Today, we check out Secret Invasion: X-Men #4, Secret Invasion: Inhumans #4, and then blast from the past looks at Fantastic Four #'s 357 & 358. Finale after blissful finale as we continue to lay the SI storyline to rest... while setting up NEW storylines!
So I missed my Thursday/Friday deadline for the two week Secret Invasion extravaganza. That just means I'm ready for the pros, right?
Anyway, it's Saturday and that makes this officially the second Super Reads article for the week. Dig it!
As we move forward, it's important to know where we've been. You can find out by reading through all 27 installments of Super Reads Secret Invasion! Off to your left, you'll see a link 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 or remember back. You'll learn all you ever wanted to know about Secret Invasion and probably a few things you NEVER wanted to know.
And with that, we are off.
Secret Invasion: X-Men #4
Writer: Mike Carey
Penciler: Cary Nord w/ Ma Sepulveda
In this final issue of SI:X-Men, the battle for San Francisco reaches it's final concluding conclusions. The Skrulls have gathered innocent civilians and sealed them inside a lot of buildings at about 100 per. Beast has modified the Legacy Virus so that it will work on Skrull physiology.
Do I smell a moral dilema coming up?
Well, not if you're a Skrull. Commander H'kurrek finds a low level telepath among his crew (now, don't get me started on the fact that Skrulls shouldn't have a telepathic sect considering that they are at a genetic dead-end and, even if they WEREN'T, they kill any mutations they find... also, don't get me started on how a genetic dead-end species can have mutations or how many words I can fit in parenthesis) and has her send a message down to the X-Men. It's basically "We're gonna kill a lot of innocent civilians so give up RIGHT NOW! Don't make me come down there, mister!"
The X-Men weigh their options. They don't have time to rescue the civies. They don't have time to take down the gunships aiming on the civies. Cyclops also brings up that the Skrulls never made this a "surrender OR we'll kill innocent civillians." There's no guarantee that their surrender would change a damn thing.
So, it looks like genocide is the only option. Cyclops jumps at that because, not only is genocide fun, it's also something you can do with the entire family. Beast is the nay-sayer in the group and he reminds Cyclops that the X-Men leader hasn't asked a certain question yet. What are we on Jeopardy, now?
The innocent civilians are having their own problems. Some think the X-Men will rescue them. Others think the X-Men are obviously working WITH the Skrulls. Most of those inside are just scared and confused.
Cyclops gathers the troops. We've missed part of this conversation, but what we gather is that he's asking them for permission to commit mass genocide on alien invaders. Maybe it's what we've missed out on that makes them all agree to the proposed plan. Maybe not. We'll never know and about a week from now? We won't even care. You know it, I know it. Anyway, everyone DOES go with the proposed plan and they set out to surrender themselves to the Skrulls.
The X-Men surrender in different locations in groups of about four each. The Skrulls at first don't know if this is a last ditch attack or an actual surrender but, seeing as how the X-Men aren't last ditch attacking, the Skrulls take them into custody. Some Skrulls, though, aren't ready to just accept surrender. They taunt. Nightcrawler responds with a Bible Story (from Job, you should read it if you haven't, btw) and gets back handed for blasphemy.
Colossus and Ice-Man are ready to bring some pain now but Cyclops controls his troops like a pro. He tells the offending Skrull that they can save the religious conversations for later on and that's about the time that we're ALL thankful for the stupid Skrull Bible Palanthir Bauble Thing not being in this issue. That thing was annoying.
Cyclops is given a personal audience with Commander H'kurrek. Ah, Skrulls and their gloating before learning that they've actually just lost the whole shebang... it's cute. H'kurrek calls he and Scott brothers, which just ticks Cyke off. His family tree is messed up enough already. Don't try to add yourself to it!
H'kurrek and Cyclops exchange... pleasantries... with each other. At the end of those, H'kurrek regrets ever bringing Scott to the bridge to accept his surrender personally. That's when he gets a little bombshell: Cyclops never said they were surrendering.
Around this time, Skrull ships start dropping out of the sky as the Legacy Virus begins affecting their pilots. It turns out those blankets the X-Men brought with them as gifts were loaded with the Skrull adapted Legacy Virus. OK, it was on their clothes. Genocide starts to blur after a while. Cyclops tells H'kurrek that he has a cure for the whole thing and if the Skrulls surrender he'll release it. After a quick psi-scan, this info is confirmed. This is that bit of the conversation we missed earlier when Scott was talking to his troops.
Yeah, a little calling the kettle black action later, H'kurrek realizes that he's just lost the Battle for San Francisco. He orders his troops to stand down. Instead of accepting the cure, though, Commander H'kurrek opts to destroy his fleet.
The X-Men escape destruction by jumping ship before the mass implosions. This includes a cool scene where Cyclops jumps off the ship, knowing that Iceman will already be there to pick him up. It's a Bond-worthy maneuver.
It looks like the X-Men just won back San Francisco. They begin rescuing those civilians that were being used as bartering chips. Beast is still unsettled, though. Cyclops agreed to use the Legacy Virus before he knew that Beast had developed an antidote. What kind of man does that make him? Does it make him the type of man that'll make the hard decisions? Or is he the type of man that knew Hank would only present an option that his conscience could live with?
Good cause for debate, there Beast. Cyclops has more depth now than is a long time past.
Secret Invasion: Inhumans #4
Writer: Joe Pokaski
Penciler: Tom Raney
So, we ended with everything going badly. That's a third issue tradition, actually. On Rigel 3, Karnak was being held at gunpoint by a young Rigelian while Gorgon was being attacked by Recorders. On Earth, Medusa and her sister Crystal were discussing their differences in a nice little trial-by-combat. On Pelagia, Triton had gotten himself captured by a race of people looking a lot like him. Finally, Black Bolt and his son, Ahura, are captives on the Skrull Warship, Ry'bik, as it makes it's way to the Inhuman's home on the moon in order to destroy it with Black Bolt's own powers.
So, are you ready for the finale? Me too. Let's dig in.
Karnak basically confuses his Rigelian captor, giving him a second to recover from being held at gunpoint. It's enough time for him to get the upper hand. He then advises Gorgon to start ripping Recorder heads off. Gorgon finds the particular Recorder he was looking for and the two make for their escape.
On Earth, Crystal and Medusa fight it out. Crystal thinks that her sister is being too bullheaded to listen to some good advice. She may also be pissed that Medusa promised to marry her off to Ronan in order to seal an alliance with the Kree. Crystal manipulates the surrounding fires to create a snake creature and gets the upper hand quickly. She's finally able to get her sister to listen to her. Medusa agrees to let Crystal handle the current situation. Crystal asks for an audience with Thundra.
Triton is the worst captive ever. He doesn't actually believe he's captive and with good reason. Even though he LOOKS like the Palagians, he's only like them in looks. He's stronger, for one thing. After getting some of his questions answered, he breaks free and gets into a big fight.
Crystal is able to convince Thundra to give the Inhumans their Skrull prisoner. She does it with words instead of fighting. She... may not be in a Marvel comic. Everyone knows that it's fight first, understand later. Send a memo!
It turns out that Black Bolt's son is able to understand him just as well as his wife. With but a glance, Ahura knows exactly what Black Bolt wants him to do. Maybe our Chief Scientist Skrull with the brain-killing past is gonna get what's coming to him before the Inhumans get destroyed.
On Pelagia, Triton has just won a fight with an entire Pelagian Legion. When asked how he could win, Triton answers that it's because he's spent so much time OUT of his element. He'd rather be with his family and therefore he's been strengthening his body more than he would have if he'd just stayed in the water his entire life. With that answer out of the way, he returns to his family after completing his mission. For his efforts, his brother gets him an upgrade for the next big attack.
The Inhuman Royal family is back together (sans Black Bolt, of course) and they've all completed their various missions with success. They are now able to locate their lost king and mount a rescue mission. Triton uses his upgrades to attack the Ry'bik from the outside while the rest board for rescue action.
Black Bolt hasn't been idle, though. He's attracted the attention of the Jean Grey/ Emma Frost/ Medusa New Super Skrull that's been holding his son. She leaves Ahura to go pay some HIM attention. With the New Super Skrull focusing elsewhere, Ahura is able to use his mental powers to make the Skrull scientist free his father. And with that, Black Bolt exacts some payback. He strikes out at the New Super Skrull before making his way to the Scientist.
While Black Bolt gets to rescuing himself, his rescuers are still working their way to him. In the joy of combat, Crystal agrees to marry Ronan. Which reminds us that the Kree are allied to the Inhumans. They're actually helping in this fight, too. They've surrounded the Skrull Warship.
Triton's going to work dismantling the big tuning fork they put on the front of the Ry'bik. It's totally copyright infringement and the Inhuman lawyers will waste no time in suing the sweet christmas out of the Skrulls.
Black Bolt confronts the slithering Scientist. He backpedals before trying one last attack. It... doesn't help matters...
Medusa enters just in time to kill the New Super Skrull who has, again, gotten a hold of Ahura. These are the moments that may traumatize a child for life.
Now, all they need is a make out scene between Black Bolt and Medusa. Ah. There it is.
The issue ends with a gathering of the Inhumans to listen to their returning king. Black Bolt has decided that hiding from the world, the universe, hasn't helped the Inhuman people one bit. He will rule in tandem with Maximus. They will, indeed, be forming an alliance with the Kree. Crystal will have another wedding.
The Inhumans just got a whole lot more aggressive.
This story continues on in Secret Invasion: War of Kings. Should be cool. :)
Fantastic Four #357
Writer: Tom DeFalco
Penciler: Paul Ryan
I know his writing is well loved by many a comic guy, but I just never get it. DeFalco overwrites almost everything I've read that he's worked on. His characters are always explaining exactly what's going on in every panel as though DeFalco can't trust the reader to make out the action on their own. We all know explaining comics is MY JOB so maybe I'm just a little defensive.
There, I got that out of the way. Just had to vent. Anyway, this is the story of how Marvel unmarried Johnny Storm and Alicia Masters.
It starts off innocently enough. After their latest dealing with Puppet Master, Reed is scanning the team's thought patterns in order to defend them from being mind controlled at Four Freedoms Plaza. It's an idea whose time has come.
So, naturally, it's a little disconcerting when Alicia enters the scene and refuses to get mind scanned. She brings up some pretty weak reasons and, after listening to Reed explain the process, agrees to the procedure.
Meanwhile, the Thinker (who some call MAD) is in the Vault. This doesn't prevent him from projecting his mind into a simulcra of his body in order to have a meeting with Puppet Master. Our Master of Puppets has some questions about Alicia and the Thinker has some answers. All the Puppet Master needs to agree to is helping the Thinker destroy the Fantastic Four! It's win/win for the Puppeteer!
Elsewhere, Alicia is having a hell of a time selling her sculptures. She used to do realistic interpretations of people but has gotten very abstract and "artsy" in her current work. The buyers aren't buying. Alicia leaves only to find herself even more frustrated by her husband's womanizing, flirting, and "goings-on." Yep, marriage ain't no easy ride.
Back at Four Freedoms, Johnny and Sue have a conversation about how hard it is not to cheat on their spouses. Sue is probably thinking of Namor RIGHT NOW, by the way. The Invisible Woman then does a check up on her husband who is way too interested in his mind scanning machine with the funny name.
Turns out, one of the minds scanned came up anomolous, so Reed's running some tests to figure out what is up. Alicia's listening in and is freaking the hell out.
Speaking of freaking the hell out, so is the Puppet Master. He's startled by the info he recieved from the Thinker and, while he has to move forward on the plan, he doesn't want the FF destroyed until they can rescue his step-daughter. "What is he talking about?" I say, pretending I have no clue what's going on.
The Thing is making a sandwich only a monster could love... which is pretty lucky for him. Before he gets to eat it and watch... the Rocketeer? Really? Fine, then. Before he gets to do all that, he hears a sound and immediately decides to kill it. Destroy it. Make it stop sounding. Monsters have tempers, too.
He attacks a shadow but all he strikes is air. Well, air AND Reed's machinery.
He chases the shadow around only to find it has disappeared and Alicia has shown up in the same place. It's uncanny but must be unrelated. In his rampage, Ben has destroyed the mind scanner data with no signs that he was fighting anything but air. We also learn that Paul Ryan can't draw four year olds.
Four years olds DO have legs, right? Those don't grow in later on? Poor, freakish, Franklin. No wonder the Fantastic Four tries to forget he exists every few issues.
Now, that isn't the end by half. Thing runs out to gets some rain in his face and maybe reenact "This Man, This Monster" while Reed reveals that he's made copious back up copies of the brain scans and will restart his tests at once.
Out in the rain, Thing comes across the Puppet Master who reveals something so surprising that Ben rushes back to Four Freedoms Plaza to kill Alicia. It's a big battle with the Torch believing that the Puppet Master has Thing in his control. When Sue tries to intervene, Reed prevents her from doing so. It's some crazy times in the headquarters of our famous foursome.
Finally, Ben has Alicia cornered and forces her to reveal herself to everyone. It turns out she's actually a Skrull! Reed's brain scans confirm what everyone's eyes see.
Next issue will be fun.
Fantastic Four #358
Writer: Tom DeFalco
Penciler: Paul Ryan
So Alicia was actually a Skrull named Lyja and Johnny Storm's marriage has been a lie... well, he's technically still married, he just didn't marry who he thought he had married.
So the big question is, where is the real Alicia? It is a question that will haunt the FF for the rest of their lives... until this issue is done and solves it all.
After the Human Torch calms down, Lyja tells them the entire tale of how she replaced Alicia Masters shortly before Secret Wars began and how her plans to be Thing's girlfriend changed when Thing didn't come BACK from Secret Wars. She ended up hooking up with Johnny and the two fell in love and were married. It's such a beautiful story of subterfuge and lies.
Johnny goes up on the roof to absorb all this and has a nice heart to heart with Ben. He still has feelings for Lyja but now they're all mixed up.
Meanwhile, Reed is building a ship that'll get the team to the Andromeda Galaxy and to where Alicia's being held. He wastes no time in retelling the Fantastic Four's origin story to Sue.
Who's heard it before.
She kind of lived it.
Does Reed think she's stupid? Don't answer that, Reed. Now, I know this is a way to retell the origin in an anniversary issue, but it's ham-handed at best and insulting at worst. I would have simply put it at the end of the issue in a back up story. Geez.
There's some side action that goes on when the Puppet Master sends an agent (puppet controlled) to talk to the Thinker. Puppet Master wants to make sure that the Fantastic Four don't die before they rescue Alicia Masters from the Skrulls. Thinker tricks Puppet Master into believing that he's not really going to kill the FF. It might have been better to NOT HAVE TOLD HIM YOU WERE GOING TO KILL THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE. I mean, seriously, Thinker. Did you REALLY think all this out?
But I digress.
The FF are ready to go but Johnny's not so keen when he sees Lyja in an old FF uniform ready to join them. Reed says it's necessary because she'll lead them to Alicia. Johnny begrudgingly lets it go.
The FF eventually arrive at Skrull Warworld. It's not an amusement park. It is controlled by Paibok the Power Skrull who has been given a multitude of artificial powers to match strength with the Fantastic Four. These powers are NOT the same as the FF's. That's Super-Skrull's schtick.
The Fantastic Four land and get themselves into trouble. Seems this place is full of Skrulls! Johnny is surprised to see Lyja grabbing a gun and fighting alongside the Four.
The Skrulls eventually retreat, but it's more to introduce Paibok than because they needed to. The Power Skrull tussles with the FF individually as more Skrulls attack the remaining Foursome. Reed quickly disappears so that someone can actually rescue Alicia.
On his way to Alicia, Reed interfaces with the Skrull mainframe and initiates a self destruct sequence. Skrull Warworld is gonna blow, but will the FF get out first?
Power Skrull is about to deal Johnny Storm a killing blow when Lyja intercepts the shot in the form of a nearly indestructible bierbeast. This doesn't seem to be enough to save her though. She dies in Johnny's arms, but we won't cry too hard because we know how much she shows up in later issues.
Reed has found Alicia and is removing her from cryogenic holding. While that's going on, Skrull Warworld has begun to break at the seams. Skrulls are trying to escape but are being gunned down as cowards by the Power Skrull.
The FF escape just in time (Reed must have done the math JUST right) and Paibok is apparently destroyed when his Skrull Warworld goes boom.
There is a reunion of Alicia and Ben as it is drawn home that this Alicia was never interested in Johnny Storm at all. Lyja was and she's gone. For now.
The scene shifts to the Thinker as he gloats to himself. The outer shielding on the FF's craft is faulty, thanks to him. It should break apart right about...
There it goes. Reed's not so worried about shielding. After their first trip into space, he's made sure to over shield his ships to prevent exposure to cosmic rays. He buys the shielding materials from various companies in anticipation of JUST this event. So, they still have adequate shields. What they don't have is a working Hyperdrive. It was damaged during their escape. They can't get home.
They'll have to land on Tattoine and buy one off a local junk dealer, maybe get involved in a pod-race or two, possibly pick up a new kid to replace Franklin. One with legs. It'll be good times, honest!
And until NEXT time: Who Do YOU Trust?
Posted originally: 2008-12-06 02:25:16