I'm back on the Secret Invasion beat with two trades and an actual comic book. If memory serves, as it often doesn't, there will only be a few SI trades left for me to review after I finish writing about these three items.
Secret Invasion: Black Panther [Marvel; $12.99] has issues #39-41 of the ongoing series and fills out its page count with text articles about the Panther's history and some sketches of issues to come. Considering there are only three issues of comics in the book, the cover price is a little high. On the other hand, those issues are some of the best of the SI event. So good that I'm only going to tell you three things about them:
1) The Skrull zealots attack Wakanda, a nation that has never been conquered.
2) Writer Jason Aaron does an outstanding job following in the very big footsteps of Reggie Hudlin.
3) Artist Jefte Pelo does a great job on the visuals.
Telling you more about the story would be a grave disservice. Just know Secret Invasion: Black Panther earns the full five Tonys and that you really need to read this book.
After the shellacking I handed the previous volume in this series, you may be surprised I think Punisher War Journal Vol. 5: Secret Invasion [$14.99] is a perfectly readable book. When last we left Frank Castle, he was in federal custody. He escapes when the invading Skrulls shut down the Tony Stark-designed tech which powers the prison. After that, we see the Punisher prove to be a very effective Skrull-killer and we also see an intriguing development in his relationship with former super-villain Stuart Clarke. The issues are by Matt Fraction and Rock Remender with art by Howard Chaykin. Then we get a nice one-off story by Fraction and artist Andy MacDonald in which the Punisher learns something about himself via the guidance of...the Rhino? Wrapping up the volume is a so-so Punisher Annual tale by Simon Spurrier with art by Werther Dell'Edera and Antonio Fuso. With three out of four good stories in the book, it earns a perfectly respectable three out of five Tonys.
Only the lead story of Franklin Richards: Not-So-Secret Invasion #1 [$2.99] is an SI tale and it's only five pages, but you can never go wrong picking up Franklin Richards one-shots by Chris Eliopoulos and Marc Sumerak. Channeling "Calvin and Hobbes," the lads bring the funny to every story in this issue.
Franklin always manages to find something interesting in his dad's lab and the robot HERBIE always has his robotic hands full keeping the subsequent boy-made disasters from destroying New York or parts thereof. In his spare time, HERBIE takes on the Wizard, aka the Wingless Wizard before someone figured out that, even in comic books, alliteration could be taken too far.
Though I recommend the manga-size paperbacks of Franklin's adventures, Franklin Richards: Not-So-Secret Invasion #1 is well worth buying. It earns four out of five Tonys.
From time to time, I participate in Marvel.com's TGIF feature wherein current and former Marvel writers and artists are asked to weigh in on this and that. Recently, with Chris Claremont making his return to X-Men continuity, we were asked to name our favorite X-Men stories.
Three issues or sequences leap immediately to mind.
X-Men #4 with the return of Magneto and the introduction of his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. That was classic superteam action and so exciting that it didn't hit me until much later that calling themselves "Evil Mutants" probably wasn't the best public relations move they could have made.
X-Men #12 with the first appearance of the Juggernaut. Magneto had been seemingly written out of the series in the previous issue with the Evil (and notsoevil) Mutants disbanding. How could Stan and Jack top that? Then comes Juggy and the growing sense of doom that increases with his every step. As much as I love Alex Toth's work and as much as I wish he had better inking in this issue, I would have love to have seen Kirby have done full pencils on this one and been inked by anyone other than Vince Colletta.
Then there's the entire Roy Thomas/Neal Adams run, just before the book went all reprint. It was breathtaking art and some of the best writing in comics. In my mind, these issues are the standard by which all other X-Men stories must be judged.
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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