Or – “Sheena?  Shanna?  Shawna?  Shanaynay?  Shirley?”

The Secret Invasion is on, which means that, until further notice, every story in the Marvel Universe is going to be a maddening vignette that will only make sense in retrospect, AFTER the rest of the limited series is printed in six or eight months.  Or, as I call it: Marvel Comics in the summer.  You have been warned…

Previously, on New Avengers: Luke Cage’s underground team has had to deal with a lot of obstacles…  Crashing planes, Japanese crimelords, hordes of ninjas, defecting members, World War Hulk, Peter Parker’s life imploding, Danny Rand’s life exploding, Venom bombs, and something to do with shape-changing aliens.  In Secret Invasion #1 two months ago, Avengers both New and Mighty arrived in the Savage Land to investigate a crashing saucer, only to find… themselves.  Sorta.  It’s a Skrullapalooza!  *cue guitar solo*  Depending on whom the duplicates are, The Beast may still be an ape, Wolverine may have adorable little whiskers, Jewel may not have become Purple Man’s butt-monkey and Mockingbird may have returned from the dead.  Oh, and this just in: Former Captain America Steve Rogers may no longer be dead!

This issue starts in the midst of Secret Invasion #1… or perhaps #2, I dunno.  The combined Avenger forces are suddenly overrun by a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and only real Spider-Man and whiskery Wolverine manage to react in time.  Spidey is thrown away by the creature, and crashes to the ground hundreds of yards away… at the feet of Kevin Plunder and his wife Shanna (known to their friends as Ka-Zar and the She-Devil.)  Spider-Man responds quickly and hilariously.  “You sure do know your superhero trivia.  I mean, Ka-Zar, now?”  Heh.  Spidey calls them skrulls, they call him a skrull, and then they begin the process of trying to trick the other into giving away their identity.  Spider-Man tells them that turning into Ka-Zar and Sheena is silly, and Mrs. Plunder corrects him, reminding him that it’s ‘Shanna.’  “Ah aha HA!  CAUGHT YOU!  It’s Sheena!”  She tries to correct him, and a “Sheena!  Shanna!” fight breaks out, ending with the She-Devil irritably announcing “I know my own name!”  “Do you?” replies Spidey, and I officially love this page.

Parker and Plunders finally clear everything up, and Ka-Zar explains what’s been going on.  Waaaay back in New Avengers #3, when the team came to the Savage Land to find SHIELD mining vibranium and then forgot to ask important questions like “Why?” they also left the native at the mercy of alien booger-monsters.  Lord Plunder and his lady had investigated, and accidentally discovered the Skrullian nature of the beings mining stealing their precious metals, only escaping through the interference of Zabu the sabertooth tiger.  This mean, oddly enough, that ersatz Tarzan and his pro-wrestler in a leather bikini knew about the alien invasion months before the rest of the world.  Spider-Man doesn’t quite believe the whole story, and Ka-Zar swears on his father’s honor that it’s true.  Suddenly, Zabu growls, as a familiar figure steps out of the woods, red-white-and-blue shield at the ready.  “Honor?” snarls Captain America, “What do YOU know of honor?”

Needless to say, to be continued…  This issue reveals some of the longest running secrets in the New Avengers title, namely what the hell happened in the first five issues.  This is good, in a way, in that it’s fascinating to see the story behind the story, but it’s also indicative of what’s wrong with Marvel right now: Bendis was allowed to drag this story out for over four years.  After all that build-up, the payoff better be MASSIVE, and I’m not talking “Spider-Woman is the queen of the Skrulls” massive, I’m talking ‘Galactus is marrying Aunt May’ massive.  Secret Invasion has a couple of things going for it, though, the primary being that it’s not nearly as nauseatingly all-encompassing as Civil War, and the second being the interesting hook of the Skrulls being able to replace anyone.  This issue flies by, with Billy Tan’s art giving us an excellent old-school Spider-Man, a sexy Shanna, and some credible action sequences, but the breakneck pace works against the book as well, making it seem less like a meaningful chapter and more like a tiny portion of the overarching universal story.  The overall effect is a 3 star affair, with some wonderful Spidey dialogue, and a very intriguing cliffhanger. 


The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. June 9, 2008 at 10:53 pm — Reply

    I prefer to pronounce it as “Shay-na” because that is how my name is pronounced. It always amuses me that although I am the only one in my family who doesn’t have their name in a song or band name, I do have a comic book character that shares my name!

  2. Carl
    June 10, 2008 at 9:28 am — Reply

    When, she appeared in Spiderman and his Amazing Friends, it was pronounced like it’s spelled, with the short-a as in the word can.

  3. June 10, 2008 at 10:07 am — Reply

    Do you think if skrulls met the Marvel Zombies… would a skrull zombie be able to shapeshift still?

  4. Maximus Rift
    June 10, 2008 at 12:49 pm — Reply

    Civin: If MYstique could, I don’t see why a Skull shouldn’t be able to.

  5. Jim
    June 10, 2008 at 1:57 pm — Reply

    Secret Invasion has seemed pretty enjoyable so far but Matthew makes a good point about how incredibly long it’s taken to get around to what happened in the first arc. It also seems that Bendis does the opposite of foreshadowing in this regard. Rather than hint at what’s to come, a lot of the things in the early part of NA only seem significant now in retrospect in light of Secret Invasion. It’s, like, I dunno, “backshadowing.” Hey, at least there was an avenger in this issue, a change from #40.

  6. Brother129
    June 10, 2008 at 5:58 pm — Reply

    I agree…it’s been more frustrating than fun to have to go back and read Avengers, Pulse, and Secret War all over again and try to pick up nuances. I’m also tired of waiting to see who ordered the breakout of the Raft.

  7. June 11, 2008 at 4:56 pm — Reply

    I’ll spoil it for you: It was Bendis.

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