Something is going on in comic books. Have you noticed? It’s been happening for a few years now. For some reason, certain comics are not making sense with the rest of the established universe and history. For some reason, things that don’t make sense have been running rampant throughout the fictional realities of DC and Marvel.
Have you noticed it? Sure you have. I’m not the only one, right?
Have you checked out DC Decisions #2? It’s very interesting. Guy Gardner is on Earth rather than Oa. And Power Girl is around instead of still trapped on the new Earth-2. Does this story take place before the current JSA storyline? Or afterward? It would be nice to be told in a brief footnote.
Then there’s the recent Hawkman Special where Carter Hall was told that his memories of being the Ancient Egyptian Prince Khufu were a lie and it basically was said that Khufu couldn’t have existed. Okay, um, wait a second. Black Adam and the wizard Shazam were both there and lived alongside Khufu. And the JSA actually went on a time travel mission a couple of years ago and worked with Khufu against a younger Vandal Savage. How can all of that be explained by false memories? Has the entire JSA been infected with identical delusions?
The recent Ultimate Origins mini-series has been delving into the past of the Ultimate Marvel Universe. Now at last, we’ve learned how many of the heroes and super-humans of this reality are related and interconnected. We’ve learned the startling secrets of the creation of the mutant gene and Mutant Zero, we’ve seen the initial transformation of the Hulk and how he was responsible for the deaths of Peter Parker’s parents (although writer Brian Michael Bendis recently denied this at Batlimore Comic-Con, the recent March on Ultimatum one-shot confirms it). We’ve seen the secrets of Nick Fury and learned that he’s been around since World War II.
But most startling about the Ultimate Origins mini is the sub-plot that takes place in the present-day. A Watcher has appeared, a strange device with a single eye that claims to be part of a hive-culture. The first Watcher appeared on Earth when Captain America, the first true post-human of the Ultimate Marvel Universe, recieved his enhanced abilities. Now hundreds of Watchers are appearing all over Earth. Which means that something catastrophic is coming.
They didn’t show up during the coming of Gah Lak Tus. What could be coming now that is worse?
Possibly the end of human civilization. Magneto is back. He’s angry. He has a plan. And he may have already defeated Thor.
The story is Ultimatum, a new mini-series written by Jeph Loeb and illustrated by David Finch. The tagline is simple. "For what they’ve done, they will have to pay the ultimate price." Rumors abound how much this will change the Ultimate Universe and alredady some are whispering that characters will die and titles will be cancelled. Be on the look out.
But Ultimatum isn’t the only thing Marvel is throwing at us. It has recently been revealed through a leaked cover image that the New Avengers line-up, following Secret Invasion, is likely to include Wolverine, Spider-Man, Ronin, Luke Cage and the new Captain America (Bucky Barnes). Wonder who’s gonna be on Dark Avengers if they didn’t pick up Wolverine.
And in his most recent Cup o’ Joe on Myspace, Joe Quesada talks about Deadpool, Madelyne Pryor, Secret Invasion and how the Malibu characters are not coming back anytime soon.
Rather than the usual "Cup of Joe" panel, Marvel decided that Baltimore Comic-Con would feature "Cup of B." Marvel super-star Brian Michael Bendis appeared, alongside Dan Slott (Avengers: Initiative), Steve Savolski (X-Infernus) and executive editor Tom Brevoort.
Bendis confirmed the previously announced departure from Mighty Avengers with #20, the post Secret Invasion issue which will show a dramatic shift in the title. He will then begin Dark Avengers with artist Mike Deodato and Slott will jump into Mighty Avengers, which means he’s leaving Initiative, which Christos Gage will pick up. More Taskmaster is promised.
Spider-Woman: Agent of SWORD will begin March 2008, full art by Alex Maleev, reuniting the duo since they produced Daredevil. The series promises to be “very different” from others at Marvel. But is it Jessica Drew?
No answer was given.
While the Inferno crossover was spread across the DC Universe, it’s follow-up X-Infernus will be more X-Men focused, specifically on the New Mutants, with characters such as Magik showing up.
On Amazing Spider-Man, Marc Guggenheim and Barry Kitson will present a single-issue story featuring what happened to Flash Thompson. Joe Kelly will be doing a two-part Hammerhead story and then Mark Waid will be introducing new charatecters and secrets to Spider-Man’s universe. Dan Slott promises a “completely logical, non-magical explanation of why Harry Osborn’s alive.” He added that villain Molten Man was returning with the intention of killing Harry Osborn.
Bendis was asked for his reactions to the Secret Invasion Jacket I made. Bendis was a good sport about it and simply laughed, saying "Listen, I love him. You can buy it, roll it up, shove it up your ass. I don’t care.That’s not even in the top 20 sh*t I’ve had to deal with online." I then identified myself to the Marvel panel. When Bendis asked me why I didn’t wear the jacket to the con, I was sad to explain that it was not functional in the rain.
I then asked my own question to Bendis, concerning whether or not the Skrulls now had the Space Gem since they had replaced Black Bolt, the gem’s current owner. Bendis then informed me that he had explained this already but that I must have turned the issue into a pair of shorts. He then admitted that the Space Gem would be a future plot point.
If you read Part 1 of my report on "Secret Invasion so far", you know I have found a lot of faults with the main series of this Marvel crossover and the tie-ins written by Brian Michael Bendis.
Now, any major crossover these days has tie-ins with other titles. It’s a good marketing idea because it gets readers to check out characters and books they may not have already been reading. And it helps give the story an epic feel when you can show how its effects are felt in various other parts of the Marvel Universe and how other folks are forced to get dragged into it.
A lot of times, these tie-ins are unnecessary and fairly forgettable unless you were already a fan of those books. Imagine my surprise when I found that a lot of these tie-ins were actually enjoyable and greatly enhanced the crossover for me. Frankly, I think some of these tie-ins could have replaced a few issues of the main series.
Spider-Woman is suddenyl a hot chatracter again after her major role in Secret Invasion. Now for the video completist out there, be aware that Morningstar Entertainment will release Spider-Woman – Spider-Woman vs. The Fly on October 14. According to TV Shows on DVD, the disc will contain the monumental battle from the 1980s along with two bonus episodes from the 1967 Spider-Man cartoon: "The Slippery Dr. Von Schlick" and "The Spider and the Fly". At present this is only scheduled to be released in Canada and can be purchased through Amazon.ca.
So we’re more than half-way through Secret Invasion, the event that’s supposed to be the biggest thing to rock the Marvel Universe since Civil War, where the question was “whose side are you on?” Secret Invasion’s question is “who do you trust?”, which is almost the same question as Civil War’s but not as grammatically correct ( it’s "whom", people!) and concerns the revelation that several Skrulls (shape-shifting aliens who’ve had their asses kicked many times) have secretly been living among us for a while. This story is the brain-child of Brian Michael Bendis, who has been praised for his series Powers and his run on Ultimate Spider-Man and who has been writing New Avengers and Mighty Avengers since both titles were created.
This plot has been done before to lesser degrees. In the early 90s, the Fantastic Four discovered that the Human Torch’s wife had been impersonated by a Skrull since before they were even engaged. And a couple of years later, the X-Men found out that Wolverine had been replaced by a Skrull who then died because he didn’t know he didn’t have Wolvie’s powers too (idiot).
But there are three major elements that mark this particular invasion story as different from what we’ve seen in comic books a million times over. The first element is that what’s left of the Skrull Empire has now taken up religion. Their holy texts tell them that Earth is theirs by right and they have become quite creepy by habitually saying “He loves you” to everyone they attack. Secondly, they’ve learned how to infiltrate us in such a way that they are now beyond the detection of super-powers, magic and technology – very scary in this post-9/11 world. Finally, the Skrulls have finally figured out how to produce super-powers on a large scale. Where once the Super-Skrull and Power Skrull were unique, now there are thousands of Skrull warriors who have the combined powers of many different villains and heroes.
But how’s the execution? Well, in a nutshell, the main series started off very strong and has recently picked up steam again full force. Even when it was slow, it had some great scenes. But these are over-shadowed occasionally by pages of wasted space and repetitive recaps. And out of the eleven tie-in issues Bendis has written so far, eight of them can be ignored or have a smidge of substance that’s surrounded by filler pages.
But if you are one of those unfortunate souls who bought all the New Avengers and Mighty Avengers tie-ins and then realized you’d wasted over twenty bucks, don’t worry! Just do what I and my good friend Lisa McMullan did. With a little creativity, you can take those pages and make yourself a very smart looking jacket! Now you’re not a sucker, you are actually quite fashionable!
Don’t believe me? Just look at this photographic evidence, nay-sayer! All you need is scissors, tape and maybe an hour of free time.
And when people ask you "How did you think to make such a snazy and debonair sport coat?", you can simply say "I got the idea from those crazy guys at ComicMix and Alan ‘the Sizzler’ Kistler. He’s one nutty guy, that Sizzler."
Not a bad series, but I definitely have some criticisms. Hmmm? What’s that? You want more detail about what my problems are with the main series and the Bendis-written tie-ins? Not a problem, folks. That’s what I get paid for.
DC’s tentpole summer event, Final Crisis, is finally here, and it couldn’t be more of an antithesis to Marvel’s Secret Invasion. While the latter has been a wall-to-wall action blowout, Final Crisis has kicked off with a rambling, contemplative first issue.
Of course, you know the score with Grant Morrison at the helm, and he’s predictably vague and cutesy. And the very first pages fit right into expectations, with a meeting between Anthro and Metron at the dawn of man that alludes to great depth, if not actually providing it.
From there, the book bounces maddeningly from spot to spot, never settling enough to develop a rhthym, or give a firm footing to readers.
There’s Turpin and the Question looking over Orion’s dead remains. There are the Green Lanterns talking in binary (“1011” signals a god’s death). There are heroes and villains fighting over Metron’s chair. There are the villains uniting for the umpteenth time. And…
The first issue of Marvel’s big [[[Secret Invasion Summer Extravaganza Skrullfest ’08]]] (or whatever they’re calling it) is here, and there’s just too much to talk about for it to fit in my Weekly Haul reviews roundup. So let’s break this one down between the good, the bad and the ugly. And, be warned if you haven’t read it, spoilers lurk below.
First, let me just say how happy I am that Marvel let Brian Michael Bendis continue his partnership with Leinil Yu, who is quickly becoming one of my favorites. His art has a uniquely nervy feel, and it would’ve been easy for Marvel to peg someone more “safe” for their big event. And while I like Yu’s work better when it isn’t inked, his inked work in [[[Secret Invasion]]] is still quite good.
Another strongpoint is the barrel-full of action, making this issue the complete antithesis of the yawner of an opener to House of M. Things develop quickly and the final pages are bang-bang-bang with big reveals and bigger reveals. In a sequence of just a few pages the SWORD base explodes, the negative zone is unleashed in NYC, Iron Man is taken out, Reed Richards is taken out, the “other” heroes show up and a Skrull army says hello.
I also got a kick out of the little details Bendis wrote in. For instance, every Skrull reveal is foreshadowed throughout the book by the art. Every character who is shown only in complete black outline somewhere in the issue turns out to be a Skrull. Well, aside from Sentry and Wolverine, who haven’t been outed yet.
Hey, you’ll never guess what Marvel’s doing next year!
Go on, guess!
Did I hear you say "ummmm… it can’t be as easy as another mind-numbing, universe-shaking mega-character crossover, can it?" Of course it can. DC and Marvel have but one thought: between them: "hey, let’s do another mind-numbing, universe-shaking mega-character crossover! The fans love it!"
Sadly, this one comes on the heels of that rarest of all superhero comics events: a mind-numbing, universe-shaking mega-character crossover that actually worked. Mostly. Tony Isabella had a nice review of Civil War, and he says it at his own site.
Oh, this new thing is called Secret Invasion; Bendis is writing it; it seems to have something to do with Spider-Woman mating with Iron Man to create a bunch of radioactively charged exoskeleton robo-bugs that enter your comic book collection and rewrite the continuity-du-jour.
This one’s unique, though. It’s got a TRAILER! Well, at least that’s what Marvel’s calling it. It’s really just PowerPoint with public domain music, but it’ll only take a minute out of your life.
Not counting the NFL trailer that is attached to it.