So, with the eighth and final issue of SECRET INVASION now in hand, we’ve come finally to my favorite part. Not the ending of SECRET INVASION. The endings of crossovers are always lousy. The end of CIVIL WAR? Terrible ending. WORLD WAR HULK— I have no memory whatsoever of how that ended, and that’s a series I liked. INFINITE CRISIS— I still don't understand the end of that series. RETURN OF THE JEDI— the Jedi wake up next to Bob Newhart from the THE BOB NEWHART SHOW...?
No, my favorite part is spoiler-dodgin'.
Marvel asks readers for, what, $32 (if not far more) for a crossover, by repeatedly promising them an ending that changes things… forever. But if you give them your money, they do everything in their power to spoil the ending of the story for you. So then the fun part is: will you get any shred of your money’s worth or will they manage to spoil every single possible thing for you before that happens?
Certain parts, there’s no avoiding. If you’re a comic fan, there was really no avoiding the fact this series ends with the “Dark Reign” starting. Which means— look: it more likely than not means the bad guys win in some fashion or another at the end of SECRET INVASION #8. But we don’t know the precise mechanism by which they win— well, except that it very heavily involves Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin. They spoiled that in THUNDERBOLTS back in November. But— okay— but the precise mechanism by which Norman Osborn is the conduit for evil winning? That’s kind-of sort-of still a mystery, right?
See, that’s the fun part. Marvel tries to spoil that, too! It’s only a mystery unless you read the New York Times. Because they put an article in the New York Times the day the issue was released, to make sure the ending got spoiled. The New York Times doesn’t cover just anything— Marvel had publicity personnel work very hard to have that story placed. Worked hard to have it placed on Wednesday, and not on a Thursday when none of us would be spoiled. After all: by Thursday, the nonsensical events transpiring in an imaginary universe to fake people would no longer be “breaking news.”
So really: the most suspenseful— strike that, the only suspenseful part of SECRET INVASION for me was this last week: Would all of #8 get spoiled or just most of it? Fun!
Let’s give Marvel some credit, though: Marvel’s only able to spoil the end of SECRET INVASION because they can understand it. DC would have loved to spoil the end of BATMAN RIP, but they’d have to understand what happened at the end. And as far as I can tell, nobody does. The issue after Batman is killed by Satan / his Father / some actor (?) / a helicopter that he punched too hard (!)(!)(!), he’s trapped in a machine by alien gods from the god dimension and forced to relive For the Man Who Has Everything outtakes.
What? What in the fuck? How do you conceivably spoil that?? DC has no idea! They don’t understand it anymore than anyone else.
Let’s just get this over with. I wish I could tell you I had anything big and elaborate planned for this final installment, but: I really just want this to be over. I just want this to be over. It’s my most sincere desire for this to be over. This? Over? Yes, please.
The status quo prior to SECRET INVASION: a force for evil had infiltrated the very heart of the Marvel universe, and were threatening to bring down the Marvel heroes from the inside. Who can the Marvel heroes trust?
The status quo after SECRET INVASION: oh my god, guys! A force for evil has infiltrated the very heart of the Marvel universe! It’s threatening to bring down the Marvel heroes from the inside! Who can the Marvel heroes trust?
Just tell me who to hand my money to. $4 an issue in a deflationary economy? Sold! No Whammies No Whammies No Whammies!
The best line in this entire damn series belongs to Joe Quesada in his afterword: “The surprises in store lie in every corner of the Marvel Universe during DARK REIGN. Who are the DARK AVENGERS? … [H]ow far down can these villains actually get when given greater power? … How will Hank Pym deal with the loss of his beloved ex-wife?”
SECRET INVASION literally did not get more entertaining than that sentence during its entire run.
The first half of this comic is just…
The issue starts with the Wasp increasing in size, thereby causing black dots to erupt onto the other characters. The black dots cause pain. There’s a narrator during this scene, but even the narrator can’t come up with any explanation whatsoever as to what’s going on in this scene. Then, we’re told “There was Only One Way to Stop It.” What was that one way? Seriously: I don’t know. What was that one way? Can anyone even understand what’s happening in this scene? I can’t. Did Thor kill her to save everyone else? That would have been a cool thing to happen— is that what happened? I can’t even make out what was happening.
Blah blah blah: so, the Wasp is dead. Which— at least something has finally happened in this series!! I'll take what I can get.
Then, Spider-Skrull-Woman-Queen wakes up from having been killed in the last issue, so that the greatest heroes in the Marvel universe can unite to kill her again. However, while last issue she was shot in the head by an arrow, this issue she’s shot in the head with a ray gun. The guy who shoots her with a ray gun is a hero to the entire world and gets a Cabinet-level position with the government, while the guy who shot her in the head with the arrow is promptly ignored by the public.
Kids thus learn a valuable lesson about heroism: nobody think it’s heroic to shoot a woman in the head with a bow & arrow; they only think it’s heroic to shoot a woman in the head with a ray gun. (This is all really incredibly bizarre material politically, and the only thing that makes me comfortable with this series is my deep and abiding belief that comic creators, publishers, and fans are so divorced from the real world around them that they literally have no clue that what they’re creating, publishing and/or reading is completely and totally batshit fucking crazy. I don’t even want to talk about it. No joke, it makes me genuinely uncomfortable.)
The rest of the issue? Nothing much happens. Last issue’s cliffhanger involving the Jarvis Skrull threatening a baby, like every cliffhanger in the series, leads absolutely nowhere. Didn't the Jarvis Skrull get exploded by Maria Hill in issue #5? Don't sweat the details.
Various characters come back from the dead, including my favorite character of the series— the LED lights from issue #1. Finally, Barack Obama (?) puts the Green Goblin in charge of the Government, and Dark Reign starts on the last double-page spread. "Dark Reign" is just a plain old Masters-of-Evil story. They JLA-ized the Masters of Evil. It's an idea, I guess— I'm not continuity-savvy enough to tell you whether it's been done to death before or not.
There are six Masters of Evil. I was able to identify four of them: Emma Frost, Doctor Doom, Norman Osborn, and Loki. There’s also Namor and the Hood who I didn’t recognize because they’re colored red for… some reason…?
So, the big game-changer, the big change in status quo for the Marvel Universe: before SECRET INVASION, there were eight incarnations of the Masters of Evil in the Marvel Universe, and now after SECRET INVASION, there are now nine incarnations.
Truly, the Marvel Universe will never be the same.
Kids today are lucky. In my day, we didn’t have nine incarnations of Masters of Evil. We could only fantasize what a ninth incarnation would look like, with only the prior eight incarnations and the North star to guide us. Kids today don’t know how good they have it.
Nice work on the series from those two— especially, on the double page spreads. Personally, I thought they nailed a whole heck a lot of those. We can say that they handled some moments better than others— e.g. I personally was never too taken by their outer space stuff. But like I tried to mention last time: they delivered a quality product on a timely basis. It’d be a damn foolish thing not to have some appreciation for that, in this day and age. Marvel fans should be hoisting these guys on their shoulders anytime they leave their house.
I gave it a sort of re-read. Skimming through the entire series beginning to end, issue 1 to issue 8. It only took about 5 minutes to skim through it.
Conclusions: It’ll be okay enough for trade readers, I suppose, who will pay less and not have to read the series over an 8 month period. Parts of the story won’t work at the trade level, either, though. Anything involving Captain Marvel and Marvel Boy should have been left to spin-offs as those parts went especially nowhere. The trade will work fine as a shallow character-free action comic.
I just don’t know how to judge that or what to make of it. Does it mean anything to you that the trade will be okay? It doesn’t endear me to the work any more that it succeeds at that level, but it’s at least worth acknowledging, I suppose.
I think the key issue has been the timing. For an 8-9 month event, each issue has been shallow and slow. If they could have found a way to squeeze all of this into 4 months, maybe this would have worked out pretty well despite all of its narrative problems. It’d have still been flawed, but the flaws would have come fast enough and often enough that the reader might have stopped caring. 8 months is just too damn long to live with this many flaws and this little substance, though. I guess sales have been good, and fans are happy, but to me... to me, 8 months is a very long time. I don't see how you can expect anyone to sustain their enthusiasm for 8 months. But I have commitment issues, maybe, so...
So: what are the “story possibilities” that the new Masters of Evil generate exactly?
Maybe I’m not understanding but isn’t it really just a question of when and how the Masters of Evil’s existence gets revealed? Once somebody goes “Hey, the Masters of Evil are in charge of everything,” isn’t the story over? Which- how long does it take for that to happen if two of the Masters of Evil are good guys? How evil can they get without Namor or Emma Frost stamping down on the brakes?
Or- I'm confused how much damage Norman Osborn is supposed to be able to do just because he runs ... whatever it is that he runs. Is Captain America going to start eating babies because Norman Osborn says so? Would Captain America eat a baby from the feet towards the head, or do you think he'd start from the baby head and eat towards the feet? If Norman Osborn made us all eat babies, I think most of us would eat from the feet towards the head because we'd want to put off realizing that we were eating a baby until the last possible moment. I know I certainly wouldn't start at the head, like some kind of fucking pervert. But Captain America? He fought in the War and probably ate all sorts of crazy stuff while he was wandering around World War 2 era Europe during the winter. I'm thinking Captain America would want to just get it over with because all the time spent playing with his food? Hey, brother, that's time that he could spend fighting for his country. I think he would start at the head and goes towards the feet, but in his case, not because he's some kind of weirdo, but because he's a fucking hero. (Bucky or Steve Rogers Cap; I don't think there would be any difference between the two when it comes to baby-eating).
It seems like they’re angling towards putting together an espionage/conspiracy thriller for the Marvel universe, some kind of "chess match"-y type thing. That could work, I suppose, but… I'm having a hard time seeing how they're not going to tread dangerously close to Roger Ebert's Idiot Plot territory every step of the way, based upon the characters they've chosen.
Am I misreading the situation? Is there any series that people are looking forward to coming out of this? Are people excited?
I am so happy this series is done. I am so happy this series is done. But look: it’s not completely the series’ fault. You’re not supposed to read series like how I read this one, with the essays or the hooplah or the thinking about it or the hoping it’d be any good or the expecting anything to happen—anything at all! I’m like the boyfriend who’s “suffocating.” Me and the Marvel Universe just need some space. A lot of space. So much space. The more space, the better.
What happens next for me? I’m going to clean up my apartment, wash my hair, and then get started writing reviews of the new issue of HUSTLER MAGAZINE. I’ve decided that from now on, I’m going to only write reviews of hard-core pornography magazines for this blog.
HOLY SHIT: LAST-MINUTE TWIST ENDING! Comics used to be a passion before SECRET INVASION, but as you can see that didn’t really work out. But luckily, I have a passion for vaginas.
Here’s a taste of what you can look forward to in 2009:
HUSTLER’S ASIAN FEVER #1: while the cover of ASIAN FEVER (NSFW) promises a “Penetrating Premiere Issue”, it turns out this is a gross overstatement. In terms of insight into either the topic of Asians or the topic of Fevers, very little is offered that would qualify as "penetrating." Why, I hate to say it but this magazine is barely even literate! Instead, Mr. Flynt seems to have intended “penetrating” to be a mere double entendre for sexual penetration involving an erect “penis.” Come on, Mr. Flynt: aren’t we a little old for that sort of low-brow humor? I wish ASIAN FEVER would expect more of its readers. On the other hand, boobies. Very good. THE SAVAGE CRITIC WEBSITE WILL NEVER, EVER, NEVER NEVER BE THE SAME, NEVER. Except it still won’t update very often. We’re sticking with that.