The small piece of the arc we saw last time was amazing. So much so that I want us to read a few more scenes from it, and hence the dilemma — to avoid whatever legal punishment comes from showing all the pages of a comic, I’d have to choose a specific angle and ignore the rest. Iron Man and Mandarin face off in two separate, phenomenal clashes that highlight the beauty and eternal struggle of technology versus magic. Oh, they’re great and one of the full-page spreads wows me each time I look at it. But I know what my readers like. They’re sick of punching. They read comics for something deeper, like what they would see on CSPAN. So, even though I protest, I’ll honor your requests. Today we’ll cover all that wonderful political talk you crave so much using pieces from Iron Man #23-28, volume four, written by Daniel & Charles Knauf and drawn by Butch Guice, Roberto De La Torre, & Carlo Pagulayan. You’re welcome.
Let’s pick up at the exact page we left off on, where Iron Man explains Graviton’s death to the Commission on Superhuman Activities.
Notice anything odd from that conversation? No, not Norman Osborn — he’s making his legitimate rise in politics by being slimy behind the scenes. Plus, he’s needed in these meetings as an accurate portrayal of what Tony Stark would face if he had to talk to actual United States politicians. It’s mostly odd that Stark met with the committee in full Iron Man armor. He’s not going to repulsor beam anyone there and it’s not like he’s the Thing — he can take the armor off whenever he chooses. But don’t worry, the government has noticed Stark’s behavior as well and they assign the Hulk’s therapist to the case. Even though to be fair, he hasn’t really been too successful with the Hulk.
This mainly serves to de-power Iron Man so he has to fight Mandarin using weaker, older armor. Raises the suspense a bit, y’know? Because while Stark has totally been hallucinating and going crazy and probably could use a long vacation, he’s a superhero. They’re always last to acknowledge their own faults. Here’s a sidebar pep talk from Dum Dum Dugan before we get to more exciting politics talk:
To save the country, Iron Man and SHIELD drop a nuclear bomb on Omaha, Nebraska. Hell yeah, they do. It’s called leadership, my friends. As you can expect, they now have to answer for their decisions, especially since our country (and the world) prefer that Earth’s most powerful military force doesn’t launch nuclear weapons at their own country whenever it feels like it. To each his own, I guess.
Spoiler alert: I’m not going to tell you what happens to Jack Kooning. That’s a side plot that I’ve completely ignored. A lot of stuff has been going on, but I don’t want you to miss the committee meetings. I have my priorities. Watch Dum Dum imitate our own political system by making backroom deals and open threats before we continue our UN inquiries.
Now, if there’s anything I know about politics, it’s that they always make the right decision. They use logic, evidence, and an unbiased agenda to properly act in the interest of the people. Right? No? Look, we know what’s going to happen. Mandarin still plans to release his 97.5% human fatality rate bomb onto the world and only Iron Man can save the day — it’s his arch-nemesis after all. So in a scene that could only happen in pop culture and not in real life, we get a small slice of how bureaucracy could work if everyone involved was insane instead of just sociopaths.
So what happens next? Sorry, that’s the last bit of bureaucracy in this arc so we have to end here. But I’m not a monster, I’ll be happy to give you a taste of what you’re missing out on. Don’t fret, it’s nothing special. See?
Go buy lots of Iron Man comics. Don’t you deserve it after this long week?
You like murder mysteries? Of course you do, but rarely does Tony Stark get involved in an ol’ fashioned whodunit. He’s far too busy tinkering or shooting lasers or trimming his goatee or whatever he does with his time. But after the Marvel event Civil War and before the Marvel event Secret Invasion, Stark served as Director of SHIELD, obligating him to do stuff like find out who killed his operatives. Get ready for a bummer today from Invincible Iron Man #21-23, volume four, written by Daniel & Charles Knauff and drawn by Roberto De La Torre & Butch Guice.
Each state in the USA gets assigned one superhero team. Nebraska gets Paragon, Gadget, and Ultra. I don’t know who they are either.
That’s right, I called this a murder mystery when it seems obvious Graviton totally murdered Gadget. As the pieces unfold, Stark’s mental state gets slowly unraveled to the point of apparent schizophrenic hallucinations. He’s only human. But to make you feel even worse about this murder, here’s some personal information about the victim.
See what happens to superheroes without name recognition? They get used by writers to show how strong supervillains are. And Graviton gets a special “Class A” ranking that SHIELD uses to put threats into groups or whatever. As you suspect from his name, he can manipulate gravity and whatever science mumbojumbo powers that gives him. Most importantly, like Stark soon becomes, he’s also crazy.
So you can tell there’s a bunch I’m skipping. Like Stark’s hallucinations. And a side plot with Maya Henson (who created Extremis, better known as that fiery thing bad guys could do in Iron Man 3) and Mandarin, both of whom are supposed to be dead. Spoiler alert: they are not. I’ll be honest with you, besides me writing this way too late to really form a cohesive narrative with my commentary, my eyes tend to glaze over when stories get too technical or time travel-y. Iron Man’s all technical (and sometimes time travel-y), but the past ten years of his comics have been really, really good if you want to get caught up on the (iron) man. Here’s what I would do if you time and funds are limited: start with Invincible Iron Man volume five written by the genius Matt Fraction. It’s well worth it. Then go back and read everything else. Stark has been sober since 1979. You have a lot to catch up.
Oh yeah, and the murder mystery.
We’re only on issue two of this arc, so you can imagine the plot takes a sharp turn. Like say, through a hospital wall into the aesthetically-moody night time rain. Oh, and Paragon’s reasons for betraying/killing his ally are doused in Mandarin lies and manipulation. It’s one more thing I’m skipping but it has to do with all the normal motivations of having superheroes turn into supervillains. If you need further proof of Paragon’s instability, he follows Mandarin’s order despite Mandarin being an old man with a very prominent ponytail.
Paragon’s gone. But luckily for our protagonist, he comes right back — like a plot boomerang. Also luckily, Iron Man doesn’t have to fight his own battles either. It’s nice to take a break from breaking faces every now and then.
I told you this would be a bummer right from the very start. I enjoy happy endings far more than these bleak ones, but if it’ll make you feel better, we’re only halfway through the arc. Doc Samson hangs around, Iron Man fights his arch-nemesis, all that good stuff. So while you’re about to witness the end of Graviton’s tale, if you have Netflix, he has a super awesome two episode part in Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes where he fights the entire Avengers team at once for a good thirty minutes of show time. Bring your elementary schoolaged niece or nephew with you in case you get caught watching a Disney show.
Let’s read the rest of the issue! I still don’t have an angle, but I can improvise my way through this.
Last time, we experienced all those groaner puns we’ve come to expect in old school Marvel. It’s delightfully conducive with the time period. Or not. I don’t really do a lot of research. But besides far more puns and wordplay than you can shake Thor’s hammer at, we also get stories. Learn from past members, allies, more villains, etc. about the Fantastic Four’s history and life up to this point. I mean, you probably know it all, but have you heard the Avengers tell the story? No. No you haven’t.
I like my superheroes with faults. But Thor, besides being super good-looking, super-strong, super-tough, and everything else associated with super-stuff, he’s also super-funny. It’s not okay. The man’s the total package of the fictional Marvel universe. He’s unfaultable. Seriously, have you seen Thor in the past month or so? Without his hammer, the former thunder god just stops wearing a shirt and his abs alone are enough to “shock” his opponents. See? I can make puns too.
Cyclops’ Nightcrawler joke may be the only Hitler joke the X-Men leader ever made. Or the only joke he ever made. The dude’s humorless, but then again, so’s Wolverine and Colossus and Storm, and most of the mutants. Do you know how much Iceman has to talk just to get the humor index for the X-Men back up to neutral?
But this roast also houses a darker scheme. Someone’s trying to kill the Fantastic Four! It’s a mystery with a silly answer I’m not going to show you, but I think it’s important you see the seriousness of this threat:
Let this be a lesson from Thundra and Tigra: no matter how ugly you are, if you can punch through a car then women will always fall for you. Or She-Torch, a character that has definitely never existed, but Frankie Raye is real. Well, real for a world drawn on paper. Raye briefly served as the Herald of Galactus and called herself Nova. And to be fair, she also served as a replacement Human Torch for a while. So I guess She-Torch would work. I take back what I said previously, but I still won’t forgive Moon Knight for his joke.
And like all good roasts, it’s time for the Fantastic Four to repay their friends for their barbs all evening.
Cross this off your bucket list, you can sleep easy tonight.
We celebrate comics here, but you know that superheroes aren’t real right? They’re drawings on paper, and that’s the beauty behind comic books — characters can be anything. Batman can be dark, brooding, silly, fun, Asian, etc. That’s the best part about fictional characters: there’s a version of every character for every personal taste to enjoy. And why not? We’re not making Nelson Mandela into a cyborg, that never happened. But Batman? He can be anything. If you don’t like it, too bad. Learn to share your favorite characters. And today, with some built up negativity floating around my website, it’s time we took a break and enjoyed the lighter side of comics.
Let us have cartoonist Fred Hembeck explain what’s going on in today’s article:
That’s right, kids. In 1982, Marvel published a one-shot called Fantastic Four Roast, written by Hembeck and drawn by pretty much everybody. It’s over thirty pages of mostly horrific puns and I love every page of it. So take a deep breath, let go of your anger, and read the strangest comic book since the LSD days of the ’70s.
Get a good idea of how this issue will turn out? If you’ll allow me to be honest here, I didn’t think this article through. I have no idea what angle to take with commentary. No one wants to read a “that joke is funny!” thing every two or three pages. For now, I’ll give you a taste: here’s the first few pages I can show without commentary that probably won’t get me in trouble.
I have about fifteen more images I want to show you. Give me the weekend to think of something. This comic is too delightful not to share.
We’re jumping to the Ultimate universe, where Spider-Man’s in high school and Wolverine hasn’t discovered all those juicy secrets about his past yet. But just like the delightful “normal” Marvel universe, hordes of unnamed people still want to murder the immortal Wolverine for whatever mayhem he caused in the past/present/future. Luckily, Ultimate Wolverine has no problem hoisting his unfortunate situations upon other costumed heroes — as long as the heroes aren’t the X-Men or anyone with relevant experience in stopping covert military operations. I’m only going to show one scene in this arc today from Ultimate X-Men #34, written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by David Finch, but it’s a good one. I promise.
First, the set up:
Cue three pages of Wolverine taking a hail of bullets and barely escaping with his life. Ultimate Wolverine isn’t quite as invincible as his normal universe counterpart. But a group of assassins are definitely out to kill Wolverine for reasons that aren’t revealed until the final issue of the arc. It’s six issues long and I’m only showing you twelve-ish pages from the first issue.
So with the ability to run or walk or do anything but pathetically crawl away, poor Wolverine has to go someplace safe. And by that, I mean the nearest place.
I get scared when I think I see a bug run across my carpet, much less the bloodcurdling fear I’d experience if I discover an unknown man hiding behind my boiler. Spider-Man has the right idea, screaming like a little girl, when he discovers this monstrosity bleeding all over his floor. Plus with Wolverine not being a threat, Spider-Man’s Spidey-sense didn’t activate, no doubt leaving a small amount of pee in Peter Parker’s underwear. Luckily, Wolverine explains the situation with all the verbosity and patience we’ve come to expect from the angriest and hairiest man who’s ever flirted with a teenage Jean Grey.
Let’s give Mary Jane Watson a break. She’s seen plenty of superheroes and supervillains up close by this point in her Ultimate Marvel universe life, but never the charred, bullet-ridden, almost-corpse of a half-yeti/half-man. Most importantly, she has to faint so Spider-Man can make that fantastic cinematic dive to catch her. Lucky for her, her lack of censorship when Wolverine wakes up makes up for a little of her fainting embarrassment. Also, she’s the only fifteen year-old to wear overalls who hasn’t just farmed for sixteen hours straight.
Problem solved. The two can go their separate ways and Spider-Man can call Wolverine whenever Doctor Octopus needs a good clawin’. I think I can see the building blocks of a beautiful friendship being born, especially now that the danger has long past and Wolverine’s safe and out of harm’s way from all those evil military people.
So goes the superhero life.
In Nova’s solo series, he contains the entire power of the Nova force — like the Hulk of cosmic laser blasters. So how can the stories create a challenge for him? Easy. Make him evil, then have someone else fight him who’s way weaker. The stakes have risen! Unfortunately, like all Marvel universe robots, the group called the Phalanx is using the post-Annihilation Wave chaos to take over the galaxy. They inject mini-robots into any living thing and boom — instant ally. We pick up in the middle of that with Nova #5-6, written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning and drawn by Sean Chen & Brian Denham.
Richard Rider, the Nova we all know and love (unless your Nova is Sam Alexander — it’s like the Robins, it’s fun to pick sides), sustained some major damage during his last fight and now lies unconscious on a destroyed Kree outpost. How sad. But Worldmind, the super computer living inside his helmet, realizes the Kree can’t protect Nova on their own. If Rider dies, so does Worldmind. Figuring if something isn’t broke don’t fix it, the computer just makes another Nova. Meet Ko-Rel, the Kree medic who became a Nova despite Worldmind not doing the whole asking-for-permission thing.
I know the Cosmic Marvel alien species can be confusing. Here’s a quick reminder of the big three: Skrulls are green, Kree are blue, and Shi’ar sort of look like human birds. I know there are exceptions — the Skrulls can change into anyone, some Kree are pink, and the Shi’ar Empire is a collection of hundreds of weird alien groups. But as a basic rule of thumb, it’ll work. Oh yeah, and that whole protect Richard Rider thing? Robots can’t get to him, but it’s not terribly hard for the deadliest woman in the galaxy.
Now they’re both Phalanx-infested evildoers. Also, Gamora’s classic costume borders on wildly sexist. High heels, and essentially a voodoo prostitute’s swimsuit with a cape. If we’re going to dress the women like that, Rider should be showing one of his balls. That’s only fair. Anyway, poor Ko-Rel is tasked with taking down the fully-Nova-powered evil Nova. If Nova’s the Hulk, then Ko-Rel’s Bruce Banner. And I’m talking Bruce Banner with all science doohickeys. It’s more like Rider vs. a Ko-Rel/Worldmind team up.
Let’s admit it, a rocket chase through the city in a 2D, panel-format is tricky. Comics do many things better than movies, but chase scenes aren’t one of them. That said, I applaud this one. Also, if you want to know why AIs cause so much trouble in the Marvel universe, they have all that ruthless calculating mumbo that we slow emotional humans can’t complete fast enough. More importantly, remember that scene from The Avengers movie where Black Widow gets trapped in the bottom of the helicarrier with the Hulk? That same look of fear on Scarlett Johannson’s face applies here for poor Ko-Rel.
Did I mention Ko-Rel has a son named Zam? This probably isn’t the best time to bring that up. But related to the fight, just like how Spider-Man defeats the tougher, bigger opponents, he uses the stuff around him. Like the technologically-advanced city that’s somehow powered by a volcano or something.
See Ko-Rel’s proper moral standing? A inspirational force of good in the infinite darkness of space’s abyss! As the Phalanx virus corrupts Nova, an ally comes forth who understands and enacts the righteous goals and love of the proud Nova Corps. Rider doesn’t die, as he still has 30 issues of his solo series left, but how much better will his adventures be with this interesting, complex new Nova at his side? And of course, by now when I go on long pseudo-poetic tangets of what should be, it’s always the opposite. Always. It makes the storytelling plot twist stab-in-the-back far more dramatic, and in this case, literally.
Luckily, her final words start the slow beginning of freeing Nova from Phalanx’s control, but you can buy the books for that. So what do the Nova Corps and Green Lantern Corps have the most in common? Definitely the fatality rate.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.