The Revolution has been summarily unimpressed with the unoriginal and one-dimensional big event known as Secret Invasion. This story has lumbered on for seemingly an eternity. I am so grateful that the end is finally here. I have low expectations for this finale, but maybe Bendis will surprise me with an exciting and thrilling ending. Let’s go ahead and do this review for Secret Invasion #8.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Leinel Yu
Inks: Mark Morales
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with two voices from off panel narrating the final events of Secret Invasion. (You must be kidding me. The finale to Secret Invasion is going to be told in the form of a past tense narration?) We learn that Janet Pym was turned into a last ditch bio-weapon by the Skrulls. Janet began emitting energy that was killing everyone, humans and Skrulls. The Skrulls decided that if they could not have Earth then neither could the humans.
Fortunately, as one of the voices narrates, Thor took control and formed a massive tornado around Janet that allowed her to dissipate into nothingness without harming anyone. (At least that is what it appeared happened. I found this scene a bit clunky and hard to follow.) Janet is dead.
The heroes then charged the Skrull Queen. However, it was Norman Osborn who got the kill shot and blew the Skrull Queen’s head off with his gun. Iron Man appeared back on the scene in one of his older suits of armor. The heroes that could fly then took to the air and destroyed the remaining Skrull warships.
The heroes then flew into space and destroyed the rest of the Skrull armada outside of Earth’s atmosphere. Iron Man scanned the ships for anymore doomsday weapons. Iron Man is stunned by what he found on one of the Skrull ships. The heroes bring back the one Skrull ship that Iron Man scanned and took control over with his tech.
The heroes land the ship back in New York. They open the ship and out steps every single super hero and SHIELD agent that the Skrulls had impersonated. One of the voices asks why the Skrulls would keep the humans alive after impersonating them. That it would make more sense to kill the humans and dump their bodies. The other voice answers that the Skrull technology that allowed them to totally mimic a person required that the original person to be kept alive. (Very convenient.)
The Hood and his villains decide that since the war is over that it was time for them to make a quick and silent exit. Iron Man happily hugs Henry Pym. Henry then asks where Janet is. Everyone falls silent. Also among the rescued heroes and SHIELD Agents are Dum Dum Dugan and Fontaine. They are happy to see Nick Fury. However, Nick just glowers at them and then teleports himself and his new Howling Commandos away from the scene.
We see Mockingbird also stepping off the Skrull ship. Clint is beyond happy to see that his wife is alive. The two kiss. We see Sue Storm step off the ship and hug Reed. At that point, Sue, not Reed, notices that the Baxter Building is engulfed by the Negative Zone. (Jeez, you just noticed a massive negative zone black hole engulfing your building where your kids are?)
We cut back to the scene where the heroes are welcoming back the kidnapped heroes. Iron Man approaches Thor and thanks him for his help and says that he is glad that Thor is back with them and that there is so much they have to do.
Thor snaps that he said he would never fight along Tony’s side again and that he would never join Tony’s ranks again. Thor says that he abhors what Tony has become and that Thor is sure that he will not be the only one who finds the blame in all this to fall square on Tony’s shoulders. Of course, since Bendis is writing the issue Tony just stands there like a bitch and says nothing and simply hangs his head.
We see Hulkling watching the Skrull prisoners of war being rounded up. The Skrulls whine that they no longer have a home planet and that without Earth they will have nowhere to live. Hulkling laments that the Skrull Empire is not about war (Huh, what?) and that this Skrull invasion is the work of extremists and not the Skrull people. Hulkling says that this was terrorism. (Um, no actually it was a full scale invasion. It was war not terrorism.)
We cut to the White House and learn that the two voices who have been talking back and forth and narrating this entire issue are none other than the President and one of his advisors. The President decides that Tony Stark has failed and is to be removed as the Director of SHIELD. (Thank god. Something positive has come out of this wretched big event after all.) The President says that SHIELD has proven to be no longer viable and will be shut down. (Wow, that is just a bit of an overreaction. And isn’t SHIELD a United Nations sponsored and governed agency and not an American sponsored and governed agency?)
The President continues that Starktech will no longer be used in any form of defense capacity or by the military since it has been shown to be compromised to the point of uselessness.
Tony just sits there like a lump and does not answer. Maria asks if Tony is okay. Tony does not respond. Maria asks if Tony is okay once more. Tony looks up and says “What?”
The Good: What a fittingly unimpressive finish to an over-hyped, over-blown and unoriginal big event. Having said that, there were several positives to come out of Secret Invasion #8. I am glad that Henry Pym, Dum Dum Dugan, Fontaine and Jarvis are all alive and well. I like each of those characters, in particular Henry Pym, and I was not thrilled when they all turned out to be Skrulls.
This scene was a great way to establish the fact that Nick Fury is going to assume a position on the fringe and operate independent of every other agency and group in the 616 universe. This scene was a subtle yet proper segue into Nick Fury’s new direction in the Marvel Universe on Secret Warriors where Nick is going to work in the shadows and outside of the law and government in order to combat Norman Osborn’s Thunderbolts and the cabal of villains that we saw at the end of this issue.
Of course, it will come as no surprise to any regular Followers of The Revolution, that what I enjoyed the most about Secret Invasion #8 was that Marvel finally removed Tony Stark from overseeing the Initiative and removed him as the Director of SHIELD. Thank God.
I have been not so patiently waiting for this moment since the minute Marvel completely screwed over Tony’s character during Civil War. Hopefully, writers like Bendis can now leave Tony alone and Iron Man fans can get back to enjoying a more entertaining and classic version of Iron Man that is true to his roots and his continuity.
Osborn is a wonderful classic Marvel villain and is the perfect character to place in charge of an “evil” government agency. And writers can now easily and relentlessly kick around Norman Osborn without having to resort to distorting his character like they have been doing with Tony Stark over the past couple of years.
The ending to Secret Invasion, while anti-climactic, without a doubt serves as a great lead-in to the next big event in Dark Reign. The fact that Norman Osborn has gathered together a cabal of villains is of no surprise at all. However the members were a bit surprising.
Doctor Doom was a predictable choice. The Hood was also painfully predictable since that is one of Bendis’ pet creations. Namor was a bit of a surprise. However, Namor has always straddled that line between hero and villain so I like his insertion into this group. Emma Frost was most definitely a surprise. This cabal of villains is an interesting flipside of the Illuminati.
In the end, the best aspect of Secret Invasion #8 has nothing to do with Secret Invasion itself. Instead, it is the next event in Dark Reign and all the titles that will spin out of the aftermath of Secret Invasion. Dark Reign, while not a terribly novel or surprising concept, most certainly has the potential to be an entertaining event that should spawn plenty of enjoyable stories.
I am certainly excited about several of the titles spinning out of Secret Invasion. I am looking forward to Agents of Atlas. This is an intriguing collection of characters and this title should provide plenty of enjoyable action adventure stories.
I am also looking forward to Secret Warriors covering Nick Fury and his newbie metahuman recruits. I have enjoyed how Bendis has handled Fury’s character up to this point and I have always thought that placing Bendis on a Nick Fury title would be a good idea. And the best part is that Bendis will be co-writing Secret Warriors with Jonathan Hickman. I hope this means that Bendis can help with plotting but leave the actual dialogue to Hickman which should help with Bendis’ obvious weakness with writing team titles.
Bendis will be kicking off a new title called Dark Avengers. While I have little interest in Dark Avengers and I question the need for a third Avengers title, the good news of Dark Avengers is that it means that Bendis will be leaving Mighty Avengers to write Dark Avengers.
And the even better news is that Dan Slott will be taking over Mighty Avengers. I am beyond ecstatic. Finally, we might actually get an Avengers title that focuses on the Avengers. And Slott is a wonderful choice to handle this team title. This title should dramatically improve. Now if we could just get Bendis off of New Avengers then I would be in heaven.
The Bad: Secret Invasion #8 was another unimpressive read. As it has been through out this event, the dialogue was resolutely average. Characters either spoke in typical “Bendis speak” or they had a completely bland and generic voice. The character work in this issue was also non-existent. As it has been through out this event, the characters are all rather one-dimensional and mechanically move their way through the story as if they were robots.
Even though technically a lot of plotlines were wrapped up and concluded in this issue, the fact is that Secret Invasion #8 felt like a slow and bloated issue that lumbered along at a clumsy pace as tried to conveniently tie-up most of the loose-ends. The plotting has been a weakness on Secret Invasion since the beginning and it continued to be a weakness in Secret Invasion #8. Various parts of this issue lacked internal logic and too many plotlines were resolved in a hurried and convenient fashion.
The finale of Secret Invasion in this story was as thin, dull and predictable as the rest of this big event. This big event has had a paint-by-numbers feel to it since the beginning and so did the ending that we got in this issue. All the events in Secret Invasion #8 felt rather rote. It seemed like Bendis had his standard issue checklist that he got from his Big Events 101 class and simply went right down it and checked off each plotline that had to be concluded.
The biggest technical flaw to Secret Invasion #8 was the horrible decision by Bendis to deliver this final “climactic” issue in the past tense via narration from two off panel characters. Dios mio, I cannot believe a professional writer would think that this was a good idea. This passive technique of delivering the story in this issue completely mutes the story.
This passive technique robs the issue of any energy and also removes the reader from the immediacy of the scenes as we know that everything has already been wrapped up and the Skrulls have been defeated. Instead of the reader feeling like they are experiencing the action live and as it is happening, the reader feels like they are watching the events in this issue on television in a documentary done well after the events have concluded.
I guess Bendis felt like he had to kill someone in this final issue and that Bendis chose Janet since her death would have “impact” since she is an original Avenger. And also that Janet’s death would not set off a fury of protests from fans since Janet has never been a particularly popular character with your average reader.
And the way that the heroes easily resolved the Skrull’s last ditch doomsday weapon leads me to my next point. Too many of the plotlines in Secret Invasion #8 were resolved in a far too easy and convenient manner. The Skrulls folded like a cheap suit in a matter of two pages in this issue. The heroes plow through the Skrull army and the Skrull armada like a hot knife through butter.
The ending to the war with the Skrulls was so rushed and way too easy. And the worst part was that we saw very little fighting at all. Instead, we simply saw the aftermath of the heroes dismantling the Skrull Armada. The vast majority of how the heroes won was simply told to the reader by the two off-panel voices narrating this issue. This was about as unexciting a victory in a war story that I have read.
The revelation that all the heroes and SHIELD agents who had been replaced by Skrulls were alive and well on one of the Skrull ships was another far too convenient ending to that plotline. The excuse that the technology that allowed the Skrulls to perfectly replicate a human required the Skrulls to keep that human alive seemed like a bit of a cheat.
The resolution to the disaster over at the Baxter Building was also too easy and convenient with how Ben, Johnny and the kids had been perfectly safe this entire time since Reed had a special 9th floor of the basement designed for exactly this situation. And I found it absolutely silly that with just a few keystrokes Reed has the Baxter Building completely rebuild itself.
Now, I am a big fan of Hawkeye so I am glad that Mockingbird is not actually dead. I guess that Bendis has felt guilty for mishandling Hawkeye ever since Bendis took over the Avengers that Bendis felt the need to give Clint the gift of having his wife back. But, the fact remains that I could have cared less about Mockingbird coming back to life or not. This had little impact on me. Honestly, has anyone been clamoring for Mockingbird to be brought back to life?
And I also have a problem reconciling Bendis having Mockingbird alive all this time on a Skrull ship with the stories that we got about Mockingbird after her died. How does this fit with the events of when the Grim Reaper used Mockingbird’s re-animated corpse to attack the Avengers? Or the Hellcat mini-series where we see Mockingbird in hell were she turns down an opportunity to come back to life.
If the Mockingbird who died in West Coast Avengers #100 was a Skrull then why didn’t she revert back to her Skrull form upon death? Why would Mockingbird’s human soul be in hell if she was being held captive in a Skrull ship this entire time? Does Bendis every do any research at all for anything he does or does he simply slap on a pair of blinders and just write his story and the rest of Marvel continuity be damned?
I could honestly care less about the plotline involving Skrully Jarvis stealing Jessica and Luke’s baby. The war is over and the Skrulls got absolutely crushed. What the hell good is stealing the baby of two C-list characters? It just seemed unnecessary and pointless. And if all the Skrulls have surrendered like they did in this issue then what is Skrully Jarvis going to do? Use the baby as a hostage to take over Earth all by himself?
Of course, with Secret Invasion coming to an end with this issue, Bendis took this final opportunity to perform some more character assassination on Tony Stark. It is obvious that Bendis dislikes Tony’s character and has never read a single issue of Iron Man. And Bendis clearly could care less if he writers Tony in his proper character or not. This is rather unfortunate to see from a professional writer.
And I love how somehow Bendis has Thor blame everything on Tony. Why not? I am sure that global warming will also end up being Tony’s fault? Bendis went so overboard with his misrepresentation of Tony Stark’s character and Thor’s condemnation of Tony was so heavy handed that this scene became absolutely laughable and comical. I do not think that Bendis’ intent with the scene between Tony and Thor was to make me burst out laughing.
Tony’s reaction in the scene with Maria Hill during Norman’s press conference was also just silly and out of character. All Tony does is just sit there in the dark in a chair and all he is able to utter is “What?” Please, Tony has never been presented in this fashion. Tony is a ultra-Type A personality with a mind that never stops calculating his next several moves.
And another problem with this scene is that we have already seen during the Knaufs’ run on Iron Man: Director of SHIELD how much Tony hated running SHIELD and how he often wished that he could leave it all and return to running his own company. Tony also had already been placed under arrest by the government and stripped of his command of SHIELD during the Knaufs run. Tony had been expecting at some point for the government to end up replacing him. So, Tony’s speechless reaction by Bendis simply exposed Bendis for his lack of knowledge of anything going on outside of his own titles and his obvious lack of research before writing this issue.
I found the President deeming that Starktech has been compromised to the point of uselessness a little silly. So it got hacked by the Skrulls. Does that mean that Stark could not come up with a security patch or modify his tech? And what technology is there that the government could employ that would not run the risk of being hacked into. It is almost impossible to stop that from happening. All tech eventually gets hacked at some point.
Bendis’ weak and unoriginal effort to squeeze some tired post 9-11 commentary into Secret Invasion with the scene were Hulking says that the Skrull invaders were not representative of the Skrull Empire was a total miss with me. The idea that the Skrull Armada was nothing more than extremists and terrorists is totally unbelievable. These were Skrull soldiers and this was a full scale war. This invasion was nothing even remotely like terrorism. And the Skrulls has pretty much been proven to be a nasty species throughout their history in the 616 universe.
Now, let’s talk about Norman Osborn’s cabal of villains. I alluded to the fact earlier that while I agree that Doctor Doom, Namor, Norman Osborn and Loki all deserve to be at this table I had reservations about the Hood and Emma Frost. There is simply no way anyone will convince me that the Hood belongs to be at the same table as the rest of these characters.
And my initial reaction to Emma Frost being included with these criminals is a negative one. Personally, I love Emma as a “good guy” and a reformed villainess. It is what makes her character so intriguing. You want to hate her, but you can’t because she really does make for an invaluable member of the X-Men.
Of course, to be fair, I will give Marvel some time before I jump on them for including Emma in this circle. For all we know, Emma is acting as a mole and could be spying on this cabal of villains in order to help bring them down from the inside.
In the end, I found Secret Invasion’s ending to be an incredibly small payoff given the amount of hype and the length and scope of this big event. Even though I like the concept of Dark Reign and the possibilities that it presents with the various new titles and the general direction for the Marvel Universe, this was still an incredibly underwhelming payoff for such an overblown and overhyped event like Secret Invasion.
The long and the short of it was that the entire point of Secret Invasion was so Norman Osborne would be put in control of SHIELD’s jurisdiction, the Avengers and the Fifty-State Initiative and then, in turn, Norman would gather his own cabal of villains. Honestly, Marvel did not need to waste time going through all the ridiculously silly machinations of Secret Invasion just to get to this point. It is like using a flamethrower to light your portable barbeque grill.
Dark Reign could have been easily put in place in a much faster and easier fashion. The Knaufs already hinted during their run on Iron Man: Director of SHIELD how tenuous Tony’s position as the Director of SHIELD was. It would have been easy for the President to fire Tony since the Avengers and SHIELD continuously failed and/or refused to bring in unregistered heroes when they clearly had an opportunity to do so.
I would have found Dark Reign much cooler of an idea if it had been brought into place by something not as overly hyped as Secret Invasion. Marvel built up Secret Invasion so much that the pay-off of Osborne being in control of SHIELD’s old jurisdiction and the Initiative and forming a cabal of villains was anti-climactic and nothing particularly surprising in the least bit. Dark Reign is a rather predictable direction that most readers felt Marvel was going to move toward a long time ago.
I am simply not a fan of Leinel Yu and Mark Morales style of artwork. I find the faces of the characters to be downright horrendous. All in all, Secret Invasion was not the prettiest looking big event that I have seen. Having said that, many readers love Yu’s style of art and surely they will enjoy the look of Secret Invasion #8 much more than me.
Overall: In the end, Secret Invasion was exactly what I though it was. It was an unoriginal, predictable and mindless fight-fest. Secret Invasion can truly be summed up by a line from Shakespeare’s Macbeth: “it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” The Secret Invasion event was shallow, poorly paced, sloppily plotted, often lacked internal logic and at points suffered from poor research. I am sure that Secret Invasion will be quickly forgotten.
But, let’s take this opportunity to kick the dirt on Secret Invasion and focus on the positive aspects of this new direction of the Marvel Universe that Dark Reign presents. Dark Reign, while not that original or earth-shattering of an idea, still should provide for some entertaining stories.
I do appreciate that Marvel was able to crank out Secret Invasion without any real delays. The way that Marvel handled the shipping schedule of Secret Invasion and all of the various tie-in issues was impressive. And without a doubt, some of the Secret Invasion tie-in issues were quite compelling reads that overshadowed Secret Invasion itself.
Also, while I might not agree with everything Joey Q does, that Marvel certainly has a clear direction and purpose in mind with each big event and how they lead into the next big event and the way that they impact the Marvel Universe. Marvel carefully plots out their goals and stays focused and committed to their decisions and to the direction that they are headed in. That is something that DC could learn to do.