Secret Invasion #2

Secret_Invasion_Vol_1_2

The Secret Invasion continues as we dive into another issue of the Secret Invasion story via the Marvel Comics suggested reading order.

Summary:

http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Secret_Invasion_Vol_1_2

The Good:

We pick up where the last issue of Secret Invasion left off where the Avengers team encounters the Skrull invasion force that came off the ship looking like the heroes from our world. The tension is high as the creatures that come off the ship act as if they are the actual people they appear to be which makes for some uncomfortable encounters when Spider-Man encounters Spider-Man and Luke Cage encounters the 70’s version of Luke Cage.

Bendis did a great job sowing doubt as to whether everyone that came off that ship was a Skrull. Could it possibly be that some of the people are who they say they are? Things quickly devolve and the heroes start fighting. From there some characters are revealed to be Skrulls after they are killed. The impostor Spider-Man is killed as well as the impostor Hawkeye. We get a scene though where the real Hawkeye, now known as Ronin, encounters who they believe to be the Skrull version of Mockingbird, asks her a question that he feels only she would know the answer to, and when she answers the way he thinks she would, he decides that she is the real article. We as the reader though have to question whether that is the case. How much are the Skrull’s able to get from the minds of humans before they impersonate them? They have to be pretty convincing otherwise the invasion would fail rather quickly no matter how much they look like the people they hope to impersonate.

We quickly switch back to New York where the effects of the fake Sue Storm destroying the gate to the Negative Zone is quickly breaking apart the Baxter Building and more. A group called the Young Avengers witness everything and just as they decide that maybe they should do something, guess what appears in the sky? Skrull invasion ships! In a scene that I’m sure was on Joss Whedon’s mind when he was writing the script to the first Avengers film, the last image we see is an army of Skrulls as they descend upon New York. (In the movies and the Ultimate comic book line created my Brian Bendis, the aliens are referred to as the Chitauri. They are established as being a separate from the Skrulls simply because the Skrulls movie rights do not lie with Marvel but with 20th Century Fox I believe. Marvel has been making it a point of lessening the focus of characters they no longer have the movie rights to so they don’t give money away to other companies.)

Now this issue will not win comic of the century awards. It is a groundwork laying issue more than anything. The story really doesn’t advance any more than it did with the last issue I reviewed. However I think this issue did pretty good in establishing the levels of distrust the heroes are going to go through. The Skrulls have been quite thorough in their invasion plans. The impersonations of the humans is so complete that Wolverine for example cannot smell them where it had been established that he had been previously been able to do so. Just how deep the impersonation has gone is as yet unknown. The Mockingbird story that I mentioned above shows that right now we really cannot trust who may or may not be a Skrull. If Spider-Woman has been revealed to be the Skrull queen and yet still is able to get the confidence of everyone, who’s to say that Mockingbird is not a Skrull?

The artwork was pretty good this issue. The scope of the locations was well done. I really got the feeling that the action was taking please in a real location and not some Hollywood set. The characters were well done too. You really got the sense of the struggle they were going through in the issue. For example, the look on the faces of the Young Avengers of shock made you really get into what was going on. That is the sign of a good artist, someone who believes in the work he is creating and someone who is able to make simple drawings become actors of a sort in the story that is being created.

The Bad:

While I enjoyed the story, as noted not much really happens this issue and that is frustrating. I get that each issue I read is a chapter in a story and not every chapter can be as thrilling as the final chapter of a book because the job of any writer is to build to the climax of the story. But I wanted to feel like something was moving forward. It’s already been established that Skrulls are on Earth. We know that mistrust will happen among people that are friends. We don’t need to spend so long on establishing said mistrust. Bendis is almost beating the reader over the head with the fact that you can’t trust anything you see when all you really want him to do is get to the next part of the story. Maybe I’m approaching this too much like a traditional book. Maybe I need to be the one to adjust how I view the story. But I can’t see the logic in creating a long form story with no real coherence. Stories have a beginning, middle, and end. For a story to succeed, you have to follow the formula of establishing what is going on, showing how the protagonist reacts, and how they resolve the issue at hand. While comics do have tons of backstory that can be referred to, treating a comic as if it were a day in the life of someone is just distracting. I want my stories to have a beginning, middle, and end. This so far has come across like I got a glimpse of a camera that was recording these people’s lives right in the middle of something that was happening to them. I know a little of what is going on but too much is assumed that the beginning so far of this particular story, the Secret Invasion of the Skrulls, has been kind of lost in the background.

Bottom Line:

This is not a bad issue. While not much really happens to advance the story apart from the last page, I think what it does well is lay more foundation for the fact that no one can be trusted. We as the reader should not assume anyone is who they say they are. Bendis has done a wonderful job in laying the groundwork for what we will encounter later in the story. In doing so, he is making the start of the story a little tedious. I give the story a 5.

The art work has been some of the best in this story so far. It really screams as an homage of the old Steve Ditko or Jack Kirby drawings in classic Marvel stories while still feeling very much based in modern times. This is well done and honestly it makes me want to look for more work from this artist Leinil Yu. I give the art an 8.

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.

Mighty Avengers #7

Mighty_Avengers_Vol_1_7

Issue 2 in the Secret Invasion story commences!

Summary:

http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Mighty_Avengers_Vol_1_7

The Good:

The story sort of picks up where the previous issue ends. Spider-Woman sneaks her way onto a heli-carrier and lets Tony Stark know of their discovery of a Skrull infiltrator. I dug how the two characters interacted with each other, referencing previous stories without you as the reader having to know everything about them to make the scene meaningful. While there was tension between the two characters you also sensed a respect between the two which helped thaw the tension.

The team dynamic of the new Avengers was built up well. You got the sense of each character without them having to really talk too much. It also helped build the tension too since you knew that one of the team was a Skrull infiltraitor. Each member had a little moment that helped cast doubt about their true identity.

The landing of the Venom formula from space and latching onto the citizens of New York was a great was to end the issue. Being that comics aren’t built like television shows with seasons encompassing one story line (which I have read Marvel is considering doing which is a great idea.) at times you will have stories within stories come up that will keep characters busy. While I have yet to know how this will work out over the course of the comics it was a great introduction, especially the baby in the carriage that had the Venom formula latch onto it.

The art as usual was pretty solid. Drawn in the classic style with more modern touches, you get a sense of the characters in how they stand, pose, shake their heads, little things that give the characters more depth without having to speak.

The Bad:

Janet Van Dyne. The Wasp. While I love the character I really hate how she is constantly presented in pretty much every story I’ve read with her in it as a vain woman more concerned about fashion than the job at hand. I get it, some woman can be like this at times. Constantly presenting her as a stereotype really keeps me from wanting to invest emotionally in her character. I don’t think she has to pick up a machine gun, put on a belly shirt, and start killing lots and lots of bad guys to be a good character either. They just need to offer more depth.

While as I mentioned the intro of Venom into the story ended well, the start of it was quite sudden. You turn a page and two guys are talking while doing work on a space station. Something falls to Earth and viola, Venom everywhere. There could have been more buildup to bringing Venom into the story. Maybe my mind will be changed with further issues but I think of the person who picks up this comic for the first time not knowing much about the Marvel World. Would this interest me to invest further in the story or not?

Being as Civil War was a BIG event in the Marvel Universe, I thought it quite odd that Spider-Woman was accepted back into Tony Stark’s version of the Avengers as quickly as she was. I get that everyone involved were friends before the Superhero Registration Act happened and that with time, anger settles down and rationality sets in allowing people to be friends again. But for someone who for all intents and purposes was Tony Stark’s enemy to be accepted back into his team so quickly just did not seem realistic. I would have accepted it more if it was played out over multiple issues.

The artwork in this issues suffers from being claustrophobic. Again like being on a movie set. While I can’t expect every page to be drawn as if it were a Sergio Leone epic there could have been a lot more depth added to locations they were in, especially the exterior scenes.

Bottom Line:

Not a bad issue. While it will not go down as an historic issue in the history of comics, its purpose of continuing the tension of who is a Skrull and who isn’t was well done. While I would have liked the easing of tensions that Civil War brought upon these friends the character dynamic between everyone involved felt natural and did great to show the personality of each character especially since not all of the characters really had much to say. This was a Tony Stark centric story. I give the story a 7.

The artwork was good. Again, I liked how the characters were able to show off aspects of their character without even speaking. That says a lot for the artist and the passion he brought to the story. Despite the fact that the images felt claustrophobic, I give the artwork an 8.