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Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Skrull is in the Details...

With Secret Invasion coming to an end (the event anyway) next month, I looked back at all the books that came out just before 'Skrulls' became the buzzword of the year. New Avengers gutted a Skrull impostor, Mighty Avengers had Tony going paranoid on his teammates, and the feel of the universe generally became more shady, more untrustworthy than usual. Was it all just coincidence?

It made me think about the stories found in my Marvel Essentials, and how creators approached storytelling back then. Stories were more...robust so to speak. Roy Thomas and co. would debut a new, interesting villain every other issue, and any matter was urgent as hell. If Paste Pot Pete was mucking around in the middle of Times Square, you can be sure the heroes would come at him like the world was coming to an end. Of course, Roy's pompous propensity for bombast may have something to do with it, but regardless of how much happened in an issue, it was more or less self-contained, and able to stand on its own. Which is something that can't be said much with the modern Marvel U..

Nowadays it feels as if every issue is just a stepping stone towards the 'next big event'. Each story becomes the 'brick' to build the next comic book event with. While it isn't necessarily wrong to do it that way, the stories feel manufactured and artificial somehow. The fun goes out the window once you see the 'strings' that control it.

Take Secret Invasion, for instance. The seeds of the story stretched as far back as the Kree-Skrull War, and any book with the Avengers name on it was written to lead up to it. Retcons were made, deals were done, and stories were decompressed like hell so as to prepare for the day the first issue of Secret Invasion hit the shelves. There's nothing wrong with planning ahead with a universe this vast, but to have storylines become no more than 'bullet points' in a Powerpoint presentation makes suspension of disbelief hard to pull off.

Don't get me wrong, I'm liking Secret Invasion right now (as seen in my reviews), but it makes me think how different this event would have been if the universe was made to react to the events around them, instead of twisting and contorting the universe to fit into the story.

I guess that's the price to pay to have just one guy (Brian Bendis, for instance) become the sole 'architect' of your universe.

Anyway, here's a thought for ya: Do you think the Marvel books these days feel and read like they're written to 'set up' the next big idea/event down the line?

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