Sunday, March 23, 2008

Do we get to win this time?

I'm not reading Secret Invasion (wasn't even planning on reading it prior to my complete boycott of Marvel comics post OMD) so I probably shouldn't even bother commenting on it. But I will [grin]. Not really the event itself, but some of the ramifications.
If you really think about the situation going into the series, you have to ask yourself a question. What is the result of the replacement in regards to the individual who has been replaced? In order for a Skrull to successfully replace an individual (long-term), the individual has to be removed from the playing board. It wouldn't do much good to have the original still active on the board while the replacement is trying to influence things because the duplication would be uncovered in somewhat short order. So clearly, when a replacement is enacted, the Skrulls are taking the original out of circulation. I would have to imagine there is a good deal of surveillance and investigation made prior to a replacement so the Skrull can get the large details and enough of the small details correct in order to successfully pass as the individual in the short-term. Once the Skrulls have a replaced individual in their custody, I would also imagine they have methods for extracting the rest of the information they need in order to make the replacement successful in the long-term (in other words, the rest of the small details the Skrull agent needs to continue fooling the people who are most familiar with the individual who has been replaced).
With that established, we go back to the question at hand. What happens to the individual who has been replaced once the Skrull is firmly entrenched and they have all the information they need? Does the individual have any more use to the Skrulls? My contention is no. Once the Skrulls have successful replaced John Smith or Jane Doe and they've got all the details necessary to make that replacement a 'permanent' substitution, the original no longer serves any purpose. As such, I would expect the original to be disposed of. In other words, killed.
Now, one might be able to put forth the argument that exceptional individuals (read - super-powered individuals) may not be so readily disposed. The Skrulls might want to take some time to study them to see what scientific knowledge could be gained from such an analysis. However, being intelligent beings I would imagine they've read the Evil Overlord List or another document of that nature. Thus, they would be aware of the dangers of keeping their enemies (especially of the super-powered variety) alive. So first, they wouldn't keep them together. They would most certainly house them at separate locations (and since we know these replacement have been taking place over the course of months --- and perhaps years, we know they've had plenty of time to get these individuals not only to different outposts, but outposts on different planets and perhaps in different galaxies). Second, as the Skrulls are capable of interstellar-travel, we know they have advanced technology at their disposal (we've seen it over the years in Skrulls appearances in various comics), so they could certainly do very detailed (down to the cellular level) scans of their subjects and take plenty of DNA samples for testing and whatnot. Which means they wouldn't need to keep the actual subjects for very long. I'm sure there might be some they would decide to keep alive for more in-depth analysis, but I would imagine those would be of the less dangerous variety (in other words, they wouldn't keep someone of the power level of a Magneto, just as an example, alive and thereby still a threat to disrupt their plans if he did somehow manage to escape).
So, getting to the main of my point. Were I reading an event series such as Secret Invasion, in order for it to have any real impact and be considered a well conceived and executed story, I would expect that upon emergence from said event, there would be a lot of permanently dead (well, as permanently dead as one can be in the Marvel Universe, which is to say that they're merely taking an extended nap and will eventually be 'resurrected') characters (both of the human and super-powered variety). In terms of the humans, I would expect that, at minimum, eight-five percent of those replaced would have been disposed of. That percentage would be smaller for the super-powered individuals, but it should most definitely be greater than fifty percent (and I'd say that it should actually be much closer to sixty-five percent).
As an uninterested outside observer (at this point Marvel can do whatever stupid things they want to the entirety of their catalog because they've completely lost me as a reader), the measure of success for this event (strictly as a story in and of itself --- sales figures don't apply) should be measured on whether they have the brass to go through with what would seem to be the natural and logical direction of this plot. If they come out of this event with most of the replaced super-powered individuals still being alive and kicking, those who supported, bought, and read the tale in question should feel cheated and insulted. Of course, insulted is something fans of Marvel comics should be familiar with, especially those who were told to swallow the results of OMD (especially in regards to the 'effects' on the TWENTY years of stories they bought and read prior to Quesada's wet-dream event).

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Neozoic No. 1 (Red 5 Comics) - $2.95
Paul Ens - Writer; J. Korim - Artist

Synopsis: Eighty million years into the Earth’s Cretaceous period, a comet destined to strike the northern continent was redirected by less than a single degree. The huge rock instead collided with the moon, saving the oblivious dinosaur kingdom from their extinction and dooming the emerging mammals to a harsh co-existence with the huge reptiles. Some sixty-five million years later, humans live alongside the dinosaurs, trying to stay one step ahead of the larger carnivores while carving out their own civilization.
It didn't take many pages into the first issue of this series before I was quickly able to determine that I very much like what I see. It is your typical debut issue where most of the intergral characters are introduced to the reader and the key plot elements for the first story arc are put in place. What I am expecially pleased with is the art by J. Korim. It has a Disney feel to it, and in fact, the composition of the panels are such that you can almost feel like you’re watching an animated feature. I don’t know if Korim has actually done any work with Disney or if his style is just heavily influenced by their productions, but regardless, it is very appealing. The only negative I’ve found with Korim’s work here is that his female facial features tend to look the same (making it a little difficult to recognize who is who in certain instances). That is a very minor qualm however. I’m quite thrilled with this title and am very much looking forward to future issues.
4 1/2 zombies (out of 5)

The Vinyl Underground

The Vinyl Underground No. 1 (DC/Vertigo) - $2.99
Si Spencer - Writer; Simon Gane - Pencils; Cameron Stewart - Inks
Synopsis: In this fast-paced, ultra-cool ongoing crime-noir series, an unlikely quartet of occult detectives secretly solve crimes — from DJ crack bars in Camden to the elegant, high-society ballrooms that make up modern London. The Vinyl Underground is led by Morrison Shepherd, a D-list celebrity darling, soul DJ, and son of an ex-footballer. Fresh out of prison and off a nasty coke habit, Morrison is joined by a fellow ex-con named Perv, whose seizures give him clues to crimes long before the cops, and Leah, a gorgeous morgue assistant who leads a double life online and represents the brawn of the team.
I picked up this comic on a whim. I recall reading the solicitation for the first issue and not being impressed enough by the ‘pitch’ to add it to my pull list at my local comic shop. Subsequent solicitations enticed me a bit more however, and when I saw the first issue on the shelf several weeks back, I decided to give it a quick flip through and like enough of what I saw to make the purchase. Upon reading it a few days later, I was moved to add the series to my pull list. The series has a sort of quirky feel to it, in some small respects similar to another favorite title of mine - Casanova. The main characters are quite an odd lot, but they are also a very intriguing bunch. Morrison has a quiet kind of cool about him. Spencer only barely scratches the surface here with Perv, but he seems like a character with a good deal of promise. Leah is just an interesting case altogether - spoiled bitch forensic scientist porn icon (that about covers all the bases). We’ve really only seen the tip of the iceburg with these characters (but what more do you expect from a single issue), but it has certainly whetted my appetite such that I want to get to know more about them.

4 zombies (out of 5)

Wedding in the DCU

Justice League of America Wedding Special (DC) - $3.99
Dwayne McDuffie - Writer; Mike McKone - Pencils; Andy Lanning - Inks
The ‘wedding’ referred to in Wedding Special is that of Dinah Lance and Oliver Queen (Black Canary and Green Arrow for the DC-impaired among you). However, to call this particular issue a ‘wedding special’ is really a joke. Frankly, it has almost nothing to do with the wedding in question. It is essentially a typical Justice League of America story that includes a few pages covering Oliver’s bachelor party and Dinah’s bachelorette party. The rest of the issue focuses on Lex Luthor and his new Legion of Doom. So let’s count the ‘wedding’ pages, shall we? I count seven pages that occur at the bachelor party (though one of those pages is a discussion between Hal Jordan and John Stewart regarding sharing League duties and also a division of GL work - it really has nothing at all to do with the wedding and/or the bachelor party aside from the fact that their conversation occurs at Oliver’s party) and one page for Dinah’s bachelorette party. So that gives a total of seven, possibly eight, pages altogether. This out of a 38 page story. So essentially somewhere around 18 to 21 percent of the story can be considered to be related to the wedding. Everything else revolves around Luthor and his new organization. And the story itself isn’t self-contained. On the last page we find – To be continued in Justice League of America no. 13. Yes, that’s right. It doesn’t continue in the Green Arrow and Black Canary Wedding Special. It continues directly into a regular issue of Justice League of America. Why? Because it isn’t actually a Wedding Special as advertised. It is just another issue of Justice League of America falsely represented as something else. To say I feel ripped off is an understatement. This comic should have been the 13th issue of Justice League of America and not a so-called ‘special’.
2 zombies (out of 5)

Green Arrow and Black Canary Wedding Special (DC) - $3.99
Judd Winick - Writer; Amanda Conner - Artist
On the heels of the not-so-special Justice League of America Wedding Special comes the Green Arrow and Black Canary Wedding Special. And surprise, it is actually about the wedding. Who would have thought? Whereas we had a number of pages allotted for Oliver’s bachelor party in the Justice League of America Wedding Special (7 total) and only a single page for Dinah’s bachelorette party, this particular issue gives us two and 1/3 (new) pages inside Dinah’s party and one and 2/3 (rehash) pages leading into Oliver’s party. So essentially, if you read the Justice League of America Wedding Special, you already saw the sequence involving Oliver and the rest of the guys (just from a slightly different POV). Otherwise, we have in this issue a pre-wedding fight between Oliver and Dinah where –
a) Oliver doesn’t like being upstaged by Dinah in a battle
b) Oliver essentially calls Dinah a slut
c) Dinah slaps Oliver
d) They start to rip each others clothes off in a moment of heated passion
e) Dinah decides they shouldn’t have sex until after the marriage (Ollie ends up taking a cold shower)
Then there is a big grid page displaying various reactions of friends and teammates when they receive their wedding invitation. Apparently Judd Winick didn’t read the recent Birds of Prey no. 109 where Barbara was attempting to talk Dinah out of marrying Oliver (and neither did the editor) since Barbara’s reaction in these pages is “Oh, good for you baby …” -- EXCEPT -- Mike Carlin is also the editor of Birds of Prey, so he should have KNOWN what Barbara’s reaction to the wedding actually was.
As we all know, you can’t have a comic book wedding without party crashers. Deathstroke and a small army of super villains pop in (courtesy of the Warp) after an ‘emergency’ (in the form of a nuclear missile launch) conveniently pulls Superman, Wonder Woman, and the four Green Lanterns in attendance out of the locale. The heroes manage to hold off the villains until the force field that is keeping Superman, Wonder Woman, and the four Green Lanterns from re-entering is disabled, at which point Deathstroke makes a hasty exit while the rest of the villains end up captured. Then there is the obligatory wedding night, complete with Dinah in lingerie, where blood and tears are shed (and while Dinah wore white at her wedding, that last statement doesn’t mean what you might think it means – freaks). [I’ll point out, before someone takes me to task, that the wearing of white has nothing to do with a bride’s virginal state – the color white has been a symbol of celebration since ancient Roman times.]
Overall, I thought the story was a bit of a train wreck (though admittedly I am biased since I think the marriage is a mistake). I have to deduct a couple of zombies for the opening argument sequence and Barbara’s reaction to the wedding invitation. However, I have to credit it a couple of zombies for Amanda Conner’s artwork. I wish she did more regular comic work.

3 zombies (out of 5)

Comic Reviews

Typically I post my comic 'reviews' on the MZS APA web-site, but I will cross-post some of them here on occassion.