BEFORE WE JUMP: Are fans excited about the SECRET INVASION? Can I watch them be excited? Through binoculars? Part of the pleasure I hoped to have from SECRET INVASION was voyeuristic.
My emotional investment in the "Marvel Universe" is greater than an average person, true, but my suspicion is that it's far, far, far behind that of the dedicated fans. The guys who love that company. The guys who have a favorite superhero they’ve been reading about for years. The guys who own costumes, and try to talk girls into attending Comic-Cum 2008. The Marvel Zombie. The True Believer. The Huddled Masses. The guys who get blamed for every single thing that's gone wrong with comics.
Part of what I hoped would happen in reading this series, in writing about it every month, involving myself with it, watching fans, watching fans react to it, trying to be as excited as them-- part of what I hoped would happen was that a window might open for me to that enthusiasm. How can you not envy their enthusiasm? Didn’t I use to be more enthusiastic? Not just about Marvel Comics? About life?
So I say to myself, maybe it’s just a question of sense memory. Maybe I can remember how to be that person again, just by moving like he moved! Sure, that sounds completely wrong and doomed for failure, but: maybe a comic like SECRET INVASION could be a road back to some hypothetically more hopeful, more open, more eager person I imagine that I used to be. If I could feel excitement, unembarrassed excitement about something as dumb as a Marvel superhero comic book again, maybe I could take that feeling into other parts of my life; I could become a person unafraid to be unapologetically enthusiastic, again; I could bend spoons with my mind, Uri-Gellar-style. Maybe I'd find out something about Love. Maybe I'd find out that sometimes letting go is the only way to know what you need to hold onto. I didn't see the movie DAN IN REAL LIFE, but I really wanted this to be like the trailer for that.
I wanted SECRET INVASION to tell me that I deserve to be loved-- I don't think there's anything weird about that.
But, obviously, it hasn’t worked. It isn't working. Where's my enthusiasm? What's there to be enthusiastic about? Is anyone out there fired up about the SECRET INVASION? As far as I know, angry fans haven't even demanded anyone be fired once over SECRET INVASION -- demanding someone be fired is how they show their affection. Like Lennie petting the mouse from Of Mice and Men.
Instead, this crossover which should be completely exciting is all over-shadowed on the Internet on Wednesday by ALL-STAR BATMAN printing errors, which... Are you as excited by the ALL-STAR BATMAN printing errors as I am? It's the closest comics get to nip-slips. "Oooh, I shouldn't be seeing this, but I am, because of an 'accident'." It's not a printing error; it's a nip-slip!
The same day the ALL STAR BATMAN issue came out, photos came out of the very untalented Ms. Jennifer Aniston wearing a black dress that to her surprise became transparent when exposed to flash bulbs. Coincidence? Or cross-promotion?!
It's weird to know, after all these years, if those black bars on Batman's dialogue had been removed, we'd have found out that Batma was saying "Criminals are a shit-guzzling and cowardly lot of ax-wounds, who like to fuck babies in the ass while they're shitting even though their herpes sores are flaring-up" all along--? I knew those black bars were awfully big, but I didn't realize Batman was going so hog-wild under there, all these years.
How can SECRET INVASION compete with a nip-slip? By advancing the storyline another 2 whole minutes? Shya'right. But... Awww, hell, show me your nipples, SECRET INVASION #6.
AND NOW WE HAVE JUMPED:
What a fucking failure!
Wow: they just fucked that one up completely.
This comic really lacks the eye of the tiger, man. This isn’t Rocky Balboa at the end of ROCKY 3; this is Rocky Balboa at the beginning of ROCKY 3. This book is an exhibition match with Thunderlips.
Finally! Finally, we get page after page attacking the true enemy: LIBERAL PROTESTERS.
Page after page, not of the first or second or even third issue, page after page of the SIXTH ISSUE-- it wasn’t spent escalating the stakes of the comic, it wasn't spent dealing with characters we care about, it wasn't spent paying off earlier scenes. The fucking SIXTH ISSUE was spent introducing an entirely new cast of straw-men liberal characters, and then attacking them for being naive about the nature of evil.
First, let me just say, on a political level, this comic can go fuck itself. You know-- one pretty easy way a person could read this comic if they were so inclined is that it equates protesting wars with supporting terrorism. I don't think the people who made the comic think that. I don't think they were thinking at all. I don't think they made a big priority of thinking.
Second, the liberal woman character is from INDEPENDENCE DAY. The lady character in the Los Angeles section of the movie who goes to celebrate the aliens arriving on top of a LA skyscraper and gets vaporized in the first 10 minutes? Same exact shit. Don’t be ripping off INDEPENDENCE DAY unless you’re willing to go full-on Goldblum. This comic wouldn’t know full-on Goldblum if the Goldblum poured water on its hand in order to explain Chaos theory.
Three: what does that liberal moment accomplish? Nothing in the issue, not a goddamn thing, whatsoever. But does it accomplish anything conceivably? Anything? Oh, it could be argued that it portrays SECRET INVASION from the street-level perspective. Uh, Except: fans already spend time and money on that. They spend money on SECRET INVASION FRONT LINE. They spend time on the SECRET INVASION web-comic. What does this scene accomplish??
There’s also a 2-page splash of New York in ruins. Because I didn’t know that New York was in trouble before now. They hadn’t told me that information in the last 5 issues of nonstop New-York-in-trouble scenes. That came as a COMPLETE SURPRISE.
Even if you want a splash page on New York—- what, they couldn’t do a 1 page splash? What does a 2 page splash accomplish that a 1 page splash wouldn't have? How is that not padding?
Or maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about: maybe people buy superhero comics to look at splash pages of New York City. Maybe that takes 2 pages so people get doubly excited. "Look how much New York I'm getting for my money!" I didn’t realize that’s why people buy comics.
The splash pages are to convey the horror of what’s gone on in New York while the characters on the page before spent FIVE ISSUES on a half-hour long scene in the Savage Land. Except they… don’t bother to show any characters reacting to the splash! That moment of horror that double-page splash is designed to create? Off-panel. Characters reacting? The drama of their reactions? Oh, fans don't want that! They just want New York drawings-- that other stuff is just icing.
What the fuck?
Anything I would guess fans would want to see isn’t here. Fans don’t want to see Hawkeye after the last page of the last issue? Fans don’t want to see more of Iron Man interacting with the Skrull Queen after their earlier confrontation? Fans don’t want to see more of Nick Fury doing … anything, after all the build-up for him? Anything at all?
Speaking of that scene-- remember that last page of Hawkeye in the last issue, where Hawkeye is all “We’re going to get those Skrulls?” Remember that? Don’t worry if you don’t because you get two more pages of that EXACT SAME SCENE, except Iron Man and Luke Cage saying the same thing instead. That’s a good scene because they’re different characters than Hawkeye. That’s not repetitive at all! That’s not repetitive at all! That’s not repetitive at all! That’s not repetitive at all! That’s not repetitive at all!
I can’t tell if the villains joined forces with the heroes because there are two characters in this comic with red hoods—uh, both of whom are men. Did all of the villains in the Marvel universe team up with all of the heroes in the Marvel universe (holy shit!) OFF PANEL so that the comic could spend time attacking liberals?
I want to give them the benefit of the doubt they didn’t fuck up that badly... I literally can not tell.
Remember that cliffhanger a couple issues back, where it’s like “Oh my god, y’all, Captain America and Thor are going to show up?” Guess what the payoff of that was?
Captain America says “What’s shakin', bacon” to Thor. Thor says “Give me some love, turtle dove” back. That’s it. That moment was a moment they promised fans would be awesome, and they failed and they failed spectacularly. Fans got one panel. It was a cliffhanger in an earlier issue-— what is a cliffhanger but a promise to fans that awesome shit will ensue? And what's the pay-off?
Holy shit, y'all: they're asking people to pay money for this! Think on that, for a moment. HOLY SHIT, Y'ALL!
Two page splashes of New York, three pages of snarky attacks on liberals, and four pages of wannabe-George-Perez spreads is supposed to make up for a story that’s not doing it’s job. Wow.
Do you think they can rally from this issue? You know, if I had to bet money, I'd bet against them. I don’t think they can rally. It's possible. It's conceivable. But... it'd be an upset. For me, personally, there’s nothing here.
I just look at it, and think, you know, they weren’t hungry. They didn’t have the fire in their bellies. They didn't want the belt badly enough.
I’d seen the basic facts about that issue of some SECRET INVASION tie-in or another, where the Skrulls were making all the Reed Richards Skrulls in order to figure out how he thinks. I’d hoped that it was a hint that my theory was right, and that the Reed Richards we’ve seen throughout the series was a Skrull all along. That the Skrull-ray he invented was a fake, and that the superheroes killed last issue were the real deal. I just think that would be really entertaining.
But with this issue, the way things are playing out, it seems like my theory is a big load of bunk.
But what do we have instead?
The Skrulls imitated Reed Richards but not long enough to find out how he’d stop them…? Here’s the Skrull’s stated motivation: “We hate Reed Richards because he stops us every time. But we’re not going to plan for him trying to stop us. We're not going to find out how he'd stop us this time and plan for that. Instead, we’re going to go play boggle with Catherine Keener.”
I don’t understand that at all. Does anyone even understand that?
Could someone tell me anything this comic did right?
I’ve learned enough over the years that a reaction this negative usually means it’s as much if not more me and what’s going on in my life than the comic itself. Which-- you know, it’s been a long day. Sure. It's been a long day. It's been a long month. Maybe I’m in a worse mood than I realized tonight.
But... What did this comic do right?
Go to the tundra.
Learn to make comics again by chopping wood. Carrying timber. Turn this around.
Go to the tundra!
Risin' up, back on the street Did my time, took my chances Went the distance, now I'm back on my feet Just a man and his will to survive
So many times, it happens too fast You change your passion for glory Don't lose your grip on the dreams of the past You must fight just to keep them alive
Chorus: It's the eye of the tiger, it's the cream of the fight Risin' up to the challenge of our rival And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night And he's watchin' us all in the eye of the tiger
Face to face, out in the heat Hangin' tough, stayin' hungry They stack the odds 'til we take to the street For we kill with the skill to survive
Risin' up, straight to the top Have the guts, got the glory Went the distance, now I'm not gonna stop Just a man and his will to survive
The eye of the tiger (repeats out)...