Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Secret Invasion #5 Review

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: Leinil Francis Yu

Secret Invasion creaks into its fifth month. Or perhaps, I should say, Secret Invasion creaks into its fifth hour, since less than an hour takes place in any given issue. This issue has the advantage of being somewhat better than last month's issue, in which we were given a recap of a story that has so far largely consisted of recaps of other issues. This week, we do see some marginal story development, as Reed Richards is freed from the Skrull spaceship, and Captain Marvel attacks the fleet, both of which are kind of fun, but really we get a lot more of the same. At least this time, though, the endless scenes that have been taking place since issue #2 seem to be ending. Jarvis is still demanding surrender, but he gets blowed up. The Avengers are still in the Savage Land, but they discover the last of the Skrulls. Agent Brand is still floating around in space, but she comes home. That's all progress. Maybe next issue they can do something new.

However, seeing the end of these scenes just reminds the reader how pointless they were in the first place. The ship of Silver Age heroes turns out to not have a single real hero on it. Not one. Zilch. Zip. What on Earth was the point of that plot line, then? If the idea is to have the readers debating who is a Skrull and who is not, why make absolutely every one of them into a Skrull? Isn't that like playing three-card Monte without the queen? It completely ruins the game and the mystery. Here, Marvel had the chance to retcon just about anybody they wanted to any point in their history, and they used it as a silly plot device with absolutely no payoff. The goal of the Skrull ship was to distract the Avengers and waste their time, but it ended up doing both to the readers.

There are some very weird character moments as well. Suddenly, half of the Avengers turn into killers. Bendis seems very insistent that "this is war" and therefore, all the rules are different. In New Avengers #43, Sheena flat out executed a prisoner of war, and dismissed the laws of warfare as being fit for Manhattan coffee shops. In this issue, Hawkeye and apparently even Reed Richards kill Skrulls. I understand this is a war. However, this is the Avengers. When isn't it war? They're constantly at war with someone or other, and yet they don't kill. Is this Bendis trying to hammer what a "big deal" his story is, or is he genuinely trying to undermine the idea that heroes shouldn't kill? Either way, his characterization is completely inappropriate. Reed Richards shouting "I'll kill every last one of you!" is just ridiculous.

There are a couple of good moments in this book. One is the revelation that somehow the Skrulls are using Reed Richard's "brain" for their invasion. I'm not sure what that means, whether they are using his ideas or his brain tissue, but it's an interesting hook. I'd like to find out, and I hope it turns out to be something interesting. Unless they cloned his brain, they can't actually have been using it for very long, since they only captured him in issue #1. Nonetheless, somehow Reed is more involved in this invasion than simply being its catalyst from the Illuminati series, and I'm interested to find out in what way.

Another fun moment is when every celebrity in the world, including Barak Obama, John McCain and Cartman from South Park appear on the television and tell the world that the Skrulls have come to save humanity, even if it means ruling it. It's the kind of big shocking moment that made the first issue of this comic so powerful. I'm not sure if the implication is that all of them have long been Skrulls or that Skrulls are just impersonating them today, but the book here finds its original power, if only for two pages: Skrulls can be anywhere; they can be anybody; they have already won.

Unfortunately, we then get back to the rest of the book, and another ten minutes of activity before the next issue. At this rate, the Skrull invasion will have ended in less than eight hours, and people in Australia will have slept through it only to find out about it on the morning news.



Cristiano Silva said...

Hehehehehehe that last sentence was great! :-)

peakfreak said...

There is a suposition that there is a large supply of Admantium in the Savage Land (which may be key to stopping the Skrulls). So that silly plot device with so much potential turns into just a bunch of Skrulls trying to prevent anyone from getting to it.

Daniel said...

Thanks, Christiano :).

I had almost completely forgotten about the adamantium being able to stop them. It's too bad that the ship didn't pay off, though.