Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Big Crossover #1 came out from Marvel this week, by Brian Michael Bendis and artist Leinil Francis Yu. It was a definite step-up from Bendis’ previous Big Crossover #1, back in 2005, and as far as Big Crossovers go, this was towards the higher end of them, as it was a competently executed comic, although not exactly much there in the realm of thrills and chills, although there were a couple of nice moments here and there.
I think that Mark Millar’s Big Crossover in 2006 really changed the way Big Crossovers are viewed, as that was unusual in the scope and actual magnitude of the changes made. This Big Crossover seems more in keeping with Big Crossovers of the past, like Greg Pak’s recent Big Crossover, and Steve Englehart and Keith Giffen’s Big Crossovers of the late 80s. You know, a lot of “big” things happen, but for the most part, it is a standard superhero yarn – a more expanded version of a story that you would see in the regular title of either a Justice League of America or an Avengers.
In fact, Big Crossover #1 basically reads like an over-sized issue of Avengers, featuring both teams of Avengers. I think that the Secret Avengers should have a yearly softball game with the Mighty Avengers. That’d be pretty awesome, I think.
One thing Millar’s Big Crossover did was that it made it so that readers are now expecting at least One Big Shock in every Big Crossover issue.
Bendis mixed it up a little bit by giving us Two Big Shocks, one of which was intriguing, the other was a bit disappointing.
The first involved the possible return of a number of “missing” heroes from the 1970s, which I am certain will lead to some interesting exchanges in later issues. “Who’s the real ____?”
The Second Big Shock, though, was kinda silly, as Big Crossover is ABOUT shapeshifting aliens (or as Chris Claremont would have a character call them “shapestealers!”) invading Earth, right? So how can it be any much of a shock to have Characters X, Y and Z turn out to be Skrulls?
That’s the WHOLE POINT OF THE STORY!
So it could have been, like, Spider-Man, or whoever, revealed as a Skrull, and it really would not be much of a shock, as that is what the comic is all about. I think Bendis, however, chose the character he did because he felt it WOULD have a much larger effect, and I honestly do appreciate his thinking, as it is fairly clever. Then again, it’s actually the SECOND time that a writer has done precisely what Bendis is doing here – suggesting that perhaps certain past behavior by a character was mitigated/explained by outside circumstances. The same idea was introduced during, of all things, The Crossing.
But while 1/2 of Two Big Shocks involves an intriguing replacement, you really can’t be too shocked by the Two Minor Shocks, which involve characters who could have been replaced at any point, and no one would particularly care (although one of them would explain away an odd Way decision in Wolverine Origins, which is always nice).
The bits with how they took down Central Character #1 was a bit annoying, though, as this is the second time recently that Bendis basically used the same plot from his own comic – Ultron took control of Central Character #1? So do the Skrulls! Heck, in Hercules, Amadeus Cho was just doing the same stuff as the Skrulls do in this issue, and he didn’t need to be undercover for years to do it.
In any event, Big Crossover #1 also set-up a number of interesting Tie-In Books, especially the Fantastic Four one, which should be a lot of fun.
Yu’s art, inked by Mark Morales rather than going inker-less, was impressive. And I did appreciate the mystery of the whole “He loves you” thing.
So this was a decent Big Crossover issue, but not as good as the first issue of either Millar’s Big Crossover OR Pak’s Big Crossover (although I doubt Bendis will let the quality drop as low as Pak’s, or even Millar’s, later issues), so I’m optimistic that this will be a pretty enjoyable Big Crossover, just not one that is about much of anything beyond being, well, a Big Crossover.
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