Spoilers, natch, for all of Secret Invasion, as well as the Dark Reign solicitation freebie.
I’m not even going to attempt to look at this from the perspective of just the mini. We’ve got the DC boys to do that. First, some comments on issue eight, followed by my thoughts on the total package.
So really, issue seven was the end of the series. The first third to half of the book basically consisted of Norman Osborne telling the President (as well as television reports) what happened at the end of the battle that led to the Skrulls retreating. Their big gambit with Janet Van Dyne failed thanks to the efforts of Thor. Norman Osborne used the tech/information he stole from Deadpool to kill the queen. Issue seven already proved that in a fair fight, the Skrulls have no chance against the combined power of the heroes of Earth (and why would they? They never have before), so when their bomb didn’t work and their queen was killed, they came to the decision that they would be better off running and attempting to find somewhere else to live. Works for me. I especially liked the quick shout out to Annihilation, where Teddy and Xavin had to let the heroes know that Earth really was a last ditch effort, and they have no planet to call their own. Janet’s death galvanized the right people (Thor, Iron Man, and Ms. Marvel, all of whom have been very close to Janet for years and decades), and the invasion was thwarted. We then see Iron Man discover the ship full of all the heroes that were replaced (something that was earned in a tie in issue, and as such I didn’t have a problem with it). Mockingbird is there, which is…well…kinda weird. It’ll be interesting to see just what that means in the grand scheme of things. We then get to probably the best part of the book, when Jessica Jones sees Jarvis on the ship and realizes that she left her baby with a Skrull. Kudos to both Bendis and Yu for making that moment have some true emotional depth to it. We get some tie ups and some reunions, followed by the second half of the book basically being devoted to the fall of Tony Stark and the rise of Norman Osborne.
Tony really gets beaten down here. The world sees him as the reason the Skrulls were able to get a foothold on Earth. Everything the Skrulls were able to do was made possible because Jarvis uploaded the virus to Starktech and single handedly shut down SHIELD, SWORD, The Raft, and countless other defensive measures. Tony’s bravado and his decision to put all his eggs in one basket ended up nearly dooming the planet. Then, in the middle of the climactic battle with all the media attention swirling around it, Tony was forced to flee the scene and fix his armor. So all the media sees is a coward who can’t clean up his own mess. Sure, he gets back to the battle in time to pitch in at the end in an older suit of armor, but Norman Osborne takes out Queen Veranke. Adding to that, the heroes still haven’t exactly forgiven him for his role in Civil War as architect of the Superhuman Registration Act. Thor hates him. Bucky hates him. The media is attacking him from all sides and both Osborne and the President want him to answer for his actions. He is a broken man.
And on the other side of the coin is Norman Osborne. A man that has been working tirelessly to sieze power ever since he was put into the position of Director of the Thunderbolts. We all know he’s an evil, evil man, but the world sees him as a reformed and conquering hero. He led his team in the battle that saved Washington DC from the Skrulls (Thunderbolts 124 and 125). He secretly stole the information that contained the way to kill the Skrull Queen (Deadpool 3). He then fought on the front lines (where the media would certainly see him there) and killed the Queen in front of everyone. The grand hero rising from the ashes of his former misdeeds. He is rewarded for his heroism (which truly is heroism. Let’s not discount that. It’s just done from a place of less than moral motives), and takes the place of Tony Stark as the man with the keys to the Marvel Universe. SHIELD is disbanded. Stark is on the run. Fury has to go back underground. Both the Superhuman Registration Act and the Fifty States Initiative are still in effect, now under the control of a crazy bastard. And of course, we’ve got that last double page spread with the new faces of the Marvel Universe sitting around the table while Norman tells them the score.
So that covers issue 8. What about the event as a whole? I just combed through my comic database, and as of today I own 87 comics that are branded as either lead ins or tie ins to the Secret Invasion event. That doesn’t include the Spider-Man Brand New Day mini or the New Warriors issues, all of which I plan to pick up in bargain bins at cons next year. That’s a lot of comics and a lot of money spent over the past year. So was it worth it? Was it worth $300 plus (cover price wise) of comics to tell this one story? Yes. I think that when you take all of this together, you have a massive, sweeping epic that touched nearly every corner of the Marvel Universe (except that wacky Daredevil) in some way. You see the ambition of the Skrulls. You see a race that has been the butt of everyone’s jokes. They’ve been decimated by Galactus and the Annihilation Wave. They’ve been played for fools by the Illuminati and the Kree. They’re the whipping boys of the universe. So they took one last shot. They made it a grand scheme. They planned for decades. They took the necessary precautions to make things go as smoothly as possible. They started replacing people slowly to allow for attacks from both inside and out. Then they attacked everywhere and everyone all at once. And at the beginning, it was looking pretty good. We saw heroes being beaten down in the US and Britain. In Wakanda and on the moon. The Skrulls were winning; they had finally done it. But then you started to see the cracks form. Brian Braddock returning to stop them from taking control of the world’s magic. A sneak attack in San Francisco from the X-Men. Hercules and his God Squad taking out their god. Black Panther and Storm sending them a deadly message. The Inhumans taking their revenge. It all unraveled in the way the Roman Empire did. The Skrulls spread themselves too thin and didn’t have the requisite forces to take everything down individually. Of course, this was their only real choice in the matter, because if everyone had banded together to take them out, they knew they couldn’t win (and indeed, they didn’t when it came down to that). This was the story of a last ditch effort from a broken down and endangered race biting off more than it could chew.
I read so many great books in the last year that came out of Secret Invasion. I was introduced to Norman Osborne’s crazy and dysfunctional Thunderbolts (which led me to pick up the Ellis run in back issues). I saw Black Panther kick unholy amounts of ass. I saw Hercules and Amadeus Cho put together a kind of dirty dozen team of gods. I saw the Inhumans band together and reinforce their familial bonds in the face of grave and total danger. I saw a new team take shape in Britain. I saw the history of the Invasion and just how deep the beliefs of the Skrulls ran. Some of it was fantastic. Very little of it was bad (thanks, Larry Stroman). But most of it was great. These were such good books. They all had their stories to tell, and they told them in engaging and fascinating ways. There is SO MUCH to this event that most people won’t see. And hell, I can’t blame them. It was an extreme monetary investment. And I can also see how your average comic fan that just read the eight issue mini would be let down. Bendis just scratched the surface. It was really all he could do with the pages with which he had to work. Nobody’s wrong here. And as I said before, I have difficulty commenting on just the main mini, because when I read an issue, I have all the tie ins in the back of my head. So I see the fall of Tony Stark and the rise and Norman Osborne as the culmination of months of Thunderbolts issues instead of a few pages in Secret Invasion. I know what everyone outside of New York and the Savage Land put on the line to give Earth a chance against the invading horde.
And I know that I’m super excited for the potential of what could happen in Dark Reign. Paging through the little Previews booklet, all I could see was stories that I wanted to read. I don’t want to buy these things because I’m a fevered collector and I have to get everything. I want to buy these books because the stories look extremely interesting to me. Who are the Dark Avengers? What the hell is Scarlet Witch doing in those Mighty Avengers issues? Who is the new lineup of the Thunderbolts? Just what is Emma Frost’s part in the “Evil Illuminati” going to be? I’ll give you a hint: SHE’S NOT EVIL. Where’s Marvel Boy going to end up? This event did not play out in a way that I think anyone was expecting. But I made sure to keep an open mind and go with the flow, and I got a truly enjoyable and epic story that I will revisit time and time again.
So yeah. 1700 words later, it worked for me. Good show, Marvel.