Saturday, April 05, 2008

Four Color Fiend: How SECRET is this INVASION, anyway?


Even though I wasn’t crazy about the book SECRET INVASION SAGA, I was curious enough about the Marvel event to pick up the first issue. I finished it and am completely confused, but it’s not the first time. I felt pretty much the same way when I began reading the DCU books with COUNTDOWN. Who are these guys and what are they doing? I guess I should give thanks that at least in SI, the Marvel editors have the name of the character appear over/near/under them the first time they make an appearance. Clumsy, but at least it helps a bit.

Actually, given that it has been years since I last was reading any Marvel titles I was surprised by how many characters I recognized. At least the costumes are familiar, even if the person under the mask and their personalities may be far different from the ones I knew back in the mid-90s.

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COUNTDOWN could be confusing since identical heroes or villains from one Earth would suddenly pop up on another. Sometimes this was by accident and at other times, there was a hidden agenda to their appearance. In SI, it is certain that the Skrulls have been purposely hiding for quite a while. The big question is not so much why, but who has already been replaced.

Tony Isabella always reminds us that the old writers used to write as if the reader had never picked up a book before. The story may contain characters with which we were not familiar, but the writer would give us enough information so we didn’t feel completely lost. That is not how comics are written nowadays, unless of course it is the first issue and meant to introduce the cast. It’s the same with SI as it was with COUNTDOWN. If you aren’t already familiar with the comic universe you won’t have much explained and you really aren’t welcome.

SI begins on the day the Skrulls decide to publicly stage their invasion. While a Skull ship spotted landing in the Savage Land (where?), explosions take place at The Raft and The Cube, which are maximum-security installations. (for whom?) Apparently there are at least two groups who call themselves the Avengers, one of them hiding for some reason. Since the Avengers led by Tony Stark are not hiding out they must be the good guys, right? Of course, I always thought Spider-Man was a good guy, but I haven’t been reading Marvel for a while so maybe the movies mislead me.

The book has some characters revealed to be Skrulls and quoting the phrase “He loves you,” as they blow things up, start computer viruses and shoot people. I would guess they are evangelical Christians, but I could be wrong.

Brian Michael Bendis is a popular writer and I’ve liked some of his non-superhero & super-hero stuff. He does a decent job of moving the action and plot along, but as I’ve said if you aren’t already familiar with Marvel continuity since CIVIL WAR, at least, you won’t have a clue. Wikipedia was some help, even if you can’t trust everything over there. It’s good enough for comics stuff! Artist Leinil Yu and inker Mark Morales are okay, even if the character faces are sometimes inconsistent from page to page. The coloring makes it hard to figure out some scenes,

Issue #1 has two ‘shock’ endings. One is the appearance, from the crashed Skrull ship, of a dozen Marvel heroes, who appear as they did years before (think original Secret Wars maybe) and at least one of who is currently dead. The other is when Reed Richards is shot or semi-melted somewhat really, by another character I think I’m supposed to know. Naturally, this person is revealed to be a Skrull in the final panel.

I’m curious enough to perhaps pick up the second issue, but I’m not going to add the title to my pull list. I expect they’ll be enough copies left when I head to the shop next time. If not, I cannot say I’d be disappointed.
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