Posted by: Abhay Khosla on July 12, 2008
1: WHERIN RECENT EVENTS ARE NOTED.
When I was a kid, a big company crossover came out called Secret Wars. There was a lot of fighting and Colossus cheated on his pre-teen girlfriend. It was fun. But then it was followed by a crossover called Secret Wars 2, which wasn’t so good. Bummer. But you know: big world kept on turning.
Jump ahead 23 years: DC puts out the first issue of a crossover called Final Crisis. And it’s not a very entertaining comic book.
Heads will roll! Jobs will be lost! Say hello to the unemployment line! Say goodbye to your daughter’s virginity! Light the torches! Frankenstein must die! Blow pot-smoke at your parrot! Maybe it’ll get the munchies and want a cracker! Parrot will make us laugh!
What the fuck happened in those 23 years?
But: I think it’s great, personally; it’s exciting to write about crossovers right now. How great would it be if people really did start losing their jobs? How great that would be! Because: what other comics have any stakes to them besides crossovers? You could make an argument for Lost Girls since there were some obvious issues, and that was an expensive book to print. But… it’s hard for me to think of much else.
All-Star Batman celebrates its 3rd anniversary this month: 9 issues in 3 years. Who gives a shit? I don’t; they don’t; it doesn’t matter. No one’s losing their jobs over All-Star Batman, ala Bill Mechanic & Fight Club. But Crossovers! Crossovers: maybe there could be something at stake. Maybe there could be an element of real risk to them for the creators involved, for a change. How much fun would that be to read? To write about? What could be more fun to write about right now than multi-title crossovers? Answer: Victorian-era group sex parties. Proper lords and ladies, rutting desperately until they die of consumption– like a Jane Austen novel with meat-flutes. It’s just crazy enough to work.
2: WHEREIN THIS REVIEW IS DELAYED TWO DAYS WHILE THE AUTHOR SPENDS TIME ON GOOGLE IMAGES.
I really feel sad for these crossovers, having to top each other constantly. The 2nd issue of Final Crisis had to end 12 realities, blow up 9 supporting casts, and have 10 pages of screaming Japanese superheros. The 1st issue of Secret Invasion was a 1/2 page of talking and then the rest of it was just exploding interrupted by screaming and bedwetting, and urine-soaked beds exploding, and the fire ripping backwards up the urine trail and…
What are they going to do next time? This is all fun now, but 8 months from now: it’s go-time again. 6 months? 3 months? People say they want a longer refractory period between crossovers, but the incentives in place right now don’t seem to favor that, so…
How do they keep topping this? Eventually, we’re all just going to have to put our phone numbers into a database, and Marvel comic creators will randomly call us up at 3 am shrieking that our grandmothers have gotten stabbed to death. We’ll be too drowsy to understand what’s happened, and, you know, that’s when they get our credit card information. That’s when the identity theft happens. A year after that, they’re actually going to have to murder one of us, like in the Shirley Jackson stories.
So what I think I’m really waiting for is a crossover like The Anniversary Party.
Remember that movie? It was all digital video. Alan Cumming is married to Jennifer Jason Leigh, and the entire movie is about an anniversary party they throw where they invite their most pretentious douche-bag friends. That movie kind-of was a crossover. “Hey, look, Kevin Kline just made a reference to Wind-Up Bird Chronicles so we’ll think he’s smart because he reads Haruki Murakami. Hey, look: it’s the girl from Flashdance, only not flashdancing so who cares. Holy shit, did Phoebe Cates just blow the doors off this movie?!?”
Why can’t there just be a big Marvel crossover about an anniversary party? Why can’t there be a movie about flowers? So yeah: what I’m saying is—whatever they’re trying to do with this Secret Invasion, I really think where they went wrong?
Not enough Phoebe Cates.
3: WHEREIN ISSUE THREE, AND THE AUTHOR’S DISAGREEABLE REACTION THERETO, IS LAMENTED.
So: I wasn’t happy with my reaction to issue #3. It was a smidgen too piss-y, I thought. I’ve been thinking about why that was the case besides the fact the issue stunk. What did Secret Invasion #3 do to deserve that?
I think a lot of it has to do with creator summits.
I really love anything involving creator summits, hearing about those. Oh man– anytime I hear about creator summits, my ears perk up! Love it! Check out this old quote from Matt Fraction, on how he pitched his new Iron Man comic at one of the creator summits: “Y’know, the ideas kind of found me. It was on a list of stuff to talk about and” and I’m just going to stop there.
It was on a list…?
There was a list in the world with “Talk about Iron Man” on it. Someone wrote that down, maybe on letterhead, with a bullet-point next to it. That’s like me having a list on my fridge saying “To Do: Have Anal Sex with Severed Unicorn Horn.” Except I would never hurt a unicorn that way. That’s something I wouldn’t do. But those people actually talked about Iron Man. They crossed “Talk about Iron Man” off their list!
I think that’s genuinely wonderful. Shit, I love hearing about those summits, man. And for 22 pages a month, readers get invited to go to that summit, and hear what the creators think about these characters. What a treat that is! You get to go to the summit without smelling the farts. A bunch of comic creators in some conference room with stale coffee, maybe a spread from Café Bonjour or wherever, maybe some stinky dry erase board markers? I got $5 that says that room smells like a fart that’s shitting a burp. When you read these crossovers: everything on those lists, all the conversations that resulted from that, this is a 22-page highlight reel.
And after all that… it’s got Hulkamaniac and Bob’s Big Boy getting slapped by a skrull who imitates the powers of the Night Thrasher??? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Anyways: I think I was a little lopsided last time. Let’s hope I try better this time!
Hmm: I think the scariest thing about this issue is anyone would admit to liking both Indiana Jones 4 and the new Weezer album on the same page. Oh whoops, switched to talking about the new Powers. Nevermind. Right, right: Secret Invasion…
4: WHEREIN THE REVIEW IS FINALLY GODDAMN COMMENCED, ALREADY.
I didn’t enjoy the early parts of the issue because I didn’t think the Osama-Bin-Laden-video monologue that opens the issue was particularly necessary. The point that the monologue makes, that the fight will be difficult because it’ll be hard to know who to trust? I think that’s a point that’s been made many, many times before, and it’s a point that especially didn’t need re-stating. 4 issues in, why is this comic still re-explaining its very simple premise? Are readers this stupid?
Also: Nick Fury and his WildCATs? Underwhelming. They arrive on the scene and win the fight for… well, no apparent reason. Why did they succeed where the lame Initiative characters failed? No explanation. They’re only featured on 4 pages of the issue, which, given the emphasis placed on their arrival last issue, I found surprising and disappointing. The focus is moreso on Ms. Marvel, which– do people really care about that character? Really? Wow.
One of them’s named Stonewall. Chris Claremont (of course) had a character named Stonewall in the 1980’s, but that character was a large man with a moustache (of course) whose power was really quite brilliant: it was difficult to push him over. So he would go into various fights and, like, stand there, I guess…? That’s how I remember him anyways, sort of a moustachioed metaphor for the resilience of the gay rights movement.
(He was a sidekick of one of my favorite Marvel characters, the Crimson Commando. The last time I read about him was the 1980’s though; according to his Wikipedia entry, that’s not a character that’s been treated well by writers since then. But: which has?)
Anyways: the new Stonewall is just a bald guy with his shirt off who says “Hoofah”. So: as superheros named after a pivotal moment for the gay rights movement go, they went from the bear to the shirtless bald guy. I don’t really know what that means; is that social commentary? This comic features two men with red hoods in it. I’m square; is that, like, a thing? One of the characters is named Yo Yo—is that because she’s bi?
Wouldn’t it be great if the real secret invasion is the Marvel Universe being invaded by the lesbian and gay community? The Skrull invasion isn’t so secret; Skrulls are running around exploding things. But maybe at the end, when all the superheros are celebrating their victory, the Mighty Thor take off his shirt and starts dancing to Kool ‘n the Gang. Maybe that happens; why not? Why can’t there be a crossover about superheros coming out of the closet finally? Come on, Mighty Thor– you don’t have to pretend to be uptight Donald Blake anymore. Mike Myers isn’t pretending to be Austin Powers anymore, you know? I got $5 says Black Panther is an MSM.
Anyways: once that monologue wrapped up, personally, I started to enjoy the issue. I didn’t understand the two panel cameo by Yellowjacket; what did that mean? But the Iron Man scene worked. I thought that was a more effective scene than the scene in #3. Since so much of this series have been characters reacting to a chaotic situation forced upon them, I especially liked the fact that the Iron Man scene ended with a character I have some investment in finally taking action and announcing that he intended to DO something. I’m fine that hasn’t happened before (or it hasn’t happened as much to my liking before) because of the nature of the story they’re telling, but I think I needed some sense with this issue that the story was going to start being about the characters and who they are, rather than a thing that was happening onto them. That’s why I like my porn with a little bit of a story to it. Same reason.
I particularly enjoyed the three pages of Die Hard involving the Agent Brand character who… You know: people say crossovers should explain every single conceivable thing in case the book is being read by any new readers. I don’t always agree. I have no clue who Agent Brand is. Was I upset that the comic didn’t spend a half-hour explaining her to me? Not really. First off, I have access to Wikipedia, and superhero entries on wikipedia are more thorough than entries about U.S. Presidents, famines, several small wars. Second: I don’t need to know who she is to enjoy Die Hard. I’ve enjoyed Die Hard in a Nakatomi building, on an aircraft carrier, in Hong Kong, with a vengeance, without a vengeance; I never required annotations to enjoy Die Hard. People making that argument might have a stronger position with the scene concerning the Hood, but one would imagine a later issue will explain the significance of that for newer readers.
But: this ending doesn’t work at all. The big rousing “now, this fight turns around and it starts in New York” ending? Huh? They did the exact same thing last issue! Nick Fury showed up. And wasn’t the whole point of this issue that Nick Fury cleans up New York of Skrulls? But then at the end, the comic ends with… Skrulls in New York and characters showing up in a big rousing “now, this fight turns around and it starts in New York” moment. This comic just keeps repeating itself.
So far, the secret invasion of Earth has gone all the way from Brooklyn to Central Park West to Times Square. Oh no: if the superheros don’t win in the Bronx, Queens will be next! I hope an entire issue gets set in Kim’s Video; the Skrulls can menace the cash register, while Nick Fury opens up a second front in the Drama section.
What was wrong with attacking the Pentagon or the White House?
Did the Skrulls not watch Independence Day? Maybe that’s how this series ends! The Skrulls won’t even see The Goldblum coming!
Nick Fury says “Let’s Roll” at one point. I don’t know if that was intentionally intended as a Flight 93 reference, but I certainly hope not. If it was, I think that’s pretty fucking sad and pathetic, and everyone involved in this comic is an unmitigated douchebag, and I can explain why on a napkin, using a single sentence from the Let’s Roll entry on Wikipedia: “Country music duo The Bellamy Brothers recorded a song called ‘Let’s Roll, America’ on their 2002 album Redneck Girls Forever.” So, you know: let’s hope that was unintentional.
And, ahm…. crap. This review hasn’t gone so well either. I was hoping I’d rally after #3, but that hasn’t happened. Something’s just missing, some important ingredient of…
Needs more Cates!
DER DERRR DER-DER DERRRR DER. DEW DEW-DEW DEW.
You know: my second-favorite part about that scene is Judge Reinhold imagines he’s in a business suit. It’s one of those things you might only pick up on your 15th or 20th watching the scene that… my little tip for you of something else to watch for.
DER DERRR DER-DER DERRRR DER. DEW DEW-DEW DEW.
Oh now, I’m happy with this review, and only sad about my life.
DER DERRR DER-DER DERRRR DER. DEW DEW-DEW DEW.