‘Secret Invasion’ So Far: The Tie-Ins
If you read Part 1 of my report on "Secret Invasion so far", you know I have found a lot of faults with the main series of this Marvel crossover and the tie-ins written by Brian Michael Bendis.
Now, any major crossover these days has tie-ins with other titles. It’s a good marketing idea because it gets readers to check out characters and books they may not have already been reading. And it helps give the story an epic feel when you can show how its effects are felt in various other parts of the Marvel Universe and how other folks are forced to get dragged into it.
A lot of times, these tie-ins are unnecessary and fairly forgettable unless you were already a fan of those books. Imagine my surprise when I found that a lot of these tie-ins were actually enjoyable and greatly enhanced the crossover for me. Frankly, I think some of these tie-ins could have replaced a few issues of the main series.
Let’s go into a bit more detail, shall we?
Avengers: The Initiative #14-17
Now these tie-ins are must-read. Writers Dan Slott and Christos Gage give you the full feeling of terror when a super-hero realizes all of his buddies and colleagues may be Skrulls. They let new readers have a sense of Skrull history, talking about invasions that have been happening since the 1950s and the people who’ve been fighting them. There is a large scale to the story, as we’re shown that there is a Skrull in just about every one of the 50 states of the U.S.
We also have a very interesting and moving subplot concerning Crusader, the Robert Kirkman created character who readers know is actually a Skrull who decided he loved Earth and has been doing his best to be like his hero Captain America. His storyline alone is one of the best things in the entire Secret Invasion crossover. And the moment when he meets Nick Fury just speaks to the fanboy inside us all.
But most impressive of all, writers Slott and Gage found a way to make me like the new 3-D Man (though I will never relent that I think that is possibly the dumbest super-hero name ever). And rounding out this tie-in arc is the Skrull Kill Crew, those psychotic creations of Grant Morrison who don’t just hunt Skrulls, they friggin’ eat them! If you want to see Secret Invasion handled in a truly entertaining manner, get these issues right now. They could replace half of the main series, as far as I’m concerned.
Black Panther #39-41
Holy crap, why haven’t you read these issues already? The Skrulls are going to invade the country of Wakanda since they have some of the most advanced technology on Earth? Not if King T’Challa, the Black Panther, has anything to say about it. After routing out several Skrull spies and literally putting their heads on spikes outside of his castle, the Black Panther rallies his army and calls down the thunder on these aliens who would dare threaten his people.
These tie-ins, written by guest writer Jason Aaron (Scalped, Ghost Rider), really give you a sense of the epic and global scale of Secret Invasion. There is also a very strong sense of how deadly and serious this conflict is. This isn’t just another big super-human brawl in the middle of Manhattan. This is the Marvel version of the battle scenes from Braveheart, and T’Challa gives us the St. Crispin’s Day speech – Wakanda style!
Bendis mentioned that the Skrulls are vulnerable to vibranium technology, which makes this battle very important to the rest of the series. Rounding it off, there is also great characterization concerning the Skrulls themselves. Can’t wait to see how this is resolved in the final issue.
The Incredible Hercules #117-120
Writers Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente are firing on all cylinders here, folks. When Hercules decides to form the "God Squad" and lay a smackdown on these Skrull religious fanatics, you get a story-arc with good character moments, fun humor and blockbuster action. And I would argue that these issues are entirely necessary to gain a fuller picture of the Skrull invasion, since Hercules learns about the religious beliefs of his shape-shifting aliens and also meets the Skrull prophet who is the “He” they are all referring to when they say their mantra “He loves you.”
Religious fables, living demi-gods, high-flying action and some genuine sarcasm and comedy. And on top of that, Hercules actually faces some truths about himself and how he lives his life. Great job, guys.
SECRET INVASION: Inhumans (mini-series)
The super-human community known as the Inhumans have a special mad-on against the Skrulls. First, there’s the fact that they are the product of experimentation by the alien Kree Empire, the sworn blood-enemies of the Skrulls. And second, they have recently learned that their former king, the mighty Black Bolt, has been replaced by a Skrull impostor for God knows how long and is now their prisoner. So when the Skrull invasion force show up, the Inhumans decide that they will die before the Earth and its moon, their home, fall before these would-be conquerors.
Heroes writer Joe Pokaski does an excellent job of showing the high emotions that erupt when the Inhumans learn their king is gone, a prisoner of war. And rather than just giving us a straight on fight, we also get the sub-plot of Black Bolt’s brother King Maximus taking advantage of the situation to increase his own power. And we learn that the Skrulls seek to harness Black Bolt’s powerful voice, strong enough to shake mountains, and turn it into a weapon of mass destruction.
An excellent read and I have the feeling it that events here will have repercussions for the end of our summer crossover.
Captain Britain and MI 13 #1-4
As the invasion begins, a new series launches and we see that the Skrulls are clever in hitting some of Earth’s very special resources. In this case, the Skrulls have realized that
The only criticism I have for this book is that some of the characters make references to history/continuity that may go over the heads of new readers and I think a more detailed character introduction page or perhaps extra panels here and there for exposition could’ve helped immensely. Fortunately, the personalities of the characters and the quality of the story keeps one entertained and since this is the beginning of a new series, I’m sure fuller explanations and explorations will be forthcoming.
SECRET INVASION: Thor (mini-series)
As Asgard fights off a Skrull army that considers them to be “false gods”, Thor must hold back from the fight for a while because a woman is in labor and, in his human identity of Dr. Donald Blake, he’s the only one in the immediate area who can help. This story draws you in with its focus on humanity and the nature of brotherhood and it’s interesting to see how the Skrull religious fanatics prepare to do battle with the Asgardians and their godly might.
Not essential to the main storyline, but an excellent read with fantastic moments. It’s only failing is that it assumes you have some previous knowledge of Thor’s supporting cast. But even if you don’t, you can get by okay and follow along. And the comic is a great introduction to Thor himself, as well as his human alter ego. There is a genuinely surprising reveal in the first issue. And the end of the second issue will make you want to punch your fist in the air as you cheer on the thunder god hero. I honestly wish the main series felt more like this.
I honestly wish the main series felt more like this.
SECRET INVASION: X-Men (mini-series)
Cyclops, you are a bad-ass, right up there with Nick Fury and Captain
While this story isn’t essential to the main series, it does give a greater feel of the larger scale of the conflict and shows how well the Skrulls are prepared this time around. They know the X-Men communicate via telepathic links, so they set up a psionic screen, forcing the team to change its strategy. Cyclops doesn’t hold back in this series and through his actions we understand that this is war. On top of that, there’s also has Nightcrawler (who once studied to become a Catholic priest) explore the religious beliefs of the Skrulls.
The only gaff with this mini-series is that if you haven’t read the X-books for a while or if you haven’t followed the new X-Force series, then you may get confused when Archangel seems to vanish and then shows up again sporting his old techno-organic wings and Apocalypse-designed costume. The fact is, folks, Warren can now transform at will between his normal appearance of being a Caucasian with feathered wings and his 90s appearance with blue-skin and metallic wings. It’s understandable that X-Force wouldn’t explain this to the other X-Men, as they’re pretty secretive, but a panel of quick exposition could’ve cleared this right up for the readers.
SECRET INVASION: Runaways/Young Avengers (mini-series)
Fun action and interesting character dilemmas since you’ve got one kid who’s half-Skrull and one kid who’s all Skrull. You also get to see that Queen Veranke is very aware of how difficult it can be to keep the loyalty of religious fundamentalists, as she fears that Hulkling’s existence as an heir of the dead Emperor Dorrek could threaten her regime.
The first of these tie-in issues is barely connected to the events of Secret Invasion. The second has a couple of interesting tid-bits of information and fun character moments. The biggest things about this is that Norman Osborn’s technology still works since the Skrulls only took out Stark Enterprises systems. It’s also nice to see that the Thunderbolts are focusing their efforts on Washington D.C. to protect the heads of state. It makes sense since someone should be protecting the country’s leaders during an invasion and there are enough super-humans protecting New York anyway. We also get to hear more about the political plans of the Skrulls as they continue to use Earth’s heroes as a scapegoat so that human beings will accept them as liberators.
Not a bad story, but definitely more interesting if you are already invested in these particular characters. We’ll see how they finish the story arc in their next issue.
Richard Rider, the last surviving "space cop" of the intergalactic Nova Corps, finds himself ambushed by super-powered Skrull warriors and then gets his hide saved by the original Super-Skrull, Kl’rt, that famous and a manipulative enemy of the Fantastic Four. Kl’rt informs him about the invasion heading towards Earth and adventure ensues.
This is an interesting tie-in in that it shows how smart the Skrulls are, doing their best to make sure Earth doesn’t get any cosmic help from the outside. Likewise, it shows how they’re smart enough to attack Earth’s Project Pegasus, a place that contains a wealth of information on super-human threats and has often been guarded by cosmic/alien-inclined protectors. We also discover a new weakness in the enemy. These Skrulls may have super-powers, but they don’t have the experience or imagination to use those abilities as well as they could.
Good character interaction between Kl’rt and Nova. They may be very different, but they’re warriors who have fought side-by-side. It’s also nice to contrast these new religious Skrulls against a Skrull character readers have known for decades and who, while deadly, is seen as an out-of-date warhorse by his own people. And it’s good to see Nova protecting places that the Avengers and Thunderbolts have left unguarded, it gives a greater sense of the scale of this conflict and how necessary it is that every hero play their part by spreading themselve out as a protective net.
If you haven’t read Nova before, this is a nice introduction to the basics of the character. If you are already reading Nova, things happen in these two issues that involve some major changes for the character. And hey, there’s a team-up with one of my favorite New Warriors!
FUN BUT NOT NECESSARY FOR THE CROSSOVER
Peter David writes X-Factor and She-Hulk in such a way that Secret Invasion is a back-drop for storylines he was already working on. Ms. Marvel is fun but only if you already have some interest in the character and it doesn’t add anything to the overall atmosphere or story of Secret Invasion. The Guardians of the Galaxy find a couple of Skrulls in their midst too, but they’re far away from the invasion so the effects of this discovery will only be felt in their own storyline.
DON’T BOTHER WITH THESE
SECRET INVASION: Fantastic Four is pretty slow-moving and not very dynamic. The Human Torch realizes that the Skrull impersonating Sue is actually his old wife Lyja, who we haven’t seen since before the original Onslaught story in the 1990s because no one cared about her that much. Despite the fact that Lyja has betrayed them, they wind up having a moment and I’m left wondering how I’m already in the middle of issue #2 and nothing has really happened.
SECRET INVASION: Spider-Man: Brand New Day. Wow. Who approved this? Spider-Man’s name is in the title, but he’s not in this mini-series. Instead, it stars characters introduced in "Brand New Day." Jackpot is the main character in a story that feels like it’s trying too hard to be fun. A definite let down.
SECRET INVASION: Frontline attempts to ask the question, how does Secret Invasion affect the everyman? But the writing doesn’t grab me and some of the stuff mentioned doesn’t make any sense as far as I’m concerned. One of the characters talks about how most New Yorkers maybe only see a super-hero in action once or twice in a life time and how their battles with villains and the like may as well occur on another planet.
Really? What about during Civil War when super-heroes were fighting super-heroes all over the streets of
That does it for me, folks. We’ll know soon enough how this whole summer crossover wraps up. Until next time, cheers!
Alan "Sizzler" Kistler tried to join the Skrull Kill Krew but they just pantsed him and took his lunch money. God, they’re so cool. Alan Kistler 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.