The Revolution continues to be summarily unimpressed by Secret Invasion itself, but completely entertained by the Secret Invasion tie-in issues. Secret Invasion itself has been a slow, lumbering, predictable and somewhat boring read over the first three issues. Hopefully, Bendis might actually engage in a little bit of plot development and finally kick this story into gear. Let’s go ahead and hit this review for Secret Invasion #4.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Leinel Yu
Inks: Mark Morales
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with the Skrull Queen’s running narration for the beginning half of this issue. We see Mr. Fantastic still a mess of puddy aboard a Skrull ship being poked and prodded by what appears to be some hideous medical machine.
The Skrull Queen talks about how this is war. That what the Skrulls have done is exactly what the humans would have done. That through out time humans have used god or money or both to conquer foreign countries and exterminate the indigenous people. And then the victors write the history books.
The Skrull Queen says that this Skrull invasion was preordained. That the humans will soon realize that this is not a battle. The Skrull Queen says that the humans will not be able to understand what is going on and will freak out. We see the Sentry, a complete and total mess, flying away from Earth. (The result of what the 1970’s Vision said to Sentry back in Secret Invasion #2. Secret Invasion #4 must take place prior to the Secret Invasion tie-in issue of Mighty Avengers #14 that came out in May.)
We see Ms. Marvel arriving in New York to find Nick Fury and his new Howling Commandoes brawling with the Super Skrull soldiers. The Skrull Queen comments how the humans will fight and may have a trick or two up their sleeves, but that it will not matter. Ms. Marvel joins the battle against the Super Skrulls.
Nick barks out to his commandoes to do what they came here to do and then get out of here fast. The Skrull Queen states how this is not a war, because in a war you have to be able to trust the one next to you. And right how the humans need to trust each other and they now cannot. That friends are enemies and enemies are friends.
We see Nick’s commandoes gather up the unconscious Young Avengers. Nick Fury notes that all of his team is ready to roll out. Nick then comments that he is going to take out one more Skrull. Nick then shoots Ms. Marvel.
The Skrull Queen comments how the humans can no longer trust each other. And that tough decisions will be made by people who can make those kinds of decisions. Nick Fury and his new Howling Commandoes with the Young Avengers in tow then teleport out of New York.
Ms. Marvel crumples to the ground and is stunned that Nick shot her. The Super Skrull soldiers led by Skrully Yellowjacket then attack and overwhelm Ms. Marvel. The Skrull Queen comments that the humans had defeated themselves before the Skrulls arrived. That the humans already did not know who to trust.
The Skrull Queen says that the Skrulls just sat back and waited till all the paranoia and built into hysteria. The Skrulls waited till the humans were attacking and killing each other and when they were done that is when the Skrulls will let the humans know that the war had happened and that the Skrulls had already won.
We cut to the Savage Land where we see that the Skrull Queen’s running narration has been her chatting it up with Tony Stark. The Skrull Queen calls Tony the greatest Skrull in the Empire. We see Black Widow just outside of the lab listening in on this entire narrative by the Skrull Queen.
Suddenly, the 1970’s version of Beast and Phoenix approach Black Widow. Natasha immediately blasts away at them and kills both of them. (You absolutely have to be kidding me. The all poweful Pheonix killed by a non-metahuman and a gun? If the Skrull posing as Phoenix has all of the Phoenix’s powers then I cannot imagine that she could be so easily killed.) The two 1970’s heroes revert back to their Skrull form. (Oooh, shocker. Not.)
The Skrull Queen hears Natasha’s gunfire and makes a quick escape from the lab. Natasha then tends to Tony. Natasha then gives Tony a shot of adrenaline that will get him on his feet for about an hour.
Tony says that he is a Skrull. Natasha retorts that the Skrull Queen was just trying to mess with Tony’s mind. Natasha says that the Skrulls poisoned Tony. That Tony is one of five people on the planet that can stop the Skrulls. That they do not want to just take Tony out. That they want him defeated. They want to do to Tony what he did to the Skrulls. Natasha asks Tony “Skrull or not does he want to kill her or the Skrulls?” Tony replies “The Skrulls.”
Wolverine then appears on the scene. Natasha shoots Wolverine full of bullets. Natasha then asks Wolverine to give her the word. Logan replies “Carrot sticks.” Natasha then apologizes for shooting Wolverine, but that she is now on a shoot first and ask questions later mode.
Tony tells Black Widow that Ms. Marvel is on her way to New York City. Natasha tells Tony to reboot his armor and that they have to get out of here immediately. Tony then says that they need Reed Richards.
We cut to Agent Brand still floating in space where she was back in Secret Invasion #1. Brand floats her way over to one of the Skrull ships in their armada. Brand sneaks into the Skrull ship and makes her way to a main control room where she sees a wall full of monitors. The monitors are showing the Skrull attack on Earth. We also see a monitor screen showing Reed Richards being poked and prodded. Suddenly, a Skrull scientist and a Skrull guard arrive on the scene. The Skrull guard draws his gun on Brand.
We then cut to the SHIELD Helicarrier where evidently all time has stood still. Jarvis is still requesting that Maria Hill surrender to the Skrulls. Suddenly, all the SHIELD agents next to Maria turn into Skrulls. (We knew that was coming.) Even though the reader is not stunned, Maria Hill sure is.
We shift to Brooklyn where little red riding hood, I mean the Hood and his lame band of no-name villains decide to join the fight against the Skrulls. (Ooooh, I am sure the Skrulls are now petrified. This is what you call the writer introducing cannon fodder into the story.) The Hood comments that no more Earth is bad for business.
We slip over to Central Park where the Super Skrulls are rampaging through the area and attacking the locals. Suddenly, there is a massive bolt of lightning that fries a couple of the Super Skrulls. We see the mighty Thor arriving on the scene in dramatic fashion.
We then see Captain America using a pair of binoculars to watch Thor’s arrival onto the scene. Captain America then begins running toward the battle scene. End of issue.
The Good: *Yawn* Secret Invasion #4 was a pretty average read. Still, there were some positive aspects to this issue. Bendis gave us a fair amount of mindless action. And that kept this issue from being terminally boring. I would imagine that Secret Invasion #4 offers up enough bullets and blood to satisfy most action fans.
It was definitely cool to see Nick Fury operating out in the public once again. I have to admit that Bendis surprised me with having Nick coldly take out Ms. Marvel. This was an excellently timed scene that meshed well with the Skrull Queen’s narrative about how the Skrulls are going to go against tough humans who can make tough decisions. There is no doubt that Nick is as tough as they come and has no qualms making extremely difficult decisions.
However, even the great Nick Fury can be wrong. Carol does not appear to be a Skrull since her eyes don’t turn green and the other Skrulls, including Skrully Yellowjacket, attack Carol with great ferocity. This was a nice way by Bendis to show that mistakes are going to be made even by characters as qualified and talented as Nick. This emphasizes how dangerous and devious this Skrull invasion truly is.
Bendis did do a nice job matching up the Skrull Queen’s long-winded narrative nicely with various scenes going on around the globe concerning the Skrull invasion. This was a smart way to make Secret Invasion #4 extremely new reader friendly. Bendis does everything he can to spell the Skrull’s plan out to the reader in terms that even a six year old could follow.
I am glad that we finally got a little plot progression with Agent Brand’s plotline. I was beginning to think that she was going to spend all of Secret Invasion floating in space. It was unbelievably convenient that out of all the ships in the Skrull armada that Brand picked the one with Mr. Fantastic on it, but it serves to keep the story moving. I am glad that Bendis finally is kick-starting this plotline and hopefully we will get to see Brand kick some Skrull ass and rescue Reed.
Bendis serves up an absolutely fantastic hook ending to Secret Invasion #4 with the appearances of Thor and Captain America. I loved it. We have seen the dirty Skrulls gloating how lucky they were that both Captain America and Thor died before they pulled off their invasion. Well, won’t the Skrulls be surprised by this little turn of events. I cannot wait to see these two Marvel icons join the battle against the Skrulls.
Bendis amazes me how he can waste an entire issue doing little to nothing and boring me in the process and then deliver an ending that gets me all excited for the next issue. Despite my lack of enthusiasm over this meandering and predictable issue, I am totally looking forward to the next issue. I have to give Bendis credit, it takes real talent to come up with an ending that hooks a reader who largely was unimpressed with the majority of the issue.
The artwork was average. I am just not a fan of Yu’s style of artwork. I find the way he draws faces to be hideously freakish.
The Bad: Secret Invasion #4 was a relatively dull read. Technically, Secret Invasion #4 was a poorly written issue. It suffers from slow pacing and poor and unfocused plotting. It also has dialogue defects and meager character work. This all combines to make Secret Invasion #4 a thin superficial read that lacks any depth or richness found in other titles on the market.
Secret Invasion continues to lumber along at such a slow pace. The story appears to have no real point. The story is certainly not progressing with a sense of urgency or purpose. Seriously, Secret Invasion has just been brutally slow. We are already four issues into this eight issue story and I feel like we are pretty much exactly where we were at the end of Secret Invasion #1.
Bendis employs some mindless action scenes in order to trick the reader into thinking that the story is actually progressing at a quick pace. The action scenes are flashy enough so that the reader ends the issue thinking how much fighting there was and not realizing that there was truly no substance to the story itself in Secret Invasion #4.
I get the feeling that nothing at all happened in Secret Invasion #4. Fury’s appearance was short and only used to rescue the Young Avengers. We do see Brand stumble onto the ship where Reed is being held. We see Natasha help Tony. Then we have an ending that brings Thor and Captain America into the story. That is about it. The fact that I can sum up Secret Invasion #4 in a couple of sentences shows how shallow the story is that Bendis is giving us with each issue. I would need several paragraphs to sum up the dense story that Morrison gave us in Final Crisis #2.
Bendis has always struggled mightily when writing a comic book that deals with a roster of characters rather than one or two central characters. And Secret Invasion has been no exception. Bendis’ dialogue was very ordinary. None of the characters had much of a unique or nicely developed voice. Instead, everyone is reduced to a rather generic voice.
And there has been absolutely no attempt at anything even closely resembling character work on Secret Invasion. All the characters seem like lifeless mannequins simply going through the motions as we chug through this story. The shallow character work and ordinary dialogue makes it so that there is a complete lack of chemistry between the various characters.
The Queen’s monologue was dull at best. We had to sit through the predictable speech about how humans are nasty creatures who invade each other and conquer the indigenous people of different lands and exploit them. That human hate each other and don’t trust each other. That humans only look out for only themselves and are driven by nothing more than their own greed or their own religion. Blah, blah, blah.
I have read this before plenty of times in other books and comic books and in a much better written fashion. Quite frankly, the Queen’s monologue that served as the spine for the first half of Secret Invasion #4 was rather predictable, unoriginal and quite hackneyed. It did nothing more than practically make me fall asleep by the middle of this issue.
We do not learn anything new at all in from the Skrull Queen’s longwinded monologue. Instead, the monologue simply continues to beat to death the same tired concepts that we have been getting for months. I get it already. The humans cannot trust anybody. That anyone can be a Skrull. It was not that interesting, complex or intriguing concept in the first place. I don’t need it hammered into my head with each issue. Just move on and start actually showing me the result of all this deception and scheming.
And that is another defect with the Skrull Queen’s monologue. This is a case of the writer telling the reader rather than showing us. I don’t need this same tired dialogue over and over ad nauseum. I would much rather Bendis show me how the Skrull’s plan has impacted our heroes rather than talking me to death about it.
Secret Invasion #4 was also rather repetitious. Bendis is simply serving up more of the same dialogue and themes that we have seen over and over again in the previous issues of Secret Invasion and the myriad of tie-in issues. It feels like every issue reads just like the one that we got before.
Bendis treats the reader as if they are too stupid to figure anything out on their own. This further bolsters my belief that Bendis asks very little of the reader when it comes to Secret Invasion. There is no need for the reader to think or engage their mind in any manner. Bendis will spoon-feed the reader everything that they need to know or think.
Another problem with Secret Invasion #4 was that it feels like the reader is simply just waiting for things to happen that we already know about. Part of that is due to the fact that the Secret Invasion tie-in issues have surprisingly and seemingly hi-jacked this event from Secret Invasion itself. At this point, most of the interesting action and plotlines all occur on the tie-in issues rather than on Secret Invasion itself.
We see the Sentry flying away from Earth in this issue, but we already know from a couple of months ago when Mighty Avengers #14 came out that the Sentry comes back as the Void Sentry and ready to kick ass. The fact that Bendis cannot synch up Secret Invasion with the tie-in issues is irking. And it furthers the impression that the story on Secret Invasion itself is moving at a snail’s pace.
The scene with Jarvis on the SHIELD Helicarrier was another example of the reader simply waiting for Bendis to show us something that we already know. In this scene Maria Hill is surprised to find out that her SHIELD agents are actually Skrulls. While Maria was quite stunned, the reader certainly was not. We have known that there were Skrull SHIELD agents for months now over in the Secret Invasion tie-in issues. And we knew months ago that the Skrulls were setting up Maria to take the fall.
This scene with Jarvis was largely a waste of a page. Bendis has failed to progress this plotline. Seriously, this plotline has almost achieved perfect stasis. This plotline is moving slower than a Rex Morgan, MD comic strip.
The scene with Tony and Natasha was a total miss with me. At this point I have no clue how Bendis thinks Tony’s Extremis powers work. Bendis has an adrenaline shot miraculously cure Tony from this poorly explained virus that took over Tony. Then Natasha mentions how the Skrulls have poisoned Tony.
Obviously, Bendis has not bothered himself to actually do any research on Tony’s powers or maybe even read Ellis’ incredible 6 issues story arc on Iron Man where Ellis brilliantly creates the Extremis virus. And that is no surprise since Tony is not one of Bendis’ pet characters. Therefore, Tony doesn’t matter and it not worthy of Bendis’ effort to properly research Tony’s character and powers.
I found Natasha’s shoot first and ask question later rather unoriginal and predictable. The scene where she blows away the 1970’s Beast and Phoenix was dull and uninteresting. And it was absolutely laughable that Bendis has Phoenix so easily killed off by a couple of bullets. To think that all the X-Men, the Shi’ar and the Imperial Guard had to do was simply get a handgun and shoot the Phoenix in order to stop her. Seriously, the Phoenix force is supposed to be one of the strongest powers in the universe. This was extremely sloppy and lazy writing on Bendis’ part.
Bendis has completely unimpressed me with his use of these 1970’s heroes. It appears that Bendis had no other use for these characters other than to provide this story some generic cannon fodder. The 1970’s heroes had the potential to be something interesting. Unfortunately, Bendis has failed to do anything special with them and are just using them as characters to kill off in action scenes.
Inclusion of the Hood and his fellow D-list villains into Secret Invasion did absolutely nothing for me and was just a waste of a page. If Bendis wants to play with the often used theme of a attack by outsiders that bands together heroes and villains then at least use villains that would actually interest me and that I care about.
Overall: Secret Invasion #4 was another pedestrian read. Secret Invasion continues to completely unimpress me and is by no means even one of the top 10 titles that Marvel is currently publishing. I continue to find Secret Invasion to be an slow, unoriginal, predictable and shallow story.
However, I totally understand that I am probably in the minority when it comes to Secret Invasion. I think that the average fan will completely enjoy Bendis’ summer blockbuster event. There is enough mindless action in this story that will keep your average comic book reader entertained. If you don’t mind a slowly paced story and are just looking for some cotton candy for the brain then you will probably get a kick out of Secret Invasion #4.
Secret Invasion’s weaknesses are also its strengths. Secret Invasion is extremely new reader friendly. Bendis spoon-feeds so much of the back-story and information to the reader that even a reader who has not read a single Marvel comic book prior to Secret Invasion can still completely understand and enjoy this story.
Secret Invasion also requires no effort at all on part of the reader. This is a title that can be read with the reader’s brain on auto-pilot and the reader will completely enjoy the story. And these two reasons are exactly why Secret Invasion will be popular and will post great sales numbers.
On the other hand, Morrison requires the reader to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the DCU in order to fully understand Final Crisis. And Morrison forces the reader to really work in order to try and piece everything together in Final Crisis’ incredibly complex and dense story.
If you have not hopped aboard Secret Invasion yet, I do think that waiting for Secret Invasion to come out in trade format would be the wisest choice. I would imagine that Bendis’ slow pacing, which is frustrating in a monthly format, would lend to a much more interesting and dramatic read in trade format.