Sunday, April 6, 2008

Kontinuity Kop: Silent But Stupid

Here there be spoilers for Skrullapalooza #1.

Sometimes, in reading comics, you come across something so egregious, so monstrously careless, so inexcusable, it transcends the term "cock-up," and enters the category "the creators just don't care."

Let's go to the tape. Start with New Avengers: Illuminati #5. This is the issue where Tony "I'm a Good Fascist" Stark takes the body of the Skrull Elektra to the other Illuminati (Namor, Charles Xavier, Dr. Strange, Black Bolt & Reed Richards) and says "um, look, we have a secret invasion going on here..." Please note specifically these panels:

See, look--that's Reed Right there!
Reed has a plan...which apparently he promptly forgot!!...wherein Reed Richards plainly hears and acknowledges that this Skrull was undetectable by normal means. See? Reed was right there, and discussing it.

Next, check out this:

Reed Richards: putting catch phrases over logic
Marvel heroes; turning their back on world invasion since...hey, wait a minute!!...wherein, after "Black Bolt's" betrayal, Reed declares that they can't trust each other, and they basically refuse to work with Stark. Good defenders of the Earth there, but that's what Bendis and Brian Reed give us.

So, you got that? Reed KNOWS this Skrull is different, knows about the Secret Invasion going on, and decided he couldn't trust anyone enough to work on them with this. Got it?

This takes us to Skrullapalooza #1, wherein we see Stark addressing Reed & Hank Pym:

Tony Stark, world's most forgetful fascist futurist!Uhhh Tony, you ALREADY let Reed in on the secret, remember??

And this:

Virtually repeating the same dialogue...
Not consistent, AND out-of-character dialogue...that's why we love Bendis!!Reed, how can this be "new?" YOU WERE THERE!! You were there when Tony revealed Skrullektra, you were there when Black Bolt turned green, you were an active participant. PLUS, you refused to work with it's okey-dokey???

And (spoiler alert, last warning): since we know by the end of Secret Invasion #1 that Reed isn't a Skrull, couldn't you argue that the Reed in NA:I #5 might have been? Yeah, but if so, that makes Stark stupider than Jupiter, because he would KNOW that Reed should have already known, right? But Stark doesn't even notice!

Seriously, in a series all about a vast conspiracy, how the frell can you screw up the most simple but fundamental plot point--which characters already knows about the conspiracy?? It's not like the same guy didn't write it (okay, Bendis only co-wrote NA:I, but even if you want to argue he didn't write the parts in question, can you seriously believe that he didn't read the whole thing?!?). The same guy edited both mags--(Tom Brevoort, I seriously hope you're donating your pay for those issues to charity, because you sure didn't earn it).

Given that Bendis and Quesada have been boasting loudly how vast the masterplan for this series is, and how deeply enmeshed in the past few years' continuity it is, how could something so amateurish and careless happen?

Answer 1: They're really not as smart as they think they are. So get prepared for 7 more issues of continuity cock-ups and reveals that just don't make sense, because this crew just can't handle this type of thing.

Answer 2: They just don't care. Really, they're just throwing it out there and waiting for the dollars to roll in from the next line of Skrullified action figures. It's screwed up, but THEY JUST DON'T GIVE A DAMN whether it makes sense, or even if it's consistent from one story to the next. Get used to it.

Other random Skrullapalooza notes:
  • After the events of issue #1, we can't really call it a "secret" invasion anymore, can we? A massive space fleet, the Helicarrier crashing in NYC (which looks amazing unspoiled after the devastation of World War: Hulk), the Baxter Building blowing up (again, apparently rebuilt after WWH...seriously, the damage from WWH hasn't shown up in ANY other Marvel these guys even read each others' books??)...I'd say it's in the open now, making the last 7 issues of this series shockingly mistitled...

  • This is probably meaningless, but there were a number of dialogue changes between the 2-page preview Newsarama showed us. Compare the following panel with the one from the actual issue I showed you above:
    What, now we can't call out Wolverine and Spider-Man by name?I don't know that it means anything--it seems mostly things were tightened up and clutter removed--but it is interesting.

  • Some wonderfully ham-fisted expository the tour guide just happening to explain the Negative Zone for us just seconds before the fake Sue goes and opens it, and Norman Osborn actually having epalian to the Thunderbolts what the Thunderbolts are (in Bendis' defense, Moonstone's rejoinder mocks that..but the point remains, it was fairly artless), the explanation of S.W.O.R.D., the explanation of the Savage Land...It's bad enough that Bendis can't write normal dialogue, but this kind of info dump is really not his fortè, is it?

  • There's some dead people in the shipload of "returned heroes," which might be a good strategy by the Skrulls: make the world believe that the ones who died were Skrulls, and these are real. Except that doesn't jibe with what we already know, does it? Thanks to Skrullectra, we KNOW that when these type of Skrulls die, the revert to their normal green alien bodies, right? So if, for example, "our" Mockingbird or Phoenix or Hawkeye had been a Skrull, we would have known it...but they didn't revert, therefore they weren't Skrulls, therefore these newcomers are fakes. So either the Skrulls are stupid, or Bendis can't keep his premise straight. I report, you decide!

  • Two things I will say about the "returned heroes." #1, it would be unexpectedly brilliant if one or 2 of them ARE real, and they've been tricked into thinking that the rest of them were real, so the rest of the returners get instant credibility. That would be a good twist. #2, I will give Bendis one trillion bonus points if the "returned" Spider-Man remembers being married to Mary Jane. It'll never happen, but still...
Ahh, it's a sunny day...enough ranting!! Go play!!


El Gigante said...

At the risk of sounding like a gin apologist for what is admittedly a substantial error it should be noted that for Hank Pym all this information is new (and further Hank is not part of the Illuminati) so the notion of the idea of the information being "new" could be for his benefit (since the Illuminati is a secret organization). Further one could also say that all that artless exposition could be for the benefit of new readers who might've heard about the Secret Invasion through Entertianment Weekly or some other media outlet. Could there be a way of conveying this information that would staisfy both experienced readers and newbies? Certainly, but what can you do? I'm still intrigued by this series and excited to see whwere it is going. I too am dying to hear whether Skrull ship Spidey remembers being married to MJ. I also agree with your notion that only a few of the spaceship heroes are the real deal but that they lend credibility. Enjoying the blog, keep up the good work.

El Gigante said...

Whoops "gin" apologist should read, "giant apologist", I refuse to apologize for my gin intake.

snell said...

I don't know...I like the idea of a gin apologist...

I might have bought your idea about it all being new to Pym, but is that any reason for Stark and (especially) Reed to play act as if they hadn't even discussed it before? What, they somehow need to convince Pym he's first in the loop? Then again, no one at Marvel has been able to write Reed well for a decade (Mark Waid excepted).

As to the artless exposition, my objection is more to the "artless" than to the exposition. As in really really artless and clumsy. I acknowledge the need for the exposition; I cannot forgive the dialogue that treats its own characters as morons ('as you know, we Thunderbolts were formed..."). Yeesh.

I won't deny a tiny bit of intrigue on my part; but given the...ahem...lackluster results of Civil War, House of M, and World War Hulk, I doubtful anything from Skrullapalooza will be terribly fascinating or have much of a long-lasting impact, any more than Lana Lang is still a Manhunter...

Siskoid said...

Same here, I've apologized for gin many times.

Secret Invasion has gotten a giant "meh" from me, but that was to be expected. Like it's current DC cousin, Countdown, these things are just plot plot plot. High on plot point and low on characterization. Stuff needs to happen, and that's all there is to it.

I could follow this stuff along on short synopses alone, and in the past, I have.