Skrull Watch #4

So here it is and there it was. Another issue of Brian Michael Bendis’ masterpiece has come and gone, and we wait another month for Secret Invasion #5. So what did 4 bring?

Well, Secret Invasion #4 suffers from being an issue of a main event, thus meaning it has cover all the bases, causing to jump around a lot and not dwell in one place for too long. The result is a bunch of tiny steps forward, rather than a huge advance in the story. It still works better than when the whole book is dedicated to on single location a la Secret Invasion #2.

So we start off with a long winded narration of “the story so far”, frankly, I could have done without most of it, as I don’t think we really need to hammer the “Trust no-one” point any further. I think we all get it now, even the biggest dolt in the world is bound to get it after a bazillion times, it’s called conditioning. The narration did have some good bits, particularly about the one about how Human beings have often invaded a place, drove out the local population and then went on with their lives like nothing ever happened. Kind of gives what the Skrulls are doing perspective, seeing how we’ve been doing it for a couple millenia or so.

We get another reminder of just how utterly useless the Sentry is as we see, yet again, a shot of him running away from the battle, crying (I wish to god I was making this up, but I’m not).

Yep, those are tears.
Yep, those are tears.

After an issue of flying, Ms. Marvel arrives in New York, only to get shot in the face by Nick Fury (for being a Skrull, of course). I like the team dynamic of Fury’s Howling Commandos (nay, Secret Warriors), they work well together, if only I could figure out what it they were actually doing. They seemed to be collecting the bodies of the fallen, probably Fury wants to beef up his army of kids. Innuendos aside, what I desperately want to figure out is what the hell happened to Ms. Marvel. After previously mentioned face-shooting, she gets piled on by a bunch of Skrulls, among them everyone’s favorite Wife-Beater , Hank Pym, and then we slowly close in on her eye and this happens:

Wha?
Wha?

Now, I’m pretty sure the last black panel means Carol blacked out (she is being gang-banged by not so little green men, it’s understandable) but what the hell is up with the eye? Vigilant readers of this very blog will remember my own “Blue Eyes Theory” which has been thrown out the window with every character to have had blue eyes before now shown to have green ones (well, just Jarvis, but still). I’m not sure what happened with the mask, did Yu simply forget to put in a pupil in all the previous panels? Faithful readers, feel free to leave a comment below explaining what the hell I’m supposed to be getting from this.

Cut back to the Savage Land, where we find this handy little narration has been Spider-Woman pulling off her best Bond-Villain impersonation and laying out the Skrull’s plan to Tony (albeit a sick, confused , near-death Tony). The two get ambushed by the Black Widow, who, may I add, is totally bad-ass and, less badassly, shatters my dreams of an ape-Beast and Jean Grey coming back. Today. Natasha scares off Spider-Woman and smacks Tony around a bit to get his head back in the game (that and an Adrenaline needle through the f’ing throat!). Natasha also turns Logan (or at least a Logan, I still think he’s a Skrull) into a holier man (by shooting him, not giving him a papal blessing). Apparently the two have agreed on some safe-word which signifies your human-ness. A fool-proof plan, I’m sure (he’s a Skrull folks).

From the Jungle to Space and we see Agent Brand sneak onto a Skrull ship, shed a tear for the fallen, and see Reed Richards being tortured. She gets ambushed and we’re done. I’m left wanting more Brandy goodness (and you can read that whichever way you like, both are true).

On the downed S.H.I.E.L.D. Hellicarrier, Maria Hill is fucked as a (still) totally creepy Jarvis asks her for her surrender. Hill is reassured by the gaggle of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents standing around her with guns drawn. Turns out they’re all Skrulls. Fucked.

The Hood and his crew decide to join the battle for Earth, reasoning that no earth = no more Deathlok robots for them to use to rob banks. Which is probably true.

We wrap up the issue with the most awesomest last page that was spoiled three weeks ago by the cover for Secret Invasion #6, but still, seeing Thor and Cap (Bucky, but he also works) joining the fray sends a little geekgasm tremor through me. Avengers Assemble.

So, Secret Invasion 4 works, although I think if the issue had been over-sized, it would only benefit from the extra space. As it is it’s trying to cram a whole lot into less space, and some scenes could have benefited from a few more pages (I’m looking at you, Agent Brand). Things seem to be looking slightly better for the heroes, with Tony in better shape, Thor and Cap joining up. This of course means the Skrulls will now unleash their true power, pretty much guaranteeing the Heroes are totally doomed until something awesome happens to change it all (I think it starts with a K and ends with a  “ree”).

As an added bonus, I thought I’d take a look back at the 70’s spread from issue #1, and give it a slight update with recent revelations depicted. Enjoy:

Potential Skrulls - Everyone else (click to enlarge)
Potential Skrulls - Everyone else (click to enlarge).

Oh, and read Captain Britain. I loved it, and I’m not even British, I wonder what they feel about it.

Skrull Watch #3

After a mediocre second issue, Secret Invasion is back in full throttle this month with some absolutely spectacular moments and some great food for thought. Let’s get to it…

The Cover

“The Same Old Car Since I was Nineteen”

This was one of my favorite lines in the entire book, if not one of my favorite lines ever. The context is, for those who haven’t read the book, the S.H.I.E.L.D. Hellicarrier crashes yet again an Maria Hill claims that she’s had the same car since she was 19 and never had a problem with it, yet the Helicarrier crashes about once a week. Its a great line since it kind of break the fourth wall by mentioning the the “Helicarrier crashing” plot-device is used a hell-of-a-lot in comics, plus it sums up Hill’s character pretty well. You see, I never really got Hill up until this point. To me she was always “Not Fury”, as in she did things in a way Nick wouldn’t do, and she was very much anti-Fury. Then Tony took over, pretty much pushing her into the background. Watching Hill take command of the Helicarrier in the opening sequence was great, it is said that people’s true character comes out in times of crisis, and this is the first time I feel like I’ve seen Hill’s true face. It may have taken her a while, but she’s finally grown into her job, and I am now prepared to accept her as a true Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., not just a fill-in/replacement.

Jarviskrull looking creepy

Jarviskrull showing up on the Helicarrier is downright creepy, the way he stands there all stoic and calm. It’s a great image drawn by Leinil Yu and just captures the hopelessness of the situation the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents find themselves in. I do wonder how exactly Jarviskrull got to Helicarrier all the way from New York, does he have teleportation powers? By the way, may I point your attention the the jets being washed away by the waves – if those waves are strong enough to wash away jets, what’s gonna happen to the people? I am definitely looking forward for an epic battle on the Helicarrier. Hill vs. Jarviskrull, to the death.

“It’s Me. Echo. I’m Not a Skrull.”

Can I just take this opportunity to praise Lenil Yu some more? One of his greatest improvements is in the field of drawing women. Just look at this side-by-side comparison of Jessica Drew (or Empress Veranke, whatever you like better):

A Vast Improvement

On the left we’ve got Leinil Yu’s rendition of Jessica Drew from issue #36 of New Avengers (cover date Jan’ 2008), on the right – Jess in Secret Invasion #3 – that’s what I call improvement! Yu’s learned to give his women a more feminine look without sacrificing strength and poise. Just look at the shoulders, where the older Jess has got broad, man-like shoulders, the newer one is much sleeker and smoother. Well done, Yu, keep ’em coming!

Another thing to note in the Spider-Woman/Echo battle is this little panel:

Harmless?

What’s the big deal? It’s very possible Echo just hit a branch, or maybe broken an arm or something like that, right? Well, let me jog your memory a little, let’s glance into the distant past:

Innocence Lost

Oh, well that’s not good… That tiny little “snap”, some say, ended the Silver Age of comics and started what comic-scholars claim to be the Modern Age. There is another claim to be argued that Echo bit the bullet – his name is Clint Barton. It’s no secret that Bendis likes fucking with poor little Clint, he’s killed him twice already. Clint may be catching a break with the return of his thought-dead wife Mockingbird, however Clint and Maya have been getting quite friendly in recent issues of New Avengers. It is very possible Bendis wants to lay the hurt on Clint by bringing back his lady-love, but a the price of his new beau. Only time will tell, though I hope Echo’s not dead, I’m quite fond of the character.

“You Can Relax Now. You Did It.”

Pretty much the biggest question brought up in the issue – is Tony Stark a Skrull?

There are equally convincing claims for both sides. Tony did place himself as one of the most important people in the post-Civil War world. Plus he was responsible for the Civil War itself and, to an extent, World War Hulk (if I recall, Tony was the one who suggested sending the Hulk into space in the first place). In addition he was one of the Illuminati, one of (if not the) most powerful groups in the Marvel Universe. Brainwashing the Skrull Kar’lai to make him think and truly believe he is Tony Stark is the only way he could do all these things with true convictions. He, personally, is responsible for pretty much handing Earth to the Skrulls.

Which, of course, is great way of screwing with Tony’s head. Thus effectively taking out one of the most dangerous opponents the Skrulls have. Iron Man, as I said, is one of the most and powerful people on earth. They’ve already taken out the “Iron” with the StarkTech virus, and now, with this latest twist they’ve thrown at him, it’s possible they’ve taken out the “Man”. When you think about it, they’ve pulled a similar trick on the Sentry, saying he was responsible for the entire invasion, and now the Sentry is neutralized (or Voidified, we’ll see how that works out).

If you want my personal opinion, I think it’s a bluff. A little bit of psychological warfare, as now the Skrulls have Tony doubting every single move he makes, constantly second-guessing himself, which is a great plan, but I’m sure Tony will come through at the end (besides, have you seen the cover for issue #6?)

“Okay Commandos! Let’s Trun This Thing Around!”

The New Howling Commandos

Okay, besides the overly ridiculous gun, this is a pretty awesome splash page. Nick Fury has been M.I.A. for several years (with a few exceptions, but still), so to see him return is one hell of an occasion. With him are his new team of “caterpillars”, i.e. people know one has ever heard of (with the exception of Daisy Johnson). Looking at the team, you really have to admire Fury’s strategic thinking. He’s put together one hell of a team. He’s got Daisy for long distance, massive damage (she blew-up a Giant-Man-Skrull on the previous page). Phobos, son of Ares is the god of fear, and is probably there for psychological warfare and to bring chaos to the enemy ranks. The Griffin’s daughter is a speedster, and is great for focused hits and quick extractions of wounded/fallen members. The grandson of Phantom Rider and the unknown big guy in the back are probably his up-close combatants, good for punching and whipping. That leaves the son of Dr. Druid, who I know nothing about, but is probably there for a more supportive/psychological role, if he’s anything like his dad.

And that’s that. There were still some big things left hanging – mainly the fate of Agent Brand (who was last seen floating in a bubble with limited air) and, more importantly, the fate of Reed Richards. Only 3 and half weeks left till #4 comes out.

Skrull Watch #2

Another month has passed, and another installment of Secret Invasion has hit store shelves. I took it upon myself, once again, to delve into the depths of the issue (and the issues surrounding it) and see what interesting questions I can drudge up. Once again, this is not a review, it’s just an analysis of Secret Invasion #2 (with snippets of New Avengers #40 and Mighty Avengers #12-13 thrown in for good measure).

Clint Barton’s Really Bad Year

So the last couple of crossovers have been kinda bad for Clint Barton (aka Hawkeye aka Ronin). They killed him in Avengers: Disassembled. House of M brought him back, only to kill him once more. He then spent a while walking the Earth, trying to make sense of the world. And now he sees his (dead) wife stumble out of a Skrull ship, supposedly human.

In the issue we get to see the result of this much psychological pain – he just snaps. In one of the coolest Hawkeye (yes, Hawkeye) moments, Clint just picks up a bow and starts shooting up everyone. This of course leads to the reunion between Clint and Mockingbird, and a moment that will probably go down in history as “The October 12th Test”. Now this reunion could be interpreted in either a very touching moment or a very sinister moment. It all depends on which of these is a Skrull (if any). The way I see it, there are three possibilities. Either we’re watching the real deal, both Clint and Mockingbird are genuine humans. The other possibility is that Mockingbird’s a Skrull, and the green-chinned bastards managed to somehow (it’s not that hard, really) find out what happened on October 12th. Lastly, they’re both Skrulls, and the whole thing was a big show for Luke and Wolverine. Which is damned evil.

The Many Allegiances of Jessica Drew

So Spider-Woman’s a Skrull. Not only that – she’s the Skrull Queen! This little revelation pretty much makes Jessica Drew the most important character in the story. Once someone on the human side realizes who she really is, she effectively becomes the first target. That’s all well and good, but you also have to look at who Jessica is – she’s simultaneously an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D, Hydra, a New Avenger and a member of the Mighty Avengers. She’s one of the most well-connected characters in the Marvel U. That’s a pretty good place for a Skrull to be. The question that needs to be asked is when was Spider-Woman replaced?

My guess is that in New Avengers #1 it’s already a Skrull. But it’s an interesting point to think about, how all these allegiances will play into Secret Invasion.

The most important scene, however, is in Mighty Avengers #12 – where Jess is shown to be talking to Nick Fury. It’s made clear that Jess is one of the only people in steady contact with Nick, so is this Jess the real deal or a Skrull? If she is a Skrull, that means that any and all info Fury’s getting is bogus. Boy, will he be pissed.

Keeping on Those Baby Blues

In my last Skrull Watch I posited the “Blue Eyes Theory”, in that any character that is shown to possess clear blue eyes is a potential Skrull (due to the fact that the three Skrull reveals possessed those eyes. Here are the characters possessing blue eyes in #2 –

One thing of note is that shot of Young Avengers – note how none of them have blue eyes except Hulking, who IS a Skrull?

That’s it for this month, more in 4 weeks!