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Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
"America's Most Beloved Comic-Book Writer & Columnist"

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for Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Avengers Initiative

Dogged and quite possibly insane determination to read every Secret Invasion trade published by Marvel Comics is only one reason I keep at this quest. The other is that, even after having read so many with sadly diminishing returns, there is always that chance that the *next* one will surprise me. This time around, the next one *did* surprise me.

Avengers: The Initiative Volume 3 - Secret Invasion [$16.99], which collects issues #14-19 of the title, delivers one of the very best series of issues in a massive event that crossed over into darn near every Marvel Universe book. Written by Dan Slott and Christos N. Gage, these six issues have more of a vast war story feel than most SI comics. There are lots of soldiers fighting across the country with lots of real consequences to what they do or don't do. I probably could have used a character sheet or a scorecard to keep them all straight, but, when it came to key characters and key moments, everything I needed to know was in the scripts themselves. That's comics writing as it should be.

The Skrulls infiltrated the Initiative - the government plan to put registered super-heroes in every one of the fifty states - in a big way. They had replaced Hank Pym and also put a Skrull on all but a handful of the fifty teams. The Skrull plan included a way to use the Initiative bases as a fail-safe if their invasion should be unsuccessful. So, in addition to the individual moments of thrilling danger for the heroes, there was an overriding threat that had to be overcome. As the heroes, some reluctantly and some with secrets of their own, struggled, I couldn't turn the pages of this collection fast enough. It's a rare super-hero comic that can get me this excited.

There are five different artists on the issues, so I'll offer an overview of the visuals. Generally, the storytelling was just as I like: clear and dynamic. Some of the artists do draw all of the characters as if they were all related to each other, but the pluses of the art made that flaw less annoying. Still, I continue to recommend that comics artists learn to draw a wide diversity of faces and so avoid this flaw.

Avengers: The Initiative Volume 3 - Secret Invasion is a terrific collection. It earns the full five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony Tony



I found some e-mails that got misplaced in the switch from my old computer to my new one and will try to get them into the column over the next week or two.

Back in May, one of our Tony Polls questions asked you to vote on which Image Comics characters or titles you'd recommend to a new or lapsed reader. The winner was Invincible, which prompted this note from Dave Van Domelen...
It looks like Invincible is leading in the poll, so a quick warning in case you're starting from zero on it:

Invincible combines a rather fun Silver Age and early 1980s sensibility (not faux Silver Age retro rose-colored glasses, either) with BUCKETS OF GORE. If Rich Ryder were to really hit thugs with his superhuman strength in the 1970s Nova comic, they'd tend to explode into showers of blood, and that's what happens when Invincible hits someone who isn't nigh-invulnerable.

I enjoy it a lot, but the splatter can be a bit intense if you're not braced for it. Hence my vote for Dynamo5, which is just as good but a lot less messy.
Thanks for the heads up, Dave. I did know about the gore in Invincible, but I should remember to mention it when next I review the title. And your recommendation of Dynamo5 has me thinking I should catch up with that title when I reach the letter "D" in my current comics organization project.

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

Tony Isabella

<< 06/30/2009 | 07/01/2009 | 07/02/2009 >>

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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.

Please send material you would like me to review to:

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