Secret Invasion

by

Secret Invasion #1

Here it is. My first comic review in more than three years. How exciting. It seems only appropriate that I begin this first review with a look at the summer’s biggest event (or at least the biggest in Marvel), Secret Invasion. If you don’t want spoilers, don’t read this.

Before reading the first issue, I also picked up the trade paperback, Secret Invasion: Infiltration, a collection of the recent issues of the Avengers titles that have been leading to the invasion. I was annoyed that I spent $20 on the trade, at first, because I soon realized that everything in it had been neatly, and quickly, recapped in the free “Secret Invasion saga” comic Marvel put out to catch people up. I read that right before the tpb, and it seemed like I’d unnecessarily wasted money. However, that regret faded soon enough. Although I didn’t really get new information out of the trade, it did showcase the writing of Brian Michael Bendis quite well, and convinced me that I had to add both Avengers titles to my new monthly list.

So that brings us to the invasion itself, which I’ll talk about in general terms before getting to the issue itself. I wasn’t all that excited or impressed when I first heard the idea. The major event of the summer is all about Skrulls? Lame. I have nothing against Skrulls–there have been a lot of good stories written with them. But still, they don’t have a particularly intimidating presence. They have all the makings of good villains as far as powers and potential threats go, but they’ve never really been A-list bad guys. Part of the reason is that they’ve often been written as too hokey or childish (their first-ever appearance saw them be hypnotized into thinking they were cows).

Another is that they’ve never really had a central leading figure that’s particularly intimidating. The Kree have always had the Supreme Intelligence pulling strings behind the scenes. The Shi’ar have always had Lilandra, with all her mixed morality. But as you can see in Bendis’ recap of Skrull history in “Secret Invasion saga,” the Skrulls have has numerous warlords and monarchs, none particularly memorable. Sure, you can point to specific stories and talk about the role of a Skrull leader, but before the invasion started, could you really have named a single former Skrull leader without help? I couldn’t have.

Therefore, we’re left with two prominent Skrulls: the Super Skrull and Lyja. The original Super Skrull is a pretty great villain in his own right, and I’m sure he’ll make an appearance at some point during this story. The only problem with him is that he’s a soldier, not a leader, so while you can make him the central conflict point at times, logically speaking, there has to be a final boss, and who knows how well he could provide that. Then there’s Lyja. Oh Lyja. Spiffy and I were just talking not long ago about how every Fantastic Four writer seems to want to start Johnny Storm back off as an immature playboy and ignore decades of advancements his character has made. I pointed out Lyja, who represents Johnny’s biggest proof of character development past childish behavior. He was married to her! The whole story of Lyja: her impersonation of Alicia Masters, her marriage to Johnny, her revealed identity, it all seems to be nearly forgot lore, which is a damn shame since it was a great story. Bendis brought her up in “Secret Invasion saga” during his Skrull history recap. Maybe he was just being thorough, but I imagine if a guy like Bendis (who apparently plans years in advance) mentions something in that way, my guess is he’s going to use her. And therein lies my most eager anticipation of this event. She apparently hasn’t been seen since Onslaught, but if she’s still on earth, I don’t see how she can’t come into play. Hopefully the complexities of her character are written well and she doesn’t become just another Skrull villain.

So there were my reservations about this event going in. Now, let’s talk about how Bendis blew them out of the water with one issue.

Secret Invasion #1 is a great read. It’s a face-paced page-turner, but it never gets ahead of itself. Throughout the scenes and narration, the crossover’s tagline is repeatedly driven home: Who do you trust? No matter who you might answer, you’re probably going to be wrong.

Leinil Yu’s art is gift, and and enjoyable one at that. He has the dark strokes of a Jae Lee with the character framing of a traditionalist. Back when I first started reading comics, he was on X-Men, and though Scott Lobdell’s writing on that book left much to be desired, Yu’s artwork always drew me in. Now, as in Avengers, he’s paired with one of the industry’s brightest stars, and he burns all the more brightly because of it.

I’m running out of time now (what a long review, clearly holding this in for three years has left me with a lot to say), so I’ll skip now to the end.

While in the Savage Land, the two groups of Avengers are surprised to see a spaceship open to reveal a couple dozen heroes glad to be “back on Earth.” Bendis said in a recent interview that most of the Skrull imposters would be revealed in the first two issues, but after #1, we still have a lot more questions. Are the people who spilled out of that spaceship the real deals, meaning all their counterparts are for sure fake? If so, wow, because look at who you have there:

Thor. Wolverine. Luke Cage, who seemed extremely un-Skrully in his interaction with his wife Jessica in an issue of New Avengers I read in the Infiltration tpb. Iron Man, who Marvel had clearly been telling us was the most person who definitely, without a doubt, was not a Skrull. Supposedly he was going to lead the movement against them, no less; to top it off, he seemed to be disabled by an attack near the end of the issue. The possible explanation is that someone else in that other suit of armor that came out of the ship; Iron Man does not necessarily equal Tony Stark, after all. Or maybe we can’t even trust our narrator.

Finally, you see Captain America there as well, which may be one of the most tantalizing teasers we’re provided. Bendis has apparently been planning this since before House of M, and the Invasion supposedly was playing a big role in Civil War all along. Is it possible that Cap had been replaced by a Skrull, that the man who died on the courthouse steps was not Steve Rogers? if so, what does that do to Brubaker’s Cap book, which seems to be moving along full steam and doing quite well without Rogers? Was the death always intended to be a ruse, or has the switch been made since Bucky took over the mantle? Is it something else entirely? Who knows at this point.

What we do know is that this is a damn intriguing read with more potential that I originally thought. People that may been paying closer attention over the past few years will surely be getting even more out of all this, since, like I said, everything Bendis has been working on has been leading up to this one story.

I do hope that after the story is over that Marvel takes a bit of a break from the mega-crossover. After House of M, Civil War, and now Secret Invasion, they’ve been pounding one huge event after another almost nonstop since about the time I left comics. Back in the 90s, it was common to have a big crossover every single year, but that didn’t necessarily work out for the best. Gifted writers can’t pay as close of attention or as fully develop their own stories when they have to work on a company-wide big picture; that’s the reason Peter David chose to cut short his first run on X-Factor. Let books be relatively self-contained for a couple years.

For now though, we can look forward to quite the blowout, a potential capstone to everything that’s happened in the company for some time now. I’ll be eagerly awaiting the continuation of the story. Enjoy the book, and sorry this post is so ridiculously long.

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4 Responses to “Secret Invasion”

  1. gokitalo Says:

    Nice, David. Don’t worry about the post length; after all, you’re just catching up on all the things that have been going down in the Marvel U. lately.

    I’ve heard a lot of good things about Secret Invasion #1. While Bendis’ writing has kind of soured on me in recent times, there’s no denying he’s come up with an intriguing premise for Marvel’s latest big event.

    However, I’m a bit worried about who will be revealed as Skrulls, and more importantly, WHEN they were replaced. If, to pick a random example, Emma Frost was replaced by a Skrull before Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run, that could lend more weight to Secret Invasion, but mess up New X-Men in the process.

  2. davidry214 Says:

    Are you going to read it anyway?

    Good point on Emma. I too would hate it if they undid all her character development. And it’s not just her that that’s a possibility for. Other characters who appear (though we can’t really say for certain yet) to be back after being replaced: Phoenix, Hawkeye, Thor, Wolverine, Susan Storm, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Wonder Man, Beat, Spider-Man, a couple more.

    Most of those I have no clue what’s been going on with them, but is Jean still dead? Will that change? Will Clint actually be Hawkeye instead of some gay black costume?

    It’ll be interesting to see to what degree Marvel uses this event as a reset button for any character changes it’s not convinced on. It’s kind of a cop-out, but at the same time, I wouldn’t mind seeing it used selectively.

  3. spiffyithaca Says:

    After Civil War, Secret Invasion became one of the biggest incentives to catching up to the Marvel Universe these past couple of years. I wanted to not only enjoy the series, which you can without reading anything before it, but I also wanted to be up on it enough to be on top of the tiny details, see the foreshadowing, and enjoy the story all the more, and such.

    Anyways (after that painful sentence), issue 1 was great. Leinil Yu took his art to even greater heights from his New Avengers work. His New Avengers work is great and gritty, which suits the book nicely, but I worried on a big crossover whether or not he could handle it. But I didn’t need to. I loved his art, and some of the artistic choices, whether his or Bendis’ (probably Bendis), were great: you can notice two of the main skrulls that are revealed have a panel where there face is in shadows before the big reveal.

    This issue had a lot of action, and a lot of fucked up, suitable enough to go: “How are these guys gonna get out of this mess?”. It’s not going to be pretty. It also brought forth a lot of questions like any good issue, and I can’t wait to get the answer. I didn’t really mean to get into a review, so I’ll cut off at here, and address your guys’ points.

    First: The length was fine. I know I just cut myself off, but honestly, if you’re on a roll, don’t stop. I didn’t feel like it was overly long at all.

    Bendis’ plotting with this Secret Invasion stuff is just flat out impressive, and the fact that it makes so much sense just sells it so completely. How it all started with Secret War and the disappearance of Nick Fury, and it’s just escalated with House of M and Civil War. I love Luke Cage’s confrontation with Elektra in issue 30, when he voices everyone’s opinion, basically going: “What the fuck is going on? Do you know who’s pulling the strings?” And yes, she did. Skrulls baby! Awesome. You always had this hint of something weird going on reading all these stories, and this just makes sense (or maybe it’s an excuse for awkward storytelling).

    I never really had any apprehension with the Skrulls being the villains in a big story arc. I hadn’t read a helluva lot of Skrull stuff in my day, but in Illuminati and so far in Secret Invasion, they’ve seen really badass and obviously tricky enemies.

    One caviat to the whole thing, or maybe it makes me like it even more: This basically was done on Battlestar Galactica. A big (nay, the biggest) plot point on Galactica is the 12 human models of Cylons that can’t be detected and could be anyone. It’s such a great show, and a great idea, and I love the issues inherent in trust that come about both in BSG and Marvel.

    I would HATE if all those silver age characters that came out of the skrull plane turned out to be the REAL characters or anything like that. I could seee maybe one or two of them being escaped prisoners of war that are playing the part (which would be cool), but I would flip out if they made the real Captain America return, even though I am almost positive that that won’t happen (since they got the body of Captain America, and it would’ve reverted to a skrull and it would just demean Ed Brubaker, a god among men). I don’t know about Hawkeye. He seems like an obvious skrull, but I don’t think so. And don’t call it the “gay black suit”. Ronin’s sweet (read the second arc of New Avengers). And I love how Clint can still kick ass WITHOUT his arrows

    Anyways, like I’ve said, I love the “Who’s a Skrull and Who isn’t?” and when we find out who is, we get to see how long they have been and all that, and if they’re dead in a ditch or still alive. But I would sour on the idea quickly if this was a ploy to just reboot many characters (especially Emma Frost; it’s interesting because she has changed a lot, but that’s good characterization and shouldn’t be fucked; only Cyclops and Tony Stark get to fuck with Emma). If they were doing it to restart and reboot characters it would wreak of Spider-Man’s One More Day, and the whole world knows how much I liked that idea (and by world, I mean you three). I’m giving Bendis more credit than that, but if Quesada got his greedy paws on it….who knows.

    On some of the characters you mentioned: Jean is dead (it’d be real original to bring her back to life). Vision died in House of M, but was reconstructed and became a leader of the Young Avengers (he’s a possible Skrull, and I would actually bet on it). Perhaps Scarlet Witch has been a skrull since House of M, and the whole thing was planned? It would save Scarlet Witch’s legacy. I don’t think they touch Spider-Man with the skrull stuff, he’s too big a deal. Same with Wolverine, even though the fact that after House of M he now remembers EVERYTHING about his past is suspect. I feel like most of the mutants besides Wanda won’t be involved, because that’s X-Titles stuff.

    I hope Wonder Man is a skrull. He’s a tool and a half, and my least Avenger ever. I can’t believe he’s fucked Ms. Marvel, one of the hottest heroines in the Marvel Universe.

    What do you think the “She Loves You” stuff refers to AA? It could just be the Skrull Queen, but why the fuck would she love any of them? It’s weird and creepy.

    I can’t wait for Nick Fury to finally show up. That might be the thing I’m most excited for (along with finding out Doom’s part; he could be a skrull).

    Anyways, jesus THAT’s a long post.

  4. gokitalo Says:

    Are you going to read it anyway?

    Issue one, probably. The others? We’ll see. I stopped reading Civil War after issue 3 or 4 and skipped out on World War Hulk, so crossovers aren’t exactly must-buys for me.

    I would HATE if all those silver age characters that came out of the skrull plane turned out to be the REAL characters or anything like that. I could seee maybe one or two of them being escaped prisoners of war that are playing the part (which would be cool), but I would flip out if they made the real Captain America return, even though I am almost positive that that won’t happen (since they got the body of Captain America, and it would’ve reverted to a skrull and it would just demean Ed Brubaker, a god among men).

    I agree on all counts. I mean, if one of the 70s-era characters turns out to be a Skrull, that could mess up 30 years of that character’s history. Don’t worry about Cap, though; Bendis is friends with Brubaker, so I don’t think he’d muck up Bru’s story like that.

    I don’t know about Hawkeye. He seems like an obvious skrull, but I don’t think so. And don’t call it the “gay black suit”. Ronin’s sweet (read the second arc of New Avengers). And I love how Clint can still kick ass WITHOUT his arrows

    … yeah, I’m thinking Skrull. But I could be wrong!

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