Robin’s adoption and the uncle situation

Tim Drake came from a rare origin story in which both his parents were alive when he took over the Robin identity.  And then they weren’t.  So newly orphaned, the teenager can’t just be swinging across the rooftops before returning to his box under the bridge overpass in the morning.  Apparently, things like “laws” prevent minors from doing whatever they please however they want and whenever they want to do it.  But Batman has an idea.  A very heart-felt idea.  Let’s explore Tim Drake’s future/living situation today in the following issues:
Robin #134, written by Bill Willingham and drawn by Damion Scott
Robin #136, written by Willingham and drawn by Pop Mhan
Robin #138, written by Willingham and drawn by Scott
Robin #139, written by Willingham and drawn by Scott McDaniel
Batman #654, written by James Robinson and Don Kramer

First up, Batman’s plan (and part of today’s article title).

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I’m no expert on adoptions, and I’m sure the state wouldn’t be pleased by a man in a bat costume raising Drake, but random men can only claim kids as their own as long as no other possible options exist (I assume).  I mean, surely Robin can take care of himself — he’s had a solo series for since the early ’90s after all, but when it comes to laws Batman’ll break (like trespassing, assault, illegal wiretapping, etc.), he follows adoption procedures to the letter.

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Well, no more Tim Wayne for Tim Drake.  Bring the world adventuring uncle back home and Tim’ll get a proper house and other problems he’ll have to lie about to his new family member.  Look, it’s not as if this is anything new to poor Robin.  All he wants is the freedom to not attend school, patrol by himself, and do all those great adult things Batman, Nightwing, Batgirl, and the others get to do.  Even Batman would make Robin sit through classes and complete his homework before giving permission to jump kick bad guys.  Such is the life of a 15 (or 16?) year-old kid.

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How sweet, right?  Edward Drake looks like a cool dude, like that uncle who lets you smoke a cigarette once in a while as long as you bring your female friends around for him casually leer at. Maybe he won’t mind his nephew fighting crime.  Maybe he’ll use his doctoring skills to aid Robin. Maybe he leaves loving hand-written notes in Robin’s lunch bag every morning.  Or maybe he’s a great big fraud.  Probably the last one.

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It’s not bad that Robin lied to Batman.  It’s bad that he lied to the person with the most powerful, comprehensive computer in the entire world along with the single greatest problem-solving mind hidden behind any mask in the DC universe.  Batman makes up for his lack of super strength by being superhuman at everything else.  Like being super scary.

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Drake even gets a half-smile from Batman, the largest grin possible from his brooding mentor.  As for dear Uncle Eddie, he appears in one more scene after this and then never again.  He doesn’t die or anything — a girl shows up at the apartment, Robin asks for some alone time, Eddie leaves, and we never see or hear from him again.  Much like the parents of many other superheroes.  It’s simply an unsolved plot line dangling eternally in the bowels of comic book history.

A year later (in both comic book time and real life time), Batman asks Drake once more if he’d do the honor of being adopted.  It goes exactly as you expect: heart-warmingly.

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Hulk and Thing: a monster conversation

And a monster fight.  I wouldn’t post an article between these two behemoths without some punching involved.  Today, they get some extra therapy in a philosophical conversation between the only two people on Earth who understand what the other is going through.  Mainly being hideous monsters who just want do some good, be left in peace, and not let the self-loathing become overwhelming.  As happy as these two superheroes can eventually be, everything’s always covered in a thin layer of sadness over their unwanted transformation.  Sure, super strength’s nice, but being a Frankenstein-esque/rock creature isn’t.  In Fantastic Four #533-535, written by J. Michael Straczynski and drawn by Mike McKone, our two protagonists bond just a little bit more — in between the fistfight anyway.

Oh, also the government is trying to take away the Fantastic Four’s kids, but I’m ignoring that part.

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Rampaging, out-of-control Hulk lists among the top five worst possible disasters in the Marvel universe (number one is Norman Osborn’s hair — cue rimshot).  Bullets bounce off Hulk, he only gets stronger the longer he fights, and the Hulk could level entire military bases with one good jump.  So time to knock some orange rocky sense into the green monster.

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I don’t know why this Hulk’s grey.  He can talk too.  The color and intelligence level of the Hulk varies practically every other issue.  For now, the gamma bomb explosion made him grey and smart.  I do apologize, because the fight lasts a good issue and a half, but I’m going to skip most of that too.  I’m not a total jerk: here’s a small taste.

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Ben Grimm brings up our theme today: monsters.  No matter how good the intentions, no matter how noble the actions, the Thing and Hulk will always leave some sort of destructive mess in their path. That’s just part of the price of being super strong brawlers.  But as the gamma bomb makes the Hulk hallucinate green thoughts, we get a deep look at the inner pain our poor Hulk goes through.

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Brilliant writing.  Of all the people in the universe that the Hulk hates, of course he hates himself the most.  Can any superhero compete with the Hulk in sheer number of accidental civilian deaths?  With the Thing, we all agree that he’s making the best of a terrible situation, but with the Hulk, a genuine question needs to be asked: has the Hulk been a force of more good or bad in his life?  Not the genius scientist Bruce Banner, I’m talking about the Hulk.  That green rage monster that wipes out towns whenever someone bullies meek Banner in a diner.  The Avengers nowadays mostly just point Hulk in the right direction, using him as a weapon to toss at tough opponents rather than a valued ally and component of the team.  I mean, I’m generalizing here, but it’s an interesting question to ponder.

One question we do know the answer to though?  Nothing can kill the Hulk.  Part of the Hulk’s pain and major appeal is the doomed-to-walk-the-Earth-forever thingie because of his almost-invulnerability. Yet I admire those who try anyway.

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The day I stop reading comics is the day I’m no longer delighted by a giant full-page fire blast.  Spoiler alert: never.  Y’see, today the Hulk learns acceptance.  And that’s something the Thing learned a long time ago.  One can’t walk around for a decade as the Thing without understanding how to live daily life as an ugly, dangerous, clumsy, frightening, frustrated rock monster.  The Hulk can’t die and the Thing can’t be cured.  They simply learn how to adapt.  When they’re not saving the world.

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I guess the article title’s misleading, as their conversation only takes place in the last three pages of the arc.  It’s still important, so read it twice.  I had trouble getting the nuances of it the first time around.

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On an interesting note, this issue was published the exact same month Planet Hulk started (the whole shoot Hulk into space to be someone else’s problem solution).  It’s a fun little meta joke.  On Friday, we return to Cosmic Marvel once more for a Nova versus Nova fight!


She-Hulk vs. Super-Skrull’s parenting, Pt. 2

As we concluded our first part, She-Hulk and her Skrull bounty hunting partner Jazinda had kidnapped a major Skrull religious leader in an attempt to halt the Skrull invasion of Earth.  From Skrulls.  While the plan went off magnificently (with some involvement from X-Factor), only one more obstacle stands in the way of our two green heroines: Jazinda’s daddy.  Jazinda betrayed the Skrull people, and unfortunately, Papa Jazinda must be the one to murder her to save all that pesky honor and whatnot. Today, we’ll read the conclusion of She-Hulk and Jazinda versus the Super Skrull.  Has Kl’rt learned anything from these past few years of war and trauma?  Has the Annihilation Wave and his time with Nova taught him anything?  Is he still a remorseless supervillain who’ll stop at nothing to massacre his only remaining family?  I mean, I already know the answer, but I like to build suspense.

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Indulge me while I talk about myself for a moment.  I’ll hit my 400th article next Friday, and besides the writing experience, I’m most proud of how much appreciation I’ve gained for the slew of B- and C-list characters I’ve learned and read about.  Like Ursa Major, Amadeus Cho, Jack Flag, Moon Knight, Taskmaster, Black Mask, Lady Shiva, Wildcat, and even Hawkman.  I adore these character who two years ago I wouldn’t have recognized if you forced me at gunpoint to memorized their entire Wikipedia entries.  Now I add Super-Skrull to that list.  His minor supervillain status hasn’t changed.  He still gets treated as a joke in the Marvel Universe.  His name will always be silly.  But I’m a fan — forever. If today’s article hasn’t convinced you yet about the Super-Skrull, then go be a Negative Nancy somewhere else.  I’m biased now.

I know She-Hulk’s getting dressed in the first two panels below, but she wears jeans, not spandex.

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She-Hulk takes the Thing’s place on the Fantastic Four roster whenever he quits or stomps off on his own for a while.  Same basic powers (super-strength/super-durability).  Unfortunately, the Super-Skrull has the Thing’s powers along with the other three members, so it’s not so much a fight between She-Hulk and Super-Skrull as a frantic search for She-Hulk to hold out until Jazinda’s safe. Spoiler alert: there’s a snag in that plan — turns out spaceships aren’t great boats.

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I’m skipping the flashback of Jazinda’s treachery, but I’ll give you a brief summary.  Jazinda and her team broke into a Kree base to steal back a precious Skrull artifact.  Faced against odds that would have surely killed her, she swallowed this Skrull gem, rendering herself immortal.  The mission failure, eating the gem, and fleeing the judgment of the Skrulls — those all pretty much doomed Jazinda to be a fugitive for the rest of her life.  And it’ll be a very long life, being immortal and all.

The Super-Skrull and She-Hulk battle each other as comics demand, but every great fight demands a philosophical discussion between punches.  By the way, She-Hulk is mean.  Like movie-lawyer-about-to-play-the-trump-card mean.

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Of course She-Hulk makes some great points (and maybe sprung a tear from poor Super-Skrull), but she’s wrong about that age-old dilemma of duty versus family.  That’s not why he has to kill Jazinda. It’s always been about legacy — the theme that started our two weeks of articles and ends it today. His son was supposed to be the torchbearer of Kl’rt’s family.  The kid rocked.  But with his death, only the daughter is left — a daughter that oozes betrayal and deceit into the bowels of the Super-Skrull’s proud legacy.  His name and heroic actions will live on in Skrull history books, but so will Jazinda. Only by making things right (brutal murder) will his legacy’s honor be restored and his heroism remain untainted.  So in summary: it’s an uphill battle for She-Hulk.

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And She-Hulk’s psychological assessment of Super-Skrull nailed the other major theme of the past two weeks: failure.  The Super-Skrull’s a supervillain.  The definition of that word ensures that he loses battles far more often than he wins them.  His reputation caught up to him.  He knows full well what the Marvel universe thinks of him.  He failed in saving his son and the millions living on that planet.  He failed when he trusted the wrong Skrull as his protégé and solider-in-arms.  He failed as he watched his empire become a horde of religious zealots.  As the most powerful Skrull in the galaxy, all the Super-Skrull seems to do is lose.  But with Jazinda, finally he can win.  She-Hulk can’t stop him.  He and the Skrull Talisman will kill his daughter and the Super-Skrull leaves Earth victorious.  But you know how this goes.  At what price?

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At the cost of his legacy and his continued existence as a failure, he gained something much more important: redemption.  I know, that was cheesy.  I’m sorry.  But wasn’t that a satisfying ending?  This was six years in the making, five brilliant writers, seven gorgeous artists, and everything came back around in a perfect full circle.  We saw the Super-Skrull evolve into a character rich with layers and complexity — it’s beautiful.  All I hope is that the next time you see him grace the comic book pages, you have a newfound appreciation for this angry green Fantastic Four-ripoff.  I do, but I already told you I was biased.

 


She-Hulk vs. Super-Skrull’s parenting, Pt. 1

While the Super-Skrull doesn’t arrive on Earth until Secret Invasion, we’re going to go back about a year before the Marvel event took place to follow whatever She-Hulk’s (real name Jennifer Walters) up to during that time.  It’s bounty hunting.  I know she’s a lawyer by trade, a lawyer in the first twenty issues of the volume we’re reading today, and a lawyer currently in her ongoing series.  But she’s taking a break — mainly due to her being disbarred.  Long story.  Anyway, using the following issues, we’re going to tell our final piece of that beautiful Super-Skrull puzzle we’ve been putting together the past two weeks.
She-Hulk #24, written by Peter David and drawn by Shawn Moll
She-Hulk #26, written by David and drawn by Moll & Val Semeiks
She-Hulk #27, written by David and drawn by Semeiks
She-Hulk #32, written by David and drawn by Vincenzo Cucca
She-Hulk #33, written by David and drawn by Cucca

Like all Hulks, She-Hulk can transform from her human to green form at will.  Unlike her bigger, angrier cousin, she retains all her intelligence and doesn’t need any certain emotions to trigger the transformation.  She definitely got the better Hulk deal — and she saves majorly on the cost of pants.

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Allow me to introduce Jazinda, a Skrull hiding out on Earth away from the prying eyes of all governments and space empires.  During Secret Invasion, Mr. Fantastic (of course) invented technology to detect Skrulls when shape-changed, but currently Jazinda can’t be found out unless she shows off her pointy ears and bumpy chin in public.  Also, I’m not certain, but Jazinda may be the only Skrull to have an actual head of hair.  Remember Super-Skrull’s wife?  That woman could only keep her head warm with those sexy tentacles of hers.  In summary, I have no idea what Skrulls find attractive about other Skrulls.

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You’ve noticed that She-Hulk’s comics come across with a radically different tone than her cousin’s comics.  It’s not to say that She-Hulk’s not filled with all the self-loathing and psychological nightmares that make Marvel superheroes so great (my goodness, is she a mess), but She-Hulk allows herself to have more fun than most other superheroes.  Most likely due to her being seven feet tall, practically invincible, and without the constant worrying of her supporting cast that plagues so many of her fellow superheroes.  But Jazinda’s our focus today, and trust me, if anyone can understand Roz’s daddy issues, it’s Jazinda.

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In a morally suspicious plan, she gets Roz’s dad to care about his daughter again.  It’s an uncomfortable scene, but much like her father (who c’mon, you’ve figured out by now) her morality borders on that very thin line between total selfishness and the greater good.  Still, we trust She-Hulk’s judge of character, and Jazinda’s intentions definitely mean well.  Y’know, good intentions through trauma infliction.

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You wonder why the Super-Skrull never mentioned his daughter when he tried so valiantly to save his son?  Well, one’s his legacy that will immortalize and inherit all the spoils and glories of the Super-Skrull’s triumphs.  The other’s a dirty Skrull Benedict Arnold who shall only receive an impalement from her father instead of that hug she so obviously needs.  Why is she a traitor, you ask?  It has to do with this confession in the next few pages.  Not the bear stuff.  I just wanted to show you She-Hulk’s opponent chuck a bear at her.

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Allow me to briefly cover the She-Hulk/Iron Man feud.  First, it’s bitterness over the aftermath of the Civil War.  Second, they slept together, and he briefly took away all her superpowers.  Well, he’s sorry, okay?  More importantly, I like to think that Jazinda was so unable to handle real emotional talk from She-Hulk that she had no choice but to interrupt the conversation with a discussion-changing secret.  The real reason probably lies in She-Hulk admitting she trusts Jazinda and the poor Skrull realizing she hasn’t been totally honest with her friend about her immortality, but either theory works. Personally, I’ve always been partial to stunted emotional failings in my characters.

Okay, let’s jump to Secret Invasion.  Y’know, when the Skrulls invaded Earth and Jazinda knew about the invasion ahead of time and didn’t tell She-Hulk about it.  So in an effort to strike a blow at the Skrull army, She-Hulk and Jazinda capture one of the Skrull’s major religious figures.  For morale-busting purposes.

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That may be the only time history that the head of a major empire-consuming religion has been tied up in a trailer home.  Also, She-Hulk and Jazinda wear the same outfit now.  But I know what you’ve been looking forward to: the daddy and daughter reunion.  That’s for next time, though good news to end with today — our supervillain has arrived to reunite with his sole remaining child.  Well, to kill her.  He did mention that in the hologram message thingie earlier.  On Monday, we wrap a bow on our Super-Skrull saga once and for all.

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Nova and Super-Skrull’s jungle adventure

After the Annihilation Wave almost destroyed all civilization, the Skrull empire collapsed.  Warlords fought among themselves for control and whatnot.  It happens.  When the Skrull empire gets carefully pieced back together in that fragile manner diplomacy and lasers can accomplish, it’s time for them to show their superiority once more.  They decide to invade Earth.  Secretly.  Hence begins the Marvel event Secret Invasion in which many of our favorite superheroes were secretly replaced with Skrulls over the past few months.  Now, no one knows who can trust — shapeshifters can be sneaky.  But we’re not talking about Secret Invasion today.  Instead, we’re going to take a look at a scene across the galaxy from Nova #16-17, written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning and drawn by Wellinton Alves & Geraldo Burges.

Nova Richard Rider checks out a distress signal on a distant planet.  Nova responsibilities beckon.

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So yeah, Skrull ambush.  They might not have super-durability, but they always land the first strike. Also, remember a few articles back when I went on about Nova’s computer Worldmind?  It’s on the fritz, as you’ve noticed, so all the cool energy blast stuff he does must be done vocally and slowly. Nova still contains the full power of the Nova force, making him more powerful than a human atomic bomb, but currently it’s a frustratingly slow bomb.

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Ah, there’s our dear supervillain.  After the Annihilation Wave, what else would the Super-Skrull do except rejoin the military?  Even saving hundreds of possible worlds from the Harvester of Sorrow as well as joining the main strike team that brought down Annihilus and Thanos isn’t going to sway the minds of Skrull past.  Old men who do super heroic stuff are still old men.  Plus, as you’ll soon find out, the new Skrull boss definitely isn’t the same as the old boss.  I’m skipping the fight scene, but it ends with this:

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Nova and Super-Skrull don’t qualify as friends.  They have been allies briefly (Nova led that main strike team), but superheroes and supervillains can’t get along for long when they disagree on the very moral fibers that justify their existences.  All great relationships between good and bad guys eventually sizzles: Professor X and Magneto, Thing and Sandman, Human Torch and Daken, etc.  On a related note, if you ever google “johnny storm darken” be prepared for a onslaught of creepy fanfiction.  Spoiler alert: the two do a lot of staring into each other’s eyes.

Anyway, the Super-Skrull’s character development during his miniseries continues to hold.  The new Super-Skrull still retains all his supervillainy, but now we can focus on a more philosophical supervillain.

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I get Nova’s hesitation.  The Skrulls currently barrage Earth and the Super-Skrull requests that he be allowed to travel to the battleground.  Y’know, as in Nova hand-delivering the most powerful of all Skrulls to help the Skrulls conquer Nova’s home planet.  But we know something Nova doesn’t: this isn’t the same Super-Skrull of the past.  He’s grown as a person.  He lost his son, he lost his protégé, and his reasons for going to Earth don’t involve spearing Earthlings while cackling manically.

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He’s lying (sorta) about the daughter part, but that’s for Friday and Monday’s articles.  Most importantly, why shouldn’t Nova trust Super-Skrull?  The supervillain learned quite a bit about the heartbreak of betrayal during the war.  He witnessed firsthand the trauma of his closest ally selling him out and the price to be paid.  As they arrive in Earth’s orbit, of course it’s Nova and Super-Skrull together as a new partnership against the brutality and zealousness of the new Skrull empire.

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Oh.

Well, moral righteousness takes more than one bad day to learn, huh?  Though if the Super-Skrull wants to make an entrance, destroying the sole remaining Nova in front of his peers will certainly help bring back some of that lost reputation.  The combined powers of the Fantastic Four doesn’t make someone the Fantastic Four, I guess.  Goodbye, Nova, I’ll miss you.

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Aw, the Super-Skrull has become a slightly better person.  Very slightly.  Very, very slightly.  Like the final text box states, we’ll find out in our dramatic conclusion next time within She-Hulk #32-33. Get ready for some green-on-green punching.


The Super-Skrull saves the galaxy, Pt. 3

Supervillains lose a lot.  It sort of goes with the profession.  How many times would the galaxy be wiped out without superheroes kickin’ butt every time a bad guy rears his or her head?  But sometimes, we get these special character moments where the baddie puts aside his or her loser nature, embraces redemption, and fights to protect and save all that is precious to him or her.  The Super-Skrull did that.  And he still lost.

In a heartbreaking plot twist, the young Skrull mechanic the Super-Skrull attempted to turn into a soldier (complete with discipline, ferocity, and an unrelenting brutality) backfired completely when our protagonist pushed too hard and caused his protege to betray him.  Now the Super-Skrull’s son — along with millions of innocent Skrulls — died when the Harvester of Sorrow exploded the planet Zargaz’na.  We pick up our story with the captured Super-Skrull and his allies facing the full brunt of their horrific defeat.

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Now with nothing to lose, the Super-Skrull plans to smear the blood of his enemies across the spaceship floors like the corridors are flooding bug guts.  Not one gut will be spared.  He is a supervillain, after all.  Escaping turns out to be no problem.  Remember back to his very first story back in 1963?  Aside from the combined powers of the Fantastic Four, he possesses one more ability none of them have: mind control.

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You could say his proclamation at the end is a giant face slap of negativity making Kl’rt a huge hypocrite, but we’ll ignore all that.  So that attractive robot lady of his is like a energy reactor or something (I’m not great at science).  If she unleashes all her power at once from the inside of the ship, it might still destroy the Harvester of Sorrows.  It’ll also kill her and everyone else on board, so the Super-Skrull might just be stating facts instead of contradicting himself.  The robot and the pudding monster start to clear a path without our dear supervillain — he has something else he needs to take care of.

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Y’see, poor R’kin hated the Super-Skrull so much (for surprisingly legitimate reasons) that he failed to actually listen to the Super-Skrull when the supervillain talked.  The whole plan to destroy this battleship came with two goals: to ensure his son’s legacy as the child of a hero and to die spectacularly in battle.  The Super-Skrull has been pretty open about the notion of him martyring himself.  We remember the heroes that died saving the Marvel universe far more fondly than those that continued to punch bank robbers well past their spotlight.  So yes, R’kin’s plan is a logical one, and yes, it does appeal to the Super-Skrull’s well-known moral ambiguity.  But y’know how this’ll work out.

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With the child doomed and his revenge completed, it’s time to take out this Harvester of Sorrow for real this time.  And honestly, what other way did you possibly think it was going to go?  But take note: maybe a tiny sliver of R’kin’s argument got through to that cold, angry Super-Skrull heart.

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You can click on the picture above for a larger version.  The kiss isn’t as weird as you think — I didn’t show you an earlier scene where Praxagora came onto him romantically and he violently rejects the robot’s intentions.  With the battleship destroyed, the Super-Skrull saved hundreds of worlds from destruction — it’s not like that thing was going to ever stop.  Mission complete.  Success!

Let’s play a game.  How long do you think the Super-Skrull’s death lasted?  Norman Osborn’s death lasted a few decades.  Bucky Barnes’ got in a good forty years.  Gwen Stacy is still dead from 1973. Even Sabretooth held out for five years.  So any guess on the Super-Skrull?  C’mon, you have an estimate?  Spoiler alert: three months.  He died in September 2006 and returned to the living in December 2006.  Let’s take a look at it from Annihilation #2-3, written by Keith Giffen and drawn by Andrea DiVito.

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Like all good cat fights, this one gets interrupted by an enemy attack.  Also, Gamora would have decimated Praxagora.  During the two issue battle in which you have that glorious moment where Drax holds back the entire Annihilation Wave by himself, some weird voodoo thingamajigs go on in the background.

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Yup.  That’s my all-time favorite reason for a character returning to life: “We’d like to explain it, but we’re busy  Uh, how about magic?”  Either way, our story ends here.  On Wednesday, we pick up in the aftermath of Annihilation as Nova and Super-Skrull team up.  It’ll serve as a bridge article for our big two-part finale where I promise everything gets wrapped in a wonderfully satisfying bow.


The Super-Skrull saves the galaxy, Pt. 2

The only hope to save the Skrull planet of Zargaz’na lies in the hands of Skrull traitor/washed up war hero Kl’rt (y’know, the Super-Skrull).  The guy’s tough, but he’ll need an army to protect the planet and defeat the Harvester of Sorrow, a gigantic battleship that can destroy planets and other terrible things. So far, his army consists of himself and a small Skrull child.  Not a great start.

Today, our protagonist mounts his initial attack on this bug-carrying behemoth.  After a recruiting drive.  And remember the little Skrull mechanic who wanted to follow his father’s commander and his personal hero?  It turns out that the “super” part of Super-Skrull’s name is short for supervillain.

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R’kin (the kid’s name) might be looking at Super-Skrull in black-and-white terms.  I mean, the Super-Skrull reeks of evil and his ruthlessness is only matched by his apathy in those who care about his ruthlessness.  But the child constantly ignores the part Kl’rt keeps bringing up: he’s doing this for his son.  Millions of innocent Skrulls (and his son) live on this planet that will be wiped out within weeks by the Annihilation Wave and only the Super-Skrull seems to care about preventing this disaster.  So yes, the Super-Skrull’s methods tend to border on supervillainy, but his reasons for this supervillainy are not evil.  It’s complicated, but remember that R’kin, who narrates our story, oozes with bias.

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Also, before we all agree that the Super-Skrull seeks to destroy the Harvester of Sorrow out of the goodness of his heart, he does intend to leave behind a legacy as an immeasurable hero of Skrull culture whose tale will live on for thousands of years in history books.  Supervillains’ selflessness can only go so far.  Oh, and he gets his army.

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This miniseries accomplishes something incredible: within four issues, they bring so much character development to the Super-Skrull that everything we know and feel about the supervillain permanently changes.  And still persists to this day.

Look, he has simple origins.  The Fantastic Four need more bad guys?  Okay, what about they fight a one-man Fantastic Four?  Boom, solid story idea.  But we all forget that those characters who don’t look like humans (usually aliens) lead just as rich and complex lives as our Earth characters.  Maybe even more so with the whole galaxy at their beckoning.  So yes, the Super-Skrull is evil.  But like any good drill instructor — prove your worth, stand proud, and trust in his motivations — you’ll have a powerful ally fighting by your side.

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I remember an article someone wrote about Garth Ennis’ Punisher run.  As a superhero, the Punisher is cool, but not exactly interesting in the long term.  He has no insecurities, is driven by one solitary goal, and has a fairly boring personality.  I love the Punisher, but Ennis accomplished a sixty issue run on the title by compensating for his protagonists’ faults through the Punisher’s villains. Each bad guy is dynamic, with amazing personality quirks, powerful back stories, and creative dialogue/actions that molds some of the scariest villains in Marvel history.  We as readers eat that stuff up.

The big four: Magneto, Green Goblin, Doctor Doom, and Loki all epitomize complicated and fascinating baddies — it’s a testament to their popularity and longevity (though currently only one of them is still a full-time supervillain).  Remember how Amazing Spider-Man #617 and #625 turned Rhino from fifty years of being a dumb brute into the three-dimensional, heartbreaking character we feel so strongly about now?  It’s storytelling at its finest, and now we can witness Super-Skrull’s well-deserved moment.

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Redemption, y’know?  It’s a common theme, but always a phenomenal storytelling tool.  And now Super-Skrull can make up for his five decades of comic book embarrassment in one single heroic fight.  The Super-Skrull may be going up against a force of millions with his own eight person army, but we know about the benefits of proper planning and scientific advantages.  Mr. Fantastic taught him that lesson dozens of times.  Witness the Super-Skrull versus the Harvester of Sorrow:

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Ouch.  R’kin, despite his and his former hero’s faults, could have formed that parent-child/mentor-student relationship so common in comics.  In time, R’kin would get his own miniseries or join a cool superhero team.  Like Wolverine and Jubilee.  Drax and Cammi.  Every DC superhero and their teenage sidekicks.  But no dice for Super-Skrull and R’kin, because the child just did something unforgivable — an act that out-evils the Super-Skrull.  Not the betrayal.  I’m talking about this:

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On Monday, vengeance will be brought.  As scary as superheroes can be when they have nothing to lose, nothing compares to that same rage from a supervillain.  Spoiler alert: it’s going to be bloody.

 

 


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