Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Doug Braithwaite
Colorists: Paul Mounts, Brian Reber
Letterer: VC's Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics
WHAT IS IT?
Cabbage, what the hell is this?
It's a comic review!
Of A MARVEL book?
A CROSSOVER EVENT COMIC?! HAVE YOU GONE MAD AT LAST?!
Look, I'm not particularly well-versed in anything remotely recent when it comes to most Big 2 stuff, or a particular Kree-Skrull event that went down in the '70s. But when our buds at Shelfdust came calling, I opened my face, transformed into my true conqueror-alien terror gender, and read some Thor.
Secret Invasion is a 2008 event about aliens or some shit. Skrulls show up, lots of stuff blows up, the whole company's beholden to a meta-storyline that means titles can often range from "hmmm ok" to "what the #%$! did you do?!"
This one turned out pretty ok.
Thor was in it.
So was Beta Ray Bill! And he's the best.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Broxton, Oklahoma is currently hosting Asgard on Earth, Dr. Don Blake has a baby to deliver and Beta Ray Bill's cast down from the heavens, beaten and hammer-less, to warn of an impending Skrull invasion.
These aren't just any Skrulls, however. They've evolved themselves specifically for war, and Asgard has to muster its forces to meet this new threat and keep their mortal hosts safe.
Fraction keeps the storytelling pretty straightforward, and when it comes to event books, this is a massive blessing. We get a little bit of a plot download in the first issue but Fraction's skilled enough to keep the focus on Thor and Bill and the tension of the impending threat.
Shout out to femme Loki stirring the pot, as usual. Good, casual use of the trickster god in issue #1 makes the world feel lived-in, and the archetypal nature of the character's delivered with a simple, discord-driven whisper.
There's some nice parallel storytelling as Marie delivers her baby and Bill fights the Super-Skrull who's corrupted his hammer. As they smash their way through a besieged Asgard, Marie struggles through labor. Birth and death aren't necessarily an unfamiliar juxtaposition, but this kind of storytelling works well under the Asgardian banner. They are a mythic pantheon, after all.
Reber's colors pair best with Braithwaite's sketchy line, especially in the big action scenes. Bill's a lovely, vivid focal point, and the tans and muted fire hues of the stormy background are a good contrast to the immediate action. Reber does good work to smooth the edges on Braithwaite's expressive art without expunging or glossing over what makes it unique.
Caramagna keeps the signature Asgardian font readable, which, as we all know, is exciting for this particular cabbage. One of my biggest pet peeves in comics is overly ornate lettering. Scripts can add a lot of flavor to a page, but if they're a strain on the eyes – especially if they're used as a main dialogue font – they sink the whole creative ship. Caramagna does good work here, and I'm grateful for it.
Overall, the book's a straight-ahead, solid entry into this crossover jumble. Fraction knows how to keep things moving, Braithwaite gets several epic Thor moments in front of our eyeballs (see below,) Mounts and Reber add the gloom and flavor we need to carry off the story, and Caramanga finishes it off with readability and style.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
Braithwaite's art isn't always suited to big, poppy action. We get sketchy anatomy at best when characters are relatively still, but when things start popping off it can be easy to lose track of limbs – and faces, especially.
If you are, say, jumping into this with little previous knowledge of what the hell a Skrull is (yeah, I said it) this might be a little confusing. Still, the team does excellent work here to ground us and tell a solid hero story without dumping decades' worth of history in a short period of time.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
TO REFLECT UPON YOUR GRIM FUTURES, HUMAN MEAT BODIES, FOR WE ARE COMING TO SAVE YOU FROM YOURSELVES.
Read this if you like Thor. Read this if you like Fraction and want to see what he can do on serious editorial rails. Read this if you like pure adventure and gods smashing the crap out of each other. Read this if you like event books and revel in the chaos of it all.
Re-read it if you haven't in a long time, because it's pretty darn good. Events can disrupt storylines and result in a lot of frustrating cash-grabs, and this book doesn't feel like it falls into either camp. Worth your time, if you're into this sort of thing.
WHAT SHOULD I READ NEXT?
...Secret Invasion stuff?
Seriously, though, check out Shelfdust's coverage of these books. They're doing great work over there.
HOW DO I BUY IT?
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