Short one: Secret Invasion: Frontline #2 as well as blast from the past looks at Fantastic Four #'s 249 and 250. Let the bloodbath keep on keeping on!
OK. For those counting, this'll be my second attempt at this one. My first died the death of the internetz. Bad internetz!
The usual drill: for more Secret Invasion goodness, you can check that "Super Reads SI" link on the left. There may be a pop quiz. Just sayin'.
Let's get this road on the show.
Secret Invasion: Frontline #2
Writer: Brian Reed
Penciler: Marco Castiello
So, the Frontline cast has been through a hell of a first issue. What did you miss last issue? Well, lotso stuff. To break in on down in quick bits: Ben Urich and Doctor Molly Young are holed up in a hospital set up as a battlefield triage. Jonathan Bryant is on his second cab and counting. Vincent Crane and his daughter Melanie are stuck in Stark Tower as the alien virus infects all Stark Tech. And away we go.
Let's check in on Ben and Molly. They are still at the hospital doing what they can. There is still a creepy glowy eyed dude that is looking more Skrully by the minute. Ben's running supplies but tries again to get a hold of his wife. No go. He and Dr. Young have a little bondig moment as he mentions that with all he's seen he should be coping better.
Then that glowy eyed Skrull blows up the building using Nitro's powerset. Ben lives. Doctor Molly Young doesn't.
The Skrulls come in to kill survivors and Urich books it. Throws up in a garbage can. He's not happy with his behavior but if you were surrounded by alien killers with super powers, tell me how you'd react. Even IF you figured out who Daredevil was a few years before anyone else.
To replace Dr. Young, we now have Officer Bill Dawson. Before the Invasion, he was a beat cop. The day started of pretty normal. Then a New Super Skrull with Nova powers showed up to do some damage. Officer Dawson defended a girl in a VW Beetle and then got blasted in the leg for the trouble. With that, the Nova New Super Skrull decides she's done enough damage and leaves. Mull that over for a moment. These guys are supposed to be doing major damage and killing and she leaves after hitting a police officer in the leg. Might be nothing, might be something. Three issues to find out!
The girl in the car, Lisa, gets out and helps the officer no be on fire anymore (from the leg blast). They then start talking about the Invasion, what to do... and finally hear screaming coming from Stark Tower.
Stark Tower is still on lockdown. Speaking of, we have two cast members locked in right now! Vincent Crane and his young daughter, Melanie, are stuck up a bunch of floors with Vinny's coworkers. They are now beginning to regret setting up shop in the same building that houses the headquarters of the Mighty Avengers. Can't blame 'em. That whole tower looked to have taken heavy damage in World War Hulk. At least leases should be dirt cheap. Insurance is probably through the roof.
So, yeah, alien virus in the Stark Tech. Not a great combo. It causes SHIELD Helicarriers to fall from the sky. Probably won't give everyone in Stark Tower back massages is what I'm saying. The lights are all out and, in horror movie tradition, the batteries for the flashlight are dead. Luckily, Melanie is a friggin' genius and remembers that cell phones light up... unless they're Stark Tech cell phones. Those probably blow up. Anyway, cell phones=light.
Outside in the Battle of Manhattan, Jonathan Bryant is still having a bad day. He's managed to keep his second cab in one piece... and stay alive... for a lot longer than anyone expected. Unfortunately, his luck MAY be running a little low because he just can't drive anymore. He gets out of his cab and makes a run for it. Unfortunately, New Super Skrulls can throw cabs and one lobs it right at him. The Young Avengers intervene and Wiccan stops the cab before lobbing it right back at the New Super Skrulls. That's two cabs down, Jon. You are never getting paid again.
Officer Dawson and Lisa are still trying to figure out what to do when a bus screaches to a halt right by them. The bus driver, freaking out, turns over his bus to the cop, and runs away as fast as his little legs can take him.
It's not gonna be fast enough.
Dawson boards the bus to see what the deal is. Most of the passengers are a bit more than confused. Officer Dawson is about to make a nice speach when the New Super Skrulls find them. They found the bus driver first. He's... he's not really breathing anymore. He doesn't look like he'll be alone for long on that score.
Back in Stark Tower, our rag tag group of executives, secretaries, and teenagers are decending a flight of stairs with their cell phones lighting the way. There's a mysterious voice below them telling them that everyone else is dead and that they can't see.
Yes, we've switched from summer blockbuster to horror movie.
The men go down to investigate while the women-folk knit sweaters and think about vacuuming. No, but really, the men go down to look and leave the women to their own devices. That's basically talking about death and their odds of that happening in the near future. Vincent calls up to them claiming that nothing is down there and the voice must have been someone messing about. Still, they zip the ladies by as quickly as possible.
Why? Because there is death about. Dead bodies. What the men-folk missed on their thorough investigation was this guy:
He's apparently a Morbius New Super Skrull or something. He's also pleased to know that after this appetizer, he'll have a main course coming.
And fade to black. Time to get our FF Paster Blaster on.
Fantastic Four #249
Writer: John Byrne
Penciler: John Byrne
This issue begins in the deepest reaches of space. OK, not really. It's around Pluto, actually. Maybe a bit further. The point is that it's an aged Skrull ship being chased by a man that needs no ship: The Shi'Ar Empire's Gladiator. Let's give him a big hand!
OK, the Skrulls aren't very happy that they got a secret and important mission straight from the Skrull Emperess, R'klll. I'm just assuming the shoddy craft is a result of Emperor Dorrek nearly bankrupting the Empire back when they made the Super Skrull. Otherwise it's just poor management by the new Skrull ruler.
Could be either.
Anyway, what this Skrull craft lacks in awesome, it makes up for with it's super secret weapon thing. It can actually become an artificial sun or something!
Meanwhile, on planet Earth, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm are taking a nice stroll through Central Park. Ben is amazed at how well Johnny is taking his most recent breakup. Johnny's not all that worked up about it. This is, like, Breakup #228, after all. He basically just shows up to have them fill out the associated paperwork. It's about this time that the two are ambushed by... CLOWNS!
Yes. Send in the Clowns. This is Julie, Frankie Ray's former roommate. She may become important lately but right now she's simply the clown that's a bit skittish around Thing. Ben takes a hint and goes off to mope while Johnny thinks about all those clown fantasies he ever had and weighs his options.
Moping for the FF is mostly about saving people's lives so it's no surprise that the Thing ends up stopping a runaway horse and it's child passenger. It's also no surprise when the big flaming "4" shows up in the sky and both Johnny and Ben have to beat feet to the Baxter Building. OK, Johnny flies. It's his thing. No beating feet for him.
So he gets there long before Ben does. When he's there, Reed describes the whole "sun on the edge of our galaxy" thing and also the bits of debris heading toward earth at faster than the speed of light. I don't know what kind of detector Reed's using that can detect things moving faster than the speed of light towards them before it actually just hits but he's a super scientist that regularly breaks the laws of reality. He's also most likely a witch. It all fits.
Ben meets one of the speeding objects first hand. It's Gladiator and he's TICKED. So ticked, in fact, that he throws a car at Ben and not in a Superman-type way. This car has people in it. So Ben does the rescuing schtick. With that done he has no time to react to the punch that knocks him through a lot of cars. Finally, he's picked up and thrown, appropriately, at the Baxter Building.
Crashing into FF HQ, the Thing promptly passes out. The remaining team-members join battle. A few things are learned. Gladiator thinks they're the Skrulls he was chasing. Gladiator is pretty unbeatable and can do impossible acts like lifting the Baxter Building from it's foundation without the building collapsing. Finally, Sue senses something psionic in his powers that goes beyond the physical.
Still, that's not enough to save any of them. They all fall before him. Even little Franklin who is swatted aside pretty roughly. Thing goes down twice, as his second wind knocks the two out of the Baxter Building and back onto the street before Gladiator hits him with a bus.
It is then and only then that Gladiator is confronted by... Cyclops, Storm, Colossus, and Nightcrawler: the X-Men!
Fantastic Four #250
Writer: John Byrne
Penciler: John Byrne
This being an anniversary issue, it's only natural that it would feature some nifty guest stars. For example: Spider-Man.
Spidey's noticing some interesting blue tubing on the rooftops and after he realizes that the stuff is... warm... he also figures out it's Mr. Fantastic. Ick. He rescues the FF's leader and then helps him back to the Baxter Building where Reed will be able to build another hat.
Yeah, stay with me here. It might make sense when I'm done.
Gladiator is still battling the X-Men... but these guys have SLIGHTLY different powers than the X-Men you and I have encountered. It's like they didn't read the Marvel Universe Handbook or something.
The rest of the FF get in business. Johnny goes to rescue Ben, Franklin looks after his mommy, and Spidey gets to the BB with Reed in tow. Reed goes over the situation with Sue and, his thoughts confirmed, goes to work designing a funky hat. Reed loves them hats. Spidey goes to joing the battle below.
It's probably about time to add another guest star, so here's Steve Rodgers out on a date. A date interupted by fate and destiny! Steve sees the combat going on and changes into his Captain America clothes so he can join the fray. Granted, for now he's just an onlooker as the X-Men wittle Gladiator down.
Nightcrawler starts looking like he's in trouble and Spidey swoops in for the rescue. That effort is NOT repaid and Nightcrawler decides to attack Spidey instead of Gladdy. Easily knocking out his foe, Nightcrawler moves in for the kill when Cap intervenes and hits Nightcrawler with his shield. Colossus is right there, though, and Cap has to stay on his toes just to stay alive. Heck, his impact resistant shield is knocked back and that just shouldn't happen. Also, the X-Men aren't even speaking english.
Ben and Johnny join the fight after Johnny unburies Ben from the wreckage of the bus. Meanwhile, Alicia Masters laments that her darling boyfriend needs to cause more harm. He's a sensitive man, you know.
Reed's still designing his new hat and can't be bothered at the moment.
The Marvel heroes don't wast time attacking the X-Men. The X-Men attack both parties. Gladiator hits anything right in front of him. Without tears in his eyes.
Nightcrawler ducks behind some wreckage and Angel emerges. Figure it out yet? OK then. Spidey hasn't and is surprised to not find Nightcrawler behind the debris. Angel and Storm tag team Gladiator using... THE SAME POWER. This power is in actuality an altered version of Storm's. Whatever they're doing, it seems to be not so good for Gladdy.
Johnny, for some reason, thinks Angel might be the one to talk sense to so he tries that on for size. Size doesn't fit. Angel attacks Torch and around we go. Reed and Sue are flying the bathtub down to the battle. Reed has brought his funny hat. Angel has grabbed some pointy construction material. His throw is true to every comic ever produced: it misses it's target and kills a friendly. This time that friendly is Cyclops.
Now here's where everything gets... familiar. Cyclops falls to the ground only to be revealed as... a SKRULL! Everyone gasps in fake astonishment. They drag around Skrull/Cyclops' corpse for a few issue. They spend a few more on Skrull/Cylcops' backstory. Later on, a mini will be produced all about the Skrull/Cyclops and his dead corpse.
Oh, wait, that's TOO familiar. Anyway, the X-Men are Skrulls. Now onto Gladiator.
Gladiator is being taunted by Reed so he naturally attacks. The problem is, all his power is only being met with a mocking smile. Faced with his own ineffectualness, Gladiator... doubts his abilities.
And in that moment, Sue knocks him out with a force field.
OK, the tale of the defeat of the Gladiator: The Reed standing there with a mocking smile was actually Cap with his shield in front of him. The shield was able to absorb all the blows due in part to the belief on Gladiator's part that he was attacking Reed Richards. Reed's funny hat was an image projector that made Cap look like Reed. Gladiator's powers are psionically based on Gladiator's belief in his own awesomeness. When Gladiator doubted that, it left him vulnerable.
*GASP* That was a long explanation. Much better the second time around. Still confused? How's this: "The good guys won."
Anyway, the remaining Skrulls are easy to bring in now that we know they're Skrulls. Ben even mentions the Nazis. Ah, good times. The misunderstanding with Gladiator is explained and he leaves this the Skrull prisoners in tow. Then there's this:
To be honest, most Skrull invasion stories are summed up in AVOIDING showing the invasion. There are a few exceptions, but not including Secret Invasion, I can only think of one instance of a full blown Skrull Invasion.
So, this was another time that the Skrulls impersonated friends and colleagues to meet an agenda. It was also another time they failed. Will Secret Invasion be a further failure? Tune in VERY soon to get the next installment and possibly more clues to where things will be heading. Until then, check out the wall o' Skrull heads. Not linkable, but those are all the icons from the past 15 installments of Super Reads Secret Invasion.
And we're just a bit over half way. Good reading!
Until next time... Who do YOU trust?
Posted originally: 2008-08-26 13:03:33