A few disclaimers first. One, I’m an unabashed DC fanboy. I read the Marvel titles that interest me, but that doesn’t amount to much these days. Two, I hate the skrulls. I always have. They bore the living crap out of me. So, I approached Secret Invasion with trepidation from the start. Three, I was at best a casual reader of Secret Invasion. I read the main series and that was it (although I accidentally read a couple of tie-ins that I didn’t realize were tie-ins until after I bought them).
I wanted to get that out of the way because my perspective on Secret Invasion 8 is probably very different from the majority of comic book readers who followed at least a few of the many, many tie-ins. Aside from a couple of issues of Deadpool, I am reacting solely to the contents of the main series. Did it hold up on its own merit?
My answer is “no”. Naturally, I’ll explain my reasoning. But I figured I’d give you the verdict up front. No reason to try to create a false sense of suspense… (We’ve been subjected to enough of that in Secret Invasion and its many, many, many tie-ins.
Before I start detailing why Secret Invasion failed for me, let me talk about the ways in which it was a success. First and foremost, Leinil Yu’s artwork was consistently amazing. The series was worth reading just for the art. The story, was an utter disappointment. But the art was top notch from start to finish.
The one thing I will grant Bendis in terms of the story was that it was relatively accessible to a casual Marvel reader like myself. That’s a pretty amazing accomplishment considering that the story was intended to tie up years of dangling plot threads and conspiracy theories. For the most part, all of those issues were dealt with outside of the main series.
There’s a downside to this approach. Frankly, there wasn’t much left to deal with in the main series. Eight issues have come and gone and I’d be hard pressed to come up with more than three sentences to summarize what happened. The Skrulls showed up. They fought with the heroes and villains of earth. They got their asses handed to them.
It’s the same Skrull Invasion story we’ve all read 1,000 times before. But for the one-thousand-and-first telling, Bendis has dragged it out for the better part of a year. And this is after years and years of build-up. And more tie-ins than I can count. Folks, there were a lot of tie-ins.
I know I’m not being 100% fair to Secret Invasion here. But seriously, without referencing a tie-in, can anyone explain any way in which this story was any different from the generic alien-invasion story that’s been done to death in comics for decades?
Issue 8 in particular is a let-down. Here’s the thing that really pissed me off. This is really Dark Reign #1 with a Secret Invasion epilogue at the beginning. The ending of the years-in-the-making Secret Invasion story arc which has dragged on for hundreds of thousands of issues (I kid!) is wrapped up and shuffled off stage in a few pages. With that unpleasantness out of the way, we start moving on to the next Big Marvel Event which will no doubt have at least as many tie-in issues as Secret Invasion.
So, let’s make with the spoilers already. This being a Big Marvel Event, they need to kill of a character who doesn’t really sell comics on their own. In Civil War, it was Goliath. For Secret Invasion, we get an upgrade to a third stringer. Wasp dies. Did anyone out there really care? I know, I didn’t. (Partially because you just know they will bring her back eventually.)
Even though I did not care about Wasp’s demise, the heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe cared a lot. It’s kind of a major plot point. Wasp’s death is apparently the inspiration the citizens of earth needed to fight back the alien invasion.
I dunno. This just came across as really bogus to me. Apparently, all the Avengers and the Fantastic Four really needed to defeat the Skrulls was the Eye of the Tiger? It was kind of like Rocky III without the mohawks, gold chains and Thunderlips.
All kidding aside, shouldn’t most of these heroes have been pretty damn motivated to defeat the Skrulls several issues ago? Reed’s family was kidnapped and he was tortured. Why does he need Wasp’s death to get him off his elastic rear end?
By this point in the story, the world has been at war. And the humans all but lost. Surely there had been casualties up to this point. Innocent civilians lost. For all the heroes knew, dozens of their friends and allies had been killed and replaced by Skrulls already. (This turned out not to be the case, but the characters in the story didn’t know that at the time.)
Why would Wasp’s death have been any more of a motivational factor than any of the others that came before? Were the heroes really expecting to repel an alien invasion without casualties? And wouldn’t most of the villains present have been at least a little relieved that there was one less Avenger in the world?
So, yeah, the one major plot point of the final battle with the Skrulls rang pretty false to this reader. (Although everything Thor did was 100% awesome!) The battle ended swiftly and was followed by a few pages of hurried wrap-up. You could almost see Joe Q standing off to the side telling them to get off stage to make room for the next Big Marvel Event.
Oh, but there was one final cop-out to be had. During the clean-up, the heroes open up a Skrull warship to find… all of the missing heroes. Yep, all the characters you thought were killed and replaced by Skrulls were not dead afterall. That’s a pretty big reset button! Status quo for everyone!
The last half of the issue is dedicated to establishing the new status quo. Pretty much the only thing that changed after years of build up and infinite tie-ins is that Norman Osborne is the new big man on Marvel’s campus. As someone who came to loathe Tony Stark during Civil War, I have to admit that I enjoyed seeing karma kick his tin-plated ass. But couldn’t they have waited until Secret Invasion was over before they started pimping Dark Reign?
Now, I’ll give them credit for this much… the premise of Dark Reign sounds pretty darn cool. And the last page reveal of the bad guy equivalent of the Illuminati was pretty darn awesome. Unlike Secret Invasion, I’m not turned off by the very premise of Dark Reign. I may even pick up some of the ties-ins. (I expect there will be a few to choose from.)
But Dark Reign aside, Secret Invasion was a real snooze. After years of build up, an event of this size deserved a more satisfying and less rushed ending.