Mighty Avengers Vol. 4: Secret Invasion Book 2 [$14.99] reprints issues #16-20 of the series that originally starred Tony Stark and his fascist Avengers. Like the previous volume, many of the issues read as if writer Brian Michael Bendis was crossing items off some SI checklist. Here's the story where Elektra gets replaced by one of the Skrulls. Here's a story about a Skrull impersonating Henry Pym. Here's a story with Nick Fury and his new agents who we have no reason to care about and who have little impact on the invasion. Here's another tedious story about the Skrull impersonating the late Captain Marvel. Only the last of the five issues, which deals with the funeral of Janet Van Dyne, has any heart to it. Kudos to Bendis for doing a terrific job bringing home the horror of what's happened in the Marvel Universe via the grieving Henry Pym and for offering a ray of hope that Thor, at least, stands firm against the tyranny of first Tony Stark and, presumably, Norman Osborn. But, of course, that story also leads into the next big Marvel event - Dark Reign - in which things will get even worse for the remaining heroes and for the people they are supposed to protect and defend.
Not for the first time, I ask myself why, when my country is trying to bounce back from two terms of a criminal administration, rebuild our economy, and fight wars on three fronts - I count the pirates - why Marvel and DC are making their universes even more depressing than the real world.
Secret Invasion: The Amazing Spider-Man [$14.99] reprints that three-issue series as well the latest Amazing Spider-Man Annual. Spider-Man doesn't appear in the mini-series; that tale focuses on registered super-hero Jackpot trying to protect various Daily Bugle people from a Super-Skrull with the powers of various Spidey foes. Its lighthearted captions, besides being incredibly overdone, seem out of place in the midst of this war. Adding to this collection's schizophrenia, the annual story grimly details the end of Jackpot's super-hero career, with its solitary saving grace being its pointing out of yet another serious flaw in the Superhuman Registration Act. That's not really sufficient reason to buy and read this trade paperback, which is why it only earns one Tony.
The pleasant surprise of this day's reading was Secret Invasion: Thor [$14.99] by Matt Fraction and Doug Braithwaite. In the three-issue series that leads off this collection, the Skrulls attack Asgard, putting nearby Broxton, Oklahoma, in dire jeopardy. Thor must juggle his duties as lord of Asgard and Dr. Don Blake's responsibilities to an expectant mother. Beta Ray Bill is on hand and in top form. Balder and the other Asgardians are appropriately steadfast in battling the invaders. Loki is her usual treacherous self, trying to sow doubt among the good guys. This mini-series is the best and most exciting of all the many SI spin-offs.
Rounding out the book is a swell Stan Lee/Jack Kirby tale from 1967 of Thor battling the original Super-Skrull, a totally out-of-place middle chapter of a "Tales of Asgard" series, and a Marvel Handbook update on Beta Ray Bill. The Fraction/Braithwaite tale is so good and the Thor/Super-Skrull clash so much fun, I'm overlooking the "Tales of Asgard" blunder to give Secret Invasion: Thor a full five out of five Tonys.
All this week's Secret Invasion reviews originally ran in my forum at CBGXtra.com. I have several more SI reviews to reprint in TOT and just a few more to write. As I wait to hear if you enjoyed my blow-by-blow coverage of the event, I'm wondering if you want me to tackle Dark Reign in similar fashion. Let me know via my message board or at:
This week's Tony Polls questions ask you to rate four new genre movies:
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
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.
Please send material you would like me to review to: