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for Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Secret Invasion

Secret Invasion [Marvel; $29.99] collects issues #1-8 of the series by writer Brian Michael Bendis, penciller Leinil Yu, and inker Mark Morales. It's the core title of the recent "event" in which we learned the shape-changing Skrulls have been replacing various characters - for years, in some cases - to pave the way for the moment when their invasion of Earth becomes not so secret. I must offer special kudos to whoever designed the logo of this title which successfully invokes the "B" movies of my youth.

When faced with these company-wide events in the past, be they of Marvel or DC making, I've attempted to read all related issues in the original comic-book publication. This time out, I decided to read the trade paperbacks, starting with the core title.

I love the basic concept, though I think the religious aspects of the Skrulls were way overdone. The attempted parallel to human zealots never really clicked.

The appearance of what seemed to be 1970s versions of Marvel heroes was inspired. It added a nice bump to the creeping paranoia of the basic concept.

The storytelling was confusing in some of the bigger battles. That wasn't a problem for me in the meeting of the 1970s heroes and their modern counterparts, but I think the climatic battle needed to be a whole lot clearer.

You really do need a scorecard to follow this series, but the main story unfolded nicely with some swell moments along the way. I liked the scenes with an injured Tony Stark, the verbal beat down Stark gets from Thor, the shocking changes in the fortunes of Stark and Thunderbolts leader Norman Osborn, and, for sheer punch to the gut drama, something that happens to Luke Cage and Jessica Jones in the final issue.

The writing and the art in the series were first-rate. Though the series clearly leads into a bunch of other stories, it's a much more logical progression than what we've seen of late from similar DC Universe epics. In carpenter's terms, Marvel seems to have cut once after measuring twice. At their Distinguished Competition, I don't sense any measuring, just constant cutting in vain attempts to patch up initially shoddy planning.

I look forward to reading the rest of Secret Invasion story in other Marvel trades. I hope Marvel publishes a Secret Invasion Chronicles, reprinting the SI comics in chronological order as they did with their Civil War issues. I think the series would be fun to read that way, too.

Secret Invasion is a company-wide event that appeals to even those of us who have come to loathe such events. It earns four out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony



Marvel is publishing a Secret Invasion Chronicles book. However, as I've now read a dozen SI trade paperbacks to date, I'm giving the chronological reprints a pass. But I'm not withdrawing my assessment that such would be a fun read to read the series and its spinoffs.

Look for my reviews of those SI trades in future TOTs.



I reviewed Showcase Presents Blackhawk Volume One in my April 3 TOT, giving it a disappointing one Tony. Andrew Horn responded to that review:
I read your review of the Blackhawk SP this morning. I think you were being a bit generous in your rating. I must confess I barely got through half of it before I just had to give up and put it in the drawer. That being said, I was curious if the Quality Blackhawk was any better and I was able to read an issue or two from the end of the run before the changeover and I have to tell you they were WORSE.
Though I haven't read the later quality Blackhawk comic books, I have read DC's Blackhawk Archives Volume One and those are exceptional stories. If you read that volume, you'll see where my high opinion of the Quality issues comes from.


Have you voted on this week's new Tony Polls questions? We're asking you to choose which Vertigo and WildStorm characters and titles you would recommend to someone who's fallen months and years behind his comics reading.

We also have a third question this week. In Tom Batiuk's Funky Winkerbean, single father and widower Les Moore is currently being pursued by two women: Cayla Williams, the school secretary whose daughter Keisha is on the school basketball team with Les' daughter; and Susan Smith, a former student of Les' and now a teacher at the school. Our third question asks you who read Funky to choose between the ladies.

You can vote on all three questions here:

Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 04/28/2009 | 04/29/2009 | 04/30/2009 >>

Discuss this column with me at my Message Board. Also, read Heroes and Villains: Real and Imagined and view my Amazon Wish List.

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Zero Tonys
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.

ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.

TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?

THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.

FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?

FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.

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