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.  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.  Now, Secret Invasion is ending, and the question we all have to ask is:  How long a timeframe have these stories all taken place in, anyway? 

SI2.jpgPreviously, on Secret Invasion:  The heroes of the Marvel Universe have been compromised.  The shape-shifting Skrulls have infiltrated their lives at the most personal levels, replacing friends, family, even the heroes themselves.  Notable superhumans who have been replaced include Henry “Yellowjacket” Pym,  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.  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.  “The battle in New York was fierce.”  The story is being told in the past tense, a VERY annoying affectation that sets the whole issue off  on the wrong foot.  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…” feeling.  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.)  Iron Man returns to the fray in an out-of-date suit of armor, only to find one last surprise in orbit: their lost friends and family, all safe and unharmed on the Skrull ship.  Okay, honestly…  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…  it’s a real anticlimax.  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.  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.  Mockingbird died in one of the last issues of West Coast Avengers, which had to be over 10 years ago for us.  When the hell did this story actually start rolling?  And… doesn’t this mean that Hank Pym could have been stolen BEFORE he ever hit Janet?  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.  Ms. Marvel and Luke Cage follow her quickly, and find that she gave her baby to faux Jarvis right before the fight.  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.  Reed and Sue head for home only to find that Reed and Johnny and the kids are fine.  Tony Stark thanks Thor for his help, and tries to mend fences, but the god of Thunder ain’t buying.  “I came here because I was needed…  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.”  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:  Mephisto, Doctor Doom, Loki, The Hood and…  Emma Frost?  Wait, what?  “It’s a new day,” says Stormin’ Norman.  “So listen carefully…  This is how it’s going to be…”

This issue has been solicited as the end of Secret Invasion.  It is not.  It is actually the beginning of Dark Reign.  The end of the battle is wrapped up in a perfunctory fashion, and the death of the Wasp is treated almost cavalierly.  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.  With a story like this, we know the aliens aren’t going to win, so the fun comes in the journey.  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.  Marvel has often been accused of favoring style over substance, and the denouement of Secret Invasion is an example of precisely that: a story that exists mostly to launch other stories.  The whys and wherefores aren’t treated as important, and the overall product suffers as a result.  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.  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…


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. Kallyx
    December 7, 2008 at 11:10 pm — Reply

    Was Mephisto there? I thought it was Namor but I’m not a big Marvel reader anymore, except for Hulk and Thor (and where was the Hulk during all of this?)

  2. DrStrangeCubicle
    December 7, 2008 at 11:45 pm — Reply

    It’s Namor.

    There’s a one shot on Dark Reign coming out with a preview up which makes me less enthused about it (Namor is disheveled and acts like a drunken fool, for one).

    As for SI…it never really lived up to the end of issue #1 – just issues of punching and more punching. The Super Skrulls proved to be no threat at all, with the heroes/villains just wiping them out without breaking a sweat. Some of the tie-ins were good (I liked Herc’s ‘Sacred Invasion’ a lot), but the main series was a major letdown.

  3. Frankie
    December 8, 2008 at 12:26 am — Reply

    I too agree…it was a MONUMENTAL letdown…now I will only be buying deadpool and some trades here and there.

  4. Josh P.
    December 8, 2008 at 6:44 am — Reply

    I enjoyed it.

    I have to disagree with Matthew and felt the Yu’s storytelling was clear and well done. I also liked the debriefing style of this issue. It allowed any and almost all subplots from the series to be dealt with and allowed all the necessary character moments without dragging.

    And that was deifnately Namor at the table at the end. As to why he would be dishevled and acting werid in the upcoming one-shot? He’s been hanging out in Latveria since the destruction adn exodus of Atlantis. I’m sure he hasn’t been dealing with it very well.

  5. Mr. Dou
    December 8, 2008 at 7:37 am — Reply

    Wow, your Marvel-hatin’ is at an all time high in this review.

  6. December 8, 2008 at 8:08 am — Reply

    I don’t hate Marvel at all.

    I hate the mentality that we have to be strung along from “BIG MOMENT” to “BIG MOMENT” like some bizarre Skinner box, and I resent the fact that every single time we’re supposed to believe that the universes will never bee the same again. All the major publishers are guilty of it from time to time, this was just one of the more obvious ones…

  7. Maximus Rift
    December 8, 2008 at 8:32 am — Reply

    I confess that I didn’t buy this (just browsed thru it at my local shop), but I gotta say I didn’t like what I saw.

    I didn’t like the line that basically implied that every superhero would have broken Rule #1 (Superheroes don’t kill) in Norman Osborne hadn’t killed the queen first. Also Emma Frost in the final scene bugged me. Are they implying that the Avenger-verse and the X-verse are joining?

    All these crossovers are just making me feel like there’s going to be a huge reboot after this. Either Bendis and Quesada are making their own universe or we’re going back to the end of House of M.

  8. Ricco
    December 8, 2008 at 8:39 am — Reply

    The one good thing here is the anti-Illuminati = The Cabal.

    Namor keeps his seat (which says alot baout the character), Hood takes Mr. Fantastic’s, Norman takes Stark’s, Emma fills for Xavier, Doom takes Black Bolts and Loki steals the magic spot from Strange.

    Except for Hood taking Richard’s seat everyone else has a similar role in the world then the Illuminati, just on the evil side of things…

    In my opinion the whole “Dark Reign” story was set-up much better in “Secret Invasion – Front Line 5”

  9. December 8, 2008 at 8:55 am — Reply

    I’m a little confused why, precisely, Emma was at the table. Ain’t she a good guy now?

  10. Ricco
    December 8, 2008 at 9:07 am — Reply

    Emma’s probably there to see to mutant affairs, to make sure Norman’s agenda doesn’t mess with them. Same with Namor I guess.

    Normie’s making alliances to make sure no one will get in his way…

    Why would Norman ask her to participate? They used to date or something (they had some sort of relationship which will be told in an upcomming X-Men comic), besides to complete the anti-Illuminati thing you need an “evil” mutant telepath to be Professor X’s counterpart.

  11. morpheus11
    December 8, 2008 at 9:26 am — Reply

    I thought that was Emma Frost, but it didn’t make sense to me. The more I think about her being there, it could make sense. She has been acting strangly in some of the “X” titles.

    I too was disappointed at this issue. It was ok, but it wasn’t as good as I had hoped. I didn’t feel the big climax that I was hoping for.

    But, I will say that I am looking forward to some of the Dark Reign titles.

  12. DrStrangeCubicle
    December 8, 2008 at 11:58 am — Reply

    Here’s the preview of the Dark Reign one shot (from scans daily) – http://community.livejournal.com/scans_daily/6700088.html#cutid1

    I don’t think hanging out in Latveria would account for Namor sounding talking like a typical Bendis character than his normal self, but that’s just my opinion.

  13. Modok
    December 8, 2008 at 12:03 pm — Reply

    After this we have Dark Reign, and then after that it’s summer and another big crossover. What ever happend to the slow character relationship development we are use to in comics. I think that may be why I have enjoyed the X-men books so much the past two decades, and then reading back issues. They have big crossovers, but then dive into the relationships between the characters. That’s what I feel is missing from having these big ass crossovers. It’s exausting to try and keep up with everything.

  14. Gaumer
    December 8, 2008 at 1:04 pm — Reply

    What exactly did Thor do to The Wasp???

    I didnt get that

    The build up to this series was way more fun than the series itself. The series itself felt like just a build up to the next event.

    And I’m sick of it. Oh well. Thats the world I live in

  15. Joseph Joestar
    December 8, 2008 at 1:44 pm — Reply

    THANK YOU! I’m glad that I’m not the only one who thought it was Mephisto. The only way I found out it was Namor was through Joe Quesada’s masturbatory postscript.

  16. Josh P.
    December 8, 2008 at 2:17 pm — Reply

    Re: What exactly did Thor do to the Wasp???

    Sent her away in a mystical vortex. Easy to reverse comicbook death #541

  17. Ed S
    December 8, 2008 at 3:22 pm — Reply

    Being a DC person of recent time, I decided I was going to give this series a shot. I have been reading comics since 1980, so I read Secret War I and II. I was hoping this would bring me back to loving Marvel. I thinked the basic story, but it should have been a story arc, not a major event. Also, there was too much unanswered questions, and THIS WHOLE THING WAS TO SET UP DARK REIGN!!!! Not gettign my money for that. I might pick up the trade at the library, but I will not let them set me up again.

  18. Hat of Tim
    December 8, 2008 at 4:42 pm — Reply

    I was willing to give this a chance…but as I predicted in the review of issue 7, Bendis did exactly what I thought he’d do and killed off one of my favourite characters, the Wasp. Which sucks. A lot. If this was the major event that this series was building up to (never mind Dark Reign), then I wish I never started reading this series. Are Marvel becoming like DC in that they have to kill off long-standing popular characters in order to sell books? Bendis & Quesada need to step off before they totally mess everything up. And why is it always a female character that dies? I said last time Hank Pym should have bitten the big one…after all, they killed him off in the second Ultimate Avengers movie! Maybe as Josh P says, this is an apparent death that has a get-out clause in it, as it certainly wasn’t clear from the artwork exactly what Thor did!

    Apart from that sucky decision by Bendis, the art wasn’t that brilliant either. I had to re-read the book a couple of times to figure out what the heck was going on!

    And didn’t grim ‘n gritty go out with the 80’s? What about actually writing something escapist & fun rather than depressing and realistic?

    Not happy with this at all. I’d give this issue 1 out of 10…and that’s only ’cause the cover’s not too bad.

  19. ~wyntermute~
    December 8, 2008 at 4:50 pm — Reply

    That entire last paragraph? The bit about how this is NOT the end of Secret Invasion, but rather the start of Chocolate Reign? THAT’S EXACTLY HOW I FEEL ABOUT BATR.I.P.

  20. mosdef
    December 8, 2008 at 6:25 pm — Reply

    sorry, but i really have to agree with Mr. Dou. Stop hatin the marvel, and i loved secret invasion, the best part was the last spread and IMO Dr.Doom is gonna step up big time, i mean hes the center piece of the picture, Osborne aint gonna be in charge long

  21. Brother129
    December 8, 2008 at 8:21 pm — Reply

    I feel like lately all I’ve been reading are great plots to comic book stories that get ruined by poor scripting and storytelling. Bendis & Morrison write stories like they’re in 7th grade with no regard for plot holes. Amen to telling the truth: it’s all about style over substance right now. JUST TELL A GOOD STORY. It’s the reason why we’ve enjoyed books like Captain America, Iron Fist, and Green Lantern.

  22. December 8, 2008 at 8:56 pm — Reply

    sorry, but i really have to agree with Mr. Dou. Stop hatin the marvel, and i loved secret invasion, the best part was the last spread and IMO Dr.Doom is gonna step up big time, i mean hes the center piece of the picture, Osborne aint gonna be in charge long

    The thing is, he and I don’t disagree.

    I’m not telling you that Marvel is bad.

    I’m telling you that this issue, in my opinion, was a disappointment.

    My opinions are my own, and I don’t feel that I need to subscribe to any company’s party line, nor will I be making excuses for a series that didn’t deliver (again, in MY opinion) simply because I like (or even DISLIKE) the company, creators, or parties involved therein.

    I’m a reviewer, not an apologist. :)

  23. December 8, 2008 at 9:24 pm — Reply

    Eh, I liked it. I think I’m the exact target audience Bendis is shooting for sometimes ’cause the only thing he does that I dislike is Powers. Yu I’m less of a fan of but at least with an inker it doesn’t look like he’s drawing with a Sharpie…

  24. sam7
    December 9, 2008 at 1:09 am — Reply

    i hate marvel, all im readin from marvel is Wolverine, marvel is just a money grabbing machine

  25. hermit
    December 9, 2008 at 10:46 am — Reply

    my friend and me called the ending of this issue ‘doing a Bendis’. it means that you have a great series, but the end is letting you down. like Secret War a couple of years ago (not Secret Wars)

  26. Cory
    December 9, 2008 at 2:58 pm — Reply

    I give all of Secret Invasion 0 stars. It was a big cluster-frak from beginning to end – just like House of M.

    With this most recent creative failure on the part of Bendis and Quesada combined with the upcoming price increases, I hope we will finally see the financial decline of Marvel Comics. It taught them a lesson prior to the year 2000 and it forced them to hire truly creative people and not interfere with them (until the end of Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men which ended with a throw-down argument resulting in Grant Morrison going to DC Comics).

    The ONLY titles worth buying from Marvel are: Astonishing X-Men by Warren Ellis (Whedon’s run was crap) and Captain America by Ed Brubaker.

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