Having just finished reading the latest Marvel super "event" Secret Invasion, I have to say, I hope they decide to wait a while before they launch in to the next major cross over event. In my opinion "Secret Invasion" collecting issues #1-8 of the Secret Invasion mini-series, felt forced and more than a little dull.

In case you haven't read a Marvel comic published in the last two year, Secret Invasion provides a conclusion of sorts the the slow building Skrull plot for world domination. The Skrull are an alien race of shape shifters, who, after conducting tests on a couple of high profile heroes, including Mr Fantastic, develop the perfect plan to infiltrate human kind and break down various superhero teams from the inside. Basically the Skrull kidnapped a series of super heroes and replaced them with Skrull's. Cunning.

When the New Avengers kill Elektra, only to find her turn out to be a Skrull, the plot is revealed and distrust within the super hero community builds. Will the fractured super community be able to band together, and trust one another, long enough to end the threat and repel the Skrull invasion? No points for guessing the answer to that one.

The whole Secret Invasion arc also seems to serve as a get out of jail free card for Marvel, allowing them to bring back character previously assumed as being dead, using the "they weren't really dead, they were just abducted by Skrulls" device. » Read the rest of the entry..

The Spider-Man: Breakout trade paper back collects the five issue Spider-Man: Breakout miniseries that was originally published between June - October 2005. Breakout expands upon some of the events that occur in the first few issues of New Avengers. Basically, if you haven't read the New Avengers Vol.1 trade paper back, you'll struggle to make much sense of Breakout. To re-cap, New Avengers began with a prison break, instigated by Electro, that results in the escape of a large number of supervillians from the island prison call "The Raft". A number of heroes, including Spider-Man, are in the area, and attempt to stop the breakout. These events are the catalyst for the formation of the New Avengers.

Breakout opens sometime prior to the events featured in the New Avengers, and focuses more on two rival criminal factions, who have a world class beef with one another. Once the breakout occurs, these two factions take their problems out on one another, with New York as the back drop. Spider-Man is caught in the middle.

As the New Avengers haven't officially been 'assembled' yet, Spider-Man is left mostly on his own devices to figure out why the two groups are trying to kill each other, and why they've stayed in New York when they could have skipped town already. Are they looking for something? Or someone?

Breakout is a strange miniseries, and I can't really figure out what the motivation for it was? Perhaps Marvel wanted to capitalise on the popularity of Spider-Man a little more, and decided to rush this one out, but I still don't see how this warranted it's own miniseries. The problem I had with breakout was that it doesn't really add anything to the New Avengers story, and it's more about the villains than it is Spider-Man, although that's not necessarily a bad thing.

As far as tie-ins go, this is probably one of the more unnecessary ones that I've read. While the story following the villains is interested, I'm not sure that it's deserving of it's own series. The artwork is good, and the characters are interesting enough, but it still, I can only give this a generous 6 out of 10. Fortunately I picked this one up for a couple of bucks in the last TFAW scratch and dent sale, otherwise I may not have felt so generous in my assessment.

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Spider-Man: Breakout #4 (Sep 2005, Marvel)
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I picked up the hardcover version of the limited series The Hood, which collects the entire 2002 limited series, issues #1-6, on a whim. Actually, I ordered it because I thought the cover looked cool. Yes, I am that shallow. Fortunately this is another case where sometimes it's ok to judge a book by its cover. The Hood marks the first appearance of Parker Robbins, and was released under the Marvel MAX banner, which allows it to cover some decidedly more "adult" themes.

The Hood is very much an origins story, following the transformation of a young Parker Robbins into the costumed villain The Hood. This series is a must read if you are wanting to learn more about the character that looks set to replace the Kingpin as the number one organized crime boss in the Marvel universe, and are following the New Avengers series.

What makes The Hood an interesting read is that the story takes the traditional super hero formula of personal misfortune, power and the responsibility to do good, and turns it on its head. As the blurb says, in the case of Parker Robbins, "with great power... comes great opportunity".

Parker Robbins is a petty criminal. His late father was a soldier in the Kingpin's criminal army, his mother has been committed to an institution, and his girlfriend is pregnant. When Parker and his cousin, John King decide to take a job robbing a warehouse, they don't find the goods they have been promised. Instead they stumbled onto an abandoned mystical ritual, that appears to have resulted in the summoning of a demon (later revealed as the Nisanti). Parker shoots and apparently kills the Nisanti, a demonic, hooded creature, and, not wanting to leave empty handed, proceeds to steal the creatures weird looking hood/cape and boots.

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Parker quickly learns that the hood and the boots possess some strange powers. The hood has the power to render its wearer invisible (so long as they are holding their breath), whilst the boots allow the wearer levitate.
» Read the rest of the entry..

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