Nova Vol.3: Secret Invasion [Marvel; $16.99] reprints issues #13-18 of the ongoing Nova title. The first half deals with the galaxy's last space cop trying to save the people of a planet being devoured by Galactus; the second half has Nova teaming with the Super-Skrull - his ally in Annihilation - to get back to Earth and into the war.
Writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning do a fine job with the cosmic adventure stuff and with the humanity of Rich Ryder. I have never been a fan of the original Nova or its revivals, but these guys changed my mind about the character. I like and respect this older and wiser Ryder. A lot.
Other things I liked about this collection of stories:
I'm never certain where the Super-Skrull stands on anything, which makes him a fascinating character.
The reunion of Ryder and his younger brother, and the verbal back and forth between them.
The surprise return of a super-hero.
The art. Pencilers Wellington Alves and Geraldo Borges proved up to the considerable challenges of the vast storylines before them. Inker Scott Hanna brought the art together nicely. Colorist "Guru EFX" - Why would a parent name their child that? I bet the schoolyard was Hell for him or her. - provided dynamic hues without distracting from the story or overpowering the art.
Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four [$16.99] reprints the three issue limited series of that title as well as three earlier tales from 1987 and 1991. As $17 trade paperbacks go, that's still a bit too thin for my taste. Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa with art by Barry Kitson, the new material is pretty good while the reprints are somewhat uneven.
Basic plot: Reed Richards has been taken prisoner by the Skrulls, Sue Richards has been captured and replaced by Lyja, and the FF's headquarters has been transported to the Negative Zone to keep Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm out of the fight. The menace builds nicely, the characters - including kids Franklin and Val - are handled well, and the resolution of the situation works fine. There's also an appearance by an old Marvel villain and, like the other members of the case, he comes off well.
For the reprints, we get the story where Johnny supposedly married Alicia Masters and the two-parter where he discovered he'd actually fallen in love with and married a Skrull. The Johnny-Alicia match was a dumb idea from the get-go and the two-parter did an excellent job undoing it. Indeed, the story ties in so well with Secret Invasion it had to be one of the key inspirations for the big event. Kudos to writer Tom DeFalco.
Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four earns an impressive four out of five Tonys. What pushed it up were the text pages that recapped events before the wedding of Johnny and "Alicia," after the wedding, and after the revelation of the true identity of the bride. I appreciated getting the whole story.
I was not impressed by Secret Invasion: War Machine [$12.99]. It reprints Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #33-35 along with the 1981 issue that told how Tony Stark first met James Rhodes, the man who would become War Machine. It's a thin trade paperback and, as you've probably figured out, thin isn't in with me.
In the new stuff, with Stark incapacitated by the Skrulls and his tech under their control, it falls to War Machine to carry on the fight. His armor was built sans Stark tech. Written by Christos N. Gage and drawn by Sean Chen, the three-issue arc was pretty much action and paranoia and action from start to finish. Pretty dull, though I did enjoy the sequences where Rhodey fights alongside the Soviet Super-Soldiers. I didn't enjoy Gage failing to bring new readers up to speed on why Rhodey is apparently now less man than machine. I suppose a trip to Wikipedia might fill me in, but that was really Gage's job.
As for the reprinted issue, it was a bad choice. The first of the two stories that appeared in that issue is just the quick wrap-up of a mediocre plotline from the previous issues. The second is the Stark/Rhodey meeting, which hasn't aged well at all.
Secret Invasion: War Machine is of decent professional quality, but it didn't excite me or hold my interest. It earns but one sad little Tony out of the possible five.
It's Tuesday and that means new Tony Polls questions. This week, in the third and final such questions, we're asking you which IDW, Dark Horse, and Image characters/titles you'd recommend to someone who's fallen months and years behind his comics reading.
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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