Comic Fodder

Special Review: Secret Invasion 8

by Brian Bendis and Leinil Yu

The end is here! Yay! After all of the fuss about reuniting Cap with Thor and Iron Man, they stick… Wolverine on the cover where Iron Man should be?!? Bad signs already… We open with the Wasp infected and activated as the final booby trap, just in case the Skrulls started losing. The special effect does not look all that bad, just floating black dots. It’s halfway between Kirby dots and the bleed-off from Wonder Man’s ionic energy. Plus, it is allegedly killing everyone, including Skrulls, but the bio-weapon did not actually kill any known heroes or villains.

The narrative is supposed to be engaging, but it’s only an aide briefing the President. And for an aide to speak for so long without saying “Mr. President,” or “Sir,” is unheard of; Bendis has obviously never read transcripts of an actual presidential brief. A few pages in, the aide finally calls him “Sir,” just before they show us the White house. Using this technique from out of the blue to close out the series was a poor choice. It is unclear if the aide was actually Norman Osborn, or if there was an aide, then a few pages of no narrative, then a new conversation between the President and Norman Osborn. It’s just unclear.

Thor settles the situation, by killing the Wasp. Allegedly. For all we know, he simply spirited her away to another dimension, which is easily within his power. But let’s wait the mandatory three-to-six months for that. In the meantime, Thor has killed another giant-growing character. What is it with Marvel? First Clor, the clone Thor, kills Black Goliath in Civil War, and now the real Thor kills Giant Wasp. Is this Marvel’s version of DC’s rule, where a Flash must die with every Crisis? A big growing person has to be killed be Thor with every special event? Please.

Bendis has already been put on the internet in interviews, at the same time he claims he has unplugged himself from the internet. So evidently he can dish it out and be pleased with putting out whatever he wants into the ether, but he will not see if he can take anything. He has already brushed aside the death of the Wasp as easily as you would brush aside a bug (Hey, forget the bad puns, Bendis started it!), by claiming she never had her own series, so stop whining about her being your favorite character. That’s irrelevant. There was a plethora of choices to kill if you wanted to kill a character, and many would have been more dramatic. More to the point, many would have been less meaningful, which is what would have fitted this train wreck of a series.

The Wasp was one of the few, original female powers that had displayed true growth as a character in her own right, growing from a flirty debutante into the leader of the Avengers. She’s gone toe-to-toe with Hercules, and Thor treats her as an equal. Roger Stern showcased her in Avengers 273-277 (first series) when she re-assembled a team to fight back against the Masters of Evil. What has been done with her since then? Well, Chuck Austen had her sleep with Hawkeye for no apparent reason, and Bendis has made her go on-again off-again with Henry Pym faster than a lightspeed yo-yo, with willful compliance from every other writer and editor on Marvel’s staff. So basically, they have done nothing with someone who had been developed into an impressive person. One of the few strong female characters, and you ignored her for years, then killed her for shock effect, even though by now all your readers were expecting a lame death just so Marvel could call it an “event.” How cool is it to render a character meaningless, and then your excuse for killing her off is that she was a meaningless character?

Well, what about the art? It stinks. Bulls-eye had been sniping from afar, but as soon as Wasp disappears, he is standing side-by-side with all the other heroes and villains. Daredevil is part of the group shot, and just once the prankster in me would like to see him facing the wrong direction!

Then Iron Man shows up, only about eight or nine pages after he fled, his armor having been thrashed and compromised. He comes back in “old school” armor he had at the Tower. You remember, the tower that had been in lockdown for all of SI: Front Line? Tony just left all those civilians to their fate, but he got back into the Tower lickety-split, and oh-so-conveniently can bring out fresh armor, untainted by any virus.

The comes the big reveal. All of the Skrull captives are alive, and all come back safely. Elektra, Jessica Drew, Dum Dum, everyone. The “surprise” is that Bendis is bringing back Mockingbird, of all characters. Here’s the problem: if Mockingbird was a Skrull when she died, why would the deceased Mockingbird not revert back to its Skrull form? Why would dead-Skrull-Mockingbird warn the Avengers and help resurrect Hellcat? None of it makes any sense.

To really drive home how nothing ever changes, the Baxter building starts repairing itself at the press of a button by Reed, so there will be no consequences for the Fantastic Four as a result of this invasion. Except Ben might have lost some of his stuff. Way to keep it real.

All of the set-up for Norman Osborn to take over everything has already been set up in Thunderbolts and other titles, and with this final issue two weeks late, everyone already knew what would happen regarding Osborn. Which means this mini-series, this entire mega-crossover event, was just a set-up for Dark Reign, which is another re-run, with Bendis including a group of villains as his reverse-Illuminati, so we can have another round of never-ending comics showing people sitting around a table talking us to death.

I have detailed before how Bendis gave us Secret Invasion, which was basically DC’s Millenium, but with Skrulls instead of Manhunters, and now he gives us his version of DC’s Lex Luthor as president. We have seen all of this before, but they are hyping it as if it is the newest, freshest thing since sliced bread. I can only hope the execution of Dark Reign will be a thousand times better than Secret Invasion, because the series ended in bad shape, worse than when they started, and that was bad enough already. Oh, and did I mention it was two weeks late?
Tpull is Travis Pullen. He started reading comics at 5 years old, and he can't seem to stop.

The Wasps death just felt to me that it was a death for the sake of having a death but as you say she'll be back in a couple of months when Reed Richards can cure her of her illness and bring her back from wherever Thor sent her.

The big reveal with all of the Skrull replaced heroes being rescued really, really bugged me. Not that I'm totally blood thirsty but there was no reason for the Skrulls to keep the heroes alive. They say they needed fresh genetic material but that doesn't make sense with Captain Marvel does it? When you add that together with your point on Mockingbird it makes for very poor storytelling.

All and all I was very disappointed with the ending of Secret Invasion. The only thing I liked coming out of it was the kidnapping of Luke and Jessica's baby as it could lead to some interesting storytelling.

-- Posted by: Simon MacDonald at December 9, 2008 11:12 AM

I am suddenly kind of glad I gave up on Secret Invasion with issue 3 or 4 (I forget).

-- Posted by: Ryan at December 9, 2008 1:18 PM

TP, your review was once agin on target, scathing and insightful. In a way, I hope that Bendis put the Wasp out the misery that Marvel has heaped on this character, who evolved from an embarassing sterotype, to a legitmate hero. This series was a gigantic waste of time, and this is coming from someone who intially liked the concept. This series also showed ( at least to me)that Bendis has risen to the level of his incompetency, and this is coming from someone who enjoyed his run on Daredevil. I just feel tired and sad,that comic fans have been once again, ill served by main stream comics.

-- Posted by: earl jones at December 9, 2008 9:25 PM

What an awful ending to an increasingly dissappointing series.

I did get something out of this mess: I now know to avoid anything written by Bendis and have already proceeded to make my purchases match that....

We're are lucky that there any dozens (hundreds?) of better comic writers than he has been nor will ever be....

-- Posted by: TonyJazz at December 13, 2008 2:34 PM