December Comics: Spiffy Plugs, Shrugs and Duds, and Secret Invasion Fallout

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It’s been a long time since I last reviewed anything, due to being swamped by the usual Holiday crap, and the crazy weather around the world hasn’t helped any. But big developments have occurred in both Marvel and DC, and continue to display the potentials for craziness in the coming months (Echo might be the new Black Panther?!).

What follows are the epitome of quick reviews, in a slightly different format from my usual Weekly Rankings, and concludes with some commentary on Dark Reign and Secret Invasion.

Who knew his true villainous goal was to appear in more places than Wolverine?

Who knew his true villainous goal was to appear in more places than Wolverine?

Each issue will have a rating from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.

Secret Invasion #8 (of 8): Brian Michael Bendis, Leinil Francis Yu. So, it’s over. The issue itself was almost an afterthought to what comes next. It had a huge ending that leads directly to Dark Reign and shows Norman Osborne’s big day, but the whole issue would’ve been SO much better if they had just shown the events rather than have some lame expositional conversation wrapping the whole thing up. It would’ve been way more powerful that way. Bendis can SHOW us what happened. In the final issue in Marvel’s biggest crossover since Civil War, I was expecting a whole lot more. Don’t get me wrong, there were highlights with Iron Man/Thor and the stuff with Osborne, but some of the stuff that happened just seemed too easy (SPOILERS: how all the heroes captured by the skrulls were ALL okay, all taken at the same time and all in one ship. Lame city). Also: Yu’s art deterioriated since an incredible job on the first couple issues. He deserves kudos for being on time unlike JG Jones, but the weight on his shoulders show.

Spiffy Says…While it’s an important issue to read, I was disappointed in the final issue of a mostly sweet series. 6/10.

Immortal Iron Fist #20: Duane Swierczynski, Travel Foreman. The conclusion to “Mortal Fist” ended satisfyingly, and continues to cement Swierczynski’s status as one of the top new writers in Marvel. What mars it, as usual, is Travel Foreman’s art. Russ Heath does fine work for the first four pages (a flashback), but Foreman’s art is just so far away from what I’d expect from Iron Fist every month.  The ending portends some awesome/sad things in Iron Fist’s future (the EIGHTH CITY!), and I can’t wait, regardless of Foreman’s involvement.

Spiffy Says…Poor Misty Knight. 9/10.

Batman #682: Grant Morrison, Lee Garbett. First off, it’s sad that Tony Daniel isn’t here for this issue, the first issue in the two issue follow up storyline to Morrison’s fucked up and huge Batman RIP storyline, but Garbett proves to be an admirable fill in. I’ll admit it: I’m not exactly sure what I read here with the Lump and the dreams and whatnot, but it was a great recap of Batman’s history in the eyes of Alfred.

Spiffy Says…I can’t ever tell if Grant Morrison is being straightforward or not. 8/10.

New Avengers #47: Brian Michael Bendis, Billy Tan and Michael Gaydos. This was basically another issue of Bendis’ “Alias”, which is always something to be celebrated. Gaydos takes care of the art chores for the original Luke Cage/Jessica Jones meetings and subsequent scenes with ease, and Tan, showing a slightly different style than usual, is effective in the modern day scenes wrapping it up into Secret Invasion. The issue, of course, starts with the line: “Sweet Christmas”, and ends as one of the best, saddest and most poignant tie-ins for Secret Invasion.

Spiffy Says….Fucktastic. 10/10.

Cable #9: Duane Swierczynski, Ariel Olivetti. This is Marvel’s little title that I can’t drop. It’s consistently good to even great, but I say to myself that I don’t need to buy it, but each month I come back for more. Why? I love the Bishop and X-Men in the present angle, and Cable being a badass in the future. It’s a great setup, and Olivetti’s art continues to impress. This month, we get the story of how Cable first came to New Liberty and fell in love, and the end brings some more awesome Bishop villainy, which I think is impossible to get enough of.

Spiffy Says…Whether or not I can afford it, I’ll be onboard for issue #10. Damn you Swierczynski. 8/10.

Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Shadow #1 (of 5): Mike Carey, Sebastian Fiumara. I can’t seem to save money if my life depends upon it. Mike Carey, the writer for X-Men Legacy, and I believe the writer for the solid and very truthful to the original Card novels Ender’s Game mini series was enough for me to try this companion mini series, featuring Bean. I really love these books, and I’m pleasantly surprised by these comics, but they really are just a regurgitation of the novels brilliance, and I’d just as soon reread the novels.

Spiffy Says…If you haven’t read the Ender books, go get them. If you don’t want to: buy the comics.

Booster Gold #15: Dan Jurgens, Norm Rapmund. Jurgens returns to the character he created after a brief respite, and is handling the writing and artist chores, with Rapmund doing the inks. Jurgens’ is the perfect artist for Booster, so it’s a welcome sight to see him back, and the first part of “Reality Lost” is another fun romp in the annals of Booster Gold, Michelle and Skeets. The absence of Rip Hunter is a shame, but I’m sure he’ll play a part by the end of the new storyline. In this issue, Ralph Dibny/Elongated Man shows up in a familiar time period for Booster and company (see Dixon’s Killer Moth storyline), and the introduction of another nemesis. There’s some pretty great moments with Ralph and Booster here (especially if you don’t live in a cave and know what happens in Identity Crisis), but beware: your head will explode if you try to rationalize the dozens of issues with the space continuum that arises in each issue, as usual. At least it’s better than Heroes.

Spiffy Says…I want to see Michelle (Booster’s sister) naked. 8/10.

Secret Six #4: Gail Simone, Nicola Scott. What may be DC’s best series (I mean, I read like 4, so this hardly means anything) continues at a high level, with the continuing conflict of the Get out of Hell Free card that is sweeping the nation of villainy. “Junior” continues to be a creepy as hell villain and finally gets to do something, at the expense of one of the poor “Six”. Nothing orgasmic, but another strong issue for a strong series.

Spiffy Says…I could do for one of them cards. 8/10.

Secret Invasion: Dark Reign #1: Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Maleev. The awesome team that brought the world Daredevil and one of my favorite issues ever, New Avengers: Illuminati, reunite for the issue that brings us further developments of the newest face of Marvel: Norman Osborne. After becoming a hero of the Skrull invasion, Norman found himself in charge of the Initiative and HAMMER, the replacement for SHIELD, putting Stark out of a job and as the scapegoat for the death and catastrophe that struck the world (which is not entirely undeserving). At the end of Secret Invasion Norman brought together a meeting with some of the biggest baddies, monarchs and leaders in the MU: Doctor Doom, Loki, Namor, The Hood and interestingly, The White Queen. Each represent a people or nation: Latveria, Asgard, Atlantis, the villains and the mutants, respectively, and Norman has decided to take a different approach: help them. This is the Dark Reign people. I still have no idea what I think about it, but this issue, which shows the meeting between them, is pretty fantastic. Maleev’s art is as awesome as ever (although not as fucktastic as usual, for some reason), and the interactions between these hugely powerful characters is the definite highlight. This is the new age of Marvel, and hell, I’m looking forward to seeing what Bendis and company have in store.

Spiffy says…Maleev’s Namor looks like a middle aged balding man. 9/10.

Final Crisis #5 (of 7): Grant Morrison, J.G. Jones and Carlos Pacheco. First off: Jones/Pacheco’s art, while the culprit for being late, is terrific. I find myself forgetting what happened in the previous issue each time I finally get my hands on the next issue of Final Crisis, which isn’t a good recipe for enjoying the crazy intense/details oriented Grant Morrison. The highlights here are many: the trial of Hal Jordan and the Alpha Lanterns and some fun battle scenes with Super Girl and Captain Marvel and the now Anti-Life Mary Marvel. As usual, I get about 43% of the entire issue, but it’s still pretty sweet.

Spiffy Says…I want to “Shazam” Mary Marvel. 7/10.

Uncanny X-Men #505: Matt Fraction, Terry and Rachel Dodson. The leak of video showing the mutant destruction of Cooperstown, Alaska puts mutants in the far too familiar position of being patsies and pricks. Chaos ensues. Again. Yay. Colossus continues his mid-life crisis to work with a villain from his past back home in Russia. Pixie has roommate issues. Emma Frost mulls an offer (see: Dark Reign) and is a bitch (to Storm). Madison Jeffries returns. A lot of various things are happening in this issue, but I find it hard to really care about any of it, even if the Dodson’s draw a nice Emma Frost and Storm.

Spiffy Says…Ho-Hum. 5/10.

Thunderbolts #127: Andy Diggle, Roberto De La Torre. The second issue in Diggle/De La Torre’s run isn’t nearly as awesome as the first, but there’s some great stuff here. It suffers from existing in a muddled time period that doesn’t exactly make sense because of a certain character’s presence, but we get some great Songbird/Bullseye/Venom/Moonstone action here, as Songbird attempts to escape Thunderbolts Mountain. After Norman Osborne has become the most important character in Marvel, it’ll be very interesting to see what happens to this title (which has gone from a title on the margins in the MU, to critical darling under Warren Ellis to perhaps one of the more important titles Marvel has), and that’s why I’m back onboard. De La Torre’s artist features some definite likenesses to Deodato (a good thing), but also a completely different look, and it fits.

Spiffy Says…Poor Songbird. 8/10.

Moon Knight #25: Mike Benson, Mark Teixeira. There seems to be a million “Death of ____”  stories (or maybe it’s just this and Iron Fist), but this one, like Iron Fist, ends satisfyingly, even if predictably. The Bullseye/Moon Knight fight is pretty awesome, and I loved how our boy MK got under Bullseye’s skin. The ending, like I said, was predictable, but still fun. Bullseye singing “Psycho Killer” makes this issue a must-buy.

Spiffy Says….”FA FA FA FA FA FA FA BETTER RUN RUN RN RUN RUN RUN AWAY”. 9/10.

X-Men Legacy #219: Mike Carey, Phil Briones. While I miss Scott Eaton’s art, Briones’ is a capable fill-in. After the yucky Wolverine/Daken crossover, Carey brings this issue back to focus on Xavier reassembling his mind after, you know, having his mind literally blown out of his head. The next stop in his mindquest? The Juggernaut, bitch (wow that was lame). This is probably the best issue I’ve ever read with Juggernaut, which is a limited amount of issues to be sure, but Carey continues to provide character driven issues that focus on character development, something that all X-fans should appreciate.

Spiffy Says…nigh Fucktastic. 9.5/10.

The Invincible Iron Man #8: Matt Fraction, Salvador Larroca. I read the first couple issues of this series, which was pretty much what if the movie Tony Stark existed in regular Marvel continuity, and while it was good, I didn’t finish the Stane centric storyline. I feel like I should’ve finished it, but the end of Secret Invasion pitting Stark as the “World’s Most Wanted” intrigued me enough to buy this issue. I’m glad I did, even if I found myself hating Larrocca’s art. He needs to stop fucking around with this weird computer influenced stuff (I never thought I’d miss his work on X-Treme X-Men). It’s perfect with the machinery and tech that is often seen in Iron Man, but the people suffer greatly. There’s a sweet Norman/Tony scene, and like Gwyneth Paltrow in the movie, my girl Pepper Potts lights up every scene she’s in. Also: love the addition of Maria Hill here.

Spiffy Says….Can you say love triangle? 8/10.

Spider-Man Noir #1 (of 4): David Hine, Fabrice Sapolsky and Carmine Di Giandomenico. So, I have never heard of those last two names, but I’m assuming they’re a big reason this mini exists (because this is a new “vision” of Spider-Man and all that noise). I had no idea what the fuck this was when I first saw it in the stores, and when I flipped through it, I wasn’t very psyched, but upon seeing it in the store the second time around, I bought it. I’m really glad I did. Basically: it’s the Spider-Man story set in New York City circa 1933 with the Great Depression in full swing. And, it’s brilliant. We have Ben Urich as the mentor to Peter Parker, Aunt May as a soapbox speaker speaking out against the evils of society (and a big time socialist), and the Goblin (guess who?) the evil at the head of the streets, flanked by Kraven the Hunter and Vulture and the Enforcers. The art grew on me, even if it’s not as dark or noir-y as it should be (Mark Teixeira of Moon Knight would be perfect). There’s some fucked up things that happened here, and I hope Hine and company don’t pull any punches in the coming issues.

Spiffy says…Urich loves heroine. 10/10.

The Mighty Avengers #20: Brian Michael Bendis, Lee Weeks, Jim Cheung and Carlo Pagulayan. It’s funny that the last two tie-ins of the mostly lame SI tie-ins in Mighty and New are the best, but it’s definitely the case here. It’s hard to really talk about this issue without ruining the big death of Secret Invasion, but I’ll say this: it was an alternately touching and rough (in a sad/angry kind of way) tribute to one of the oldest and most endearing (I guess she’s endearing, I don’t know) characters of the MU.  Not only does it recap the past, I don’t know, 4 years of MU history, it also preps us nicely for Dark Avengers #1. Each artist is fantastic, especially Lee Weeks. Bendis brought his A-game here.

Spiffy Says…A must buy for Avengers fans. 10/10.

Dark Reign: New Nation #1 is basically a collection of teasers for the upcoming crop of titles coming to Marvel in 2009 in the wake of Dark Reign. Here’s a look at each of them:

Secret Warriors: Brian Michael Bendis, Jonathan Hickman and Stefano Caselli. A great little story about Nick Fury with Captain America that seamlessly brings us to Fury’s next project: fighting the “dark and desperate times” of the present with his collection of Secret Warriors that he used to defeat the Skrulls in Secret Invasion. I’m unfamiliar with Hickman, and I’m not sure I like Caselli (Initiative) as the artist, but I love Nick Fury, so, more than likely, I’ll force myself to try issue 1.

Agents of Atlas: Jeff Parker, Carlo Pagulayan. From the scene in New Nation, I hardly know what this is about, except for a title featuring a criminal empire working to take down the “man”. It has Namora and a bunch of characters I’m unfamiliar with. Yay….? That said, it was well put together, especially on the art side.

War Machine: Greg Pak, Leonardo Manco. I haven’t seen Manco seen his Doom mini series ages ago, but he’s pretty good here. What I get from this issue is: Rhodey’s a fucking badass. And so are bears. Good stuff, and I love the idea of War Machine going rogue. Will I buy it? Who knows.

Skrull Kill Krew: Adam Felber, Paulo Siqueira: Basically, skrulls are still hiding all over the world (and may be in your hamburgers). They need to be killed. No thanks.

New Avengers: Jim McCann, David Lopez: First off, Lopez is entirely too manga-y for my tastes, but the content here is possibly the most important than any of the other mini stories, and it has to do with Hawkeye and Mockingbird. I’m not sure I’ll be buying the return of the series, especially if Bendis is no longer involved, but it looks like suspicion and betrayal will continue to be a motif for New Avengers, and that will at least make things interesting.

Denouement

After all that, what do you need to know? Well, Secret Invasion is over, and while there are still skrulls that need to be killed around the globe, Marvel’s moving on (and so should you): Tony Stark has gone from the most powerful character to everyone’s most hated, with everyone from Thor, Hank Pym and Norman Osborne sharing some well placed anger at Hollywood’s darling. Now, he’s at war with Norman Osborne, the anointed king of intelligence and the Initiative and the Avengers. It looks like Marvel plans on having a Civil War every couple years, with the advent of the new Dark Avengers (written by Bendis and drawn by Deodato, score!). Dark Reign is here, and that means, what exactly? Well, it means the crazy as balls Green Goblin is, for all intents and purposes, the Barack Obama of the MU, and plans on securing the services of Doctor Doom, Loki, Namor, the White Queen and (Marvel’s “breakout character” of 2008) the Hood. Bickering, fighting and war aplenty is ahead, because you can bet Norman is going to try to bite more than he can chew, and he already has.

My predictions? Harry Osborne will be dead by the end of Dark Reign (with one of his T-Bolts doing the deed). Tony Stark gets redemption. Hank Pym gets a new costume or gives up superheroeing for good. Luke Cage goes “Sweet Christmas” on a few people’s asses. The Sentry might actually matter again (so much for proving to be a big player in Secret Invasion) and Doctor Strange makes a triumphant return. And last but not least, Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch (yes, she’ll be back) fuck.

We at GGG will check back on Dark Reign periodically (in fact, each week) as it develops, and I’ll revisit this post around this time next year to see how far off I really was.

Let us know what you think about Marvel’s new era, my dumbass predictions and make your own! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone.

–Spiffy

 

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7 Responses to “December Comics: Spiffy Plugs, Shrugs and Duds, and Secret Invasion Fallout”

  1. gokitalo Says:

    Awesome post, Spiffy-O. We had to address Dark Reign at some point, and you did it most spectacularly.

    Echo might be the new Black Panther?!

    *pfft* total red herring. I bet you 100 Monopoly dollars it’s T’Challa’s retconned-in sister.

    I liked Secret Invasion #8, but you make a lot of fair points. When it came to Lienil Francis Yu’s art, he fumbled the ball with that KEY scene involving Janet and Thor. Something that important needed to be conveyed clearly and in much bigger panels. This may not even be Lienil’s fault, since Bendis could have broken down the page that way, but still, that scene was a problem.

    Concerning the exposition thing… Bendis sometimes has this habit of telling when he should be showing or showing when he should be telling. Here I didn’t think it was too big of a problem, since he still showed us some of the key scenes, e.g. the climactic confrontation between the superheros and the Skrull Queen, the revelation of what happened to the replaced heroes and and the ascension of Norman Osborn. I think there was one scene Bendis should have SHOWN us but didn’t, but I can’t remember what it was.

    As for the twist you spoiled in parenthesis, I liked it, but I was also thinking the same thing. Still, I think it’ll be interesting to see each of them trying to regain their allies’ trust.

    Moving on… I liked almost everything about Secret Invasion: Dark Reign except (a) Emma’s “Yeah, okay” line (which doesn’t sound like something she’d ever say) and (b) the way Bendis wrote Swordsman, which didn’t sound like Swordsman at all. Booster Gold #15 wasn’t bad: I agree with you about Michelle, by the way. Secret Six #4 was, as you said, pretty good, but not quite FUDOworthy this month.

    I hear at least one of your predictions has already come true!

  2. gokitalo Says:

    Whoa, forgot about most of DC! Batman #682 wasn’t bad and I’m certainly intrigued by the big twist, although it was a bit hard to follow. Final Crisis #5 I found a bit underwhelming, but it definitely needs a re-read.

  3. spiffyithaca Says:

    I bet Echo is Black Panther for about two issues, and then BP and Storm return, and wait for it….

    STORM’s preggers. Black Pantherette!

    My biggest problem with the narration and exposition was that it made the action and the issue stilted and distant: like we weren’t “there” or apart of the action. We were just getting a retelling. I don’t want the SI remake, I want the fucking real shit.

    I agree about Swordsman. I’m not a big Swordsman guy, but from what I’ve read of T-Bolts, his dialogue and demeanor was much different here. That said, I don’t mind the end result of the scene.

    What prediction came true?!

  4. Gokitalo Says:

    Hank Pym gets a new costume

    Came true!

    Luke Cage goes “Sweet Christmas” on a few people’s asses.

    Probably has come true!

    Doctor Strange makes a triumphant return.

    Big stuff is going to happen to Doctor Strange, that’s all I can tell you without getting too spoilery…

    And last but not least, Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch (yes, she’ll be back) fuck.

    Came true!

  5. dillonmania Says:

    Hello, all. Goki told me to tell you all my new WordPress name, and here it is! Otherwise known as Lia.

  6. spiffyithaca Says:

    LIA! Welcome back. How the hell are ya?

    I rule with predictions, apparently. And the Scarlet Witch thing, is that in the past or did that happen currently?

  7. gokitalo Says:

    Oh wait. It’s GOING to happen. Dan Slott’s first Mighty Avengers issue

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