Louie”=Party Time!

Secret Invasion Thor #3 (of 3)

Secret Invasion: Thor #3 (***)

Misfire is a good word to describe this series. It was aimed correctly and it appeared to have the necessary ingredients to fire well, but could not. Fraction is an extremely capable writer and he’s proved himself with Thor in his fantastic one-shots released this year. But he just doesn’t deliver here. The series tries to be unique or exciting but it always seems to fail. Braithwaite is very capable as well. I was just reminded of that when I reread Justice. Sadly, I believe his art was hindered by Brian Reber’s colors. The book looks very muddled and at times it’s difficult to tell what’s going on and it seems to be because of the colors. This series is not terrible, but it’s not worth your money.

Astonishing X-Men Ghost Boxes #1 (of 2)

Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes #1 (***1/2)

I wonder if this mini was planned or if this was a last minute development to deal with Bianchi’s delays. Judging by the incredibly small page count of 16, I’d say the latter. The lack of pages is the biggest problem here. The bright side is that Ellis’ entire script along with all the naked (Or penciled, I just like saying naked) pages of this issue are included. I don’t think I’ve ever read an Ellis script and the naked art comes from Alan Davis and Adi Granov so that was a treat. But if you don’t care about that stuff, this issue is a bit of a hard sell. This comic is written well and it looks great, but I’m not sure how important it is (The 4 bucks bothers me too). But I don’t know this could be imperative information.

Boys #24 (cover A)

Boys #24 (***1/2)

Talk about great covers, this one is amazing! The pic doesn’t do it justice, but you can still see all the detail Robertson put into this. If you like Animal House (If you don’t, what’s wrong with you?), you’ll appreciate all the visual references. That’s pretty much all this issue was, comedy. The plot moved along a bit, but it was overshadowed by all the laughs. So, I’d say this was a pretty average Boys issue. That’s good, but not great. Still, the cover alone may be worth the price of admission. But if you don’t like that cover (Again, what’s wrong with you?), you can still enjoy the fart, masturbation and X-Men jokes.

Bruce Castle Presents: New Avengers or New Krypton? Or New Coke?!

New Avengers #46 (***1/2)

I love villain books. Secret Invasion from the bad guy POV? Bring it on! This issue was a lot of fun. Particularly if you like The Hood and the cronies he hangs around. Bendis doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, but I still had a good time. Even though I’ve heard a lot of praise for Tan’s art, I feel that his work is just above average, but he makes the baddies look cool here. The most interesting thing in the book is of course non-Skrull related. It kind of sets things up for the future of the NA, or at least gives them a new foe to face.

Superman: New Krypton Special #1 (****)

The first five pages are completely wordless. Why? Because we’re dealing with the Action Comics #870 events. These pages are drawn by Frank and of course he knocks the artistic ball out of the park. Actually, the book’s look in general was very impressive. That’s near impossible when you have several artists working on one comic, but somehow they pulled it off. This seems like an interesting event, but I kind of already know where it’s headed. The foreshadowing is too heavy. Another thing that bugged me is that Robinson’s writing was weak. Yes I realize this is written by Johns and Gates too and how can I tell who wrote what, but I can use common sense. It’s like in 52, do we know who wrote what? No, but we have a really good idea. I think I’ll be skipping the Robinson issues unless of course I hear they’re great. Anyway, this seems like it’ll be a pretty good story and I think you should at least give it a try. Oh, and I skipped that five buck Olsen crap and I don’t think I missed anything important.

Review: Secret Invasion #7 – Spoilers!

Secret Invasion #7 (Yu Variant Cover Edition)

The Good: The book looks fantastic! Sadly, the best thing about Secret Invasion has been the art and that continues here. Leinil Yu provides stunning panels that you could stare at for quite awhile. Thor, Cap and Iron Man fight together! Skrull Pym gets shot in the eye! It looks like Bullseye did the shooting and was he aiming at Spider-Man?! Crazy! Howard the Duck (page 10, at the bottom) is in this fight?! Noh-Varr shows up (everyone please go read that Marvel Boy mini because it’s awesome)! Hawkeye gets his bow back and shoots the Skrull Queen in the face! The Janet bomb is activated!

The Bad: The Thor, Cap and Iron Man team-up only lasts about five panels. The dialogue is boring! Bendis is seen by many fans as writing great dialogue but none of that is present here. Many of these pages could be wordless and it wouldn’t detract from the quality of the issue. That’s a bad thing. Uatu shows up! Boo! His face should still be broken from Rulk! Even though he looks cool, Noh-Varr still hasn’t done anything! Grrr! This series could have been four issues long. At four bucks a pop and in America’s current economy that really hurts my wallet!

And The Ugly: This is a great example of how a lot of fighting can still be boring. The big battle issue in an event book should be a lot more exciting.

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.

Spoiler Review: Secret Invasion #7

…kind of unsatisfying? Here’s why:

BIG FIGHT SCENE ISSUES SHOULD BE EXCITING!

There are a number of HUGE payoff scenes/fights/panels in this issue and pretty much all of them fail to get the blood pumping. For instance:

• The Big Three fighting side-by-side!

This dialogue is boring. BORING. And then a couple of pages later, Tony whines about his armor and leaves. Wow, great team-up.

• Janet vs. Hank Pym Skrull!

First, Wasp doesn’t even get to reply to Pym’s misogynistic comment, because stupid Stature swoops in to steal her thunder. Then, Bullseye (I think?) shoots Pym in the eye with a rocket (I guess?). Poor Janet, she never gets to have any fun.

• Spiderwoman vs. Everybody!

Wolverine takes her on and gets owned. Lame? Which brings us to…

• Hawkeye picking up his bow… again, and then…

…the part where Clint skewers the Queen’s face! This? This was awesome and it was just about the only part of the entire book to get me even the slightest bit excited. UGH.

• The Watcher finally shows up!

I mean, we’ve been waiting what seems like forever for this douche to arrive, right?

• Noh-Varr’s spectacular debut!

…and then I turned the page and thought, “so?”

• Hank Pym Skrull sets off whatever it is he put in Janet!

Janet growing all big and glowy is supposed to mean what exactly? The effect reminds me of how Wonder Man used to look. Hmm…

This is “going through the motions” at its worst. You can see Bendis trying, trying really extra super hard to make this shit cool, but I think in the end, Secret Invasion just got too fricking big for him. BUT! It wasn’t all terrible. Aside from the Hawkeye stuff, there was one other scene I enjoyed: Jessica Jones saying goodbye to her baby. Aw, sadness? Character moments, Bendis! What happened to the GREAT character moments!?!

Ah well, once again the art is super-spectacular pretty and the story registers just above “not-so-much”.