Or – “Setting Up The NEXT Big Crossover…”
Marvel has sent us from crossover to crossover in the last few years, from House of M to Civil War to World War Hulk to Secret Invasion, with the overall effect being that there is no longer a status quo to upend.Â Since the entirety of their publishing plan seems to be “Everything you know is wrong,” this makes for a somewhat tempestuous relationship with books like this.Â Now, Secret Invasion is ending, and the question we all have to ask is:Â How long a timeframe have these stories all taken place in, anyway?Â
Previously, on Secret Invasion:Â The heroes of the Marvel Universe have been compromised.Â The shape-shifting Skrulls have infiltrated their lives at the most personal levels, replacing friends, family, even the heroes themselves.Â Notable superhumans who have been replaced include Henry “Yellowjacket” Pym,Â Jessica “Spider-Woman” Drew, and Barbara “Mockingbird” Morse-Barton, but with the heroes in such disarray, the Skrulls could have probably replaced Jack of Hearts and the 3-D Man to equal effect.Â After spending weeks running after their own tails, The Mighty Avengers, the New Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the long-lost Nick Fury and his new Howling Commandos, the Thunderbolts, and more have finally united and met the opposing Skrull forces in battle, only to have another failsafe plan put them on the defensive, as the wondrous Wasp grows to giant size and begins emitting a strange chemical fog from her pores…
The first misstep of the issue for me comes in the very first words that we read.Â “The battle in New York was fierce.”Â The story is being told in the past tense, a VERY annoying affectation that sets the whole issue offÂ on the wrong foot.Â It’s the first sign that the issue can’t wait to get done so that it can get us to the next big crossover, but certainly not the last. The voice-over very matter of factly tells of Wasp’s death, while Leinil Yu’s storytelling doesn’t make it clear if she just dissolves or if Thor has something to do with it. Either way, the death of a founding member of the Avenger should feel monumental, but instead elicits sort of an “Oh…”Â feeling.Â The Spider-Queen steps into view at precisely the wrong moment, and everyone moves to kill her, but the actual shot that takes her out is fired by Norman Osborn (who is not wearing the same clothing as he was last issue, I might add.)Â Iron Man returns to the fray in an out-of-date suit of armor, only to find one last surprise in orbit: their lost friends and family, all safe and unharmed on the Skrull ship.Â Okay, honestly…Â There were only two ways that this could have actually really gone, and the fact that Sue Richards was one of the missing heroes pretty much made it clear that they weren’t dead, but…Â it’s a real anticlimax.Â Again.
The only high point that the sequence gives us (other than Spider-Woman getting the stinkeye) is the return of Mockingbird to the land of the living, which raises a number of questions, actually.Â Hank Pym says “Do I even want to know what year it is?” giving the creators relatively open window for when the characters were replaced.Â Mockingbird died in one of the last issues of West Coast Avengers, which had to be over 10 years ago for us.Â When the hell did this story actually start rolling?Â And… doesn’t this mean that Hank Pym could have been stolen BEFORE he ever hit Janet?Â Aaaanyway, Jarvis steps out of the ship, causing Jessica Jones-Cage to flip the hell out (although Yu’s facial expression is his standard impenetrable female face) and fly away to the mansion.Â Ms. Marvel and Luke Cage follow her quickly, and find that she gave her baby to faux Jarvis right before the fight.Â Nick Fury sees his old friends Dum Dum Dugan and Contessa Valentina Allegra de la Fontaine Griffith Joyner Kersee Cougar Mellancamp, and snubs them like the Academy Awards have snubbed Lindsey Lohan (Herbie: Fully Loaded is our generation’s Citizen Kane!) while Clint “Ronan” Barton is reunited with his seemingly dead wife.Â Reed and Sue head for home only to find that Reed and Johnny and the kids are fine.Â Tony Stark thanks Thor for his help, and tries to mend fences, but the god of Thunder ain’t buying.Â “I came here because I was needed…Â I abhor what thou hast become, and I’m sure I will not be the only one who finds the blame in all this to fall square on thy shoulders.”Â The President names Norman Osborn the new head of what was once SHIELD, and we end the issue with Normie gathering a few of his friends:Â Mephisto, Doctor Doom, Loki, The Hood and…Â Emma Frost?Â Wait, what?Â “It’s a new day,” says Stormin’ Norman.Â “So listen carefully…Â This is how it’s going to be…”
This issue has been solicited as the end of Secret Invasion.Â It is not.Â It is actually the beginning of Dark Reign.Â The end of the battle is wrapped up in a perfunctory fashion, and the death of the Wasp is treated almost cavalierly.Â The reveal and return of the lost heroes had a little punch, and thought the issue contained some interesting moments, the combination of Leinil Yu’s unclear storytelling and Brian Bendis’ tendency to gloss over plotholes with reams of dialogue make the limitations of the story really obvious.Â With a story like this, we know the aliens aren’t going to win, so the fun comes in the journey.Â This issue, more than any other, fails in that, tripping all over itself to set up the new Marvel Universe and failing to satisfactorily close up the old Marvel Universe, which itself was only set up a summer or two ago in the wake of Civil War.Â Marvel has often been accused of favoring style over substance,Â and the denouement of Secret Invasion is an example of precisely that: a story that exists mostly to launch other stories.Â The whys and wherefores aren’t treated as important, and the overall product suffers as a result.Â Secret Invasion #8 doesn’t live up to it’s own hype, leaving me disoriented and a little annoyed at the end, earning only 1.5 out of 5 stars.Â The endless cycle has to break eventually, but my fear is that we’re just going to have to sit through a year of Dark Reign before launching into the next big crossover event…