Review: Secret Invasion #7 (of 8)

by

Or – “And We Still Have Almost NO Idea What’s Going On…”

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The art of the big crossover event has changed over the years.  The first one, (in my memory, anyway) Secret Wars, was done almost entirely outside of the regular titles’ continuity, with the individual heroes stories jumping forward a few weeks in time, while the miniseries played out separately for the rest of the year.  Crisis on Infinite Earths took place everywhere at once, causing for weird moments where characters we expected to see in one place turned up in another.  Civil War annoyed me with it’s tendency to put the home titles in low gear or idle while we waited to see what played out in the main title.  Secret Invasion has done a little bit of all of these, in that the Avengers titles have been indefinitely suspended in favor of Skrully Flashback Theatre, whereas Spider-Man’s home books completely ignore that anything called Skrullapalooza even happened, except for that “Mary Jane vs. Sinister Six Super Skrull” miniseries, and both Fantastic Four and X-Men have done their crossover bits as separate from their regular minis.  Last issue, our heroes rallied, banding together for the big fight…  What happens this issue?

Previously, on Secret Invasion: Years ago, the Skrullian warlords attempted to conquer Earth, only to be SI1.jpgstopped by Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four.  Somehow, this uncharacteristic loss caused the empire to become fixated on planet Earth.  The aliens attacked, again and again, becoming more and more abstract in their strange blueprints for conquest.  Finally (and it seemed to have taken a long time for a people supposedly versed in espionage and deceit) they decided to replace key superheroes and support staff in order to undermine their entire culture, and thus conquer Earth.  The gambit worked, perhaps even worked a bit TOO well, as several Skrulls (including Crusader of the Initiative, and one or two Hank Pym impersonators) came to the conclusion that the game is rigged.  Now, the heroes have uncovered the treachery, have banded together with villains, unregistered combatants, government thugs, and the occcasional satanically-powered cheapjack sneak thief, to fight an endless army of Super-Skrulls and save their planet.  Even Norman Osborn, director of the Thunderbolts, has leapt into the fray, ready to layeth the smacketh downeth on some pointy-eared goons…

Here’s the basic gist of this issue:  AND NOW THEY FIGHT!  Y’know that point in Dragonball, where all the characters named after fruits and underwear have talked and talked and talked for a few weeks, and the entirety of today’s episode is big hair and fireballs?  It’s a bit like that.  At least with Bendis at the helm, we get a few good bon mots.  Ares and Thor stand side-by-side, cracking alien skulls, and the scion of Asgard cries (in old Norse font) “This battle ends with victory, clear and true!”  “Aye, brother!” cries the son of Zeus, while Spider-Man dodges in the skies above.  “See, that’s how you talk in one of these,” remarks Pete as he webs up a Skrull.  “I could NEVER sell that.”  Iron Man is staggering, barely upright, and the new Captain America is even here, finally cementing James Barnes as being a part of the honest-to-gosh Marvel U.   Best of all is this exchange between Nick Fury and Norman Osborn (standing back to back and blowing green heads off left and right with giant Rob Liefeld guns.)  “Fury.”  “Norman.  You should be in jail.”  “So should you.”  Ha!

We even get an interesting psychological moment, as Janet Van Dyne attacks the Skrull in the form of her ex-husband Henry Pym, (Crap! ON! YELLOWJACKET!!!) while the Skrull insists upon lecturing her about how he was going to save her for last, blah blah blah fishcakes.  “The problem with you, Jan, is you always–” begins the faux Pym, before being dropped by a giant right from the even more gianter teen hero Stature.  “Please, with the lectures!” she snarks.  Heh.  And, again with the fighty fighty fight, until Bullseye of the Thunderbolts nails Skullowjacket RIGHT IN THE EYE with a rocket-propelled grenade, dropping the titan in his tracks.  (Doctor Wertham would NOT approve.)  Iron Man is forced to leave the fight (bad idea, Tony) while Wolverine takes his personal grudge right to Spider-Woman and begins slicing her up like a country ham.  Speaking of ham, there’s fists of it present as Spider-Man remarks that this can’t be THAT serious, as Uatu the Watcher isn’t here yet…  seconds before The Watcher appears.  Sigh…  At Avengers Tower, Jessica Jones watches the battle on CNN.  After a few moments, she bursts into tears and makes a fateful decision.  “I need to go help.”  She turns to Jarvis (How did he get back to the tower so quickly?  Wasn’t he on the wrecked helicarrier last issue?) makes him promise to take care of baby Danielle, and leaps into action.  Also leaping directly into the fray?  Noh-Varr of the Kree, aka Marvel Boy, who literally fireballs into the midst of the heroes and villains, scattering the combatants.  “IN THE NAME OF CAPTAIN MAR-VELL!  IN THE NAME OF THE KREE EMPIRE!  I TELL YOU INVADING HORDES THAT THIS FIGHT IS OVER!” I think we may be seeing our new Captain Marvel right here, folks…

The heroes rally and attack (and their pupils disappear in so doing ((Thanks, Leinil…))) while New Avengers leader Luke Cage is amazed to see his wife fighting her way to his side.  “Hi, baby,” remarks Jessica as they unite to crush Skrull skulls.  “You were right about the Skrull thing,” she says, and Luke laughs, “All of a sudden it’s the best day of my life.”  (When you win a fight with the wife, Luke, make sure to savor it.  It won’t happen often.)  In the middle of the pitched battle, Young Avenger Hawkeye is felled by a bolt of energy, and suddenly, Clint (Ronin, ex-Hawkeye) Barton grabs her weapon.  Over the course of two amazing pages, Clint empties his quiver, killing Skrull after Skrull after Skrull before putting an arrow right through the Queen Skrulls FACE.  That…  is hard-core.  Unfortunately, the heroes don’t know the full extent of what has happened, as a mortally-wounded Skrullowjacket kicks in his failsafe routine.  Remember when YJ gave the Wasp the giant serum back in Mighty Avengers?  That was probably bad.  Janet swells to mammoth size, and starts emitting strange Kirby-dot energy.  The heroes scream, as Jarvis holds baby Danielle Jones-Cage and watches from his tower (YET AGAIN WITH THE BABY IN PERIL???) and reveals the real plan.  “They die, we die.  It doesn’t matter.  As long as the words of the prophets come true.”  He checks subway walls and tenement halls as we fade to black, with a much-awaited “to be concluded.”

This is a mighty quick read, to be frank.  Ain’t a lot here but the fighty fighty.  There are some nice character bits from page to page, and a few moments that really stand out as well-crafted, but overall it’s a 20+ page battle royale, and if you’re not a fan of the artist rendering said battle, you may not enjoy the royale so much.  I greatly appreciate the forward motion in this title, but since we’re seguing directly out of this into Dark Reign in ten minutes, I don’t know that I’m all that psyched to see the ending.  Bits of groundwork are laid for the NEXT big event here, which makes me want to ask: at what point will we get to breathe?  When will the endless series of earth-shattering crossovers slow down?  This isn’t a bad seventh chapter of an ongoing story, but as a stand-alone issue, there’s a lot of flatness between the peaks, and the deus ex machina ending set up by a flashback issue of Avengers kind of annoys me.  Sure, it’s 2008, but it’s just as unrealistic to suddenly switch all superhero battles to ending in shades of gray, with no real victor, as it was to have them all end in total trumph for the previous 70 years.  Secret Invasion #7 is okay, maybe even a little better than the average book, but doesn’t really excel beyond the confines of “Hey, it’s that guy and that guy, and the world is in peril!” earning a somewhat muted 3 out of 5 stars.  Maybe next issue will be the one that hits this crossover out of the park and blows my mind, maaaaan…

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