Breaking with my usual insane habit of attempting to read all the individual issues of DC and Marvel events, I went right to Secret Invasion [Marvel; $29.99], which collected all eight issues of the series. All you need to know for today's review is that I liked Secret Invasion well enough that I decided to read all the various trade paperbacks connected to it. Starting with Secret Invasion: Captain Marvel [$14.99].
Secret Invasion: Captain Marvel reprints Civil War: The Return and Captain Marvel. Written by Paul Jenkins with Tom Raney on the art, The Return was an anticlimactic codicil to Civil War in which the late Mar-Vell suddenly appeared in the Negative Zone gulag created by the fascist Tony Stark and his fellow war criminals to detain indefinitely those opposing their Superhuman Registration Act. The common belief was that, prior to his death from cancer, Mar-Vell has slipped through a time portal. Stark wanted to keep the noble hero out of his way, so he asked the Captain to serve as warden of his other-dimensional Guantanamo Bay. As a story, it was a disappointment. But, in retrospect, The Return gets points for setting up the five-issue series that followed it.
The closest I want to get to a SPOILER WARNING here is to say that nothing involved with this miraculous return is what it seemed to be. Writer Brian Reed did a terrific job crawling into our confused hero's head. He's equally terrific at showing other people reacting to Mar-Vell, including Stark, Carol Danvers, SHIELD agent Heather Sante, various Kree and Skrull warriors, the average people in the streets, and the members of the newly-formed Church of Hala which kind of sort of worships Mar-Vell. It's a gripping story, clearly and dynamically drawn by Lee Weeks. It made me wish there were more issues to the series because I enjoyed the heck out of the five there were.
The not-remotely-secret-once-they-started-blowing-lotsa-stuff-up Skrull invasion of Earth extended beyond Marvel's comic books and into cyberspace. Secret Invasion: Home Invasion [$14.99] collects the webcomic that ran on the Marvel website simultaneously with the events of last year's major storytelling event.
Written by Ivan Brandon, whose Cross Bronx [Image; $14.99] earned four out of five Tonys from me in 2007, and drawn by Nick Postic, Home Invasion hurls high school senior Kinsey Walden into the war when she first discovers an alien weapon in her genius geek brother Hank's bag and learns Hank has been replaced by a Skrull. All of a sudden, the romantic angst of prom night has dwindled to complete insignificance as people around her start getting injured or worse, and great big Skrull ships descend on New York City.
Home Invasion is a spiffy "B" sci-fi movie in comics form. Kinsey and her friends run from Skrull-Hank, trying to find him and figure out why the Skrulls considered him important enough to impersonate. There are frightening moments during the chase and thrilling interactions with various Marvel heroes, including the Young Avengers, Photon, Sasquatch, and Nick Fury. There are scenes where the heroes kick Skrull posterior and scenes when they suffer terrible losses. And there are surprises all the way into the final chapters.
Kinsey shines as a very believable reluctant warrior. She has to be a quick learner as events literally explode around her, but, by "B" movie and comic-book standards, her actions and reactions aren't outlandish. The supporting characters are less interesting, save for the slightly mad "Doctor Mustache," the scientist mentor of Kinsey's brother and the guy who answers one of the questions as to why Hank was on the Skrull radar.
Brandon's writing is excellent, as is Postic's art. Their story is sufficiently self-contained that it can be enjoyed without reading the other Secret Invasion material. Most importantly, they deliver a satisfying conclusion to this slice of the Invasion.
Here's your usual Monday reminder that today is your last day to vote on our current Tony Polls questions. Sometime after midnight tonight, they will be taken down and replaced with brand-new questions. You can cast your votes here:
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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