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So….Civil War is Null and Void? Secret Invasion 3 Reviewed.



Posted by Steve

SecretInvasionPromoArt.jpgMarvel’s done it again. I don’t mean they’ve knocked a homerun. I mean…well, we’ll get there.

I was completely blown away with Secret Invasion #1 and #2.  In fact, I said as much in my reviews for those books.

I love the idea of all the super heroes, registered and non-registered having to finally set aside their differences and overpower this threat from outer space.   I love the idea that the threads of this story have been woven through so many other Marvel stories in the past few years.  I especially appreciated the fact that Joey Q and crew took the stance that Iron Man was NOT going to be a Skrull.  I liked the idea that Marvel was painting themselves into a corner with his actions and had to figure out a way to endear him to not only fans (which is apparently happening in his book) but also to hi compatriots in the Marvel U.

Of course, everyone thought the same thing when Spider-Man unmasked himself in front of national media.   Then, a deal with the Devil later, POOF!  Everyone doesn’t know that Peter Parker is Spidey…AND HE’S NOT MARRIED!!!! (And no one really knows how the whole Civil War thingie worked out for him)(It was kind of a mini-crisis)

However, I digress.

Issue #3 of Secret Invasion was almost something that belonged in one of the filler issues that the Avengers titles have become.  While I’m on that subject, let me do a quick overview of the crossover issues I’ve read in the ongoing monthlies.

There has been some really neat stuff in the Avengers titles, including a really neat Beast/Wonder Man team up that leaves the reader wondering who of the two is really a Skrull.   There was also a story that filled us in on some of the events right after that cool dinosaur attack in issue #2.   There have been some misses, but I am pretty excited about the storyline in The Incredible Hercules that is going to pit Hercules and a rag tag band of gods (yes…it IS a rag tag band of gods) against the Skrulls as they try to overthrow Earth’s deities.   That could be a fun.

But, I’m here to talk about issue #3.

I was, honestly, a little underwhelmed with this issue.  After the huge ending of issue #2 with the arrival of all of the Super Skrulls, I was really looking forward to what was coming.  I didn’t expect the heroes to pull together, I didn’t expect victory, but I did expect to see super heroes I actually recognized fighting the battle in New York.  This didn’t happen though.  Of course it makes sense.  Seeing as all of the heavy hitters are in the savage land, somewhere unknown to us while their Skrull doubles are wondering around on Earth, or (in the case of FF) trapped in the Negative Zone and splattered all over a lab on a helicarrier somewhere, they are understandably indisposed at the moment.  However, I honestly didn’t recognize any of the Initiative recruits that were fighting the Super Skrulls (and getting their butts handed to them).  It was action packed, and there were some neat moments, but I just didn’t care…mainly because I only recognized like two of heroes.

Meanwhile, in the Savage Land, instead of being treated to more dueling between heroes and skrulls (without really knowing who the real deal is) we see Spider Woman (who we know is a Skrull because of one of the earlier crossover issues) corner Tony Stark, who is trying to recover from the virus in his armor…which has affected him physically as well.  We are treated to three pages of the fake-Spider Woman informing Stark that he’s a Skrull and just doesn’t know it.  Really?  THREE PAGES?  For something that we were promised would NOT be the case?  So either I was a) lied to or I b) had my time wasted on a totally pointless conversation when we could have been seeing more of the actual Invasion play out.  Either way, bad form.

So…while I still have faith in the concept, and I think that Bendis can pull it out in the end, I just wasn’t too take aback with issue #3 of Marvel’s big ’08 event.

So the final verdict?

Story 2 out of 5 –This felt more like one of the crossover issues than the actual main title.  Tony and “Jessica’s” conversation dragged on a bit too long for my tastes and wasn’t really a big reveal or shock…it just kind of was.  While I understand why it had to happen, Initiative grads fighting in Manhattan wasn’t the fight I was hoping for…but I have faith the big one is coming…if Bendis will actually write a full on fight and not a decompressed character piece with a fight to fill in between moments of angst.

Art 3 out 5 – I still think the art is really good.  I don’t think the fight scenes were handled the best in the world.  It was kind of hard to tell what was going on.  There wasn’t that much of a sense of scale when the giant Skrull and heroes were fighting, and again, not knowing who everyone was took away from my enjoyment of the art.

Cover Art 1 out 5 – I don’t mind telling you…I hate this cover.   It’s just dumb.  I hate the whole conversation this cover is based on, and given Tony Stark’s playboy ways, this is not a cover that should be on the third issue (or any issue) of a company’s bigget event of the year.

So, as you can see….as much as I like to be positive, I have to be honest, I’m really hoping issue 4 picks up the pace and we get to see some cool stuff.  It looks promising based on the sudden appearance of Nick Fury and his new Howling Commandos at the end of the book.  So we shall see.

Seeing Red – Hulk #3 Reviewed



Posted by Steve

Hulk3.jpgUpon reviewing the second issue of Hulk by Jeph Loeb, I tended to go on about how much I love Jeph Loeb’s writing and how much I truly enjoy Ed McGuinness’ art. I didn’t delve too much into the current storyline, or give any real thoughts as to what I think is going on, or even comment on whether or not I liked it. Since that review, and since reading that second issue, I’ve developed my theories and thoughts and ideas. The real question is, “How is this book holding up as a Hulk book?”

As of issue number 3 of Hulk, I can say with some degree of confidence that this book is holding up well. Jeph Loeb knows how to craft a story and dangle the carrot in front of the reader just far enough away to keep us going after it. But, before we delve too much into that, let’s jump into a quick recap of the issue.

Spoilers are ever-present, so if you haven’t read this issue yet and you are planning to, you may want to wait and come back later.

The issue opens with Tony Stark surveying the damage done to the hellicarrier by the red Hulk. It’s a complete loss. She-Hulk wants to go after Big Red, and Quartermain, Ross and Doc Samson are missing. Agent Hill alerts Stark to a video feed he needs to see. Stark watches as Ross and Samson talk to Banner in his underground prison about this new Hulk. Banner asks Ross to stay a moment longer before he and Samson leave and tells Ross something inaudible to the recorders.

Out in Nevada, Red Hulk and A-Bomb (The Rick Jones [huh?] version of Abomination) are fighting. In fact, we are treated to a pretty amazing two page splash of the two tied up. The fight ends up taking place inside of gamma base. In a frustrating moment, the automated guard shack give Clifford the Big Red Hulk a retina scan and recognizes him as…that’s all we get. Red Hulk smashes the shack before it can complete the sentence.

The fight between Red and A-Bomb includes fists thrown, bodies thrown, and even a gun. (The gun doesn’t do much good.) Then, the Red Hulk jumps on top of A-Bomb and begins to pound his head into the ground. With each hit, the ground quakes and cracks. We see that the hits cause an tremor measuring 10.0 on the Richter Scale. Deep beneath the earth, Banner’s cell begins to be crushed as debris falls on it. Banner pleads to be let out, but contact with the walls of the cell cause him to be gassed. However, Banner can hold his breath.

In a page that got me super excited, Banner is pounding on the glass attempting to escape. We see his fist, as it repeatedly hits the glass, grow, turn green, and cause the cage to crack.

Back on the surface, a robot harpie fashioned in the likeness of the late Betty Ross Banner attacks both A-Bomb and The Big Red Machine.   Red Hulk mentions how something like that would give Banner pause…but he’s not Banner.  Both monsters make quick work of the harpie.

As Red(eye) destroys the harpie, he turns and says, “Ok Rick, let’s finish this.”  To his pleasure though, it’s not Rick standing there….it’s the Green Hulk.  Hulk is talking in classic Hulk speak.  He says, “Hulk not Rick.  Hulk is Hulk.”  Red smiles and says he’s going to love this.

Whew!  Ok, I’m gonna calm down a bit to explain my rating scale.   I’ve stolen the method used by the guys over at Superman Homepage. The reviewers on that site give out-of-five ratings in three areas: story, art, and cover art. It works, so I am going with that way of rating comics as well.

Story – 5 out of 5.

I am on board with Loeb when it comes to this journey.  This issue was exaclty what it was supposed to be.  It was a slugfest.  The first few pages were the calm before the storm, and they were used to give us a little information and introduced a few more questions. 

The fight between fake Hulk and fake Abomination was outstanding.  Red Hulk had the upper hand most of the time, and that can be attributed to his lack of concern for the consequences of his actions.  He constantly referred to A-Bomb as Rick which leads me to suspect that my initial theory as to the identity of this Hulk may be off a bit.  I thought it may end up being the Red King from the Planet Hulk storyline.  We never actually SAW him die.  However, his knowledge of people and events in  Banner’s life kind of throw that theory out the window. 

Basically, the story is the fight.  But there are some deeper issues at play too.  The Red Hulk’s retinal scans were in the Gammabase database.  He admitted to being something completely different from Banner.  Interesting.

Then there’s the return of ole Jade Jaws.   I was literally giddy as Banner began to change.  Then there was a panel where we see a green hand reaching up from a crack in the ground.  And the final splash page of the two facing off is nothing short of exciting.  Yeah, I’m on board.  Thus far, Loeb is crafting an engaging, exciting tale.

Art – 5 out of 5

Ed McGuinness was born to draw the Hulk.  His over the top musculature is perfectly suited to the character.  But, the real success of the art in this issue was the perfect use of splash pages vs. paneled pages.  McGuinness is as much a story teller as Loeb.  The scenes of the ground cracking and Bruce changing were pretty powerful, and there is a lot to take in despite the apparent simple design of things.

Cover – 4 out of 5

I like the cover.  It reflects the main happening of what’s inside the book.  I knock off a point because I really don’t like the white background.  I don’t have a problem that there’s nothing there, A-Bomb and Big Red take up most of the page, but instead of white, black and nothing would have looked better to me.  I haven’t rated any of the variant covers because I don’t have any. 

If you’re even remotely a fan of the Hulk, and have been wondering whether or not to pick up his book, do it.  It’s an amazing story and it’s loads of fun too.