This review goes into some specifics concerning Skrull reveals in New Avengers #31 and New Avengers: Illuminati #5. This stuff is pretty much common knowledge by now, but I’m throwing this out there for those trying to keep themselves in the dark. I am not mentioning any character reveals from Secret Invasion #1 in this review.
This is one of the craziest goddamned books I’ve ever read. We start with two pages of flashback on one of the Skrull Throneworlds (Tarnax IV? Skrullos?), and then Bendis hits the ground running, and …you know what? “Hits the ground running” isn’t nearly adequate. I’m pretty sure he broke the sound barrier shortly after touching down. This shit is NUTS. What this issue has showed us is despite the fact that a few key people (The New Avengers, Iron Man, Ms. Marvel and the Illuminati) discovered the plan put in motion by the invading Skrulls, they were WAY too late to the party. The heroes of the Marvel Universe got bent over in this issue. Skrulls attack and infiltrate from all sides. Iron Man is betrayed by his closest confidant. The Fantastic Four are (literally) in pieces. SHIELD and SWORD are a mess. Captain Marvel’s showing up on the Thunderbolts’ doorstep looking to crack some heads. Marvel Boy’s out in the open. I can’t even wrap my head around what the hell’s going on in the Savage Land. One thing’s for damned sure. The Skrulls are winning. And Bendis is writing his ass off. There’s a palpable amount of glee here, from the scenes in and around the Quinjet to the interactions between the New and Mighty Avengers. He’s also pacing the book well. It’s all over the place as far as plots and settings go, with a lot of new information thrown out there, but there isn’t a single moment where it seems like Bendis has lost control or something hasn’t been given the time it requires.
And that’s what’s so fun about this. The Skrulls have been a cosmic joke for so long. They’ve been the universal punching bags of Galactus, the Kree, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, and the Annihilation Wave, just to name a few. They’ve had countless planets destroyed and lost territory. And this was originally a peaceful race that basically got jacked up by the imperialistic Kree conquerors. The Super Skrull couldn’t win a fight to save his life, and even when things seemed to be going as planned, you end up with someone like Lyja who switches sides (Or does she? You know Bendis has something up his sleeve with her) and falls in love with their hated enemy. So the Kree-Skrull War comes around and they get their asses handed to them again, and they finally become fed up. If you believe New Avengers: Illuminati #1, they’ve been planning this invasion since they managed to capture the members of the Illuminati. And this of course begs the question: Did Black Bolt even come back from that Skrull skip? Was he the first victim of the infiltration? They’ve gotten their shit together, and haven’t managed to shoot themselves in the collective shape shifting foot (yet). It’s such a fascinating conceit, and so far Bendis, Reed and co. have pulled it off with conviction.
The other big deal for this book is the fact that Leinil Yu got himself an inker (Mark Morales). This was probably necessary, considering how polarizing his non-inked work on New Avengers tends to be. It’s different. You notice things, such as how extremely square the jaws are. Everything’s just cleaner. It’s still very good work, but I think I prefer Yu without the inks, so I would hope that when he returns to New Avengers post Secret Invasion (provided nothing completely fucking crazy happens so that we don’t have an Avengers book or something) sans inks. I wouldn’t be upset if they went forward this way, but I hope they don’t. Laura Martin is as strong as ever on the colors. Yu definitely gives the book a particular feel, which is something I’ve always thought is important for big events.
The nature of buying your books through an online or mail order service like DCBS forces you to make decisions concerning things like jumping into a crossover like this head first earlier than you might be comfortable, and definitely earlier than the chance of reading the first issue. I decided shortly after reading New Avengers: Illuminati #5, and by shortly I’m talking 30 seconds or so, that Secret Invasion would be my first true comics crossover. I read World War Hulk as it came out, but the only tie-ins I bought were Incredible Hulk and World War Hulk: Frontline. But for this? I’m buying everything. I don’t care. I was a bit apprehensive about this, but the push for this entire event has been marvelous. Seeing what I have in the first issue, I can’t wait to read Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four. The preview art (which I assume is the cover for the first issue) of Secret Invasion: Inhumans looks AWESOME. All I know is I feel vindicated for jumping into this thing just from the first issue. And if Bendis can keep this up through the whole series, it could be one of the top tier events out there.
This might be the best first issue I’ve ever read, especially for an event book. World War Hulk #1 was crazy, but not this good. Infinite Crisis #1 was very interesting, but not this good. Sinestro Corps War Special was very close, but this seems more far reaching. Even the classics, your Crisis on Infinite Earths’ and your Secret Wars’ and so on, don’t have the kinetic energy and momentum that this issue had. Compare this to the first issue of House of M. What a difference three years makes, eh?