This time we look at Secret Invasion: Frontline #4, The Mighty AVengers #19, Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #34, Guardians of the Galaxy #6, and then blast from the past looks at the second Kree-Skrull War in Silver Surfer #'s 19-21, 25, and 26. We're getting closer to the end so enjoy the last few twists, turns, and tricks!
Hey once again all you SI maniacs. It's time to sink our teeth into a delicious Secret Invasion steak. This will theoretically give you some shape changing abilities (maybe your hair) and the ability to detect Skrulls wherever you go.
They are also delicious.
Are you behind on your SI reading or want to check up a title that you haven't bought? Me too! You'll see a link off to your left titled "Super Reads SI" where you can check out what happened in every issue dealing with Secret Invasion. Looking for a lazier way? You can also check here to catch up on all 23 previous articles. Watch all the action from the beginning!
So, you get all that? Good. Let's get to the good stuff.
Secret Invasion: Frontline #4
Writer: Brian Reed
Penciler: Marco Castiello
OK, OK, last issue... well, we had Melanie Crane being chased by the Vampire-like New Super Skrull. Officer Bill Dawson had just saved a group of bus passengers and then had himself saved by Lisa Dobson. Jonathan Bryant and Ben Urich had been accosted by the Rolling 7's and Bryant had been shot in the chest for being uppity.
And now, a flashback:
Ben Urich is a married man. This entire time, he's been trying to call home and talk to his wife. Turns out his wife is having medical issues including plenty of medication and a visiting nurse.
But, while Ben's mind may be on his wife, his body is very much in the subway tunnels below Stark Tower. It's also being threatened by that Rolling Sevens gang that should meet a terrible fate very soon. The Rolling Sevens don't care about what's happening above. As long as their home is fine, all they want are any valuables that terrorized refugees can get them. We're reminded that Ben is a reporter when his cassette recorder is rejected as a "valuable" by some thug and it begins playing back our dearly departed Doctor Molly Young's session from the first issue. If you'll remember, Ben was originally putting together a story on gang violence and how hospitals deal with it.
He's getting an up front and center view of gang violence now as Jonathan Bryant lies shot in his arms.
It's about time we got our cast all together in one place and the best place to start is back at everyone's final destination: Stark Tower. Ben and Jon are below it, Officer Dawson and Lisa are outside of it, and Melanie is inside. Facing down a Super Skrull. In front of the only unprotected window. These lines are pretty easy to connect.
The New Super Skrull lunges, Mel dodges, and one vampiric New Super Skrull takes a dive from the 30th floor. Officer Dawson and Lisa watch the alien fall and, once it lands, they watch the following glass split it open. Also, it's sunny and vampires don't like that.
Dawson calls up to Melanie but she's got other priorities. She's got to go check for survivors. There are none.
Below, Officer Dawson and Lisa find what looks like a cell phone in the remains of dead New Super Skrull. There's all the regular symbols as well as one in Skrullish. Lisa presses that one and Stark Tower opens to the world. The people that have been stuck on the bottom floor make for the doors as Bill and Lisa try heading inside.
That cell phone opens other doors, though. Down in the subway tunnels where Ben, Jon, and various others are lamenting their current situation, the door up to Stark Towers opens. They make their way inside.
As everyone inside is making their way out. One member of Ben's group also rushes to the exit before they close up again. Ben finds a first aid kit for Jonathan. Officer Dawson examines Jonathan and tells him that it the best possible gunshot he could hope for... but it's still a gunshot. This is the time for our last cast member to join the group. Melanie has finally descended those last 30 flights and is pretty upset to learn that the doors out are sealed again.
Ben has a plan and it involves carrying Jonathan up to the Avengers levels. Our cast makes it up 23 flights before Ben realizes that it's just not going to happen. It's taken them hours to get this far and they just won't make it. Ben climbs to level 30 by himself to get a view out that one open window. What he sees is a city conquered.
Ben climbs back down with the bad news. He then records their stories on the invasion. They eat some stolen vending machine food. Ben decides to go back out into the city to find some help. Lisa and Mel go down to the lobby with him.
Mel begs to come with him and, in the end, he agrees. The two walk the streets and realize that they are the conquered. The Skrulls now occupy New York City and aren't interested in attacking the two. They also find no one to help them out.
They are close to Central Park when they witness the lightning strike call to action sent by Thor. They run in that direction and get a front row seat to the big, final battle between the New Super Skrulls and most of humanity's big super teams.
There's a New Super Skrull there that looks a LOT like Galactus. I wonder where they got HIS genetic code from? It's probably best to pretend you never saw Galactus New Super Skrull.
The Mighty Avengers #19
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciler: Khoi Pham
Once again proving that you don't need to read The Mighty Avengers is a story that you've pretty much already seen elsewhere with just a LITTLE bit of new info to make that $2.99 price tag taste a bit better.
First, we open up with the guy Brian Bendis would love to turn into the new Captain Marvel: Noh-Varr AKA Marvel Boy. At this point in the story, he's still in the Cube Prison, running the place, and apparently trying to contact the Kree Empire that may or may not be his own. His mini-series involved dimension jumping and it's pretty much a given that he isn't from the 616 universe. Still, he doesn't know that for sure and is looking to find out or at least get off this rock of a planet.
He then learns that Captain Marvel has returned to life. That puts this part of the story at sometime after Civil War since Marvel's return within wasn't ever officially announced. It takes him some time to contemplate this. He doesn't really know how to take it. That leads us right into... um, Secret Invasion: Who Do You Trust? One-Shot... with some minor revisions because continuity is unimportant. Still, it's a small scene and just begins differently and has dialogue switches and reimagines the entire... y'know what? Screw it. If DC doesn't care about continuity anymore then I'm only going to cry on the inside when Marvel continuity doesn't match up at all.
After a lot of crying on the inside, we meet up with the current Captain Marvel. He's a Skrull if you haven't read any of these things or any Marvel Comics featuring him. He's also VERY conflicted. He's a Skrull with the original Captain Mar-Vell's memories. He's his own worst enemy. He'll kill some Skrulls here and attack some Thunderbolts there. Now he doesn't know left from right or why dogs and cats can't get married legally. It's a messed up world and he's a messed up man dealing with it.
A bunch of New Super Skrulls attacking him clarifies things pretty quickly.
These are the most respectful killer Skrulls ever. They keep praising him as they try to beat him up. Unfortunately, they're fighting someone pretty damn powerful who is also much less conflicted about what side he's on. After taking them to school (figuratively), he heads up to the Skrull Armada and starts knocking some ships out of orbit. This knock down fight was seen to a smaller scale in Secret Invasion #5.
He takes the ships' fire and keeps on going. Then one of the New Super Skrulls he tussled with earlier comes back for round two. Round two goes more for the New Super Skrull since he's had some recovery time and Marvel's been kicking some space ships around.
Captain Marvel enters our atmosphere hard. His life flashes before his eyes but it's not the life of the Skrull he is but that of the Kree he was made to be. Landing much closer to Marvel Boy than even Deus ex Machina can explain, he lives out the event already shown in Secret Invasion #6.
Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #34
Writer: Christos N. Gage
Penciler: Sean Chen
War Machine: Weapon of S.H.I.E.L.D.! This story doesn't contain a quick scene of it's actual title character like Part 1 but Rhodey is such a cool character that we are all right with that.
When we last left War Machine, he was using his Transformer (More Than Meets the Eye!) satellite to destroy Skrull spaceships. Suzi Endo is on tactical while Rhodey handles maneuvers.
We cut away to view the joy of flashbacks. First, we're given a few scenes about Jim growing up on the hard streets of Philadelphia. Mostly, it's about kids committing hate crimes in the city of brotherly love. White kids hated Rhodey for being black while black gang members hate him because he wanted to make something of his life. Next, we have some quick scenes focusing on him hitting the punching bag and then military training. Quick scene of crazy flying with Tony Stark. Finally, we have a scene from The Hands of the Mandarin storyline that ran through Force Works #6 & 7. Iron Man #311 & 312, and War Machine #9 & 10. Ah, memories...
And we're back to the present. Rhodey's trip through memory lane has apparently revitalized him and he takes out the rest of the nearby Skrull Armada. Well, except for one ship that must have escaped his targeting grid. Looks like War Machine is going to go chasing that last ship.
His armor has been repaired since starting the space battle and the satellite, Transformer or no, is not able to enter earth's atmosphere without going to pieces. He suits up and heads down planet-side. Endo fills him in on what's happening in other popular Marvel comics, particularly Secret Invasion proper, Black Panther, and Captain Britain (in stores now!). It's not a pretty picture but before Rhodey can deal with that noise, he needs to take out this last space ship. He uses his belly blaster (seriously, it's a gun located in his ab section) and it's game over for the Skrull ship. Now onto some planet saving business.
He ends up in Russia instead of New York City because it's hard to reposition yourself after following a Skrull ship into earth's atmosphere. After a quick pep talk from Suzi (stop frickin' whining, Jim, this isn't Superman), Rhodey makes his way to Tatischevo to help out the Winter Guard. They're the Russian Super-team composed of Red Guardian (back to his original name after taking on Iron Guardian in the late nineties), Crimson Dynamo (back to the rather weak 80's suit if I'm not mistaken), Darstar, and Ursa Major. The Guard is defending a Nuclear Weapons Depot and the odds are completely against them.
War Machine's help is needed but they aren't happy to take it.
After giving the Dynamo some back up, he's chewed out for interfering where he's not wanted. Ah, those Russians. You'd think there was another Cold War or something...
Rhodey takes off in a stew but, knowing that the Winter Guard doesn't stand a chance without him, heads back in to help. He gives some aid to Ursa Major before being slammed by another New Super Skrull. Ursa's about ready to return the favor before Crimson Dynamo orders against it. War Machine will receive no help from the Winter Guard no matter how much help he just gave.
Jim is dogpiled and he doesn't go down easy but he DOES go down.
He wakes up later in a Skrull lab as the scientist Skrulls are stripping away his armor. Since Rhodey's life is dependent on the suit and the suit is gone, he's only got a small window of life left. We're also given a very good look at just what bits are covered with tech and where he's all man (thank you, giant magnifying glass for covering his bits and pieces). This leaves us with only one outstanding question:
If his stomach is still flesh and blood, where the hell does the Belly Blaster come out of?
Guardians of the Galaxy #6
Writer: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Penciler: Paul Pelletier
So, when we left Guadians of the Galaxy, they were in the middle of a lot of stuff. The team was confined to their quarter on Knowhere, a refuge at the edge of space/time made from the head of a Celestial. Granted, most of them weren't listening to that. Adam Warlock went off to locate any hidden Skrull cells and learned that Cosmo, the Russian dog in charge of security, was himself hiding a group of Skrulls. Drax was off working on killing everyone on Knowhere in order to root out any hidden Skrulls (Skrulls revert to base form on death) and he was being tracked by Quasar. The rest of the team was actually BEING confined to quarters but that didn't stop them from being attacked by a female Starhawk.
And that's when Drax killed everyone.
Don't worry! It's only temporary! Drax only killed them long enough to find where the Skrulls are somehow. Phylla (Quasar) comes back to life confused... and then pissed. She knocks Drax around a bit before he reveals the location of these Skrull guys.
Meanwhile, Warlock is coming back equally confused.
Oh, Marvel Comics. Is there ANYONE that hasn't been dead at some point in time? Warlock is an old hat at dying and returning though he usually comes back in a cocoon. Anyway, before Adam can react to the situation, Cosmo mind blasts him.
And, scene change. The main team is waking up and getting their fight on. Starhawk was threatening to kill everyone and the Guardians aren't really down with dying so soon after... dying. Star-Lord gets one good punch in and Starhawk goes down.
Quasar gets on the comm and tells Star-Lord and team why they all feel like they're the living dead. Drax killed them and here's how: "He used synapse disruptors to render everyone brain dead for ninety seconds." Ah. That explains it. Star Trek level technobabble. Good times. But why was Drax heading to areas that he shouldn't have been heading to? His explanation is that he's been searching for Cammi since the end of the war. It was a kid he used to hang with.
So they know where the Skrulls are and everyone is breaking their curfew to go round 'em up. Drax and Phylla arrive first and get into a slug-fest with Cosmo and Adam Warlock. Cosmo is getting ticked and brain blasts the newcomers so they understand what's going on.
So, what IS going on? Well, these aren't the evil-type Skrulls that are raging across the earth right now. These are actually peaceniks trying to escape the fanaticism that is currently ruling the Skrull people. This is one link in a sort of underground railroad system leading Skrulls that don't stand with Queen Veranke to freedom. So, what blew up the Cortex back in GotG #4? It was the dead New Super Skrull found at the scene. He had located this link but failed to destroy it.
They also learn that the fanatic Skrulls are making a play for earth.
And that is the end of... oh look, the Luminals! If you're finding it hard keeping track, the Luminals are ANOTHER super-team on Knowhere who are currently working with the Administrative Council. They don't like the Guardians very much and this is a perfect opportunity to kill a lot of birds with one modus operandi. Anyway: one more slugfest because people shoot first and ask questions when they get around to it.
Speaking of: The rest of the Guardians of the Galaxy arrive and set their weapons to stun so they can just shoot everyone. Cosmo has had just about enough of this ridiculousness and orders everyone to frikkin' calm down. He hasn't had much experience with the Luminals as their leader, Cynosure, is too angry to stop and intent on taking Cosmo out first. A Skrull steps in and takes the shot meant for the Security Chief. Cosmo doesn't take it well. We'll just assume everyone stepped in line to one of Cosmo's brain blasts.
The selfless Skrull ended up surviving Cynosure's attack but spends time in Knowhere's medical area. Star-Lord finally steps up to the plate and defends his team against the Council and snipes Cynosure's handling of her own team in the process. But is it too little to late?
Remember that he and Mantis assembled the team by pushing them mentally to join when they otherwise would not. It's subtle, but it's a betrayal of whatever trust they had put in him. Drax overheard Star-Lord and Mantis talking about it and it's time for him to tell the rest of the team. The team rapidly breaks apart with only Rocket Racoon (with Groot), Mantis, and Star-Lord left to pick up the pieces. Apparently, the future isn't going the way Mantis saw it unfolding.
And in the security section, Starhawk smiles.
And with that, Guardians of the Galaxy leaves the world of Secret Invasion just as awesome as it was going in. This title is totally recommended if you aren't currently picking it up. DO IT!
And now, I'll try to go over the second to last part of the second Kree-Skrull War (or at least the second one recorded for the gentle reader) while also trying to remain semi-sane...
Silver Surfer #20
Writer: Steve Englehart
Penciler: Ron Lim
Silver Surfer is pissed. His most recent girl, Nova, made out with Firelord right in front of him. There were some extenuating circumstances involving Starfox's powers, but since no one was given the opportunity to explain themselves, well, there are emotional issues that Surfer just isn't used to dealing with.
We cut to Nova, who would love to go to Silver Surfer and talk it out but whose boss isn't letting her. Galactus may have feeling for her himself so it's complicated.
Then we cut to the two people making the situation even more complicated. Starfox and Firelord are still looking for Nebula for their various reasons. Starfox feels bad about manipulating the feeling of the Silver Surfer. Still, they are in a rush to get out of the Silver Surfer comic before some Elder follows after them and bores them to death so they are out of here.
Remember good ol' Captain Reptyl the Non-Human with the terrible name and purpose? Yeah, he was such a great character that they decided to bring him back. They also brought back Clumsy Foulup who's an even better character! Every issue, I'm surprised that this thing made it to the point where it's actually worth reading. I just don't get it.
Anyway, Captain Reptyl appoints Clumsy to watch this stockpile of weapons with his current crew and then runs off to do more pirating. We'll see him again. And again. And again. Ugh. Clumsy takes about ten seconds before going mad with power and then freaks out when he hears a voice coming from a nearby cave.
Meanwhile, the Kree-Skrull War is still going on in the subplots. The Kree are taking some good ground and one particular Kree is given an abject lesson of the reach on the ears of the current Kree Supreme Leader.
The Kree go in for what looks like an easy victory only to learn that Super-Skrull is their better. They also learn that he won't attack the Surfer because of some debt or another (see Surfer's first Annual or our last Super Reads for more!).
Nenora sees the defeat of one of her armadas and continues on her current mission. She's headed to Zenn-La in order to apologize for attacking Silver Surfer. She wants to do it personally but, since Shalla Bal has some personal problems of her own with Norrin Radd, she's unwilling to call him home. Nenora's not happy about the snub and tells Shalla that once the Skrull threat is no more, things between them may change considerably. As Nenora leaves, the plants try to tell Shalla that Nenora's a Skrull but she's not picking up the hint just yet.
Back on earth, we have a short reminder than Mantis is still alive. Surfer is out in space still being emotional and the issue ends.
Silver Surfer #21
Writer: Marshall Rogers & Michael Higgins
Penciler: Marshall Rogers
Now, we're back to Elders. Everyone groan!
The Obliterator was left on what turns out to NOT be that remote of a planet because the Silver Surfer made his weapons useless. Because of this, he lost the will to live.
He's also an Elder of the Universe and that'll sap anyone's will to live.
In this state, he's confronted by the Contemplator before he was devoured by Reptyl. He reminds the Obliterator of how stupid he is by telling him to replace his damn weapons and get back to work.
To the Obliterator not being able to figure this out himself, we all collectively face palm.
Oby quickly replaces his guns with even better guns and then waits for the Contemplator to come and get him. Contemplator, though, has been eaten by this point so Obliterator ends up making his own way off planet.
Then, we're reminded that this is, in fact, a Silver Surfer comic by having the actual Silver Surfer show up acting emo again. This dude does not handle relationship issues well at all.
Luckily, he's only given two or three pages to mope before Shalla Bal contacts him. Apparently, the Obliterator is down on Zenn-La killing people. The Surfer is needed to stop him. Nova shows up just in time for the Surfer to snub her and take off for his home planet.
On his way, he comes across a stray Kree fleet that didn't get the memo to STOP ATTACKING THE SILVER SURFER *stop*
They do their best, but they get destroyed for their effort.
Once Surfer gets to Zenn-La, he gets into a nice and zzz inducing fight with Obliterator. Long story short, Surfer can't beat him and Obliterator can't easily defeat the Surfer. Oby decides to keep killing Zennlavians in the intervening time but Norrin tricks him into believing that if he kills all Zenn-La's inhabitants it will make Surfer an Elder (thus, even MORE boring) and make him immortal.
Oby doesn't want that so he needs to kill Surfer first. Surfer flies away, knowing that the Obliterator won't stay and kill his people but will instead follow him into space.
Silver Surfer #25
Writer: Steve Englehart
Penciler: Ron Lim
Surfer comes across a giant space battle but this time it's between the Skrulls and the Badoon. The Badoon are A-holes but either way Surfer doesn't want to involve himself so he makes his way out of the battle arena.
The Badoon attack him on his way out but Norrin doesn't need to stick around getting attacked so he just flies away. He's followed by Super-Skrull who beseaches him to join the battle. They Skrulls were trying to make an alliance with the Badoon but when the Skrulls came to the Badoon homeworld, they Badoon began attacking. When Surfer still refuses to help, Super-Skrull attacks, believing if he's going to die he might as well die trying to convince someone to help them.
Once Surfer realizes that he'll be fighting one way or another, he decides he might as well help. With his help, the Skrulls are able to turn the tide of battle and pull a victory from the jaws of defeat. When Norrin goes aboard the lead Skrull ship, he learns the horrible truth.
"Oh, hey, the Badoon are Kree allies and you've just accidentally picked a side. Our bad."
Angry, Surfer flies to Zenn-La as quickly as he can.
Back in the middle of nowhere, Clumsy Foulup is enjoying being in charge. He's able to shoot dissenters all he wants and he only has to deal with the crazy talking voice in the cave. Turns out it's a hooded cape. It tells him that Reptyl will eventually take the Skrulls' side in the conflict and that, for his own sake, he should betray him to the Kree. Clumsy's not a great fan of betraying Reptyl but he is given convincing evidence.
Surfer arrives at Zenn-La to find the planet already surrounded by Kree. Nenora was upset by Shalla Bal's ill treatment and wants to humiliate the Silver Surfer. To this end, he's attacked by Ronan the Accuser. You'll remember that Ronan was able to defeat the fake Surfer after the fake had defeated the real Silver Surfer. How will this battle go?
Yeah, it's a fun fight but in the end Surfer gives Ronan another beat down.
Then it's just a few million Kree vessels to victory. This wouldn't be a possible battle except that the Skrulls join in to help their new ally. Together, the Surfer and the Skrulls take victory once again.
Surfer goes down to the surface of the planet to explain why Zenn-La was in danger. Super-Skrull and Empress S'byll follow to fully explain the situation. It turns out that the only way to return the shapeshifting ability to the Skrull people is for the power to be transfered to a female Skrull. S'byll has agreed to be that female but the process to transfer this power to her from the Super-Skrull requires the Surfer and he would never have agreed if he were not forced into an alliance.
So, this bit of screwy logic done with, the Surfer and the Super-Skrull begin the painful process of returning the shapeshifting abilities to S'byll and soon to all Skrulls. The transfer is an interesting one and the power given to Empress S'byll is such that she has trouble keeping any shape for some time. At completion, she is only able to become a blob of green goo. She can fly; she's actually inherited the powers of Super-Skrull by the transfer.
The Kree renew their attack but now the battle is joined by Surfer and S'byll. With her new power, she's able to turn the tide in the Skrulls' favor once more.
Silver Surfer #26
Writer: Steve Englehart
Penciler: Ron Lim
Over the coming days, Empress S'byll gains increasing control over her super shape changing ability. She's still finding it hard to assume a humanoid form, but she's getting closer. The Skrull alliance with Zenn La is more formalized with the Skrull's agreeing not to add the planet to their empire after the war. Nenora meets with one of her Generals as they plan yet another strike against the Silver Surfer's homeworld.
But we know you're all reading this book to find out what happens when Clumsy Foulup enters the fray. He's agreed with the floating cloak that it'd be an awesome idea to betray Reptyl when it'll cost him the most. What he really wants, though, is to see the face behind the cloak. After seeing it, he probably thinks better of this request as it sends him into screaming fits.
After an uncomfortable talk between the Surfer and Shalla Bal, the next battle with the Kree is joined. Nenora is commanding the whole battle from her secret location. Seeing each motion as Supreme Leader and moving her own vessels accordingly. As such, the Surfer seeks audience with her to end the battle. He crashes headlong (boardlong?) into the Kree command ship only to learn that it is incredibly dense.
Still, that just means you have to crash into the command ship more times until you eventually ram your way through. Once inside, he fights his way through numerous Kree soldiers until finally making his way to what he assumes must be Nenora's chambers. He breaks his way inside to find that he's wrong.
Nenora led him there by guarding it the most. She's not there but she's gloating on a view monitor and that's almost as good except for being personally threatening.
The two strike an odd deal where Zenn-La will leave the war and the Kree will stop attacking the planet as long as the Silver Surfer has nothing to do with them again. Surfer is still an enemy of the Kree and can stay allied with the Skrulls, but Zenn-La is off limits.
Honestly, what Nenora gets from this deal is beyond me but I never claimed that this series was incredibly logical. All told, it's a victory for the Silver Surfer than has no benefits for the Kree.
As the book draws to an ending, Nenora is given news that a new Kree ally has been found: Clumsy Foulup.
Anyway, that's your Secret Invasion fix for today. Tune in next time as we go over a nice group of SI books and finally end this phase of the Kree-Skrull War.
Until next time: Who Do YOU Trust?