Thursday, 15 October 2009

Secretly Shit

So, as I said, I was planning on putting out a post on Secret Invasion, which I read this week as part of my attempt to get caught up on the Marvel Universe beyond the X-Men. Fortunately, however, I've been saved from analysing it in-depth. The recent surge of my psychic powers brought on by the approach of K'Challa (may his tentacles caress you) has allowed me to penetrate the veils of time and space and bring to you the conversation that birthed the mini-series in the first place.

Location: Marvel Head Office. Present: Joe Quesada and Brian Michael Bendis.

Quesada: Right, Bendis. It's that time again. Crank me out another Civil War.
Bendis: OK. Erm... anything specific in mind?
Quesada: Something people will like.
Bendis: That goes without saying, doesn't it?
Quesada: Tell that to Frank Miller.
Bendis: I don't think All-Star Batman And Robin was meant to be bad.
Quesada: Wasn't that the one with a guy doing a beetle?
Bendis: I think it was the one where Robin had to eat rats.
Quesada: Well, in any case, we can't take the chance that you might terrible even if it is accidental. We need to seal the deal on this shit.
Bendis: How?
Quesada: You seen that Battlestar Galactica show?
Bendis: Yeeeeeees.
Quesada: Do that.
Bendis: I'm sorry, what?
Quesada: Do that.
Bendis: In what sense, "do that"?
Quesada: In the sense of having a hot chick who's secretly evil. And a bunch of dudes who are also secretly evil.
Bendis: Uh-huh. People might be pissed if we turn everything into a betray-off again. That's, like, three times in a row, at least.
Quesada: Then make em' Skrulls. They're evil, they can look like you. It's the exact same thing as BSG.
Bendis: Not exactly the same, surely? There was a lot more to the show. Religion, and-
Quesada: Fine. Skrulls find God. Like the Cylons. Exactly like the Cylons, actually, what would be the point in rocking the boat?
Bendis: Avoiding a lawsuit?
Quesada: We're the House of Ideas, Bendis! We give a home to all ideas, irrespective of whether or not they're original! You can't possibly not have noticed that.
Bendis: Right. So the Skrulls attack, and-
Quesada: And the heroes beat them. Not straight away, obviously. There needs to be a struggle.
Bendis: Oh, I'm getting this now. A paranoia-soaked game of wits, built on the back of Civil War. A deconstruction of what it means to fight beside former friends that betrayed you, and a reminder that sometimes we must face the greater enemy despite our differences. The importance of trust, and of faith!
Quesada: That might be a bit heavy for a major crossover, to be honest. Can you just make it a goddamn huge fight?
Bendis: Might be tough. Assuming I use one issue for set-up, and another for conclusion-
Quesada: A conclusion that can't resolve anything!
Bendis: Naturally, and-
Quesada: And that sets up the next crossover!
Bendis: But of course. Anyway, that leaves five full issues for nothing but a fight.
Quesada: Six issues.
Bendis: It's going to be eight issues long?
Quesada: The accounting department mentioned the other day that eight comics will mean more money per reader than seven. It's basic maths.
Bendis: Sure, but a six-issue fight scene? That's really pushing it.
Quesada: I have faith in you. How about the heroes look like they're about to lose, but then at the last minute the cavalry arrives and saves them?
Bendis: I could get a cliffhanger out of that, maybe half an issue or so.
Quesada: Fine. Just do it three or four times in a row.
Bendis: I thought we were avoiding repetition.
Quesada: I don't believe I have ever said any such thing, or taken any action one could associate with that suggestion.
Bendis: But-
Quesada: Unless you want me to avoid repetition by hiring a new writer who doesn't spend all his time whining.
Bendis: ...I'll be good.
Quesada: You'd better. Remember, Bendis; I'm the guy who decides whether you get the sweet gigs, or a new series of What If's based entirely around what would happen if supervillains parents had loved them more.
Bendis: Ulp.
Quesada: Now, what do we have so far? An issue of set-up, six issues of fights constantly interrupted by new cavalry charges, and a conclusion that really just sets up the next crossover. What are we missing?
Bendis: A B plot?
Quesada: Good! Yes! Let's do that thing you said. A Civil War reference, a bit of paranoia.
Bendis: Any suggestions?
Quesada: Just throw the pro- and anti-registration forces together along with a bunch of Skrull replicas.
Bendis: And...
Quesada: And they fight!
Bendis: Fight for-
Quesada: Fight for six issues, yes. Oh, and kill someone off. I don't care who.
Bendis: Right. Fine. I'm off to get really drunk, and in the morning it'll be written.
Quesada: Cool. See you next year.

And that's how it happened. In truth, a lot of people seem to really rate Secret Invasion as a whole, and the only book I've read beyond the actual mini-series during the crossover (New Avengers) was genuinely really, really good. The core book, though? Not so much. Shame.

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