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Jason Schachat has the combined powers of the
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Jason Schachat's Occasional Breakdown

Granted, the whole Annihilation event has been a bizarre attempt to mimic DC’s Rann-Thanagar War, but few comics were less anticipated than Annihilation: Super Skrull #3. Deeming himself to be the Riddick of the Marvel Universe, Super Skrull has taken us on quite the wild goose chase-- and for no good reason.

Oh, wait. Money. Yeah, I knew there was some motive to sell this thing...

Fresh from invading the N-Zone and taking over a prison planet where the creator of the Annihilation Wave’s great doomsday device has taken residence, Super Skrull forms a small army from the super-powered prisoners. And he builds a fleet. End of issue.

Sorry, it’s just not that interesting. He’s a villain… because he’s evil? Wow, how original. About as well thought-out as a galactic despot who’s taking over our universe just because it’s there. Honestly, what the bloody hell are we reading ALL this stuff for? You can’t just criticize Grillo-Marxuach for this run-of-the-mill Super Skrull story when Giffen’s Silver Surfer and Abnett and Lanning’s Nova are wandering around just as aimlessly.

This whole venture has yet to justify itself. Super Skrull probably suffers more than the others because it makes a universal holocaust look like a silly cartoon. The story is dull, but at least the characters have a solid goal. More than you can say for Marvel Editorial.

Five of these parts could be cut.

Civil War #2 will probably end up dividing comic fans just as much as the heroes it revolves around. Strangely enough, I have to admit that I like it. Why? Well, I probably lean more towards “new school” fanboys. The type to get dazzled by intricate computer coloring and stories that stretch continuity to make lackluster characters interesting again (dammit, the world needed a strong Catman).

But, as in the previous issue, we’re still setting up the story. Sides are being chosen, bridges are being burned, and alliances are being forged. The Fantastic Four and remnants of the old Avengers have sided with Iron Man and take to the streets once again, re-earning the trust of the public. Meanwhile, Captain America continues to hunt down villains in the sewers and subways; out of sight, but certainly not out of mind.

The main flaw of this book lingers at the back of the readers’ mind, though; what side are the big guns on? No offense to the eggheads (Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, and Yellow Jacket), but they’re fighting against Captain America, Nick Fury, Daredevil and Wolverine. When it comes to sheer badassedness, Cap’s way ahead.

Of course, the key figure is Spider-Man. He’s the character this all hinges on. Siding with Iron Man still feels unnatural, even if the events it leads to are rather entertaining. It’s just damn hard to believe he’s going to stick with the government, knowing him like we do.

And that may be the dividing line between old and new fanboys. The production on this book is fantastic, and it’s done in the same widescreen style that’s made Ultimates and Astonishing X-Men such rousing reads.

It also stretches believability to its limits. Has enough of a bond formed for Spidey to trust Iron Man to work things out? Possibly. Does it justify the complete flip-flop of one of Spidey’s core beliefs? Not such an easy question.

However, I think Steve McNiven and company make such a gorgeous book, it’s hard not to recommend. Mark Millar’s less rabid here than Ultimates, but missing the protection of an alternate universe. The end result is worth a read but may be too much for purists too take.

Which one is the all-powerful Oz?

Like so many post-Infinite Crisis books, Green Lantern Corps #1 suffers from the now habitual ass-dragging of trying to re-cap the last year of continuity when it should just tell a story. Rather than start up an exciting new adventure, Dave Gibbons returns us to the half-resolved conflicts of Green Lantern Corps: Recharge, Green Lantern and scraps of Rann-Thanagar War.

First, we bump into Natu, the most medical of all Green Lanterns, as she and her partner come to the aid of a kingdom under siege. Unfortunately, her will still isn’t too strong. The death of an ally dashes her desire to remain a Lantern, and she heads to Oa with plans to resign. Guy Gardner continues his power struggle with the bureaucratic Salaak and finds himself babysitting newbies once again.

Dysfunctional duo Kol and Samot are still at each others’ throats, Kilowog remains the rock the Corps is built on, and the Guardians keep their little blue carcasses out of sight. One issue in, and all that’s changed is we have a new planet to protect. This is the kind of info. that should take one page - not twenty.

Like the cluttered and redundant story, Patrick Gleason’s pencils are just a bit too clunky for some scenes. Much cleaner and easier on the eyes than Ion: Guardian of the Universe, but Green Lantern stories benefit from smoother, rounder lines. This book may have a chance once they decide to tell us a story, but this first issue is D.O.A.

One good thing we can say about the penultimate chapter of “Up, up, and Away” presented in Superman #653: at least it didn’t take a year to get here. Reading Superman story arcs can be like Chinese water torture towards the end, but this one has been done quickly enough to be almost painless.


Lex Luthor, now completely removed from the tycoon/politician identity he’s held for the last two decades, pilots an ancient Kryptonian battlecruiser that can rain down missiles which turn into Kryptonian mecha. Before the other heroes of Earth can come to Metropolis’ aid, Luthor also decides to erect an impenetrable force field around the city.

Superman almost finds the fight a challenge, but tears right through Luthor’s new toy until Lex charges it up with all the kryptonite he could get his hands on. And then they fight some more.

As in so many Superman stories, this is the “fight” issue. We’ve had the three issues of mystery and three issues of pre-showdown wrassling, so now it only makes sense that this one is almost constant brawling. Kurt Busiek and Geoff Johns are kind enough to explain where the heck the Kryptonian ship came from, but nothing’s really surprising, and the outcome of the fight is neither creative nor satisfying. Rather than letting Supes use his brain, it all comes down to brute strength.

Careful! That suit's Waterford!

And I’m just not sure what I think about this version of Lex Luthor. Even though most of his outings in recent years have been a bit dull, Lex got a lot out of being such a rational, composed villain. He almost had us thinking he was a decent guy, and that made him even more dangerous. This return to the cackling mad scientist… well… let’s hope some good comes of it in the future.

Part of the success of the X-Men franchise has been balancing how much the team hate and love each other; that’s what makes Ultimate X-Men #71 so promising. Not because of the “Mary Sue” new team member (now calling himself Magician because of his reality altering powers… oh, how I hate reality altering powers). No, it’s because scribe Robert Kirkman knows teenagers are leaky bags of emotional chaos who’ll want to take on the world AND run away from it in the span of thirty seconds.

Having widdled away the cluster of plotlines that started this arc, this outing has us alternating between the X-Men’s fight with the Brotherhood of Mutants (at Ms. Frost’s school dance, no less) and the results of Lilandra’s attempt to awaken the Phoenix in Jean Grey. The fight at the dance loses some momentum when it becomes focused on Blob (pun not intended, but I’m stickin’ with it) and, for the most part, becomes the excuse for Magician’s instant rise to stardom.

The awakening of the Phoenix, on the other hand, fits smoothly into the Ultimate X-Men mythos and does quite well what X-Men 3: The Last Stand could not do: pay off on the long-established possibility that Jean Grey is a ravening schizophrenic who’s gonna murder them all. But this creative team has also tamed the dangerous prospect of introducing the Shi’ar as a cult from the same twisted culture as the Hellfire Club. Without spaceships or interstellar empires, thankfully.

We still have yet to see where he’s going with this whole Magician thing, but Kirkman’s willingness to explore Colossus’s romantic side, cast Nightcrawler as a latent homophobe, and make this randy group of teenagers act just like what they are is a promising start. Finally, the magic that we saw in Invincible is starting to show in one of his Marvel books.

Jason Schachat

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