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Why can’t these things be more Secret?

Graeme McMillan

The strangest thing about SECRET INVASION #1 actually had very little to do with the book itself. I mean, sure, it’s Okay, it does the job relatively well and Mark Morales’ inks bring a nice shine to Lenil Yu’s pencils that I haven’t seen before, but reading it after having read all the spoilers about it online, I was kind of surprised that not one plot point had escaped being revealed ahead of time.

The feeling of déjà vu wasn’t helped by Marvel having previewed half the book online ahead of its release, either, but I’m not really complaining about that (DC did it first for Countdown’s first few issues, didn’t they? It’s obviously the way to get people talking about your book); at least that déjà vu was earned by actually having read the thing before. But reading the rest of the issue, with all of the intended-to-be-surprise events, after having had every single one of them spoiled ahead of time was a weird experience. It kind of took you out of the story and made you focus on the execution, instead, and… well, that’s not the best thing to think about on a book like this.

Don’t get me wrong. Like I said earlier, the book looks great – the cleaner Yu art, along with Laura Martin’s colors, works a treat, Morales’ inks filling in for some of Yu’s traditional shortcuts and making it look more… well, more mainstream, really, the kind of muscley, glossy thing that you’d expect to see in a Marvel crossover book. But the writing works on the momentum of plot more than anything else, and when you remove the intended “oh shit” moments, all you’re left with are choppy scenes of characters given no real introduction doing things that are given no real context within the book itself other than “aliens are attacking” (Mind you, how much more context do you need?). As the first issue of a series that’s intended to draw in readers who haven’t been reading Marvel books for years up to this point, it’s terrible.

That said, as the first issue of a series building on the recent Marvel Universe exploits? It does the job you expect it to. So, overall? It’s Okay. I’ll just make a point of avoiding spoilers for the next few issues, I think.

Other comics! Quickly!

ACTION COMICS #863: By this point, Geoff Johns has worked out how to play almost entirely to the existing fanbase while making everything so basic that anyone can understand what’s happening – “Superman is in the future with his childhood pals fighting for tolerance? Sure, that makes sense.” As a complete Legion fanboy, I loved this storyline as much for the optimism of the heroes as they dealt with the dystopic future as for the nostalgia of the whole enterprise, and the “Legion of 3 Worlds” tease at the end make me stupidly excited. Good stuff.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #555: Hey, Steve Wacker? Here’s how you solve the continuity problem you ask about in the letter column: Ignore the complaints. Zeb Wells writes a fun script that, unlike all the other Brand New Day writers so far isn’t too retro, and Chris Bachalo’s art is clear and chunky and fun. Pretty Good, surprisingly.

CASANOVA #13: Post everything exploding, Fraction takes a step back for an issue of exposition, surprising reveals (Me, I’m sad that he isn’t dead, myself), and flashbacks showing that Casanova Quinn was kind of an awesome influence on those around him for a self-professed asshole. As we hurtle towards the end of the second album, it’s the small things in this issue that shows once again why this book is Very Good on a continual basis.

(And, on a side note, Fraction, Brubaker and Aja leaving Iron Fist? Very sad news indeed.)

KICK ASS #2: Mark Millar knows what he likes, and part of that really is some strange lowest common denominator stuff. It’s as if Millar really dislikes his audience but on some level recognizes that he is that audience, the way that he writes down to them but with such love. This book is entirely Eh to me; it feels as if it’s being written for an audience entirely alien to what I’m used to. Nice art, though.

YOUNG X-MEN #1: Talking of being written for an audience entirely alien to me, I can’t help but wonder what the thinking is behind this latest version of the New Mutants/Generation X/New X-Men idea: “They’re young heroes in a dangerous world! So they have to become soldiers… who kill!” What, really? There’s something so depressing and hopeless about that idea – and about the fact that the new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants are the original New Mutant team – that I can’t help but hope that there’s going to be some “surprise” reveal some time soon that shows that everything isn’t as oppressive as it seems. As it is, this first issue was Okay; written fairly generically, but with some nice art.

This week: Surprisingly, no Secret Invasion books. You do all that hype and then let momentum drop the very next week, Marvel? What’s that all about?

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