Review/Rant: Secret Invasion 8 (*Spoilers*)

December 4, 2008


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.


November 6, 2008

Haven’t done much on this blog for a long time. Blame Rock Band 2 and Fallout 3.

So we’re about a month and a half away from Dark Reign kicking off. And with the help of this week’s DCBS shipment, I’m not only fairly confident about what it’s going to be, I’m also SUPER EXCITED about it. Let’s dig deep into what led me to the conclusions I’ve reached, and why they’ve got me so jazzed about the post Secret Invasion Marvel Universe. For a while now, an image has existed (I believe it was shown at one of the Marvel panels during con season) that consisted of a picture of six characters that Brian Michael Bendis (through various interviews/podcasts) referred to as the “Evil Illuminati.” About a month or so ago, a website (I believe it was IGN) confirmed that the image in question was going to be a cover for one of the kick off Dark Reign books (it was either Secret Invasion: Dark Reign or Dark Reign: New Nation). The image itself is a play on the cover of New Avengers: Illuminati #1, featuring six characters of less than perfect morals. Four of them (Dr. Doom, Namor, the female incarnation of Loki, and The Hood) are clearly defined and easy to recognize. The other two are a bit more vague. They seem to be Emma Frost and Norman Osborne. Reasons for this speculation will be forthcoming. These six characters were obviously chosen for a reason, and I’m quite confident that we’re looking at the new leadership of the Marvel Universe. But this won’t be like the Illuminati, as there will be no hiding or subterfuge with these folks. They’re going to be out in the open, and they’re going to have all the power. Let’s look at where these “villains” are at this time, and find out what they have been doing and where they’ll be after the Skrulls are kicked off the planet (and they will be kicked off the planet).

Dr. Doom – Last seen being captured by the Mighty Avengers and escaping from The Raft during the attack on Starktech by the Skrulls, Dr. Doom is the King of Latveria and one of the most intelligent humans in the universe. I would not be surprised if the devastation of the invasion leads to Doom expanding his territory to much of Eastern Europe.

Namor – Currently running around in The Incredible Hercules’ Love and War arc, Namor recently once again aligned himself with Dr. Doom after an attack on Atlantis that left much of the city-state devastated. He is lord of the seas, and sovereign over 70% of the world.

Loki – Since being reborn in female form by Thor, Loki has been slowly gathering power in Asgard through manipulation of Balder, who has been recently revealed to be Odin’s son, Thor’s brother and rightful equal heir of Asgard. She will soon completely seize power over Asgard, and will rule some of the most powerful gods on Earth.

The Hood – He’s taken his merry band of villains straight to the front line of the battle at Central Park, but the big piece of the puzzle for The Hood was revealed in New Avengers #46. The oft manifested demon entity has turned out to be the Dread Dormammu, who has pledged to unlock the secrets of the Dark Dimension. Dark Reign. Dark Avengers. The Hood and his gang are going to be the Dark Avengers. A twisted conception of The Thunderbolts. He will control the streets, and he (alongside Dormammu) will rule the mystical realms.

Emma Frost – I thought for a while that this person could have been Courtney Ross of the Hellfire Club, but I’m pretty sure there’s an X on her chest (although Miss Ross was a member of Excalibur, so it doesn’t completely preclude her), so I’m going with Emma. Emma’s importance to the X-Men has been steadily growing since Morrison’s New X-Men, to the point that she is basically on the same level as Cyclops as co-leader of the X-Men. I stopped reading Uncanny, so I’m not completely up to date with what Emma is doing right now. I think this is an example of a character that is not currently evil being grouped in with the rest of the evil folks due to her reputation back from the Hellfire Club days. I think she’ll become the true power/leader of the X-Men, but not necessarily turn evil. She will be the leader of the mutants.

Norman Osborne – He’s the hardest to make out in the image (some have thought it could be the Purple Man), but it’s got to be Osborne. You read Thunderbolts #124 and #125, Deadpool #3, and Secret Invasion #7 (and from what I’ve heard, Spider-Man’s New Ways to Die arc), and the one thing you see is the rising importance of Norman Osborne. He’s hailed as the conquering hero when the Thunderbolts beat back the Skrulls in Washington DC. He’s praised for his courage when Iron Man flees the scene during the Central Park battle while he stands tall. He might have had something to do with the death of Queen Veranke due to the end of Deadpool #3. He’s everywhere, and everyone to a man in the US government is falling head over heels for him. Prepare yourselves for Norman Osborne, Director of SHIELD.

So here’s how I think it goes down. During the Invasion, Doom is working with Namor to secretly marshall forces in and around Latveria and Atlantis. Once the Skrulls retreat, he expands his sphere of influence outward. While the battle at Central Park rages on, Loki takes the opportunity to seize power over Asgard thanks to Thor’s absence. The Skrulls are defeated, and the American people are led to believe that the true heroes of the battle are two bands of reformed crooks, Norman Osborne’s Thunderbolts and The Hood’s gang (the soon to be christened Dark Avengers). Norman Osborne is named Director of SHIELD due to his valor, and Iron Man is forced to go on the run with the New Avengers. With SHIELD destabilized and Asgard under Loki’s sway, Captain America and Thor are also forced to go underground and join the New Avengers (alongside Nick Fury’s Secret Warriors), only to be dogged at every turn by The Hood’s mystically powered, cape killing Dark Avengers, who are being mandated by Norman Osborne. Doom and Namor throw the support of Latveria and Atlantis behind these new leaders, mostly in an attempt to gain their trust in order to take everything for himself further down the line. Loki makes a similar compact with similar aspirations for future conquest. Emma Frost sees the danger and power of this new ruling class, and decides to throw her support behind the regime in order to preserve the endangered mutant race. Suddenly, up is down, the villains are in complete control, and we have ourselves a Dark Reign.

Well, at least that’s what I’d do…


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