Saturday, October 04, 2014
Review: All-New Invaders Vol. 1: Gods and Soldiers
There didn't seem to be any real organic need for such a team book at this point in time, not with Avengers books sprouting like weeds all over Marvel's shipping schedule, and most of those seemingly co-starring Captain America who would, of course, be anchoring this series as well.
Additionally, the team's line-up was no bigger than that of the Fantastic Four: Captain America, Namor, The Winter Soldier and the original Human Torch, Jim Hammond (The original, Golden Age Vision appears about halfway through this five-issue story arc as well). The last Invaders story I read was a trade collection of the 2010 series Invaders Now, and featured a much more robust team of characters: SHIELD Commander Steve Rogers (formerly Captain America), Captain America James Buchanan "Bucky" Barnes, Namor, The (original) Human Torch, Toro, Spitfire, Union Jack and The (original) Vision. That series, by Alex Ross, Christopher Gage, Caio Reis and others, was very open-ended in its conclusion, with the final pages featuring The Vision intoning, "Though we pursue separate destinies, I have no doubt that should this world have need of us...should freedom ever again be threatened...The INVADERS will answer the call."
Apparently, freedom was never again threatened, and the world had no need of them, as the book did not lead directly into an Invaders ongoing, as it seemed to be positioning itself to do so: All those previously mentioned Avengers teams mush have been doing a pretty alright job defending the world and freedom without any help from Marvel's World War II vets not named Steve Rogers.
While Invaders Now had the super-team reuniting to face the consequences of a terrible decision they were forced to make during the war, the premise for this new, that is, this all-new Invaders series dealt with Marvel super-aliens The Kree, which, at first blush, seemed an usual source of conflict for this handful of Golden Agers. The creative team was an intriguing one, at any rate: Writer James Robinson, who had years of success working with DC Comics' Golden Age character during Starman and JSA and had just left DC (where he was scripting Earth 2) for Marvel (where he was writing not only this book, but also Fantastic Four), and Steve Pugh, also fresh off a DC super-comic assignment (Animal Man).
Despite my reservations and initial puzzlement, the book—or at least the first five issues that make up this collection—are actually pretty good. The collection begins with a completely unnecessary eight-page sequence taken from a goofily titled preview book—All-New Marvel Now! Point One #1—in which new Kree villain Tanalth The Pursuer chats with floating head The Supreme Intelligence about an Asgardian-controlling weapon known as Gods' Whisper that is on Earth, broken into pieces and hidden by three heroes.
The Kree must got there to retrieve the components of the weapons, "even if it makes us Earth's invader." (Get it? Invader? GET IT?!)
Then the book starts over with the first issue of the series. The Kree go after Bucky, Namor and the original Torch, who is trying to live a normal life, posing as a normal, human mechanic in a normal, small town. An attack by a powerful alien warrior scuttles all that, obviously, and before long, he finds himself in the company of Bucky and Captain America and The Vision.
It turns out that not only did Tanalth and company get the parts of the weapon, they also captured Namor, which necessitates the others going to the Kree homeworld to rescue The Sub-Mariner. Here then it becomes clear how Robinson approached the idea of a new Invaders series. He's taking the team name literally, and having the Invaders invade the Kree. I don't know if it's necessarily clever, or if it's enough to build an ongoing series rather than a miniseries around, but it certainly makes sense.
There are a few twists to the story, the biggest of which involves the target of the Gods' Whisper, and how those victims plan to retaliate against the Kree using the same weapon, and Robinson writes three pages of a really great scene between Marvel's original heroes—Cap, Torch and Namor—and then, after Namor flies off, between Cap and Torch, where the former talks the latter into joining the world more fully alongside him.
Pugh has proved to be rather flexible in his art style over the last decade or so, his work on the latest volume of Animal Man not looking much like that of his work on the previous volume of Animal Man and his lush, almost photo-realistic looking work on Hotwire not looking much like either.
His work here finds a nice balance between big, bombastic, classic Marvel superheroics and the more realistic style of modern superhero comics. It reminded me quite a bit of what John Cassaday was doing on Uncanny Avengers, but more smooth and fluid.
I'm not crazy about Captain America's NFL SuperPro-esque current costume, which I think is meant to suggest the costume from the movies, but that's not Pugh's fault. He doesn't make it look cool, but he doesn't draw it any worse than any other artist.
He does tweak the Human Torch's costume, and that looks fantastic—
I approached this first volume curious but wary, but I closed it eagerly awaiting the next volume.
The Skottie Young variant cover for the first issue, included unencumbered in the back, is awesome:
Not crazy about the new Invaders logo though, as it looks a little too much like they just plugged "Invaders" into the "Avengers" logo-style, which they did: