Friday, August 13, 2010

Review: The Avengers Kree/Skrull War


With my recent interest in the Marvel cosmic line of comic books, and discovering how much I actually really enjoyed Secret Invasion – I decided to check out the book that in many ways is the origin for that tale, the original story showing how Earth came to be involved in the Kree/Skrull War. And while this is a beloved tale by many, I’m afraid that for me (even having grown up with comics of the 80s which are of a much different style than today) this story seemed badly dated. I didn’t get the kind of enjoyment I’ll get out of a classic Star Wars comic for instance, but instead found many things of that era to be distracting and ultimately detrimental to the telling of the story.

But perhaps it’s important to mention, this was not a miniseries or an “event” the way the comic companies do nowadays. This story was told in the regular pages of the comic, and in fact just started out as a series of regular issues with a small interconnection that slowly came together in the form of an overall arc. This is very similar to the way in which the Dark Phoenix saga would be told years later, bringing the reader into the story as it’s already in progress (from the last issue). The Avengers at this point are made up of while certainly some of the more well known members (such as Scarlet Witch, Vision, Quicksliver, Giant Man and Wasp) they’re also not the greatest members (Iron Man, Captain America and Thor) and the book suffers until those three rejoin the team very close to the end. Until then we’ve got the B Team chasing Captain Mar-vell, who’s seen as a threat to national security because he’s actually an alien Kree posing as a human on Earth. But Captain Marvel is on the run from his own people, in the form of Ronan the Accuser, who has come to Earth to put the good Captain on trial for choosing to defend the people of Earth instead of fighting for the interests of the Kree. But that’s all swept aside when they receive word from the Kree military that the Skrulls – a shape changing people who’ve fought the Fantastic Four (and the Avengers) before have launched a full scale invasion of Kree space. Because of its location, Earth has become a hotspot in this war – the perfect staging ground for the invasion – and the Inhumans join in the fight with the Avengers to rid the planet of both menaces.

It all sounds very exciting, doesn’t it? Here’s the problem, very little action takes place “on screen”. There’s a whole lot of talking, and then some more talking, and then we’ve got angst, and the soap opera travails… and the lame Rick Jones upon whom apparently the fate of the entire story rests. It’s like making Jimmy Olsen the most important person in War of the Supermen. Rick Jones somehow shares his body with Captain Marvel, but only one of them can be present in our universe at a time – meaning the other is in the Negative Zone the rest of the time (which does lead to a neat cameo by Annihilus, which I might have been more impressed with if it wasn’t Rick Jones facing him). We’ve also got the Scarlet Witch and the Vision in full-on angst mode over how and why they should not love each other. I liked that Carol Danvers shows up here (perhaps in her first appearance) – but this is well before she’s become Ms Marvel, which was also a disappointment.

And as I said, the action component, just wasn’t there – there’s a lot of misdirection (Skrulls posing as the big three Avengers) and misunderstandings (the heroes fighting each other before working together), and then the end just sort of happens and everything gets wrapped up quickly. I’ve heard that Galactic Storm is similar, with the Avengers trying to keep Earth out of a galactic war, and in the process not really getting involved in the action – but I had hoped for more from this story. I’m sorry to say there just wasn’t enough for me to recommend this book to a more casual fan of the genre, I’ve got only a limited experience with the Avengers (and no real interest in most of the characters this book focused on for the majority of the story) and it was enough of a slog for me to get through it. It’s a little too dated for me, but if you like your comics a little more along the classic lines of a few decades ago, and the new series of Avengers tales put you off – perhaps this is story you. For me, I’m mostly going to be sticking to the newer stuff – though I will be doing a similar review for Avengers: The Korvac Saga, from about a decade later than this story, just to see if things have improved any. You can expect that review soon.

2 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Sorry to hear about the general lack of action. i've always been fascinated with the Kree/Skrull war. I may get this anyway to find out more.

Stewart Sternberg said...

I love the Kree/Skrull war, and your posting has made me decide to go back and reread those issues. By the way, if anyone here likes comics but doesnt want to spend a fortune, there are digital comics available on the Marvel webiste. Thousands of back issues for a monthly subscription. But I digress...

Your cover art here, made me thrill for what The Avengers have been and fret for what they may become in the hands of Uberfanboy Joss Whedon. I'm sure there will be pop cult references galore, insider jokes, a good deal of sidelong glances at the camera, a couple of dorky female characters who rock solid and a couple of hot female characters who are shallow and pointless. He'll also want to make sure that the script is kept at a level a fifteen year old with ADD can be comfortable with. Joss Whedon. Whoopee.