Brian Michael Bendis’ major Marvel event Secret Invasion, as it so happened, came in at the heels of two of the most depressing events the company has ever known. First there was House of M, where the classic hero and Avengers staple Wanda Maximoff, aka The Scarlet Witch, lost her marbles and completely decimated the mutant population, causing thousands to lose their abilities in the time it took to murmur three words: “No more mutants.” Then, there was the even more depressing event called the Civil War, where heroes were pitted against heroes, Captain America was killed, and Iron Man emerged from it all being hardly more likeable than Bernie Madoff (to this day I can’t say I really like Tony Stark). Marvel Comics was well on its way to earning a more fitting name for itself, Maudlin Comics. Then, Secret Invasion came along.
At the start, the premise of Secret Invasion seemed simple: Skrulls were living among the rest of the heroes, and had been doing so for some time. The Skrulls are basically these extraterrestrial fundamentalists whose monkeyshines have been part of the Marvel Mythos from the company’s early years, but were never to be taken so seriously until now. The first half of the series reads like a classic espionage thriller, except with superheroes instead of Cary Grant or Sean Connery. As readers we slowly find out that Skrulls have invaded some of the earth’s most guarded infrastructures, the first being a Japanese clan led by Elektra when it’s revealed early on that Elektra herself is a Skrull. Now no group seems safe, from the X-Men to S.H.I.E.L.D. or even the Inhumans.
From then on, the situation becomes very tense, where superheroes who have known and fought along each other for years don’t know if they can trust the person next to them. With all of the mistrust and backstabbing in the air, it’s amazing to me that Secret Invasion doesn’t get bogged down or gloomy. It’s overall a very fun and exciting series, which is a huge relief considering everything that came before it.
By the way, I read some of the tie-in issues, and I’ll say that they can be skipped if you have a limited budget or limited time. Some were fun, such as the Thor, Fantastic Four, and X-Men issues, while others were pretty lame (Secret Invasion: Spiderman for example). You can understand the Secret Invasion series without reading the tie-ins, although New Avengers 30-32 set up the series and are good reads in their own right. The main Secret Invasion event was 8 issues long, and they are collected in a single graphic novel. They are also all available through the Marvel digital subscription.
SOME OF MY FAVORITE MOMENTS (spoilers)
When Jessica Drew (Spider-Woman) was revealed to be the Skrull Queen I was shocked for quite a while. I kept looking back to find out where the switch happened but couldn’t figure it out. I was hoping she had been replaced by a Skrull right before the event, like when the New Avengers were fighting ninjas in Japan. Eventually I gave up on puzzling it out and looked online to find out she had been replaced before New Avengers issue 1! I read the first 30 something issues of the series and actually thought Jessica Drew was my favorite character–and then she’s the Skrull Queen?
My favorite moment in the whole series would have to be when the Skrull Queen mistakes Tony Stark for a masterful Skrull spy. Her logic was sound: he seriously messed up Marvel’s superhero community, and he was inadvertantly the cause of Captain America’s death, so he must be a Skrull. It’s like she used Groucho Marx’s logic, “He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot, but don’t let that fool you, he’s an idiot.” Except in this case, Tony Stark actually wasn’t a Skrull. It’s so funny to me that this mistake is largely what makes the Skrulls’ well conceived plan fall apart.
If you liked Secret Invasin, you may also like New Avengers: Powerloss.
–I have written and published a book of fiction titled The Madness of Art: Short Stories, featuring eight stories, covering a wide variety of genres from scifi to coming-of-age to murder mystery. It’s available in paperback and also as an ebook. You can purchase it through Amazon or Barnes and Noble.