We have survived this far.
Now we find ourselves at the penultimate episode in the comic book epic known as The Kree-Skrull War. Armando asked me, "How did you re-read the entire Kree-Skrull War without gouging your eyeballs out?" My answer to that: purpose.
But what purpose? To demonstrate that any text can be deconstructed for meaning? Self-loathing penance? Not sure. I'll just keep going.
Avengers #96 opens with the Avengers arriving at a secret space station operated by SHIELD. The organization gives the Avengers a spaceship and we see Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, the Vision, and Goliath (please check Marvel's online onomasticon if you do know these characters by now) head out into space (in another scrumptious full page of Neal Adams art). They arrive in a distant part of the galaxy, right smack in the middle of a Skrull armada. Battle ensues. It is a fairly one-sided battle as the Avengers, with the strength of Thor and the Vision on their side along with Iron Man's firepower and Cap's tactical thinking, trounce the Skrulls.
The Skrulls, however, are sore losers. They "execute Plan Delta" and a ship launches towards Earth. Demanding to know what this plan is as well as the coordinates of the Skrull homeworld where the Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch are being held, the Vision begins bludgeoning a Skrull. The other Avengers hold him back, playing good cop to his bad. It also becomes clear and no longer debatable that the Vision loves the Scarlet Witch, but that subplot is going to have to be teased out a little longer. Why?
That's because the "Plan Delta" ship is carrying a nuclear warhead to Earth. This doomsday weapon will "dwarf all our daydreams of destruction" and turn a planet the Skrulls originally intended to capture into "a lifeless, seething ball of hellfire instead." Captain America immediately gets on the horn to Goliath who remained behind in the borrowed spaceship. Cap orders him to stop that Skrull ship "at any cost...including your life!"
Goliath pursues, overtakes, and boards the Skrull bombship. The problem is that he threw out his giant growth serum in a previous issue. He is now just plain Clint Barton and without the Hawkeye arrows. What now? We don't know because the location of the action switches once again.
On Hala, homeworld of the Kree, Rick Jones is brought before Ronan the Accuser. Ronan once again reiterates why the Skrull and the Kree are so interested in Earth, "a backwash world" as he calls it. Earth is equidistant between both stellar empires, therefore making it strategic for location if nothing else. Think of Midway Island as battle raged in the Pacific during World War II.
Jones is his typically snarky teenage self during the convo, but Ronan is impressed by the youth's brashness. He decides keep Rick alive as his "body-slave." We have no further text from which to derive what exactly that means. Thank goodness. Who knew Ronan was such a perv? Is this kind of writing meant to induce what Foucault calls "the politics of discomfort?" Take nothing for granted. Question everything.
Thrown into a prison, Rick finds that he is sharing his incarceration with the Kree Supreme Intelligence. Enacting an as yet unclear escape plan, the Supreme Intelligence once more sends Rick back into the Negative Zone. There he comes face to face once more with Annihilus and the issue ends.
I am going to cite Foucault once more. After all, many people in composition and rhetoric studies do and they seldom seem to know what he's saying. Why should I be any different?
Foucault saw the analysis of discourse as an analysis of statements..."statements" being defined as texts and elements of texts. It also includes the rules that govern said texts. How many "statements" have we encountered thus far? How do the "rules of the discourse" come into play or how have they been changed? As said before, there appears to be a heaviness present, a weight that was typically not in comic books of the era prior to the publication. Superheroes are finding that they are not all-powerful and that the world they inhabit...hell, the universe...is quite flawed.
Goliath looks at the very real possibility of sacrificing his own life to save the Earth. What's more, Captain America had to make the snap decision to order Goliath to do so. If Goliath dies, which one of these characters is better off? It'd be tempted to say Goliath as Captain America, a man of the utmost ethics, will then forever have a difficult time reconciling his conscience that he sent his friend to die (would he ever see it as a completely moralistic choice?) The Vision, though an android, succumbs to the cocktail mixture of love and rage and is completely comfortable with killing a Skrull to get the information that he wants. As Vision says, "I always know what I'm doing." The implications of that statement with the machines actions are chilling. I would argue that attributes such as these blow up the "rules" that heretofore governed the discourse of comics.
The storyline does, as once more I've pointed out multiple times, break the rules of what is generally accepted as good storytelling discourse by breaking and branching off in several directions while leaving the Kree-Skrull War as thread...and at times a barely visible thread...to hold it all together. In fact, one can almost sense the deus ex machina on its way in the next issue.
At least it will all be over.
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