Friday, December 5, 2008

Secret Invasion: Review.

Secret Invasion #8 came out yesterday, and that finally wrapped up an eight or nine month massive cross-over. Other people have talked about it, but I thought I'd chip in with my two cents about the series. There are spoilers ahoy, but just in-case, here's a friendly reminder:



I thought Secret Invasion started out pretty strong; it's a great idea, and the more the plot kept unraveling and you started to see how far back this thing went, the better it got. It did kind of start to lag a little in the middle; a lot of the minor cross-over books went back to their regularly scheduled programming, but then Secret Invasion #7 came out and I started to get really excited again.

Then Secret Invasion #8 hit the stands. Man, what a let-down. I read another person's view on the series, and I think there was a good point in there, that the series really ended in the seventh issue, this last one was just tying up loose ends. I personally thought it had a deus ex machina ending, and it felt very rushed, it felt like they had too many things going on at the same time. I thought issue seven was very good; it was well paced, there was lots of action, and the reveals and story in general was great. Issue Eight just fell on it's face in my opinion.

Another annoying thing it the repeating going on in other issues of the cross-over. This happened to me twice during the series; I read a cross-over issue right before the issue of Secret Invasion, and there were specific parts that were exactly the same. It happened in a Thunderbolts issue where Bullseye takes out a giant Skrull, and then it happened last night when I read New Avengers #47. Luke Cage and Jessica Jones' baby got stolen by Skrull-Jarvis and they spent two to three pages where they fly back to their apartment and freak out. Then I started reading Secret Invasion #8, and near the end, there's two pages with almost the same exact panels, and it had the exact same dialogue. It's just annoying to pay $6.98 to have the same exact thing happen in two different books. I understand there should be a little overlap, but there should be a reference to it, not two to three pages of the exact same thing happening twice when the characters have the exact same dialogue line-for-line.

And the ending, what the hell Bendis? (WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD) Thor kills a giant Wasp (Janet Pym) who is infected with a virus that is killing everyone, Iron Man shows up in some old armor, Norman Osbourne kills the Skrull Queen, then most of them fly into outer space to destroy Skrull spaceships, and Iron Man finds all of the heroes that were replaced as Skrulls in one of the spaceships and brings it back to New York. I think this all happens in like 5-7 pages, which is why I brought up the fact that it felt rushed. The heroes coming back really annoys the hell out of me. Really, there were no risks taken with the series. The Wasp was the only one that died, and they tried to make it a big deal because she was one of the "founding members" of the Avengers, but seriously, who really cares about her death? I sure don't. I thought that "killing" Henry Pym was a pretty bold move, but it turns out that he's alive now. I'm not arguing the details as to why they're still alive, I actually think it holds water, I'm arguing the reasoning and the choice to keep them alive.

The reason all of those Heroes are still alive is because the process that the Skrulls used to impersonate them depended them being alive, because it somehow accessed their memories, which couldn't be replicated if they were dead. Ok, I get it, and you kind of earned it in a way (a couple of crossover issues hinted at it), but I'm going to say this again; there were no risks taken. I would have liked to have seen some of those characters die. It's the same thing I've been complaining about for years; the constant return to the status quo. It's annoying. And Janet's death isn't risky, and it doesn't impact very much, they really weren't doing much with her character anyway.

One part that I thought was a good thing, but that also pissed me off, was Tony Stark getting his comeuppance. Basically, he totally screwed up and because of his involvement in Civil War, he has no friends. S.H.I.E.L.D. is mothballed by the President, which was more about damage control and getting Tony out of power than about anything else. What's disturbing, however, is his replacement. You could see it coming from a mile away, but Norman Osbourne in charge now. He's heading up the "Thunderbolts Initiative" and that's what leads into the "Dark Reign" crossover. More on that later. The thing that really pisses me off though, is that it's basically a giant middle finger to anyone who collected any Marvel comic from 2006-2007, because it basically negates EVERYTHING that happened as a result of the Civil War Crossover. Personally, I would really prefer if they would just cool it with the giant crossovers that are obviously all written to be packaged into a trade at a later day. We've gone from House of M, to Civil War, to World War Hulk, to Secret Invasion, and now we've got Dark Reign. Enough already.

Anyways, back to the point about Tony Stark, he's pretty much decimated at the end of this whole thing. Stark Tech is basically dead technology now, no one is going to touch it because the Skrulls hacked it and inserted a virus. Since he insisted that S.H.I.E.L.D. he's basically screwed now because they're not a functioning entity anymore. And I guess Osborn has taken over StarkTech and has absorbed it into Oscorp. There is a panel at the end of the issue where he is pretty much catatonic. I think that the most interesting story to come out of this whole thing is going to be Tony's story and how he deals with his situation. He basically has nothing. Thor came as close as he could to telling him to lose his number. It could be pretty funny if he turns into a Moon Knight kind of a character, where he's reduced to an unauthorized, street-level crime-fighter.

So the ending revolves around the next giant cross-over, Dark Reign. There are major spoilers ahead, but it's not like I'm the first to talk about this. Basically, Norman Osborne is in control now. He assembles a kind of "Dark Illuminati" consisting of; himself, Dr.Doom, Namor, Loki, The Hood and Emma Frost. Ok, so, I get the rest; and I kind of understand Namor's role, even though he was in the original Illuminati, but I totally don't understand Emma Frost's role. Several people have stated that "she's not evil", but why is she there? From what I've read, it's supposed to "mirror" the original Illuminati, and they're not supposed to be evil per se, but when, Dr. Doom, Norman Osborn, Loki and the Hood are involved, I question anyone else's involvement.

They're supposed to form the Dark Avengers, who are supposed to go after the New Avengers. I personally hope that Tony Stark joins the New Avengers in hiding and he has to start all over again. I guess the more I start thinking about it, the less upset I become. I remember being really disgusted with the end of the series, but now, looking forward, it's kind of a means to an end.

One last thing that really annoyed me was Wolverine's involvement in this whole thing. He's supposed to be in San Francisco, but he's also in New York with the New Avengers, then he goes to the Savage Land with everyone, and then he's on the front line with the rest of the Super Heroes, but if I remember correctly, he's also in San Fran with the X-Men for their part in the cross-over. You can only use the he's best at what he does line so many times before you start to call B.S.

Overall, I would give Secret Invasion an average grade. There was a whole lot of hype and it lived up to it for awhile, but I was really turned off by the ending. AND, a lot of the cross-over issues were MUCH better than the actual series issues. Like there were issues of Hercules that were pretty amazing, and the first three issues of Deadpool were integral to the ending and weren't even branded as Secret Invasion cross-overs; then a lot of these story lines were pretty much dropped and it was back to normal programming. I don't think they co-ordinated this one as well as they have done in the past and a lot of series were over with their cross-over involvement before the regular series was half-way done. I am on the fence about Dark Reign. I am thinking about adding the Dark Avengers and the Dark Reign limited series if they have one, but I'm not going to go out and get issues of Ms. Marvel or most of the branded mini-series (I can't tell you how disappointed I was in Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four; I read someone describe it as a bait-and-switch and they are 100% correct; half of the team [Reed and Susan] aren't even in the book).

As I said, I would give the series a passing grade, I would try and pick it up in the trades if you missed it, it's probably easier to find and read that way, instead of hunting down all of those issues; and again, the cross-over issues are hit-and-miss; when they hit, they're really good, but when they miss, they can be pretty terrible.


chris. said...

Wow, thanks for the in-depth review. I was reading up some of it on Wiki and thought the overall story sounded pretty solid. Yes, it's lame to buy so many crossover issues and have them repeat story elements but it seems like it affected so much of the Marvel Universe. It definitely sets up Dark Reign / Dark Avengers / Dark Illuminati.

My guess is that this whole thing is a really long arc to restart the Avengers with Cap / Thor / Iron Man.

It seems like both Marvel and DC are more focused in terms of their whole universes and what's going on. Granted, you have things like Wolverine being in three places but when I was collecting in the '90s, Spider-Man was practically its own universe.

Tyler said...

Yeah, that's kind of what I was thinking about half-way through the series; it's just a really long arc to restart Cap/Thor/Iron Man and eventually, I think they'll reboot the Avengers with the "Big 3" after Iron Man redeems himself somehow. Because, as I said, Thor hates him Bucky won't even talk to him, and StarkTech is in the crapper, so he's probably got a year or two of redemption ahead of him.

I guess the lesson learned was that I really need to watch what cross-overs to buy and what to pass on. If I had to do it again, I would have passed on the Ms. Marvel books, and the Fantastic Four SI Series. I actually didn't get the Thor SI Series because I was so pissed about the FF one. But I would still would have bought the X-Men SI Series and all of the Avengers Titles. If you're going to read them when they come out in trades, I highly suggest all three Avengers titles (Mighty, New, and Initiative) as well as the main Secret Invasion Series. And Hercules and Deadpool. And you probably should also read the Thunderbolts because it's heavy on the Osborn involvement.