13 August 2015

Review: Invasion! by Keith Giffen, Bill Mantlo, Todd McFarlane, Bart Sears et al.

Comic trade paperback, 256 pages
Published 2008 (contents: 1988)

Acquired and read June 2015

Plot and Breakdowns: Keith Giffen
Script: Bill Mantlo
Pencils: Todd McFarlane, Keith Giffen, Bart Sears
Inks: P. Craig Russell, Al Gordon, Joe Rubinstein, Todd McFarlane, Tom Christopher, Dick Giordano, Pablo Marcos
Letters: Gaspar, Agustin Mas, John Costanza
Colors: Carl Gafford, Gene D'Angelo

I don't blog about it much because they're not technically books, but I've been reading through DC's uncollected space-based superhero comics. I bought and read Invasion! because it essentially bridges the gap between The Omega Men (1983-86) and L.E.G.I.O.N. (1989-94). A number of the Omega Men are killed off to prove the situation is serious in that way I despise, while a couple of the characters who would star in L.E.G.I.O.N. are introduced.

The basic premise of Invasion! is that a number of alien races, led by the Dominators (primarily appearing in Legion of Super-Heroes) ally to invade the Earth. It's a neat idea, though as someone who just Omega Men, it was odd to see the Psions, the Citadel, and the Warlords of Okaara all on the same side; the Psions and the Citadel are devoted enemies, and Okaara is where most of the Omega Men trained to fight the Citadel! But it's actually realistic; these aren't races of "good" and "evil," they're just political groups whose interests usually conflict but happen to align in this particular instance.

Anyway, I bet this was really cool to read as it came out. Invasion! consists of three 80-page chapters, each of which ends with a game-changer that I'm sure played out in all the ongoings coming out in between. Collected here, though, it often feels superficial; there's no real point-of-view character except for some of the folks captured on the alien Starlag... and they're not in the main action for most of the story! You can see how this would have worked in monthly format though; the main series provides the scale-- exposition is very effectively provided by newspapers television news coverage-- while the ongoings show how these global events play out on a local scale.

Weirdly, though, even key events within the title are given short shrift. The change in allegiance of the Daxamites is a big deal, yet none of them ever display distinct personalities. As far as I can tell, none of them even have names! (Though L.E.G.I.O.N. '90 would establish one of them to be the father of future Legionnaire Lar Gand.)

The space heroes-- my whole reason for being here-- have surprisingly little to do. The Omega Men are ciphers, and don't really convince as the characters written by Roger Slifer and Todd Klein. The characters who would go on to star in L.E.G.I.O.N., on the other hand, contribute little and are easily forgotten; you could read L.E.G.I.O.N. '89 #1 without ever having read Invasion! easily. Oddly, the new characters who get the most setup are the Blasters... whose series lasted exactly one issue.

The hodgepodge of artists here doesn't help. Todd McFarlane was supposed to pencil the whole thing, but he disappears about halfway through, replaced at first by Keith Giffen and then by Bart Sears; meanwhile, an army of inkers goes to work. The art is for the most part undistinguished, sometimes confusing, sometimes very good. It could have been worse, and the big crossover kind of calls for a certain genericness of style, but I suspect that everyone involved has done better works elsewhere.

I was amused to discover the presence of old-school Justice League mascot Snapper Carr. I was even more amused to see him develop teleportation powers, as I'd only just read Final Crisis Companion, featuring a teleporting Snapper Carr. The DC universe, it connects in odd and unexpected ways sometimes.


  1. Fingers crossed that DC collects the entire old Omega Men series up to Invasion! -- I don't really think the new line of collections get that far, but we can hope. And LEGION collections ... I mean, I was surprised to see Wonder Woman: War of the Gods and Aquaman: Sub-Diego, but at least those are Justice League characters; I'd probably backflip if we ever got LEGION collections.

    1. I didn't catch that the old Omega Men series was being collected! Just like with the Grell/Dixon Green Arrow, a set of collection is announced as soon as I give up hope and buy all the floppies.

  2. Also, your method of categorizing and tagging your posts is fascinating, with "creator:" and "series:" etc. How did you get started with that?

    1. I dunno, I've done it that way as long as I've had this blog, and it seemed like the most convenient way to pull up a set of reviews at once. (Except Blogger limits how many tags you can have on one entry, hence my "Creator Index" pages.) I'm really into cataloging; see my LibraryThing (https://www.librarything.com/profile/Stevil2001) for proof!