‘Secret Invasion’ So Far: The Main Story
So we’re more than half-way through Secret Invasion, the event that’s supposed to be the biggest thing to rock the Marvel Universe since Civil War, where the question was “whose side are you on?” Secret Invasion’s question is “who do you trust?”, which is almost the same question as Civil War’s but not as grammatically correct ( it’s "whom", people!) and concerns the revelation that several Skrulls (shape-shifting aliens who’ve had their asses kicked many times) have secretly been living among us for a while. This story is the brain-child of Brian Michael Bendis, who has been praised for his series Powers and his run on Ultimate Spider-Man and who has been writing New Avengers and Mighty Avengers since both titles were created.
This plot has been done before to lesser degrees. In the early 90s, the Fantastic Four discovered that the Human Torch’s wife had been impersonated by a Skrull since before they were even engaged. And a couple of years later, the X-Men found out that Wolverine had been replaced by a Skrull who then died because he didn’t know he didn’t have Wolvie’s powers too (idiot).
But there are three major elements that mark this particular invasion story as different from what we’ve seen in comic books a million times over. The first element is that what’s left of the Skrull Empire has now taken up religion. Their holy texts tell them that Earth is theirs by right and they have become quite creepy by habitually saying “He loves you” to everyone they attack. Secondly, they’ve learned how to infiltrate us in such a way that they are now beyond the detection of super-powers, magic and technology – very scary in this post-9/11 world. Finally, the Skrulls have finally figured out how to produce super-powers on a large scale. Where once the Super-Skrull and Power Skrull were unique, now there are thousands of Skrull warriors who have the combined powers of many different villains and heroes.
But how’s the execution? Well, in a nutshell, the main series started off very strong and has recently picked up steam again full force. Even when it was slow, it had some great scenes. But these are over-shadowed occasionally by pages of wasted space and repetitive recaps. And out of the eleven tie-in issues Bendis has written so far, eight of them can be ignored or have a smidge of substance that’s surrounded by filler pages.
But if you are one of those unfortunate souls who bought all the New Avengers and Mighty Avengers tie-ins and then realized you’d wasted over twenty bucks, don’t worry! Just do what I and my good friend Lisa McMullan did. With a little creativity, you can take those pages and make yourself a very smart looking jacket! Now you’re not a sucker, you are actually quite fashionable!
Don’t believe me? Just look at this photographic evidence, nay-sayer! All you need is scissors, tape and maybe an hour of free time.
And when people ask you "How did you think to make such a snazy and debonair sport coat?", you can simply say "I got the idea from those crazy guys at ComicMix and Alan ‘the Sizzler’ Kistler. He’s one nutty guy, that Sizzler."
Not a bad series, but I definitely have some criticisms. Hmmm? What’s that? You want more detail about what my problems are with the main series and the Bendis-written tie-ins? Not a problem, folks. That’s what I get paid for.
By the way, folks, if it pleases you, feel free to check out my old list of the Six Worst Moments in Skrull History!
Secret Invasion #1 – March 31st
So we jump into the first issue of our summer crossover blockbuster, one that’s supposed to shake the Marvel Universe to its core. There is a quick recap of why Iron Man and other heroes have become worried that there could be Skrulls living among us who have figured out a way to avoid detection by conventional means. We have a Skrull space-ship suddenly appear out of nowhere and crash in the Savage Land (a tropical paradise with dinosaurs that is artificially maintained by alien technology in Antarctica). The legally-sanctioned "Mighty Avengers", led by Iron Man, arrive in the Savage Land moments after the fugitive/unauthorized "New Avengers", led by Luke Cage.
The Skrulls launch simultaneous attacks in several ways, showing that this invasion has had months of preparation. SWORD and SHIELD are knocked out of commission. A virus shuts down all Stark technology around the world (everything from household appliances and cellphones to Iron Man’s armor and super-villain prisons). The Fantastic Four are taken off of the gameboard.
Back in the Savage Land, the space craft opens and out come several Marvel heroes who claim that they have just escaped being prisoners of the Skrull Empire. There’s the original Captain America, Wolverine in his original costume, Jessica Jones when she was called Jewel, Mockingbird, the classic versions of the Vision and Scarlet Witch, Thor, Luke Cage in his original threads, a younger Spider-Man, Iron Man in his "classic" armor, Jean Grey as Phoenix, and a few others. Holy crap, I did not see that coming!
A great, solid start to a crossover. Good deal, Bendis. But the ending bugs me a little. There’s been so much made of how undetectable the Skrulls are in the months leading up to this invasion. Luke Cage, Dr. Strange, Iron Man, they’ve all been up in arms about how the Skrulls now have a perfect disguise and Iron Man repeats this at the beginning of this very issue. But then in the same comic, Reed figures out how the deception was accomplished, which means he can counter it. Already? I know he’s the smartest man on Earth, but he’s able to figure this out after, what, an hour or two? So if Tony or Luke Cage just took Elektra Skrull’s corpse to him a couple of months ago, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation? Where’s the suspense? This also makes me think the Skrull "perfect disguise" ain’t so perfect.
New Avengers #40 – April 30th
Now this is pretty interesting. We learn something of the history of the new Skrull queen Veranke and why the Skrulls have turned back to magic and religion when they have never shown evidence of caring about either one in the past few decades. We are told that the Skrulls have figured out a way to disguise themselves in a ceremony that makes them completely undetectable, but the catch is this only works if they they maintain the disguise without fail. And we get the shocking revelation that Queen Veranke has been hidden on Earth as one of the Avengers for some time now.
A couple of problems though. First, some wasted space. I don’t think we needed a full page of Skrulls kneeling silently before Emperor Dorrek followed by a full page of Veranke crying and praying for comfort. Secondly, if the disguise only works as long as the Skrull never breaks the new form/identity they are locked into (later described as a "genetic lock"), then we’ve already got a few gaffs. Because after the Queen is told this fact, the Elektra impostor resumes her normal appearance. So … does she have to go through the ceremony of having her Elektra identity locked all over again? Seems pretty pointless.
And come to think of it, the Skrull who replaced Dugan was seen shifting form too (this happened in Marvel.com’s mini-comic, which was later added into the Director’s Cut of #1). And in Secret Invasion #1, the Invisible Woman Skrull changed shape right after she walked into the Baxter Building. Not only should that break the identity lock, but I have to believe that Reed invented a Skrull alarm after we all found out that the Human Torch’s wife was a Skrull years ago. And the Hank Pym impostor revealed his true face at the end of issue #1 after shooting Reed. Did he have to then quickly run back to a space-ship and redo the whole ceremony/process all over again?
It seems strange to have such inconsistencies when both issues are written by the same writer. I’m also annoyed that Namor is referred to as Earth’s "first mutant." Technically, this is basically true since he was the first character Marvel created who had a physical mutation. So yeah, he’s a mutant since he’s a hybrid with unique abilities. But within the fictional Marvel Universe itself, that title is for those like Professor X who have the "X-gene." And even if you didn’t just mean X-gene carriers, Wolverine, Sabretooth, Mystique and Apocalypse are all mutants who were running around with powers before Namor, so once again, not correct. It’s a simple error, which is why it bugs me. Why didn’t an editor catch this?
Secret Invasion #2 – May 7th
The escapee heroes and the modern-day heroes accuse each other of being Skrulls and a brawl breaks out. The escapee "Vision" transforms into the Void, the Sentry’s darker half, and makes a brilliant psychological attack against the Sentry, who then flees the scene. The Skrull armada begins its invasion of Earth. And Ronin decides that the Mockingbird who escaped the space-craft is actually his wife Mockingbird, believed to be dead.
That’s all well and good because it shows the Skrulls doing what they do best. But things really slow down this issue and I’m starting to think I’m being fed filler. In this issue alone, we have three separate but nearly identical two-page spreads of the current Avengers facing off against the escapees. Why couldn’t we use some of that page space to see what was happening to the Fantastic Four or SWORD and SHIELD?
There are also a couple of problems with the scene between Ronin and Mockingbird. First, I met a lot of fans who didn’t understand it completely because they have only been reading Marvel for the past ten years at most and had never seen Mockingbird before or knew who she was (she died in 1993). A little exposition could’ve helped. Also, Ronin’s identity test on her seems pretty weak when you consider that any of these escapees could be Skrulls with telepathic abilities. On top of that, Mockingbird didn’t just die, she sacrificed her soul to be locked in eternal battle in the "Arena of Tainted Souls." We’ve actually seen her as a spirit in stories since then, still fighting in that strange afterlife battle. Ronin knows this. Why is he so easily convinced that this might be the real deal?
And hey, that Vision escapee was obviously a Skrull. But he changed shape to look like the Void and then changed back. Does that mean he just broke the genetic lock? Man, these Skrulls are pretty cavalier with their subterfuge all of a sudden. Unless he figures his job is done, since Sentry has left the battle. Which makes sense, but then I wish we’d seen Wolverine or Spider-Man suddenly detect the presence of this Skrull. Wolvie could then gut fake Vision and we could have had a creepy scene where the Skrull tells us he knew he was going to die and wasn’t afraid of a suicide mission. Ah, well.
Mighty Avengers #13 – May 7th
Nick Fury disguises himself as Samuel L. Jackson (not gonna lie, that was funny) and meets with former SHIELD agent Daisy Johnson so she can help him recruit a new team of "Commandos" (or "Secret Warriors", as they may be called soon). The Skrulls are infiltrating super-heroes and powerful organizations, so Fury decides he must bring together a team of people who’ve never been players before, folks who aren’t on anyone’s radar and may not even know that they have special powers. A very simple yet very intelligent strategy.
The new characters show a lot of promise and Fury displays just how hardcore he is when he even recruits a 10-year-old. As far as he’s concerned, this is war and he needs every soldier he can grab. That’s so scary it’s cool. Solid issue.
Mighty Avengers #14 – May 21st
We get confirmation that the Void entity who attacked the Sentry in Secret Invasion #2 was actually a Skrull just playing on his fears, which was never in doubt anyway. The Sentry thinks it’s real though, so he retreats into his mind and allows his darker Void personality to take over. The Void then offers to protect the Sentry’s wife, Lindy, which is very scary and interesting at the same time.
That’s the only stuff of substance that occurs in this issue. The other sixteen pages are useless filler. We are given yet another huge spread of the fight in the Savage Land. And the opening scene is a complete waste, depicting an attempted Skrull invasion (I think) from years ago that Sentry took care of in five seconds. Considering that the Sentry erased the world’s memory of him so that no one knows about his adventures before New Avengers #1, this event was also "erased" and can’t have any effect on our current storyline. So why should I care?!
There are also scenes where the fake Jarvis finds an excuse to look over the Avengers files concerning the Sentry. Past issues have shown that Jarvis is often the one who maintains said files anyway. Kurt Busiek even did an entire story on it. There is no reason why he needs to ask Iron Man’s permission. We also have a few pages of Jarvis telling his fellow Skrulls about how the Sentry is crazy and dangerous. We already knew that. We are told that just about every damn time the Sentry is used in a story!
This issue can be skipped. I just saved you $3. Be grateful!
New Avengers #41 – May 28th
Spidey wanders around the Savage Land and argues with Ka-Zar and Shanna the She-Devil. There are a few flashback scenes that are way too long involving Ka-Zar (and the readers) wondering why Shanna has never heard of the Skrulls before. Shanna makes a pretty weak attempt to find out why the aliens are impersonating SHIELD agents in the Savage Land and is able to escape them without injury, making us question how dangerous they really are if a jungle girl with no powers can evade them so easily. And back in the present day, Spider-Man realizes how dumb it is that he and the New Avengers never followed up on the seemingly rogue faction of SHIELD they stumbled upon during their first story-arc.
There. That’s all that happens this issue. It’s four pages of story that were somehow stretched into twenty-two. I just saved you three more dollars. You now have $6.
Secret Invasion #3 – June 4th
The New York fight scenes are a lot of fun, but there’s a problem. I’ve seen big New York battles more times than I can count in Marvel comics. After Civil War ended, one of the major changes was that Marvel was supposed to have a larger scale thanks to things like the 50 State Initiative. And this invasion is supposed to be spanning the globe. But so far, I only see Manhattan and the Savage Land. And I’m starting to be less afraid of the Skrulls when they haven’t scored a serious victory since Issue #1. This issue made it look like Echo was killed by Veranke, but she shows up again later in the series, alive and well. So did Veranke miss at point-blank range or is she just not that powerful? I honestly can’t think of a reason she wouldn’t want to kill an enemy (unless she just thinks Echo is hot).
There’s an assumption by Bendis that you know who everyone is. If you haven’t read the tie-in featuring Nick Fury’s new team, you may be a little lost. And if you don’t remember that former SHIELD agent Daisy has the ability to cause earthquakes, you might also be one of the many people I’ve met who were confused about what the heck was happening on the second to last page. Every comic is someone’s first and it wouldn’t hurt the story to have name tags next to new arrivals such as what Mark Waid and Geoff Johns have done in their Legion of Super-Heroes stories.
There’s a good scene with the Camp Hammond troops being called into action and a chilling scene where Tony Stark is told he’s a Skrull sleeper agent and begins doubting himself. It forces the reader to seriously wonder about Iron Man’s identity. But it doesn’t make up for the other problems in this issue or the fact that we’re still dragging our feet. Good issue, but not great.
New Avengers #42 – June 25th
We get confirmation that Veranke arrived on Earth just prior to the events of New Avengers #1 and we see her planning the invasion. It’s an intelligent discussion as she brings up the dangers of vibranium (which Skrull tech can’t combat), the mutant population and the big guns of the super-human community. The Skrulls also figure out how to use the changing power structure in SHIELD to their advantage. Very interesting stuff.
Sadly, the rest of the issue is 17 pages of filler. We have two giant splash pages of the Raft break-out that led to the formation of the New Avengers. I know how they formed, it only happened a few years ago and it’s been referenced often, why waste two whole pages followed by a full page of the Hank Pym impostor being upset that he wasn’t invited to join? And why is it that every other scene in this book is one that I’ve already seen in the early issues of New Avengers? I don’t need an entire page just to show me when the fake Spider-Woman met Matt Murdock and Luke Cage, a single panel flashback would’ve sufficed. I don’t need a two-page confrontation between Spider-Woman and Maria Hill that has no bearing on the invasion at all. And I don’t need the last two entire pages to have no dialogue or action just so I can watch Spider-Woman stand perfectly still and vanish in a blast of white. With the exception of Zero Hour and Crisis on Infinite Earths, a scene where everything suddenly goes white is not a great cliffhanger.
Save your money and just have someone tell you that the Skrulls are worried about vibranium, mutants and Fury. You now have $9.
Mighty Avengers #15 – June 25th
This was advertised as "a major Secret Invasion chapter"? It could’ve been interesting. We were finally going to learn more about the Skrull who replaced Hank Pym. Instead, we saw Hank and wife Jan fighting and getting separated, after which Hank sleeps with a young blond university student he met when he was lecturing and who tells him he’s the "oldest bloke" she’s ever been with. She dates him for a few months, asks him strange questions concerning the details of several Avengers missions, then reveals she’s a Skrull and replaces him. Wow. I so didn’t need more than three pages of that.
In Bedis’s other tie-in issues, we saw that the fake Spider-Woman and fake Elektra didn’t need to spend months with their target in order to learn how to impersonate them. Why is it necessary for the Pym impersonator to do so? All I got from this issue was that Hank Pym, with all his experience fighting Skrulls, Space Phantoms, time travelers and illusionists, is still dumb enough to let his guard down to a pretty college student willing to make-out and emphasize how much younger she is than he.
Wasted issue, sadly. You have now saved $12. Get that thank you card ready.
Secret Invasion #4 – July 9th
Fury’s back in town and he’s kicking ass, accompanied by his new Howlers. Great action. The Hood, New York’s newest would-be Kingpin of Crime, decides this is his fight too since he doesn’t want to be a subject of the Skrull Empire. The Black Widow shows how deadly she is and brings Tony back to his senses. Thor and the new Captain America arrive, which should be one of those "ALL RIGHT!" moments. But they don’t really do anything of significance and it feels like their cameos were added in at the last minute just to give us a half-decent cliffhanger.
SHIELD and SWORD seem to be locked in time warps. Issue #1 had the SHIELD helicarrier crashing. Issue #2 made no mention of SHIELD at all. Issue #3 showed Maria Hill evacuating her people only to then be approached by butler Jarvis, who reveals he’s a Skrull and asks for her surrender. Now in issue #4, Maria learns that other SHIELD agents are also Skrulls and then Jarvis … asks for her surrender. Why is this scene taking so long to friggin’ finish?!
And SWORD? In issue #1, their orbital HQ blows up and the surviving SWORD agents are floating in space, protected by an emergency gel that wraps around them. Agent Brand says these emergency gels only give them ten minutes of air. Issue #2 and issue #3 don’t mention SWORD at all. Now in Issue #4, we see Brand, still alive and floating in space, protected by her gel. So wait … only ten minutes or less have passed since the initial attacks at the end of #1? I find that just about impossible to believe.
Agent Brand then floats up to one of the newly-arrived Skrull ships and kicks one of its hatches open so that she can get inside. How can she do this? She’s in zero gravity, shouldn’t the impact immediately send her flying backwards? But somehow, Brand breaks these basic laws of physics and enters the ship, at which point she finds an empty monitoring station where view-screens show that Reed Richards is a prisoner on board and also display the invasion of New York and the fight in the Savage Land. Again, not really getting the global scale of this invasion. And considering how many ships were there, it’s a bit too convenient that she’d just happen upon the very same craft that was holding Reed. Then again, this is comics. Not the worst issue, but still not as cool as the opener.
Mighty Avengers #16 – July 16th
The first two pages show the Skrull Elektra paying Electro to cause the Raft prison break. Again, I don’t need to relive an entire conversation I’ve read before, just give me a flashback in one or two panels to explain what’s up. The rest of the issue shows fake Elektra fighting the real Elektra before taking her place months earlier and then telling the Hand that she was now in charge.
Why spend almost an entire issue on a fight scene I don’t care about? I already know that Elektra lost and was replaced, that’s how this storyline began a year ago. Why didn’t I get to see more of why the Skrulls wanted to be in charge of the Hand? Why didn’t I learn more about how this would’ve gained them a valuable advantage they wouldn’t have had otherwise?
Pointless. Unless you’re really interested in an Elektra fight, don’t bother. Hey, I’ve now saved you a total of $15.
New Avengers #43 – July 23rd
Again, this issue could’ve been told in four pages. What is it about the Savage Land that Bendis wants to spend so much time there?
Spidey, Ka-Zar and Shanna spend seven whole pages fighting the Captain America who came out of the escape craft and then realize he’s a Skrull, which we all friggin’ knew anyway because otherwise Brubaker’s entire critically-acclaimed run of Captain America would suddenly become pointless. It’s also shown that Spidey is the real deal, which we also already knew anyway because that was revealed in Secret Invasion #3 and because otherwise "One More Day" would be even more ridiculous.
There is an attempt to make us feel bad for this particular Skrull because he’s convinced that he actually is Cap. Could have been interesting, but it comes off feeling rushed and last-minute after we already wasted so much space (and all of issue 41) just wandering around the jungle, bickering. Also, this seems to contradict Bendis’ other issues which clearly show that the Spider-Woman, Hank Pym, Dugan and Elektra Skrulls are all aware of their true identities. Same goes for the fake Vision who left the same space-craft and convinced the Sentry that he was the Void. So why would it be necessary to program this Cap impersonator? Were only some of the fake escapees tricked into thinking they were genuine? Why? Just to confuse the readers? If so, good job.
Maybe my questions will be explained later. If so, fantastic and I will look on this tie-in in a better light. Until then, I could personally forget about this issue. Keep three more bucks and then feel free to pass "GO" with your grand total of $18 saved.
Secret Invasion # 5 – August 14th
The first few pages of this issue immediately annoyed me. What I got was a continuation of the meeting between the Thunderbolts and the Skrull who thought he was Captain Mar-Vell. If you put this sliver of a scene together with the pages featuring the earlier part of this meeting from issues #1 and #3, then you have a three minute conversation that could’ve been wrapped up in issue #2. In the Thunderbolts tie-in, Gage and Blanco had this entire scene take place in just two pages. We were also told in that same tie-in that Norman Osborn’s facilities and resources are still working because he uses Oscorp technology rather than Stark. That’s a pretty interesting plot point, why didn’t one of these wasted pages in the main series mention it at all?
We also have a double-page spread of Fury, his new Commandos, and the Young Avengers as they all regroup in one of Fury’s secret bunkers.I don’t need a double-page spread to show me how big the bunker is when there’s nothing visually interesting about it.
After that, the story starts moving along again. Agent Brand is able to bluff her way into disarming a couple of Skrulls (who, fortunately, didn’t know there were any SWORD survivors floating outside their ship). Maria Hill shows that she’s learned a thing or two from Nick Fury. Reed’s back in action and quickly heads to the Savage Land with a device that forces Skrulls into their natural shape. We find out that all the space-craft escapees were Skrulls (which makes the Savage Land scenes seem even more pointless) and that all of our Avengers, except for Spider-Woman, are the real deal. And Hawkeye realizes he was an idiot.
I’m glad the momentum’s coming back, but it still feels like we really dragged out feet the last two issues. And Reed is able to invent a gun that cancels out the Skrull threat in just two minutes? Those aliens seem less and less scary with each chapter. Also, the fact that NONE of the other Avengers were secretly Skrulls was honestly kind of a letdown. Where’s the status quo shake-up? But I can’t deny this issue didn’t keep me interested for the next one. Things are picking up steam.
New Avengers #44 – August 27th
Okay, now. This is good. We’ve already learned what the Skrulls are doing to avoid detection. Now we learn how they figured it out. They basically made their own Reed Richards and had him come up with the best means of infiltration. Genius.
So what keeps this issue from being a must-read? Well, the first dozen pages are completely unnecessary and pretty boring. And there are now some glaring continuity issues. Once again, we see Emperor Dorrek overseeing things. But if this stage of the Skrull research/experimentation only happened a couple of years ago (as indicated by Iron Man’s suit of armor, his and Dr. Strange’s facial hair, and the fact that Xavier can walk again), then we have a problem. Dorrek was killed during the 80’s and was replaced by his wife Empress R’kll (who was later succeeded by S’byll). So either Dorrek can’t be here or the Illuminati members should not be sporting their modern-day looks.
Perhaps the Skrulls have incredible fortune tellers and knew what armor Tony would design years later. And maybe they were also able to tell that by then Tony and Strange would have goateess rather than just mustaches and that Xavier would be upright. Or perhaps Bendis simply forgot to tell artist Billy Tan to draw the Illuminati as they appeared in the early 80’s. Either way, a good editor should have spotted this and corrected it before the issue went to print. It’s a sloppy mistake.
Not a bad issue, but still feels not as great as it could have been. If you want to be frugal, have a friend explain to you what happens in the last six pages and save yourself yet another three dollars. That brings us up to $21 now!
Mighty Avengers #17 – Aug. 27th
The Hank Pym impostor meets with the Dugan impostor and says that he thinks the invasion is a mistake, that the people of Earth are too resourceful. Dugan tells him he’s getting soft because he’s starting to actually think with Hank Pym’s thoughts. The Hank Pym impostor goes rogue. There is some pointless action and then he’s killed and replaced almost immediately. A remark is made that this isn’t the first time this has happened.
This issue is confusing. It says it takes place months ago, but the television news has a picture of a Skrull and the anchor saying "The streets of New York City are in chaos," indicating that this occurs during Secret Invasion #2 or afterward. And the idea that evil Hank can be replaced at the drop of a dime seems to contradict the previous Mighty Avengers tie-in that showed him taking months to prepare for his role. Also, why is this the first time I’m hearing that the Skrull spies "share" a brain with those they’re impersonating? If they can do that, why was it necessary to program the brain of the fake Captain America with impressions from the Illuminati and public records and why did the first fake Hank have to spend months spying on the real Hank?
I think Dan Phillips over at IGN said it best when he reviewed this same issue. "The more I read of Secret Invasion, the less I buy the idea behind the Skrull’s newfound power to clone or replicate superheroes almost perfectly, and the less I understand or follow the consistencies of how these clones/replicants operate. The more I think about it, the more the logic of Bendis’ story begins to crumble upon itself."
Again, if this gets clarified later on, I will change my view. But until then, not satisfied. You may save yourself three more dollars by not buying this. Congratulations. I have helped you save $24. You can now buy movie tickets for you and a date. Enjoy!
Secret Invasion #6 – Sept. 10th
This issue seems to take place at least a couple of hours after the end of issue #5. I’m guessing this was done to explain away how the various tie-in issues and mini-series could have stories that span several hours yet only ten minutes are supposed to have passed between the end of issue #1 and the end of #4.
Noh-Varr (from Grant Morrison’s Marvel Boy mini-series) meets the Skrull who thinks he’s Captain Mar-Vell and they have a nice, touching scene. We then get two pages showing the Skrulls being fought off by heroes in Wakanda, San Francisco, Atillan, Israel and the Savage Land. First, I do not need to see the Savage Land once again. I’m sick of it. Two, it would be nice to see parts of the world that are attacked and don’t have super-heroes to defend them so I can have a greater sense of danger and doom. Three, the panel showing Medusa of the Inhumans – exactly what is happening there? Seriously, I can’t tell if she’s in the middle of a battle or enjoying incredible ecstasy.
Now, the Skrulls once again show their cleverness in this issue. "Spider-Woman" and "Hank Pym" discuss the invasion and mention that Janet Van Dyne (the Wasp) is their secret ace in the hole. Oooh, mystery. I like it. The invaders also broadcast to the world that the reason there’s any fighting going on at all is because of the super-humans and that if they would just get out of the way, then everything would be so much nicer. It’s a nice divide and conquer tactic and makes sense coming from shape-shifters. Sure enough, there are protesters in Greenwhich Village telling the super-heroes to leave so they can welcome Big Brother Skrull to take care of them and fix the planet. Very nice. But once again, I ask, why are we so focused on New York? This is a global invasion.
Thor arrives and decides he’s had enough of this invasion (I guess he also got tired of all the double-page spreads and inconsistencies) and sends up some lightning as a way of calling out the Skrulls. He then meets James "Bucky" Barnes, the new Captain America, and what could have been a momentous meeting is cut down to a single panel where Bucky simply asks "Weren’t you dead?" Disappointing. Anyway, the Skrulls, for whatever reason, decide to answer the call and their army meets to face off against the heroes, which seems to contradict their constant insistence in previous issues that the whole reason they were infiltrating first was because straight-up fights have never worked for them.
The Queen Skrull assures the heroes that despite what they’ve done "He" still loves them and then reveals that "He" is God. This is not exactly a big reveal, although it does seem to contradict the back story that was revealed in the Hercules tie-in where the son of Zeus actually met the "He" in question, an Eternal Skrull prophet.
Fury then says "Well my god has a hammer," which just feels awkward. Spider-Man could get away with a line like that, but it seems out of character for Fury. Anyway, the issue ends with … guess what? A double-page spread of the heroes charging at us, screaming "Avengers Assembled", and then another double-page spread of the heroes fighting the Skrulls.
It is indeed cool to see the authorized/registered heroes fighting alongside the illegal vigilantes. But when you think about it, we went from infiltration and subterfuge to a big brawl in New York. How was this supposed to be different from every other alien invasion attempt I’ve seen? But I have to agree with others, at least things are really moving again and I’m still interested in what’s to come.
Mighty Avengers #18 – Sept. 17th
This is a good issue as we see Fury and Daisy training their commandos. This is serious military SHIELD training by a guy who’s been fighting wars and espionage games since World War II. But it feels like too little too late. The issue ends with the Commandos realizing the full-scale invasion is now happening and it’s time for them to fight for real. That’s a fantastic moment, but at this point, I’ve already read a couple of issues in the main series and a few tie-ins that show them fighting that invasion. So this prequel issue loses a lot of the drama it could have had. This should have hit shelves immediately after the tie-in that showed Fury recruiting them.
WRITER’S NOTE: New Avengers #45 came out a few days after I posted this article and I have to say, it’s a great read, really hitting the emotional core of the Skrulls. I’ve truly come to respect and enjoy Veranke as a character and now I really want to know what will happen to her in Secret Invasion #7. Good job, Bendis.
So, what am I missing from this crossover?
First, the main series doesn’t give me any real idea about the Skrull religion other than the fact that the Skrulls seem to think God promised them Earth. The Hercules and X-Men tie-ins give us more insight into this. And in Runaways/Young Avengers we get the interesting sub-plot that Queen Veranke wants the hero Hulkling killed because he’s the heir to Emperor Dorrek and his existence could create confusion and wavering faith in her followers. Such information really belongs in the main series because without their religious beliefs being explored, the Skrulls seem no different from every other alien race that’s come after Earth. The Black Panther tie-ins, Hercules tie-ins and X-Men tie-ins have some great bits of characterization with the Skrulls. The Thor tie-in mini-series is great because we get to see Skrull religious fanatics targeting the Asgardians, whom they consider "false gods." Couldn’t I have gotten a taste of that in the main series?
Secondly, this is supposed to be a world-wide invasion. I’ve said it before, why, why, why is the entire main series only focusing on New York and the Savage Land? Why didn’t we have a page showing us how in Captain Britain & MI 13 the Skrulls are attacking England because it’s the focus point of Earth’s magic, which they intended to cut off? Bendis mentions in one of his tie-ins that vibranium worries the Skrulls, so why do I not have more than a single panel showing me their efforts to take Wakanda, the most technologically advanced nation on Earth? Many super-villains, including Dr. Doom, were busted out of the Raft in Secret Invasion #1. Why haven’t I seen Doom fly back to Latveria and lay a major smack-down on these green-skinned freaks who are trying to conquer a planet he believes is his birthright? Where’s the feeling that this is an epic war (I mean, without having to buy tons and tons of other tie-ins)?
Third, I can’t help but wonder about what I consider to be a rather BIG QUESTION. In Bendis’ Illuminati mini-series, we learned that the Illuminati divided the all-powerful Infinity Gems amongst themselves. We also learned in that mini that Black Bolt had been replaced by a Skrull. So why hasn’t anyone, such as Reed Richards or Iron Man or Prof. X, brought up the very real possibility that the Skrulls now possess the Space Gem, giving them the ability to warp space, teleport anywhere, exist simultaneously in multiple locations, and summon forth any object into their grasp? Shouldn’t that be a major concern?
SECOND WRITER’S NOTE: At the Baltimore Comic-Con, Bendis told me the Space Gem would be a future plot point. I am excited and glad to hear that, but I still would’ve liked it if Reed, Tony and Dr. Strange had already brought up the fearful possibility that the Skrulls now have an Infinity Gem. I’m really surprised one of them didn’t mention it immediately after Black Bolt was discovered. Ah, well.
Anyway, that wraps it up. On Wednesday, we’ll have my Secret Invasion report on all the tie-ins and mini-series that Bendis didn’t write (and will be much shorter than this, believe me). Surprisingly, many of them are actually pretty cool. Until then, cheers!
Alan "Sizzler" Kistler doesn’t think Bendis is a bad writer at all, he just personally thinks this crossover wasn’t as well organized as it could have been. Just his own opinion. He has been recognized by Warner Bros. Pictures and mainstream media outlets such as the New York Daily News as a comic book historian, and can be seen in the "Special Features" sections of the Adventures of Aquaman and Justice League: New Frontier DVDs. His personal website can be found at: http://KistlerUniverse.com. One of these days he’d love to write for DC, Marvel or Doctor Who.