There isn’t much about James Robinson and Steve Pugh’s “All-New Invaders” that feels all-new, but it flies right into the action with aplomb. Motoring through exposition that doesn’t feel like exposition, and setting up for a do-or-die scenario by only the second issue, this series has gusto to spare. If it adds a few more ideas into the mix, it’ll be a real winner.
The impetus for the All-New Invaders is to stop the Kree from acquiring all three components of the Gods’ Whisper, a device that allows the user to control Norse Gods. Tanalth the Pursuer is sent to Earth to locate these components and assemble them. Luckily, the creative team skips right past the MacGuffin-collecting phase of Tanalth’s journey and heads straight to the point. It’s not only smart from a plot perspective; it’s also a perfect way to illustrate Tanalth’s ruthless efficiency. When she first appears in “All-New Marvel NOW! Point One” #1, she is handed her assignment. The next time the reader sees her, she is already two-thirds of the way through it.
Robinson has chosen Jim Hammond — the Original Human Torch — as the point-of-entry character for “All-New Invaders.” Hammond is an amiable enough narrator, even if his opening situation isn’t particularly inventive. It’s standard post-superhero stuff: hating himself, hiding out in a small town, keeping his identity on the down-low, making one or two friends, etc. Still, the team executes this familiar material without any missteps, and they dwell long enough on it that the inevitable Kree attack feels like a real break from the usual.
While this setup is solid, Robinson’s script doesn’t really shine until it reaches the backstory that gave rise to the Gods’ Whisper plot. I wasn’t too impressed by the “All-New Invaders” installment in “All-New Marvel NOW! Point One” #1, and that was because it consisted almost entirely of talking heads laying out the premise. Here, Robinson wisely fits in the exposition from World War II as plot rather than — well, as exposition. He recreates the past by having Hammond travel back through his memories.
This flashback is handily my favorite element. It pokes some fun at the contrived language and costumes of Golden Age comics, but it doesn’t push the joke too hard. When Hammond hears his old self cry, “We bring these Ratzis down, we’ll get back in time for dinner!” he does think, “Did I ever talk that way?”, but it’s followed by the more solemn “Was I ever that confident?” He acknowledges both the strengths and faults of his old self.
Back in the present, Hammond’s fight with Tanalth is serviceable, but it doesn’t make very creative use of his powers. He just flames up and melts an object or two. Namor, Captain America and Bucky do show up late in the game — never fear — and the team is set for a battle on two fronts.
None of the elements here are anything special on their own, but the issue overall doesn’t feel mediocre. It’s fast and sure of itself, with plenty of moving pieces and the confidence to put them into play.