Today's titles include such hits as The New Avengers #43, Avengers: The Initiative #15, Thunderbolts #122, She-Hulk #31, New Warriors #14, Secret Invasion: Skrulls! One-Shot and then a blast to the past with Fantastic Four #214. Let the reckoning begin!
I'm gonna get this thing up before the site goes down again. ;)
As always, if you're looking for more Secret Invasion goodness, you can check that "Super Reads SI" link on the left. You've never seen so many Skrulls in the same place. Unless you stack a lot of Marvels together.
Anyway, it's a long list this week so let's get at it:
The New Avengers #43
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Billy Tan
When we last left Spider-Man, Ka-Zar, and Shanna the She-Devil (back in The New Avengers #41 for those not paying attention), they were being confronted by a very ticked off and very Skrull Captain America. I know, I know, "Don't tell me 'till it happens, Super!" but this one is so obvious that I've been telling you the entire time. The Captain America from the Skrull ship is a frickin' Skrull. It's not even a debate.
And if you were fooled or REALLY hoping, this issue proves yet again that Super knows the answers even when the questions are very easy.
Spidey also knows and here's your first hard evidence: Cap died. It was on TV. He did not turn into a Skrull like every other hidden Skrull when they die.
But Skrull Captain America doesn't know that. What? Oh yeah. He doesn't know that.
But he's pissed off and no one's helping. They all want him to calm down and maybe stop and talk. He just thinks everyone's a skrull but him. He needs to get back home. No stopping for Skrull Captain.
So it's fighting time. He throws his shield and disarms a, let's face it, trigger-happy Shanna. Zabu does the whole saber-toothed tiger thing and Skrull Cap proves he's not down with PETA by punching him in the chest. I know! The fight escalates from there as Skrull Captain America fights like Captain America. That means he pretty much owns everyone in the jungle.
Except for poison darts. Who knew Captain America's weakness was poison darts?
"Cap" takes a couple shots to fall, but he gets there. Then, to the surprise of that one guy at home who wants this to be the moment the real Cap returns and just won't listen to me telling him otherwise, Captain America is revealed to be... a SKRULL! Amazing. Actually, it also surprised Skrull Captain America, who freaks out just a bit.
Shanna the She-Devil is still freaking crazy as hell but she justifiably doesn't trust Spider-man. He DID make a deal with the Marvel Devil and Shanna may just be a little ticked off that he didn't make that deal with the Marvel She-Devil. I don't know. I just write these things. Anyway, she pricks him with a poison dart and it turns out that Spider-Man is still human and still living his Brand New Day. No one thinks it's a good idea to try that trick on her or Ka-Zar, though. I mean, c'mon. You find a way to detect Skrulls and you only use it on two people? That's a lot of trust, there.
And now for the mysterious origin of Skrull Captain America:
Skrull Captain America was originally Pitt'o Nili, a Skrull with family issues... they're dead. He feels he has nothing to live for and decides to volunteer to have his mind obliterated to become a Skrull sleeper agent. As the camera pulls back we see the scope of the invasion. There's a lot of Skrulls volunteering to secretly invade earth but according to Veranke not a lot have agreed to Pitt'o's level of infiltration.
We then get another look at that ritual that the Skrulls take to lock into a human form. This one is slightly different though because instead of merging the Skrull memories with the human, this time the Skrull memories are going bye bye all together. It's a less perfect process and Pitt'o has to be put under after freaking out once the locking process is over... because while he's got Steve Roger's body he doesn't have his memories yet.
Basically, they extract Steve's memories based on Tony Stark and Reed Richard's memories of him combined with their own records on him. So this Captain America is basically a memory of the original.
So next they have to pick out a moment where he's taken prisoner by the Skrulls. That's done by messing further with his memories of Avenger's Annual #14 (also shown from a different perspective in Fantastic Four Annual #14 and we'll get to looking at it before this whole event is over with, honest!). Instead of a confrontation with the Fantastic Four, this Cap gets the Super Skrull and a host of other Skrulls. After a brief fight, he is over-powered and captured. Then tortured and questioned for information on Earth security like Tony Stark's tech and the Helicarrier's access codes.
And then comes the eventual question you may be asking yourself: Why? Why so elaborate? Why create a sleeper agent that isn't going to come out of it and has no special mission? Veranke's answer is simple: To sow dissent. They'll be questioning themselves. They'll wonder who is real and who's not. Humans are resilient. We're winners... even the ones that live in their parent's basement, honest! To defeat them you have to do more than physically attack them. You have to break their spirit. Even if the Skrulls win, they will create a rift in humanity and that hasn't been done since... was that the Civil War? Well, this one's bigger and it has more rift-iness.
So then Skrull-Steve and the rest of these sleeper agent Skrulls (and Skrull Vision who is decidedly NOT a sleeper agent since it was his mission to get rid of the Sentry) need to get to earth. An event is fabricated where during a prison transfer the whole troop wakes up and frees themselves. After that... well, the ship crashes in the Savage Land and not because the escapees had any control of the matter but because it was auto piloted TO crash in the Savage Land. No chances here.
Back to the present, Skrull-Cap is still damn confused. He just remembered all that, apparently, and he still thinks he's human. Well, for a few more seconds because trigger-happy Shanna sticks a spear in him somewhere that would kill him off panel. You can't really fault her but it's still a bit more ruthless than anyone else and Spidey makes sure to voice his objection. Then: gunfire as the events of Secret Invasion #4 go on elswhere (this is where Black Widow is killing other Skrulls with her infinite bullet guns). The group makes their way to the action as the issue draws to a close.
Avengers: The Initiative #15
Writer: Dan Slott & Christos N. Gage
Penciler: Harvey Tolibao
OK. Catch-up for last issue time. The new 3-D Man (the old Triathlon) has goggles that can detect Skrull. When he finds one at his new command in Hawaii, he beats it up with the help of Devil-Slayer and then uses his cloak to port back to Camp Hammond to tell everyone about the pending invasion.
Unfortunately, there's a Skrull on base who doesn't want to be found, freaks out, and changes the polarity on 3-D Man's goggles so that Skrulls look human and humans look Skrully. It's actually funny to see Prodigy and Taskmaster Skrulls. This also easily shows that Camp Hammond is NOT filled with Skrulls.
Just one or two, actually.
To 3-D Man, the entire base looks infested and there's no one to trust except the Skrull that done did this to his goggles and is the only one that now looks like a normal person: Crusader. Crusader's not a bad Skrull, though. He's actually a deserter and loves his new life so much that he doesn't want it to end. Hence the whole "changing the polarity" thing. See, Crusader's got this ring that lets him do this kind of stuff. It's called the Freedom Ring and it used to be... but I'm getting ahead of myself.
3-D Man pulls Crusader aside and tells him about all the Skrulls around. Crusader takes it in stride, of course. 3-D Man takes a Quinjet out of there while Crusader stays to "smooth things out." Now, who can 3-D Man trust? He can think of only one dude. Chuck Chandler, the original 3-D Man. Delroy makes it as far as New Mexico before the events of Secret Invasion #1 come around to hit him square in the hoohahs as Tony Stark's body is infected with a virus and causes all Starktech to be equally infected. Unforunately, 3-D Man is in one of Stark's Quinjets and it goes down. Hard.
War Machine is having some Starktech problems of his own. While we've been told that his suit is separate from the Starktech mainframe, I'm betting that the system he's using to recharge isn't and it powers down everything. That wouldn't have been the end of the world in the old days but as Avengers: The Initiative fans know, Rhodey's a cyborg nowadays. He's not doing well at all without power. And look who's coming to the rescue: Baron Blitzshlag. Rhodey's not happy to have the Nazi help him out, but he doesn't have much choice in the matter. Blitzshlag's electical powers recharge War Machine's armor.
At another part of Camp Hammond, Gauntlet is trying to tell a bunch of cadets what's going on. This is when the events from Secret Invasion #3 take place. Yep, there's Skrull-Yellowjacket rallying the troops to go fight an Invasion of New York that we know they lose. What we don't see in SI #3 but DO see here is there's one Initiative Trainee that bails on the mission. Ant Man just isn't about to fight an alien invasion if he doesn't have to. The rest fall in and prepare for battle.
On the way there (no teleporting with Starktech down) Crusader recalls his training at ANOTHER camp prior to his trip to earth. Skrull Boot Camp. Apparently, Crusader (Skrull name: Z'Reg) has a "friend" named K'Rtem who gave him that scar in combat. They have a rivalry going but also a lot of respect. So much so that even though Crusader could get rid of that scar he keeps it to honor his friend or something. OK, long story short, Crusader's assignment was to spy on the Avengers.
Unfortunately, they had disbanded at this point because of their WORST DAY EVER. We all know what day that was.
He does... um... the next best thing? He watches movies about the Avengers? Yeah. Good plan, dude. He also starts loving earth culture. And Red Vines. And sex. Ah, us earthers know how to corrupt young Skrull minds. Just give them our women.
So Crusader had fallen in love with earth culture and earth's superheroes. He was ecstatic to learn that a new hero lived nearby. Freedom Ring. You may remember him from Marvel Team Up. I think I have his first appearance but that's a story for another time. Right now, all you need to know is that Crusader was so happy to be around a real life earth superhero that he gave up his secret identity to him and then started training him. Y'see, Crusader knew that there was an invasion coming and he needed Freedom Ring prepared. Problem was he didn't train him as hard as he would have trained a Skrull and first chance Freedom Ring got he up and got himself killed.
Crusadaer did the only thing he could think of doing. He took up the Freedom Ring (the actually ring, not the dead dude) and became a hero himself. He fought alongside his favorite heroes and registered when the SHR Act went into effect.
But then his revelry is interupted by the sweet, sweet taste of combat. Tastes like chicken, actually. Now, we know how this is gonna end, but there are battles within battles to deal with. Crusader doesn't really want to kill Skrulls so he busies himself by rescuing lives. Saving people. It's a noble sentiment, but there's not much tragedy in it. Someone should bring in his old Skrull friend so they can ninja fight or something... oh, there he is!
So K'Rtem engages him and immediately knows it's him. I mean, only Crusader has an eye scar. And Cable. That's it.
Cable... I mean, CRUSADER, freaks out again and deals K'Rtem a killing blow for a perceived threat to his secret identity. Crusader tries to keep his buddy alive but K'Rtem doesn't really want to stay alive.
Having killed the guy who gave him his scar, Crusader has made a choice on who's side he's on. So he goes to work on the Skrulls and decides he's really outgrown his eye scar. I mean, it's a little nineties, anyway.
Writer: Christos N. Gage
Penciler: Fernando Blanco
So the T-Bolts are fighting off the Swarm who's run amok in Denver. While the fight's going on, Director Norman Osborn is given a current rundown on his team by Moonstone.
Bullseye's crazy. Check.
Radioactive Man is depressed. Gotcha.
Swordsman loves his dead sister and lacks loyalty. Cool.
Songbird... I don't think they understand her very well, but they do wonder who killed her mother.
Penance is still pretty emo, but he may not need pain to use his powers anymore.
Venom is finding it hard to control his actions. I know! It's crazy talk.
Break from the team analysis as Venom goes for the skeleton inside Swarm and eats it. There's no brains inside, but the skeleton's still full or rich, creamy calcium and that's almost as good. Also, it serves as a focal point for Swarm and without it he disapates.
OK, back to team analysis.
Moonstone doesn't like bugs. That's it.
Norman Osborn is teeter tottering between madness and greatness. He'll probably stay great for a while but that Green Goblin costume looks pretty tempting...
So when the T-Bolts get back home it turns out that someone has cloned Swordsman's sister. Or she's a Skrull. I bet no one thought of that. His deal was that Norman would clone her when his contract was complete. It's not complete and Osborn wasn't working TOO hard on the whole clone thing. Looks like Swordman found another guy willing to do some clone work. Or it's a Skrull.
Now, the proper tests are done and those tests come back positive that this girl is Andrea Strucker. So that means the same thing as above: clone or Skrull. Swordsman agrees to fulfill his contract and everything but the girl stays with him.
Now, the betting man bets that Arnim Zola is involved and everyone thinks that's a pretty obvious conclusion since Swordsman let him escape in an earlier issue. Osborn plots his crazy plots.
Meanwhile, Swordsman proves he's not as sick as everyone thinks he is. He just wanted his sister back. He doesn't want to have sex with her or anything. Other people are just sick. Oh, he also skinned his arm so that she'll have a piece of him to touch to activate her powers. It's a tit for tat thing since he did the same to her when she died so he could use his powers. Creeped out? Your soaking in it.
Anyway, that's when Secret Invasion #1 creeps up on us.
Captain Marvel (the Skrull one) makes his move and attacks the Thunderbolts. After a big battle where he learns that the original Cap had ANOTHER son (dude got around), he does his whole Sentry/Superman crying bit from Secret Invasion #3 and just like that issue Norman comes around ready to party and possibly talk about what Marvel's just done. And that's about it. Not a lot of elaboration from the SI issues, but a big long issue nonetheless.
Avengers: The Initiative #15
Writer: Peter David
Penciler: Vincenzo Cucca
OK... let's see... this is the second part of the "He Loves You" crossover with X-Factor so if you're looking for the full story here, you'll need to pick up X-Factor #33.... or you can just read about it in the last "Super Reads..." article.
To summarize: The Guy who looks like Longshot is actually a Skrull with burning lava eyes. She-Hulk's friend Jazinda is tracking him. X-Factor is looking for Darwin who is traveling with Longshot and doesn't know Mr. Shot is really a crazy looking Skrull. Jazinda confronts Longshot, Monet St. Croix (X-Factor) takes out Jazinda thinking that she's threatening Darwin, and She-Hulk pounces toward Monet.
And that brings us to this issue. Monet see's the pouncing action and rather than get into the typical comic book fight between comic stars before the eventual team-up, Monet just flies out of range. That ticks She-Hulk off... probably because she's really into the typical comic book fight before team-up tradition. So there's an improper use of a fire hydrant to get Monet ticked off enough to fight but fight she does.
Jazinda escapes from Darwin and tracks after the Skrull Longshot.
And that's about time for a flashback. Jazinda and She-Hulk are on their way to Detroit as Jazinda tries to explain why they're on their way to Detroit. She explains about the immenent attack by the Skrulls, how they are not going to be defeated, cut off one head and two will... oh, that's Hydra... anyway, She-Hulk's pretty annoyed that Jazinda didn't tell her about this sooner and would rather join with the heroes defending New York which leads to another fight-before-team-up moment where their camper crashes. Jazinda explains that while she KNEW of the invasion she didn't think it would actually happen. I mean, the Skrulls have never actually tried to INVADE earth, have they? Not once? It would obviously be stopped by cooler heads. Cooler heads that happened to be Skrulls.
Good gravy, Jaz. This thing was a done deal the moment one Skrull thought of it.
And then a truck crashes into Jen.
So if they stayed in New York, She-Hulk dies. Why the heck do you go to Detroit? Are the Skrulls afraid of Detroit? No. The Talisman is there.
What the exposition is the Talisman? Later, we need more fighting now.
So after Monet gets knocked around a bit, Guido joins the fight. He tries to reason with She-Hulk, but we're not to that eventual team-up yet. Before we get there, She-Hulk has to kick Strong Guy in the nads. In. The. Nads.
OK, then. The Talisman. The Talisman is named Nogor. Even though we've never heard of him in the history of the Skrulls, Nogor is the apparent key to the invasion. His presense indicates the gods' blessing of the invasion and without his blessing the invasion is cursed to failure.
Now we know why previous invasions of earth have failed. Nogor was probably off playing video games.
Jazinda confronts Nogor as he's in Longshot form (yes, the Talisman is the firey lava eyed Skrull that looks like Longshot). Darwin for the block. More running.
She-Hulk goes looking for Jazinda but is blocked by none other that Jamie Madrox. Again calling for a rational or even an irrational explanation, he's blown off by She "I'm just not ready for a team-up" Hulk. So our Multiple Man decides to team-up with a LOT of himselves. Like "exceeds the capacity of this restaurant" number of himselves.
That could stop She-Hulk for a while.
Monet is sent to search out Darwin. Catching up to Darwin and Longshot-Nogor, the two explain the funny story about how Jazinda mistook Longshot for a Skrull. Monet doesn't think it's so funny and does a mind scan... which, of course, reveals nothing. Darwin's power of survival evolution does, however.
Before their very eyes, Longshot is revealed to be... that dude we said he was. Nogor. Yeah, not exactly dramatic but the scene is kinda funny in an expected sort of way. Nogor takes out Monet immediately. and the issue is at it's end. Tune in to the next X-Factor to get a conclusion to... "He Loves You." Mwahaha.
New Warriors #14
Writer: Kevin Grevioux
Penciler: Koi Turnbull
Thank you, New Warriors, for only forcing me to buy two more of your issues to get through Secret Invasion. You are certainly a low point in this mega event.
When last we left the New Warriors, they were probably questioning their existance while Jubilee was most likely not trusting Marvel's biggest moron, Night Thrasher. You know it's true because they do that EVERY ISSUE. This one's no exception as the basically generic team members question the team's existance while Jubilee expresses her distrust of Marvel's biggest moron, Night Thrasher.
Yes, you did read that twice.
For some reason, the rest of the team is cool with Night Thrasher even though he's the best arguement FOR Registration you could get. He also lies and manipulates his team to do things that they would probably do anyway. He's just the kind of guy that does things the hard way so he can retain the Marvel's biggest moron title.
But that's enough of me ranting about the ineptitude of Night Thrasher. I'm certain this issue will give us all a plethora of expamples about why this dude is just... stupid in the head. Let's continue like we actually like the New Warriors for a moment.
So the New Warriors are eating in Sophia's diner (the one she works at... not the one she owns because she's not rich). It's a typical day of... y'know, team existance and the whole Night Thrasher thing. Fortunately, a Secret Invasion happens so we only have to go through three pages of that.
The next two pages are really cool. You won't hear me saying that often but since we're dealing with pretty generic and depowered former mutants who don't have their super gear on them here, we get a nice look at how the average generic, non-powered citizen is handling the invasion. You could also pick up Frontline and get a decent story, but whatever. The art is pretty all the same.
While the New Warriors are scrambling to reach their HQ and do some fighting back, the current Night Thrasher is drawing one stupid conclusion after another. His first stupid conclusion is that, based solely on the New York attack, this thing must have been years in the making. Yes, true, but we've all seen New York get attacked in Marvel Comics with maybe three days planning tops. Now, suddenly having Skrulls on the brain, he thinks that maybe the Stamford incident had some Skrulls involved. Maybe his brother was a Skrull. Maybe the newest Night Thrasher is... ugh. I know, he's the original Night Thrasher's brother and it's ok to hope and all, but jumps in logic all over the place from someone that thinks he's a master planner. I may be overly harsh on the dude but that's just because he's not a smart guy. I mean, look at him.
When the team arrives at the base, Thrash back burners them while he goes grave digging.
The rest of the team don't like having to sit this out, so they track and follow him. They have to fight an X-Men New Super Skrull but that's pretty much the appropriate fight for ex-mutants. In the end, I think it's Jubilee that squishes him but I'll be honest. 14 issues and I couldn't tell you a code name or costume if you were paying me. Well, Jono's pretty recognizable with the whole Apocalypse thing, but don't ask me his code name.
You could pay me, though. It would help with the pain. ;)
OK, Thrash didn't go grave digging. I think the bodies were actually disintegrated. He just goes checking places that the original Thrash might hang out without telling anyone. The Taylors own property, you see. One such piece of real estate is an Appalachian safehouse. Who's waiting here for him to eventually show up?
The real New Warriors. Oh, sure. They have another name now but if you were actually serious about making a team that people may remember their names and powers and such... those guys would be great choices.
If you're looking for a repeat of She-Hulk, this is it. Instead of just telling these former friends who the heck he is and everything, he simply brushes them off. His secret is... kind of annoying considering the audience has known since, what, issue 2? Maybe issue 1? I can't remember when it was revealed but it's a secret to everyone else for no good reason continuing right here.
This leads to Vance calling Night Thrasher a dirty Skrull. It's obviously untrue, but Donyell doesn't simply clear up the matter which is going to lead to a senseless fight. Man, get this bastard registered! His secrets are driving me mad. MAD! I tell you!
The Real New Warriors rap up the fight pretty quickly but then the New New Warriors show up to defend the guy that hasn't been straight with them since day one. Will there be another pointless Who do YOU trust fight? Probably. Maybe I'll be more positive next time.
Writers: Ronald Byrd, Michael Hoskin, Gabriel Shechter, John Rhett Thomas, Stuart Vandal, & Jeph York
What you're looking at is a very comprehensive guide to nearly every Skrull character ever to appear in a Marvel comic.
It starts with some back story with pages reprinted from New Avengers #40 featuring Veranke's arrest, exile, and assention to the throne... or A throne. The Skrull Empire has been very divided for quite a while.
The book is written from a Skrull perspective, that of Chancellor Kal'Du, and all information is skewed according to that view.
It's also written TO Queen Veranke. That's another scew to the view.
The bios are pretty interesting to me and give you a back story perspective on any Skrull you can think of off hand. Even better for someone compiling... say, a walk-thru of Skrull related back issues and then talking about them on a semi-weekly basis is the check list at the end listing most major Skrull appearance.
Yes, I'll be using that to find some more Skrull issues when I need to. It's a pretty full list.
Speaking of Skrull related back issues:
Fantastic Four #214
Writer: Marv Wolfman & John Byrne
Penciler: John Byrne
This is a big follow up to all those FF issues we've just gone over. For the issue inbetween this and #209, the FF have been doing stuff as they've been aging VERY quickly. Well, all of the except Johnny Storm, who wasn't on hand to get zapped by the Apprentice Executioner back in issue #206 because he didn't think the FF needed him to halt the Skrull invasion of Xandar.
Now the aging FF members are kept in suspended animation as Johnny realizes just how stupid he was being and just how useless he is to his team mates.
Still, the Torch isn't one to just give up even when he's having an emotional fit. He think about who the next smartest person in the world would be after Reed and instead of giving Doc Doom a call, tries Tony Stark instead. Admit it. You'd rather call Tony too. Say what you will about his ego, it's NOTHING compared to Doom's.
This leads Johnny on a merry chase from Avengers Mansion to the SHIELD Helicarrier but in the end is fruitless. Dum-Dum Dugan shows Johnny that Stark is indeed on the Helicarrier but is engaged testing radioactive waste to see if it can be converted into fuel or something. The bottom line is that even if he were going to decon right now he wouldn't be ready to help for, like, a whole day.
Johnny is probably still a teenager and a whole day is WAY too long to wait. Even prior to the MTV generation.
Johnny isn't beat yet, though. Next call goes out to Xandar... you remember Xandar, right? The people that the FF went to save from Skrull invasion but then got distracted by any number of things before the aging thing took effect? Well, even thought I thought issue #209 was the end of their story (with a stupid cliffhanger nonetheless), this comic picks up on it a little bit at least. It acknowleges that they're still fighting the Skrulls, that they're winning, that maybe their Giant Super Computer could help. Then the transmission goes dead because there are no easy answers for our Human Torch.
Johnny has a little hissy fit (possibly justified) and then is attacked by Skrull X. You remember Skrull X, right? He's the Skrull that came through the transport beam with Adora way back in #204. He had the FF's powers and used the word "dung dog" a lot. Well, he's back and his mysterious mystery is about to be revealed!
After a giant slugfest where Skrull X reveals that, unlike the original Super Skrull, he can use the FF's powers all at the same time, Johnny is stunned to see that Skrull X has a weapon that can super age HIM as well!
Not the flying gun in that panel. It's important. While Skrull X can use all of the FF's powers at the same time, he's also a robot and has... um... a lower burning threshold that the Torch? Well, he melts, at least.
Torch takes that aging gun and hopes that maybe this will bring the FF back to normal. He wakes up a decrepidly old Reed who analyzes the gun and has Torch do some spot welding for him to create a ray that will reverse the process. Johnny then returns Reed to the Cryo Chamber before zapping them all with the de-aging gun. He zaps them until the gun melts in his hands not in his mouth.
Mostly because he's angry and melting things is his only response to anger.
He goes off to have a good cry since the gun seemingly failed. But no! There is no fail. It just takes longer than 5 seconds for the gun to take effect! The FF are not only as young as they were, they're just a little younger! And more powerful! Bonus!
Johnny is hailed as a respected and necessary member of the Fantastic Four, they do the rah rah thing and the day is saved!
Or something. Johnny did run around the world trying to find someone to fix things and fought a Super Skrull Robot. By the way, Reed new it was a robot which is why back in 204 he shot him with the sonc short-circuiter.
There. I think that's the last thread we need to follow in that story. Next time, we'll follow some brand new threads. Until then: Who do YOU trust?
Posted originally: 2008-08-19 12:49:45