Saturday, July 12, 2008

SECRET INVASION VS. SECRET WARS: TO PLOT, OR NOT TO PLOT

Welcome to The Hype Box, and thanks to the Smilin’ One for allowing me this opportunity to both dip my toes into the blogosphere and to write publicly about the state of the art in comics today. My respect for the Man know no bounds, and as I once told Steve Englehart, in many ways Stan is the father of us all. Thanks, Stan. And without further ado, on with the show...

July brings us issue #4 of Joe Queseda’s and Brian Michael Bendis’ bastard summer crossover love-child, Secret Invasion. When the best thing you can say about this series is that at least it’s better than Final Crisis, you’ve still probably set reader expectations a little too high. I’m not even going to get into the ridiculous plot-holes that wouldn’t have even passed muster back in Stan’s day — he’s covered all of that quite well here and here and here. I’m going to compare and contrast it with the Gold Standard of all cross-over comics, my own Secret Wars. Let’s keep it simple and just start with this month cover, shall we? Secret Wars #4 (Aug. 1984) may not have been the best art directed cover in the history of comics (we were going for high-concept with the whole Molecule Man dropping a mountain on the Hulk and him holding it up), but you know what we didn’t do? We didn’t let the cover artist obscure so much of the title logo that you couldn’t even read it!

I'd critique Bendis’ plot... but there really isn’t one to critique, is there? If this story had been discussed with artist Leinil Francis Yu “Marvel Style,” the conversation would’ve gone something like, “In this ish we touch back on Reed — he’s still captured. We touch back on the exploded SWORD orbital HQ, which is still exploded. We touch back on the Super Skrull invasion of New York which Nick Fury showed up at with his forces last ish, and they still show up..." Well, you get the idea. It’s decompressed storytelling at it’s finest, and by decompressed storytelling I mean listless, lazy-ass storytelling that feigns realism with maudlin character moments as a substitute for actual plot development. There's about one-third of one issue’s worth of Secret Wars plot development stretched out over the course of the first four issues of Secret Invasion, with no sign of the pace picking up anytime soon. I swear reading this issue was like watching a Will Ferrel movie; it’s 15 minutes of my life I’m never getting back and I feel like my IQ just dropped 10 points.

And how exactly is a reader supposed to enjoy the torment of the heroes never knowing who’s a Skrull when even the readers aren’t given enough information to tell shape-changing head from shape-changing toe? That’s not creating suspense, Bendis, that’s called creating story confusion.

That’s enough for this blog, dear reader. Take my advice and don’t encourage these guys by giving them your hard-earned $3.99 a month. Save that money and after eight more months you can buy half a tank of gas with it and use that to drive to the comic shop and thumb through the trade paperback. You’ll get the whole story in about 3 minutes’ time, which is just about what it deserves.

Take Care,
Shooter

2 comments:

sonofwat said...

Yikes. Have you read any of BMB's Powers book? It's pretty good. I haven't read Secret Invasion because I dropped the Bendis books I had been reading for some of the exact reasons you bring up in your critique of S.I. so I can't say, with any accuracy, if you are being overly harsh or rather kind, actually. I do know Mr. Bendis has legions (excuse the pun) of fans and this will undoubtedly serve to raise their ire and make you unpopular for a whole new generation of fanboys. On a semi-positive note, I must say that out of all my childhood heroes you are one of the few that has not let me down with their recent comics work. For that I thank you. Just be careful of whose and how many toes you step on. I'd like to see lots more comics work from you in the near future. And to people who actually enjoyed Secret Invasion, continue to enjoy it and take negative reviews with a grain of salt. Everyone try and be nice to each other.

Stan the Man said...

The Smilin' One here... thanks for reading, Sonofwat. I'll be sure Slim Jim sees your concerned critique and carefully-conceived comments. Jim will be contributing to this blog on a regular basis, but part of the deal was that he was free to express himself as he saw fit. Hopefully you'll continue to find him informative, provocative and some other 'tives yet to be discovered!

We like to give Brian Michael Bendis a hard time around the ol' Soapbox, but we mean it with love. He's a big boy, he can take it. Plus I hear his accountant is really a Skrull, so you know he's doin' alright for himself at the end of the day. 'Nuff Said!

Smiley