Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Splash Page: Secret Invasion #8 Part II

There are technical problems with the site that normally hosts the Splash Page, so Tim Callahan and I thought we'd do one of those lovely cross-blog posts for this week. We're discussing Secret Invasion #8 and Tim already posted the first part of our conversation on his blog. Enjoy

CN: Some good points. I think the Osborn/Stark stuff didn't bother me because it seemed like a purposeful callback to Civil War where Stark rose in a quick fashion. Now, it wasn't done that well, but I can forgive Bendis if the intention was to mirror that. I just saw a preview of Secret Invasion: Dark Reign and it shows that the secret little cabal meeting is the first of its kind, so, at least, this hasn't been a mirror to the Illuminati all of these years that we're just now finding out about. Unless that turns out to be the case.

Noh-Varr's use in the book is odd and frustrating for me, as you know.

Mockingbird's return bothers me, because it would suggest that the Skrulls began this way, way, way back in the day, because she's been dead for quite some time. She's been dead far longer than this invasion seems to have been in the works. I almost seems like Bendis pissed off the Hawkeye fans and is now swinging a bit too far in the other direction. It's very convenient, especially after the interaction between Clint and the Skrull-Mockingbird, which could have had some longterm effects on him, but is totally undercut by this. I don't really understand the choice or how it begins to make sense. But, as Marvel is wont to tell us, we'd best keep reading.

How about the "Dark Reign" solicitations that have finally been released? Does anything there strike your fancy?

TC: I actually haven't seen them. I tend to ignore solicitations unless they are linked to by someone I read regularly. What should I know about?

CN: The only thing that caught my interest was the cover to New Avengers #50, which has the New Avengers fighting the Dark Avengers... except both teams have a Spider-Man, a Wolverine, a Hawkeye/Ronin, and a Ms. Marvel. And, for some reason, Noh-Varr (Dark Avengers) seems to be flying. Otherwise, I've looked through them rather extensively since my shop gave me the little free book containing them and, well, I can't say I'm that enthusiastic for anything. Fraction's take on Tony Stark being the most hated man in America, on the run from Osborn's H.A.M.M.E.R. could be interesting. And I will definitely be getting Secret Warriors, because Jonathan Hickman is writing that (with Bendis, but Hickman seems to be doing the heavy lifting) and I love his writing. Other than that... Secret Invasion: Dark Reign will be my tipping point. If Bendis can pull off some interesting and compelling things in that issue, I may check out New Avengers #48 and Dark Avengers #1. If not, it's been a nice ride with Bendis and the Avengers.

TC: I'll probably buy everything, because that's what I do, but even if I cut back, I think I'll stick with the Hickman book. I've heard him talk about the series, and Bendis doesn't seem involved at all, other than conceptually. It looks to be all Hickman, and I'm curious to see how he handles the Marvel Universe.

I still don't feel that "Dark Reign" is an earned situation, but if it leads to good stories it probably doesn't matter. Amazing Spider-Man has been excellent for the past few months, and that was the result of a completely bogus, unearned change in the status quo.

Getting back to Secret Invasion, I feel like the resolution was completely unsatisfying even though it was all explained fully (except the bit about all the Skrulls who weren't at the Central Park party). Last week, of course, brought the end of Grant Morrison's "Batman R.I.P." and because we have compared Morrison and Bendis before, I'm curious about what you think. Do you feel, as I do, that while Secret Invasion had a clearly defined resolution, it was somewhat (or totally) unsatisfying, and while "Batman R.I.P." had an ambiguous ending that was far less shocking than we were led to believe, it is somehow more satisfying?

CN: Hmm, good question. (After typing that sentence, I sat and thought about it for several minutes.) Yes, I'll agree. Despite our knowledge that Batman stories will keep on coming out, you can read the end of "Batman R.I.P." and it's an ending. Helicopter blows up, a new Batman and Robin are hinted at to take over, little Bruce Wayne is about to have his parents slaughtered... you need not read another Batman story after, because that is a complete story. Secret Invasion #8 is only partly a resolution to that story; had it ended at page 21 where Hulkling confronts some captured Skrulls who tell him that this was their last hope, it would feel like a complete issue in many ways. The Skrulls are defeated, everyone is happy, but there are some lingering ideas that could be followed up on, but you don't feel compelled to necessarily follow up on. After that, though, it's all setting up Norman Osborn and "Dark Reign," so that eliminates any sense of completeness and closure, making it unsatisfying as a story.

TC: And I think Secret Invasion is unsatisfying as an artistic whole too. Even with the ambiguity about Dr. Hurt's identity, which was frustrating only because it was promoted as something else entirely, Morrison's Batman run has been -- as I termed when I discussed Final Crisis -- a poetic exploration of the character. Secret Invasion has been a series of explanations about what happened. Morrison's Batman has been delving into the relationship between Bruce Wayne and his past. It has explored the schism between order and chaos, between logic and madness. What ideas was Bendis exploring in Secret Invasion, ultimately?

CN: You would think it would be an exploration of issues of trust at its core. "Who do you trust?" In a way, I think he did that... albeit in an odd manner. This final issue answered that question without any direct prompting and the answer is: someone you shouldn't trust. The fall of Tony Stark and the rise of Norman Osborn is an exercise in exploring the concept of trust, with Stark penalized by those who trusted him because... er, an invasion happened and it was stopped but screw him... wait, what? Anyway, Jessica Jones also trusted the wrong person and now her baby is missing. It almost seems that Bendis didn't want to simply explore that idea, but show what happens when you trust the wrong people. Nick Fury turns his back on his old allies, because he doesn't trust them anymore. Thor still doesn't trust Tony Stark, nor does the new Captain America... Of course, like everything else in this issue, we have to keep reading to see these ideas played out in any meaningful manner, which goes back to the incompleteness of the story.

TC: That's an interesting point -- the exploration of trust had more to it than just the issue of Skrull sleeper agents. Who do you trust? Norman Osborn, apparently.