Or – “Has It Been Ten Years Already?”
As a long-time comics fan, I have found that certain bigs of comic lore tend to keep recurring every few years…Â Phoenix is reborn!Â Spider-Man’s life will never be the same again!Â A foe strong enough to defeat Superman!Â A new headquarters for the Justice League!Â And, most germane to this situation, the founding Avengers return to action!Â I remember a conversation with my co-worker Dusty around the time that Kurt Busiek relaunched the Avengers post-Heroes-Reborn, wherein he opined that Captain America, Iron Man and Thor ARE the Avengers, and everybody else isn’t what he reads the title for.Â Apparently, Marvel editorial agrees, and this is the issue that proves it…
Previously, on Secret Invasion: Driven by their mysterious battle cry of “He Loves You,” the Skrull Empire has declared war on Earth.Â After the Illuminati foolishly tried to wipe out a PLANETFUL of warriors with one suit of armor, some unstable molecules, ankle wings, and a little tuning fork onnahead, The Skrulls created a working strategy: Replace key heroes and public figures.Â Sow distrust.Â Break up friendships, destabilize relationships, then attack with swift and blinding violence.Â Their first sorties are devastatingly effective, caputuring even the legendary Mr. Fantastic offguard andÂ wiping out Iron Man’s technological advantage.Â They create a beachhead in Manhattan, and wipe out the resistance, while the heroes are distracted by a Skrull ship full of duplicates, including Captain America, Phoenix, and others.Â Thankfully, Reed Richards manages to break out, assisted by Agent Brand, head of SWORD, and sweeps up the heroes from the Savage Land, heading for home to fight anew.Â Of course, there’s a few snags in that particular plan, notably the army of Super-Skrulls that wants to kill ‘em and use their bodies for interesting new forms of bio-origami.
We start with Noh-Varr, the aptly named Marvel Boy, flying into action, only to get nearly clipped by something dropping out of the sky and blowing up half a parking lot.Â He stops to check it out, only to find that the “meteor” is the legendary Captain Mar-Vell, or a reasonable facsmilie thereof.Â Marv is badly wounded, and greets his fellow Kree (metaphorically speaking, mind you, as this Marv is actually a Skrull) with the bad news.Â “The Skrull Empire…Â They have taken the Earth.Â You…Â you can’t let this happen.”Â Noh-Varr protests that this isn’t his fight, but “Mar-Vell” insists that Noh-Varr is here for a reason, that they’re all they’re for a reason, and dies in Noh-Varr’s arms.Â While Noh tries to cope with this revelation, The Skrulls go public to try and calm the populace, explaining that no one’s life will change, that the Skrulls haven’t attacked the governments, or attacked the armies, only taken out the superhuman threats.Â As we see Skrull incursions across the globe (San Francisco, Attilan, Wakanda, The Savage Land, Israel and more) the leaders of Skrullapalooza offer the populace these words of wisdom: Embrace Change.
At Camp Hammond, The Skrull Queen (in the bodyÂ ((and what a body it is)) of Jessica Drew) meets with her people, as “Hank Pym” explains that it’s all in the bag.Â The Queen reveals that Reed has busted free, and “Pym” snarls, “It’s ALWAYS Richards.”Â He asks if The Wasp is among the heroes, and the Queen replies in the affimative, and “Pym” ominously remarks that the battle is already won.Â “As a last resort,” says the Queen mysteriously.Â In a stolen Kree ship, the various Avengers, both New and Mighty, grimly prepare for a battle like they’ve never fought before: one from the losing side.Â Iron Man tries to reboot his armor systems, while all the heroes realize that Jessica turned on them.Â The heroes all deal with the revelation, and have a big bonding moment where they vow to wipe out the Skrulls, and Luke Cage makes his assessment.Â “We will [beat them.]Â They’re weasels.Â They came all the way here, threw everything they had at us…Â And look, we’re still here.”Â They heroes arrive in Manhattan, only to find that the city has already been devastated by super-Skrulls.
A strange moment occurs in the city, as protestors try to embrace the Skrull overlords, carrying welcome signs, and walking up to a pack of Super-Skrulls.Â The Skrulls power up and seem ready to kill the protestors, when suddenly Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos/Young Avengers/Initiative all burst onto the scene and start cracking skulls.Â They save the young idiots from certain death, but are still called fascists in return (political commentary) only to be surprised as lightning rains from the sky nearby, heralding the arrival of Thor.Â The Skrulls prepare to face the scion of Asgard, but Thor is surprised to be faced with James Buchanan Barnes, the new Captain America.Â “You wear the uniform of Captain America.Â A true friend of mine…Â the greatest Avenger…Â But you are NOT he,” intones the god of Thunder gravely.Â Mr. Barnes looks up, and merely remarks, “Weren’t you dead?”Â Heh…Â The Avenger cadre arrives,Â Â as do the Secret Warriors, Norman Osborn andÂ his Thunderbolts, The Hood’s villain brigade, and an endless legion of Super-Skrulls, and Empress Jessica of Borg explains that this battle was won by the Avengers own power, their own skills, their own minds.Â “Despite all that you’ve done to our empire… He loves you.”Â Spider-Man finally asks, “He who?” and Empress Jessie says “God.”Â (Wait, what?)Â The last four pages of the book consist of the fight-fighty, and we hang from a cliff as the superhumans of Earth rally against their oppressors by hitting them really, really hard, the way things are resolves in the Marvel Universe.
So, we’re three-quarters of the way through Marvel’s latest event of the century, and I have some good news: There’s some good stuff here.Â Laying aside for the moment the fact that Avengers and Mighty Avengers haven’t told us a thing in about three months laying the backstory and the fact that (in Marvel time, anyway) it’s been twenty minutes since World War Hulk, and about a week anna half since Civil War, this issue isn’t bad at all.Â Leinil Yu’s art is more impressive than I found it on Mighty Avengers, though that might be a question of inking.Â His Spider-Woman is less skeletal than it was there.Â The story, while far-reaching and not stopping to focus on any individual character much, does move pretty quick-like.Â I hope that somewhere we get to see the true story of what happened with The Hood and his Underworld Avengers entry into the battle, but overall this is well-paced and interesting.Â The seeming revelation that the Skrulls believe they have the Almighty on their side again makes me wonder if we’re looking at a parallel between current real-world battles and the fight we’re seeing here…Â Invaders come out of nowhere, attack for religious reasons, and all sides are forced to give up their personal b.s. and unite against the terror from beyond.Â It’s a 4 out of 5 star issue, moving the plot forward (though I’m sure the next six weeks will be flashbacks bringing the other titles up to speed with the hour and a half of forward temporal motion here) and I have to say I’m impressed.