Thursday, June 05, 2008

Comic Book Review: Secret Invasion #3

The Revolution was highly unimpressed with Bendis’ pedestrian effort on Secret Invasion #2. My fears of Bendis failing to move the story along with a point and purpose seemed be materializing after last issue. Hopefully, Bendis will sharpen his focus and get this story rolling with some serious momentum with Secret Invasion #3. Let’s go ahead and hit this review.

Creative Team
: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Leinel Yu
Inks: Mark Morales

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin the SHIELD helicarrier floating in the ocean in the Bermuda Triangle. Mariah Hill and several SHIELD agents go to the flight deck to survey the damage. There they find Jarvis and some SHIELD agents already on the flight deck. Jarvis asks Mariah Hill if she is ready to offer her full and total surrender.

We cut to Thunderbolts Mountain where we see Captain Marvel kicking Venom’s ass. Normon Osborn approaches Captain Marvel and says that Captain Marvel does not act like who he appears to be. Osborn asks if Captain Marvel if he will have a drink with him and talk things out.

We hop over to Camp Hammond where the members of the Initiative are all being gathered together. Yellow Jacket arrives on the scene and tells everyone that New York is under attack by aliens, but he doesn’t know who they are exactly. Yellow Jacket tells the Initiative members that this is what they have been training for.

We shift to Time Square in New York where the Young Avengers are brawling with the Super Skrulls. Hulkling attempts to talk with the Super Skrulls figuring that the fact that he is half-Skrull might help. The Super Skrulls ignore Hulkling and continue their attack. The Super Skrulls get the upper hand and begin kicking ass on the Young Avengers. Suddenly, the cavalry arrives on the scene in the form of The Initiative members.

We slide over to the Savage Land where we see Spider-Woman attacking Echo. Echo tells Jessica to stop attacking. Echo says that she is not a Skrull. Spider-Woman responds “I know.” Spider-Woman then blasts Echo and takes Echo out.

We then see Tony working frantically to try and stop the Skrull virus that is infecting his tech. Spider-Woman walks into the lab and tells Tony that he can relax. That he did it. That his work on Earth is done. Spider-Woman says that Tony will go down in history as the greatest warrior in the Skrull armada. And that Tony will always and forever have the undying love of his queen. Spider-Woman then kisses Tony.

Tony yells “I am not a Skrull!” Spider-Woman explains that that is what Tony was trained to think. Spider-Woman says that she is sorry the truth had to be hidden from Tony. That Tony served the role of turning hero against hero and positioning himself as the world’s most important person.

Spider-Woman calls Tony by his Skrull name “Kr’Ali” and tells him that she praises him and loves him. That his day is well earned.

We cut back to Times Square where the Super Skrulls are laying a beating on both the Young Avengers and the Initiative members. Vision tells the Skrulls that they will not win. That others will come to stop them. The Super Skrulls answer back by blasting Vision’s head into little pieces. (Oookay. I guess Vision is to Bendis what Karate Kid is to Giffen.) We then see the Skrulls killing a member of the Initiative.

The Super Skrulls stand victorious over the bodies of all the fallen heroes. Suddenly, the Super Skrulls begin to vibrate and then explode. We then see that Nick Fury in his SHIELD uniform and his new Howling Commandos have arrived on the scene.

The Good
: Secret Invasion #3 was an average read. This issue is much like your typical summer blockbuster movie: loud, fast and full of action. One thing is for sure, Bendis did not deliver a slow paced issue. Secret Invasion #3 gets moving quickly and before the reader can blink their eye they have already reached the end. The simple and direct story and copious amounts of action make this issue a fast read.

If you love action heavy issues then you will enjoy definitely enjoy Secret Invasion #3. The brawl between the Super Skrulls and the combined forces of the Young Avengers and the Initiative take up the majority of this issue. There are plenty of explosions, bodies flying and blasting to keep action fans satisfied.

Bendis delivers some solid dialogue. It isn’t anything impressive or special. But, the noticeable lack of “Bendis speak” is appreciated. I will admit that Bendis writes a particularly evil and devious Skrull queen. Her dialogue in the scene where she tries to play mind games with Tony was well delivered.

Even though I found the scène with Skrull Spider-Woman and Tony Stark to be largely devoid of suspense since we all know Tony isn’t a Skrull, it made sense that Skrull Spider-Woman would try to employ the same tactic that the Skrulls used against the Sentry to remove him from the battle. Tony is suffering from a virus and is clearly not himself and is in a delirious state. This is the perfect moment for some mind games to try and get Tony to think that he is a Skrull.

Like always, Bendis manages to deliver a great hook ending. It is amazing how Bendis can generally bore me for an entire issue and then crank out a final page that immediately grabs my attention and gets me excited for the next issue. And Bendis does it once again with the ending of Secret Invasion #3 as we get the bad-assed appearance of Nick Fury in his SHIELD uniform with the SHIELD logo blazing and flanked by his new Howling Commandos. That is exactly how you end an issue in style.

This much anticipated public appearance of Nick Fury completely made up for what I found to be a rather predictable and pedestrian issue. I am more than ready to see Nick Fury play a central role in this Skrull invasion. And I am also greatly looking forward to Nick once again taking over the reins of SHIELD. One can only hope that Nick is once again the Director of SHIELD soon after Secret Invasion has concluded.

Without a doubt, I am looking forward to Nick Fury getting some love and enjoying the spotlight in the next issue. I’m also curious to see how his new Howling Commandos are able to operate as a team. If nothing else, this ending is an indication that we should be in store for plenty more action with Secret Invasion #4.

Leinel Yu and Mark Morales combine to deliver some solid artwork. Yu’s art on Secret Invasion is certainly better than his effort over on New Avengers leading up to this big event. Still, the art is nothing spectacular and not what I expect on a huge event like Secret Invasion. J.G. Jones’s art on Final Crisis or Steve McNiven’s art on Civil War are good examples of the level of art that I expect on a big event.

The Bad: Secret Invasion #3 was just an ordinary read. Secret Invasion was also a choppy read. Bendis jumps around in a random fashion creating many clunky and jarring scene transitions. This gives Secret Invasion #3 a rather poor flow. It seems that part of the plotting problems and the issues with the general flow of the story probably stem from Bendis typical struggles with juggling a large roster of characters. While Bendis will shine on issues that center on just one or maybe two characters, he wilts under the pressure of having to coordinate multiple characters during a major story.

Secret Invasion #3 was a pivotal issue in order to convince me that Bendis would be able to do on Secret Invasion what he failed to do with House of M, and that is deliver a tightly plotted big event that unfolds at a pleasant pace. Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be in store for us. Exactly how many minutes have elapsed between Secret Invasion #1 and the end of Secret Invasion #3? It feels like about maybe 15-30 minutes to me.

Secret Invasion #3 is a poorly plotted issue. The fast pace and furious action is designed to keep the reader idly entertained so they don’t realize that nothing really happens in this issue. For the most part, Secret Invasion #3 is nothing but set-up. And when you are dealing with a story that is only eight issues long you just can’t still be performing set-up work in the third issue. Poor plotting is frequently the Achilles’ heel to most of Bendis’ work on New Avengers. Since Bendis has eight issues to fill and a shallow story to work with it appears that plot progression is going to move at a snail’s pace for much of this event.

We see Jarvis appear on the SHIELD helicarrier to ask for Hill’s surrender. Okay, that was not particularly interesting and it was also pure set-up. We get a two page scene of Norman Osborn asking Captain Marvel to settle down, have a drink and talk things out. That also was not particularly interesting and this plotline involving Captain Marvel is pretty much at exactly the same point where it ended back in Secret Invasion #1. We also get an unnecessary and useless scene of Skrull Spider-Woman taking down Echo that takes up several pages. That really seemed like Bendis was just stalling and trying to burn some extra pages.

That leaves the meat of Secret Invasion #3 consisting of the scene between Skrull Spider-Woman and Iron Man and the big brawlfest in Time Square. And neither of those plotlines were particularly riveting reads.

I was less than impressed with Bendis’ use of the Young Avengers and the Initiative characters. Again, this points to Bendis’ inability to deftly handle a large cast of characters. The Young Avengers and the Initiative members come across rather painfully as nothing more than pure cannon fodder in Bendis’ eyes. Bendis doesn’t even bother to introduce many of these characters. Yeah, I know we get the numerous tiny little headshots with names under them on the re-cap page for this issue. But, that tells me little to nothing about the Young Avengers characters or the Initiative characters. I don’t read the Young Avengers or the Initiative and had no idea who many of these characters were.

Instead, I took Bendis’ cue and dismissed the Young Avengers and the Initiative as pure cannon fodder and, therefore, the death of Photon had zero impact on me at all. (I guess his name is Photon judging by the headshots on the re-cap page.) In fact, all of the characters could have been killed and it would have had little to no impact on me at all because Bendis views them as simple cannon fodder and it rubs off on the reader. The writer can easily influence the reader’s impression and view of certain characters. And when a writer dismisses and discounts certain characters then so will the reader.

The fight scene is general was just your standard issue brawl. This was pretty much like the beginning of a tag-team fight in the old WWF. The smaller less popular face goes first and gets the hell beat out of him. After taking a beating for an immeasurable amount of time he finally tags in the big popular face that comes into the ring like a house on fire and kicks ass on all the heels.

We know that the Young Avengers and the Initiative were going to get punked out in this fight. We saw it coming from a mile away. Now, Nick Fury gets to ride to the scene and kick ass. Fight scenes that are too predictable and methodical usually bore me.

And what is up with Bendis killing Vision once again? Talk about an incredibly unoriginal and worn out concept. Seriously, there should be a statute of limitations on how many times a writer can kill a specific character in a set period of time. And it comes across as completely uncreative. We have seen this before and it has the unintentional consequence of making the reader scoff and roll their eyes when it happens again in this issue.

I found the Skrull Spider-Woman and Iron Man scene to be completely lacking in suspense and excitement. This was also a rather predictable scene. We all know that Iron Man is not a Skrull. Marvel has made such a big deal that the events of Civil War were not the result of some plan by a bunch of villains. Marvel also has consistently said that of all the characters who could be Skrulls that Tony would not be one of them. And I believe Marvel. I don’t think that they would want to completely eviscerate Civil War by revealing that the Skrulls were behind the Registration Act and that Tony only supported the Act because he was a Skrull.

In fact at Wizard World Philly, Brevoort gave an interview concerning the sweet looking cover for Secret Invasion #6. Here is the relevant part of the interview:

"IGN Comics: Iron Man has also been content to let a new Captain America slide under his SHIELD radar. With Secret Invasion seeming to force these two together to face the Skrull threat, does this begin to undermine Stark's position of authority, that he needs heroes like Captain America and Thor despite the fact that they want nothing to with his Registration Act?

Brevoort: That's the least of Iron Man's worries at this point. His technology's been crashed, he himself is directly feeling the effects of the anti-Stark Tech virus, SHIELD is down, the world is in flames, the 50-State Initiative has been compromised - there'll be a point when it's maybe time to pay the piper for some of this stuff, but right now fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with Captain America, if that's what it takes to reclaim the planet, isn't much of a sacrifice. Tony's going to have to do a lot worse before this is done.

IGN Comics: Is this the real deal or is there a possibility we're looking at one to three Skrulls here?

Brevoort: No, real deal. I figure we should come clean on this question at least once during the event."

Also, Bendis appears to clue the reader that Tony is not a Skrull since he makes a point of focusing on Tony’s eyes and they never change to that Skrully green color. There are also other clues in the previous Secret Invasion tie-in issues that Tony isn’t one of the Skrulls.

I get the nagging feeling Secret Invasion is going to continue to be a rather thin and shallow read. And that is to be expected from a story that revolves a very basic concept that we have seen over and over again as recently as Battlestar Galactica or back in 1988 in the Rowdy Roddy Piper flick “They Live” to even farther back in the 1958 movie “I Married a Monster from Outer Space” and the 1956 movie “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

It appears that Secret Invasion is not going to be terribly clever or original. Nor do I expect that we are going to get a textured, deep and complex read at any point. Secret Invasion is beginning to come across as a story that is all flash and no substance. And at no point does Bendis engage the reader or ask them to do any work at all while reading this story. Secret Invasion #3 certainly is not an issue you need to read multiple times in order to gain a new insight or perspective into the story.

Overall: Secret Invasion #3 is an enjoyable mindless diversion with plenty of action and good enough artwork that will provide the reader with some nice cotton candy for the brain for about 10 to 15 minutes. Bendis delivers an accessible issue that is easy to read and should have mass appeal and be a strong seller. If you dig fluff entertainment along the lines of cheesy sci-fi television shows then you will certainly dig Secret Invasions #3.

Readers who like a fast and accessible read with tons of action should certainly give Secret Invasion #3 a try. You will not be disappointed. However, if you are a reader who prefers comic books that possess a more measured pace, strong plotting, quality character work, well crafted dialogue and a thick and dense story that engages your mind then I’d recommend that you pass on Secret Invasion #3.


IslandLiberal said...

Better than #2, less than #1; so far, this has been a comfortably average story.

As promised, the scope of events has broadened since last issue, which suffered greatly from just being about a bunch of guys running around the Savage Land.

So far, this has been a competent main story on which a lot of way-more-interesting tie-ins have been hung; Bendis' own one-shot issues of the two Avengers books, Incredible Herc's "Sacred Invasion", Captain Britain's "The Guns of Avalon", etc.

Regarding Vision, he's a 31st century battle suit, so blowing up his head wouldn't kill him, as far as I know.

Leinil Yu's art is really nice here (very attractive Queen Spider-Skrull).

I am looking forward to future issues of the series, if only for this (cover to #6):



Anonymous said...

It's still gonna out sell DC by a lot tho

Rokk Krinn said...

Islandliberal: You and I are pretty much in agreement. SI #3 was better than SI #2 and overall SI has been an average story. And for a big huge universe spanning big event I expect more than just average. I definitely agree that the SI tie-in issues have been far superior to Secret Invasion itself.

Even if Vision is not dead, I can’t say I’m thrilled with him being reduced to the same level as Red Tornado over in DC where he gets blown every single time there is a big battle. It just gets predictable and unoriginal.

At this point, all I’m really looking forward to is seeing Nick Fury kick a little ass in the next issue and then the fantastic cover to SI #6. Very cool indeed.

Rokk Krinn said...

Anonymous: There is absolutely no doubt that Secret Invasion will outsell Final Crisis. I don’t think anyone would be so stupid as to argue that point.

But, that really isn’t saying much. Marvel could publish a comic book with nothing but blank white pages with dog crap smeared on them and it would outsell Final Crisis.

The fact is that Marvel has a huge and intensely loyal following that will support Marvel’s titles no matter what. DC just has not been able to grow a fan base that can rival the Marvel Zombies. Marvel deserves kudos for knowing how to properly market their characters and their titles. DC has continually struggled in that area.

Anonymous said...

I agree that secret invasion is not going to be the most intellectual or insightful read ever. I never held such illusions. I actually thought that this issue was the best of the three. Sure, that scene with echo was completely pointless, but there are good things about this issue too.

I actually thought that the visions "death" was more than just that of cannon fodder, it actually resonated and had an impact on me. Especially in light of the YA presents stories that helped fill me in on his relationship with stature and his struggle with his own humanity. And as for Photon, i have read every issue of the initiative and i couldnt even tell you who he is. I am pretty sure he was created to be cannon fodder in one title or another.
When it comes to the art, i am in agreement with islandliberal in that i think that yus artwork is actually pretty darn good here, spider-woman is beautiful, the skrulls look badass, jarvis looks creepy as hell, visions death was really powerful. And although you cant argue that the likes of Mcniven and Jones are better than him, There were delays on civil war and there were/are delays on final crisis (in just its first issue) For this type of comic, i am pretty sure that people would rather it be an 8 out of 10 and on time every month than a 10 out of 10 and be a month late somewhere in the middle.

Also, if the tie-ins continue to be of the quality that they are (herc, Captain britain, the avenger books) Then, a pedestrian read on the main book i think can be more or less forgiven.

I think that the people who have a huge problem with Secret invasion are the same people who hated the new indiana jones movie. I thoroughly enjoyed indiana jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull. The people who didnt were the ones who went in expecting it to be the end all and be all of moviedom. They expected it to be better than raiders and if it wasnt, it was shit. I went in like i was seeing any other movie and i got my socks rocked off. When i read Secret invasion, i am not expecting to be reading an insightful character piece or anything like that, i am expecting a fun ride where action and intrigue are the main event.

I think that one main problem that the revolution is having is that they are painting SI and Final Crisis with the same brush, not just enjoying them for what they are. It is like comparing two great movies. If you were to compare 300 or Iron Man with say Children of Men or the Departed, could you say which one was better? I couldnt, they are completely different animals. All great movies but they just arent in the same category.

In the end, i am looking forward to SI 4 and most of the tie-ins for this story (not new warriors, that book freaking sucks, i dont think ill pick up frontline either.) By the way, how cool was it that nick fury showed up in old school attire, a new team of howling commandos and a big freakin gun.


Rokk Krinn said...

Hobosk8er: Great post! Very well thought out and I have to admit that you make many good points.

I can see where Vision’s death would have had more impact if I had been reading Young Avengers. I only read the first issue of Young Avengers and that was about it.

I agree that Yu’s artwork was good. I did give it 7 out of 10 Night Girls. That isn’t a bad score. I just want 9 or 10 out of 10 style artwork on big event stories. Though, you make a compelling argument that excellent artwork always seems to come at a high price. And that high price is shipping delays. It is too bad there aren’t many top-tier elite artists who can keep a consistent shipping schedule.

I also agree with you that if the tie-in issues continue to be the fantastic reads that we have been getting then I might be able to forgive a pedestrian read on the main book.

I didn’t see the new Indiana Jones movie, but I understand your point. I actually really enjoyed the Star Wars Episodes 1, 2 and 3. Yeah, they weren’t nearly as good as Episodes 4, 5 and 6, but I wasn’t expecting them to be better. I just wanted to see some Jedi kicking ass, get plenty of great special effects and be entertained for a couple of hours.

But, where I differ from you is that I just haven’t gotten that fun ride from Secret Invasion. As my reviews have shown, I love popcorn for the brain just as much as a deep and thought provoking read. Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas is fluff, yet I loved it. Invincible Iron Man is fluff, yet I find it a fun read. Guardians of the Galaxy #1 was just a fun action packed ride and I loved it, too.

However, Secret Invasion just hasn’t been that exciting. It has been slow, lumbering and uninteresting up to this point.

Of course, Bendis may kick this story into overdrive and get me to fall in love with Secret Invasion. And there is a good chance of that happening as we get to see Nick Fury in action in SI #4 and then we get the appearance of Thor after that and then Marvel’s big three in Iron Man, Thor and Captain America fighting side-by-side in SI #6. It may just be that I find the beginning part of SI dull and then love the second half of this story.

I totally agree with you that Nick Fury appearing in his old school attire was cool as hell. I loved it.

I’m with you that I’ll try and pick up as many of the tie-in issues as possible. And also like you I will avoid Frontline and New Warriors. I have never liked those two titles.

Anonymous said...

This event may not be the deepest and most sophisticated read but you're also reading it in a pretty shallow and straightforward manner, which doesn't have to be the case here.

For example: sure, we know that Tony is not a Skrull agent but his conversation with the Skrull queen for me serves a purpose. It doesn't have to be just a simple mind game. I got the idea that the queen really believes Ironman is a Skrull! Which may suggest some deeper plot with double agents being at work, infiltrating the Skrulls themselves (Fury's doing?).

I simply want to say that it's best to wait and see what is in store, before you dismiss the story as shallow and predictable, forming your opinion on the basis of what you believe is going on. That seems a bit unfair to the creators.

Also the fact that you don't read YA or Initiative and don't know the characters (BTW: it was Proton not Photon, and a different Vision was killed this time) is not a strong argument for their deaths being meaningless. It's an event, encompassing most of the Marvel universe and it's understandable that it works better with some background.

Rokk Krinn said...

Anonymous: Nice post. You make some good arguments. I don’t feel I’m reading this event in a shallow and straightforward manner. I am simply reading it as the writer has presented it in these first three issues.

I’m not too sure I buy your take on the Tony/Skrull queen scene. That seems a bit of a stretch. But, maybe Bendis will pull out some twist to that effect.

I agree that you have to wait until the entire story is complete and all eight issues are done in order to pass judgment on the event as a whole.

I have not done that yet. I have merely formed an opinion based on what I have read in the first three issues. I absolutely reserve the right to change my opinion based on what Bendis does with the remaining five issues of this story. Bendis just may blow me away with the next five issues.

And Secret Invasion hasn’t been bad, it just has been average. And the first three issues have not been as entertaining reads as the tie-in issues which have been fantastic.

About Proton (The print was so small in the re-cap page it was hard to read his name. Bendis didn’t give us his name during the actual story.) and Vision’s deaths. I didn’t compare the two. I had issues with each death for different reasons.

And I didn’t say they were meaningless. I said they had no impact. That is because Bendis treated the Initiative as pure cannon fodder and gave the reader no reason to care about their deaths.

My lack of enjoyment of their deaths was not based only on the fact that I don’t read YA or the Initiative. It isn’t my responsibility to know every character prior to a big event. It is incumbent upon the writer to fully understand that people reading his big event are not going to know everything about every single super group and character in the 616 universe.

Therefore, when characters are used in the big event it is necessary that the writer gives them proper introductions and to present them in a fashion that they are important characters. Bendis never mentions Proton by name. He just trots the Initiative in like cannon fodder. So when Proton gets killed it had zero impact on me.

My problem with the Vision’s death was that Bendis has already killed this character off just several years ago. I know this Vision and the prior one are not identical. But, Iron Lad did find the Vision’s remains and downloaded the Vision’s operating system into his armor. When Iron Lad left his armor, the Vision's operating system caused the armor to become a sentient being.

This “new” Vision” has all of the physical and emotional potential of the original but he none of the first Vision's experience. And this “new” Vision’s brain patterns are based on Iron Lad’s.

So, it seems erroneous to claim that this “new” Vision is an entirely different and unrelated character to the Vision that Bendis killed. They spring from the same operating system which is pretty much the “soul” for an android.

robert said...

The last anonymous post was mine.

Well, it seems we just react differently to the same story:) Which is okay.

I must admit the YA/Initiative slaughter made an impact with me. Maybe it's stupid and farfetched but the way the Skrulls mercilessly and methodically started executing the young heroes reminded me of all those WW2 movies.

Yep, what the Skrulls (especially in issue 3) bring to my mind are Nazi soldiers e.g. in Polanski's "The Pianist". (It's probably in some way connected with me being Polish i.e. having been fed with such images by the media since early childhood;). So the fact of those heroes whom I've got to know and like thanks to reading YA & Initiative being destroyed with such ease was in fact moving for me.

Secret Invasion has been so far my favourite Marvel event. Of course you may reverse my own argument and say that I shouldn't judge it until it's over. And you'd be right :) But so far for me it's been the only event which at this stage of developement hasn't produced a weak issue - both in the main series and in the tie ins. And I'm pretty excited about what's coming next.

BTW - a great blog. I just found it today and I think I'll be visitong more often.

Rokk Krinn said...

Robert: Glad you found your way to The Revolution! Thanks for the compliment and I hope you dig the future reviews, even if you don’t totally agree. ;) And definitely post comments. I love well crafted and intelligent posts regardless if you agree with me or not. It always gets me to tink from a different viewpoint.

Interesting analogy with the “Pianist.” I had not thought about it from that view. Of course, you being Polish and me being a Hispanic American probably means we bring a little different viewpoint to the same story. ;)

I can totally understand that if you have been following The Initiative and YA that the deaths would have had much more impact. It would have for me too.

I also can completely understand why many readers might be loving every minute of Secret Invasion. If nothing else, I’ll probably totally geek out when SI #6 comes out. I mean, you just have to hate Marvel comic books if the cover to SI #6 doesn’t get you totally excited!

Anonymous said...

haha, yeah, i saw the cover for #6 and i was blown away, total geek-out. I just want to see cap, iron man and thor tear into some skrulls and end this war.

Jim Doom said...

I've been thrilled with SI as a big event, in spite of a dip with issue #2. This event has made me go back and re-read issues that've just sat in boxes for years -- as someone who has grown steadily more apathetic about his comics reading, I'm super excited about that. I could not have had a more different reaction between the buildup to Secret Invasion and the buildup to Final Crisis. To dismiss buyers' reactions to the two crossovers as merely reflections of mindless publisher loyalists seems a bit defensive.

One thing I would like to say though is that I completely do not relate to the Leinil Yu assessment. I think Yu is quite simply the most impressive artist working today, and I have no dog in this fight other than just liking what I like. I couldn't have been more thrilled (relative to the thrills I get about comic books, that is) when I heard he was going to be the SI artist. I think he blows away McNiven, who is very good, and I would've put JG Jones on Yu's level before FC #1 came out, which I thought was terribly disappointing considering Jones' previous work. Glad to see Yu's getting some counter-props from the ragging he gets.

What is it about Yu that you don't like, Rokk? Are there actual failings in the renderings that are distracting for you, or is it just a style thing?

Rokk Krinn said...

Jim Doom: First, let me encourage everyone to check out the blog that Jim contributes to Doomkopf. It is excellent.

I have actually been impressed with Yu’s artwork on SI. I did give him a 7 out of 10. That is a good score. His art looks so much better with someone else inking his pencils. When Yu inks his own pencils his people look hideous.

My problem with Yu’s art (particularly when he inks it) is that his characters have “dead” faces, they all appear to be suffering from a horrid case of conjunctivitis and the art in general looks like something from Creepshow rather than a super hero comic book.

So, I guess my issue with Yu’s artwork is just one of style. I can certainly understand why people dig Yu’s style. I find art so much more subjective than writing. And I also find judging and critiquing artwork to be much harder. At least it is for me. Maybe if I had a background in graphic art then I’d be able to better pick apart artwork.

I didn’t mean to be totally dismissive of buyers’ reactions to the two big events as just a reflection of mindless publisher loyalty. I was just being overly dramatic in response to the point. I know that in print form it is hard to get across nuances like being overly dramatic. I’ll have to work on that. Of course, it is naïve to believe that mindless publisher loyalty doesn’t play some role in the popularity of many titles.

But, in the end I am truly a fan of Marvel as much as I am of DC. As a matter of fact, some could say I’m Marvel biased since I purchase more titles from Marvel than I do DC and I have been vastly less critical of Marvel’s handling of their characters as I have of DC.

Steven R. Stahl said...

The most striking thing about “Secret Invasion,” at this point, is the absence of drama. The sequence between Spider-Woman and Stark in SI #3, was silly, not dramatic. The reader knows (should know) that Stark isn’t a Skrull, a rational Stark would know he’s not a Skrull; S-W presumably knows that--dramatically, there’s no point to the sequence. If S-W had told Stark he was a giant chicken and he tried to lay an egg, would readers think that was dramatic?

Similarly, there was no dramatic point to the Mockingbird-Clint sequence in SI #2. It’s not believable that she didn’t die in AWC #100, her supposed miscarriage doesn’t fit either character (see Thomas’s “. . . And Make Death Proud to Take Us!” in AWC #100, and Clint is anything but a wannabe father); and, since it appears that most or all of the supposed returnees will be Skrulls, making Mockingbird human makes little sense. It’s indicative of Bendis’s attitude toward powered heroes that he has Thor and Phoenix among the returnees, but, rather than consider what their presence, if they were real, would mean to the battle against the Skrulls, he ignores them in favor of Cage, Spidey, et al.

As for the actual invasion: the supposed effects of the “alien virus” is bad computer science. Bendis seems to have no idea of how embedded processors function in equipment. The Skrulls aren’t doing anything more to Manhattan property than the Hulk on a rampage would; their opponents in SI #3 were insignificant; Fury might be loved by some, but his commandos are a bunch of bad character concepts. I have yet to see anybody else note how ridiculous it was to conclude that Ares’s son must be Phobos when the name and description originated thousands of years earlier. Phobos is Ares’s son, but a son of Ares isn’t necessarily Phobos. And the Vision--! Since he’s drawn to resemble Vision I, readers seem to think that he’s physically like the synthozoid, when he’s actually nothing more than a program running in an animated suit of armor. He could no more “die” than a minicomputer could. Few people seem to appreciate the considerable differences between Visions I and II.

Bendis’s sense of drama seems to be warped. What he thinks are puzzling situations aren’t puzzles at all. It’s not necessarily bad to know things that characters in the story don’t know, but it is bad to have the characters act like idiots. For those familiar with Bendis’s weaknesses, he’s in the process of displaying them all in “Secret Invasion.” For those who aren’t, here’s a list:


Messes up timelines within stories.
Can write dialogue only for certain characters and character types.
Uses words incorrectly.
Has poor understanding of physical, biological, medical, and computer sciences.
Cannot allocate page space well to individuals within a group.
Doesn’t identify significant (costumed) individuals in a story.
Has characters’ (Wanda, Druid Jr.) magical abilities based on DNA.
Doesn’t have heroes use their powers tactically.
Misrepresents characters’ (e.g., Dr. Strange) abilities.
Invents spells that are contrived, and suited only for specific situations (see Strange and Wong in NA ANNUAL #2; Doom in MA #10).
Favors pet characters (e.g., Daisy Johnson, the Jessicas, Cage, Fury, Wolverine) within stories and treats characters he‘s said to dislike (Tigra, Hank Pym) badly.
Uses crowd scenes and splash pages as filler.
Relies heavily on retcons to create “What if” situations.
Relies too much on Iron Man as a problem solver.
Responds to online criticism via characters’ dialogue.
Doesn’t write thought balloons well.


Writing Spider-Man’s banter.
Writing gunfights and fistfights drawn from crime fiction and action fiction.
Writing dialogue for government agents and law enforcement officials.

The weaknesses far outweigh the strengths.


Jim Doom said...


Thanks for the response and the props.

Jim Doom said...


Will you tell me more about how Skrull computer viruses work?

Jim Doom

Steven R. Stahl said...

Skrull computer viruses wouldn’t work differently from domestic computer viruses. A virus is software; if it’s not compatible with the target computer, it won’t do anything; the targeted computer wouldn’t even recognize it as a virus. If someone took an old 3 ½” Mac disk with a virus on it and stuck it into the disk drive of an old 386 PC what do you think--? The PC wouldn’t even recognize the disk as a disk! A person could have realized from Bendis’s virus blunder in MIGHTY AVENGERS #6 that he didn’t’ have a clue about how viruses worked, but in SECRET INVASION, he used the “alien” virus as a magic wand, while in the real world, embedded processors do their work without direct input from humans at all, and the code the processors use can’t be rewritten. Bendis’s characters exist in a cybernetic fantasy land run by six-year-olds.

Criticizing a Bendis story, when one takes all the errors in his “Avengers” material into account, has become somewhat like criticizing an amateur porn story. There’s so much more wrong with the story than there is right, that one wonders why he’s trying to write the story at all. A writer is supposed to be judged by what he puts on the paper, not by what he’s trying to do, as if he’s a kindergartener writing a poem about his mom.


robert said...

But is that really an alien virus? It was activated by Skrull-Jarvis who supposedly has been around for quite some time. Isn't it possible that the virus was developed on Earth, using human technology? And Jarvis had access to Avengers files, probably including details concerning Ironman's armour which would make the developement of a specialized virus (designed to take down Stark) much easier.

Steven R. Stahl said...

When one looks at the effects of the virus in SECRET INVASION #1, it’s evident what Bendis wanted the virus to do, in storytelling terms: inactivate some (Earth’s?!) defenses, and cripple Iron Man. Arguing about what a virus could do, in the most favorable of all possible situations, is separate from how much sense it makes, for example, for a virus to bring down the Helicarrier, which is a military vehicle. And since an aircraft carrier, a tank, or a Jeep couldn’t possibly be immobilized by a virus—a piece of machinery isn’t a computer, a piece of computerized equipment isn’t a computer, an embedded processor isn’t a PC—Bendis just doesn’t know how processors work in the real world.

And he drastically oversimplified things to fit his story. One might think that the virus left the world defenseless against the Skrulls, when they’re doing nothing more than damaging Manhattan real estate, and regardless of Extremis, the virus couldn’t have both biological and cybernetic effects on Stark.