New Avengers #40

New-Avengers-40-pg-000

What a difference a day makes. I go from the beginning stages of loathing for the next issue in the Secret Invasion to becoming excited to what happens next. I still stand by my review of the previous issue because it was not only a horrible read, it’s placement makes no sense in this story since it does nothing to advance it. This story did a much better job in terms of advancing things.

Summary:

http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/New_Avengers_Vol_1_40

The Good:

With just the slightest bit of backstory we now have motivation for the Skrull Invasion of Earth which has been missing these past few issues. We only get the Skrull side of things this issue. We don’t see yet the actions of Reed Richards and others when they were on the Skrull home planet that could cause the Skrulls to want to invade Earth. Mr. Bendis did a wonderful job showing both the religious and scientific factions of Skrull culture as they ended up relying on each other for the invasion to be successful.

My biggest issue with the series so far has been the complete lack of motivation for this invasion. Why? Why would an alien culture go to such efforts in order to cloak themselves among the people they are looking to invade? Now we have those answers, at least enough of an answer to be satisfied of the why the Skrulls are looking to invade. Do I want to know more? Yes. Do I want to get to know some of the invading force? Yes. But at this point in the story, it has kept me from abandoning this series and has me quite interested in what the next issue brings. So, mission complete.

I also appreciated how the main Queen of the Skrulls ended up wanting to involve herself in the invasion. It would make sense that someone as religious as her would want to be on the front lines. If you think your actions could bring you to the promised land quicker, uniting you with your deity, who wouldn’t do whatever they could to help bring those actions about and not look to sit on the sidelines? The fact too that it is established that for the human impersonations to work, they cannot stray one bit either through mind or matter or else they will be detected. These people end up becoming clones for the most part which explains why they could blend into society and with their friends and family so easily.

The reveal at the end that the main queen was Spider-Woman was the perfect way to make the reveal. Unlike the Avengers Illuminati issue where Black Bolt revealed himself as a Skrull, this revelation that the woman who has been established to be a trusted member of both the renegade and official Avengers on top of being a trusted confidant of Nick Fury is in fact a Skrull in hiding, the Queen of the damned Skrulls, was a nice shock. Well done.

The art was solid in this issue, reminding me of some of the classic issues of The Avengers. The cover alone is reminiscent of the first Avengers cover so it is nice that they made a nice little modern homage.

The Bad:

The biggest issue I had was the fact that this issue deserves more than one issue in order to fully explain the motivation as to why they have chosen to invade Earth. This comic does feel like the highlights from a much larger story. Granted, the highlights are one hell of a read but I find myself wanting the information now, not twenty issues down the line. At least a little nod like Stan Lee used to do back in the day with a asterisk along with a brief description as to a previous issue the backstory could be found in would have been nice to have.

The art again evokes classic comics but it fails in terms of scope. We see a couple of external shots on an alien planet that look no more expansive than the set of Star Trek in the 1960’s. While the characters are well drawn, the locations where the action takes place are dull, not interesting in the least, and give the feel of smallness when it should be having an expansive feel.

Bottom Line:

This is a welcome issue. I have really been debating whether I wanted to continue this story (after only a week doing it) and this issue makes me want to know more of what is going on. Is it perfect? No. It has its flaws but what it does well, it does so at such a level that makes you forget some of the horrible stories you’ve encountered to get to this point. Not every chapter in a book will be great. But the sign of a good story is that at the end of a particular chapter, you’re impelled to immediately get to the next chapter. This does that in spades. I give the story an 8.

The art I was harsh with but this again is another issue of what they do well, they do it so well that makes you ignore the flaws. I really got a sense of character and where they stood in Skrull society. While I wish the locations were more realistic and didn’t feel small, I have to give the art this issue a 7.

The New Avengers: Illuminati #5

NAI

Summary:

http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/New_Avengers_Illuminati_Vol_2_5

The Good:

The Secret Invasion continues with the next issue in the suggested reading order. Think of this issue as the exposition issue because most of it is simply talking about what brought them all to the point they were at and what steps they needed to take to prepare for the future.

At this point in the story everyone involved is still reeling from two events. The superhero Civil War and the battle against The Hulk which was detailed in the World War Hulk story. The level of distrust the characters had at this point was pretty significant which, with the revelation that a Skrull was in their midst, caused Tony Stark to contemplate everything that was going on. Were they being played? If so, they’d intentionally been made to be pitted against each other. Divide and conquer. I loved how Brian Bendis was able to get the groups together in such away after so much conflict without it appearing forced. They still don’t trust each other but are beginning to realize that Tony may be right. If that is the case, they need each other now more than ever.

The artwork was pretty solid. The action scenes were drawn and great detail and had a feeling of scope which I like to see in comics.

The Bad:

While this issue did pretty good in terms of getting the different groups together, based on the suggested reading order that Marvel themselves put out for this particular story line, you don’t get some of the back story as to how and why the Skrull’s would go to the methods they have taken to blend into human society. In earlier issues of this particular comic you find that this team in question was involved in an attack on the Skrull home world. If we as readers are supposed to know the motivation for the actions of the bad guys this is information that should have been included in the suggested reading list. Granted, a comic story line is not a traditional story in terms of there not being a typical beginning, middle, and end but if this is the next stage in the story that Marvel suggests we read I would think that the motivation for the people we are supposed to root against would kind of be important to know.

The revelation that Black Bolt was a Skrull was horribly done. Just B-movie bad. You read his lines as if he were in a soap opera revealing to the audience for the first time that his diabolical scheme is going as planned. Maybe in previous issues of this particular comic (which were NOT included in the suggested reading order that Marvel says you should read the story in.) there was some foreshadowing to the fact that Black Bolt wasn’t who he said he was. But there wasn’t that here. It was just “Hey, I’m a bad guy!” leaving me as the reader a little confused as to what was going on. I get where Bendis was going with this. The intention was showing the rest of the group that Tony’s concerns about a hidden Skrull invasion army on Earth is in fact true. But man, it just came across horribly bad. Again, maybe previous issues in this particular comic had more foreshadowing. If that is the case I would strongly suggest someone at Marvel would add this issues into the suggested reading order in order to make this reveal make sense.

The only real issue I had with the artwork this issue was close ups of the characters. Everyone looked like an action figure, plastic as all hell and quite unrealistic looking. It’s little things like this that can take you out of the realm of disbelief you go into when you read a comic and just make you shake your head. The work done on exterior shots was well done probably because the attention to detail is not needed as much as it is with close ups. The close ups just felt like drawings you’d expect someone to draw at a county fair. Not bad by any means. The guy can certainly draw better than me. The characters just looked plastic and ugly.

Bottom Line:

The main focus of this issue was getting the two separate teams together which I think Brian Bendis did a good job on. But the flaws of the story, the unrealistic reveal of one of their own actually being a Skrull, just really threw me off and took what little enjoyment I had and tossed it out a window where a bird promptly took a big dump on it. It may not be the fault of this particular issue which I fully accept. This is issue five for this particular comic series. But being as my goal is to read the suggested reading order of the Secret Invasion story line that Marvel themselves laid out on their wonderful Marvel Unlimited app, the holes in logic in this story are too glaring to give it a good review. I have to give it a 4.

The artwork wasn’t awful. Yeah I was pretty critical of what I didn’t like but what this artist did well he did really well. Too often in the comics I’ve read the scope of the story just seems like the action is taking place on a Hollywood set. The exterior shots in this story really felt like it was taking place in a big place which I liked. Yeah the close up of the characters was goat shit but when all is said and done the good outweighs the bad. I give the artwork a 6.