Best Shots Extras: SI: Thor, X-Men, Inhumans #1s

Reviews: Secret Invasion Tie-Ins

BEST SHOTS EXTRA Special Edition

Secret Invasion #1’s

This week sees not one, not two, but three Secret Invasion tie-in series debuting from Marvel. Let's jump in...

Secret Invasion: X-Men #1

From: Marvel

Writer: Mike Carey

Art: Cary Nord

Secret Invasion: X-Men does what it needs to do, but it’s not very satisfying from a character standpoint. Sure, Mike Carey knows the X-Men and has written them to great effect. The problem comes in with the establishment of character and situation. While even the newest reader can grasp that the X-Men are fighting an alien invasion, there’s not much done to introduce the group. You pretty much have to know who the X-Men are and what they to for the issue to have any impact. I don’t think that that’s the best decision when you’re having an event that may pull new readers to your title.

I attribute part of the overall problem to uncharacteristically unappealing art from Cary Nord. I generally like Nord’s work, but it’s really lackluster here. There are some strange anatomical inconsistencies, like Colossus’s near total absence of a neck on page 8. I also understand that part of the plot turns on cloaking things in fog, but in a way it almost seems like an excuse to not draw backgrounds. There aren’t many elaborate details, and most of the characters (particularly Colossus and Armor in action) seems kind of rushed. I will say that Nord does do a great job with Nightcrawler.

In terms of the character details and dialogue that do appear, Carey has that right. He’s got the proper tone for the whole cast, and he’s got an appreciation for which characters would mesh correctly in which combinations. He also succeeds in giving us a brief glimpse of how the Skrulls punish failure.

At this point, I’m not sure how necessary this one is. Nord’s art falls flat, but Carey’s ear helps right the ship a bit.

Secret Invasion: Thor #1

From: Marvel

Writer: Matt Fraction

Art: Doug Braithwaite

A brisk, crisp read, this book plays perfectly off of recent issues of the home title. The intrigue and suspicion that quickly overtake Asgard have been fostered in the regular series, and Fraction works hard to exploit it all. Even if you’re not totally familiar with Thor, you’ll get caught up pretty quickly. The only point of confusion may come in the addressing of the identity of Beta Ray Bill, but even that is eventually covered.

From an art perspective, Braithwaite does a great job. He captures the majesty of the characters, and the overarching threat feels massive and ugly in his hands. Whereas the X-Men installment took pains to hide things, this book takes pains to show the details. It’s great-looking work.

This one also works better because there’s more meat to the story. We see Thor as Dr. Donald Blake actually being a doctor. We see the bond that Thor and Beta Ray Bill share. We glimpse that Asgardian intrigue. And we get some surprises. Fraction’s script is a thoughtful one, building suspense toward a solid last page. Even though we know what’s happening, we’re still pulled in from strong execution.

Secret Invasion: Inhumans #1

From: Marvel

Writer: Joe Pokaski

Art: Tom Raney

Of all the various tie-in minis, this feels like it’s had the longest wait for its payoff. We finally see what happens when Medusa learns about the Black Bolt Skrull. We finally get some reactions from the Royal Family. And we finally get a huge piece of the puzzle for a bigger answer.

One thing that helps this issue is the art of Tom Raney. It’s terrific stuff. His confrontation between Medusa and Iron Man is fantastic; he really grabs the emotion of that scene. At this point in his career, Raney is clearly in full command of his prodigious talent.

Frankly, while Pokaski keeps things moving, a lot of what goes on here is re-establishment and set-up. Then again, it’s artfully rendered re-establishment and set-up. Regardless, the story takes the opportunity to be a sort of snapshot of the Inhuman community. We see them in a variety of situations, religious to political, and it makes one interested in a Machiavelli-flavored ongoing.

I really liked this issue. Perhaps that was driven from the fact that it finally addresses pieces of the larger tapestry. Part of that was the great art. Really, it’s a total package.

So, at the buzzer: X-Men, eh; Thor, strong, Inhumans, best of the three.

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