Secret Invasion #4: Skrullduggery

by Liana

Trite. Hackneyed. Stereotypical. That’s my overall review of Bendis and Yu’s Secret Invasion #4. Why? Because after a fun start, we’ve reached Bendis’ favorite destination, Cliché Point, where nothing happens. I hate to sound so unoriginal, but there you go. Let’s see if we can figure out why the events of this issue couldn’t happen over the course of four pages in the next and justify the handing over of $4.

The issue opens with the second best page of the book. The best is the last, but we’ll get to that later. We’re treated to a boring voiceover explaining that humans are greedy and stupid and they’ve already lost the war. This voiceover goes on for ten pages. And as you’re reading it, it comes across as just repeating the same thing over and over. Going through it a second time for examples, I can’t actually pinpoint anything specific. I guess that’s just one of those Bendisms that can’t be proven but are none-the-less true, like how ten minutes after you wash your car, a bird will crap on it.

But I said this was the second best page of the issue. That’s because the images we open with are of Reed Richard being tortured by the Skrulls by being stretched to capacity. It’s heartbreaking and awesome. Even Agent Brand, who has managed to float through space and onto a Skrull ship, is moved to tears, though it’s hard to tell whether those tears are for Reed or for all the monitor images of Earth under attack. Agent Brand, really? Okay. At least I also finally read Secret Invasion: Who Do You Trust? last night, so her presence isn’t totally out of nowhere anymore. But it’s still pretty random, no? Well, what I think I mean is that it seems pretty random to suddenly have the events of Astonishing X-Men more tied to current continuity than the other X-titles.

Oh, here’s a question: when Nick Fury puts together a team, is it always called the Howling Commandos? Just wondering. Also wondering why I’m supposed to care about this group of yahoos no one’s ever heard about before. Is it just because Fury found them? Because that isn’t working for me.

Is Tony Stark a Skrull or not? This seems to be the big question that isn’t going to be answered until the end. I can’t wait for three more issues of whining and wondering about that. I really like Jessiskrull’s attempts to convince him he is. It makes me want him to be one. But the Black Widow, who is being drawn to look like a man in some of these panels, doesn’t buy it for a second. She kills Ship Beast and Ship Jean Grey, who were Skrulls, incidentally. Dan was pretty disappointed about that, because he wanted Ship Beast to be Real Beast and thereby “undo stupid CatBeast and everything from Morrison’s stupid run.” Oh, Dan. Hey, something I liked! The codeword Wolverine has to use to prove he isn’t a Skrull is hysterical because it’s totally something you’d never expect him to say.

Black Widow says that Tony Stark is one of “five people on the planet who can stop this.” Who are the other four? Reed Richards, obviously. Nick Fury? That will only annoy me slightly, though I still don’t think it will make me care about his team. Agent Brand? I guess her history is mysterious enough that it could work, though that would still be kind of out of nowhere.

What about the Hood? Was I talking about random before? Because I had to do a wikipedia search on The Hood. I never heard of his 2002 Max series, I didn’t read Beyond! and I don’t read New Avengers or Daredevil. He's assembling his crime syndicate to fight the Skrulls, because the Skrulls winning is “bad for business.” If it’s the Hood, I’ll be really annoyed.

Maybe it’s these two guys? Which two guys? The two guys on the last page. You know who I mean. Mr. Krakaboom and Mr. Binoculars. I have to admit to getting pretty excited when I saw Thor coming down from the sky. Like, now we’re getting somewhere. And then to end on Cap, well, let’s just say that for the second I thought it was RealCap, I was super happy. Then I realized it could easily be BuckyCap and I let out a resigned sigh.

So Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Thor, Captain America and….Agent Brand? Is that who I’m going with? That just doesn’t seem quite right. OH! Especially since, as I said, I just read Who Do You Trust? and now know that Marvel Boy will randomly be a big player in all of this. And what about the Agents of Atlas? I think I need to spend more time at wikipedia today, because how are all these random people going to fit into things if, as Black Widow says, there are only five people who can stop this?

I love this storyline. It’s awesome. Seriously. But this issue, aside from the first and last pages, was really just an exercise in treading water. I have to give it a C+ and cross my fingers that next issue is action-packed Skrully goodness. Was it worth the $4? Meh.


Dan said...

Sounds like you're not the only one that didn't think much happened (or could happen) in this issue.

Bendis at CBR: These middle chapters are tricky things. You get what's been called "The Second Act Dilemma." On some levels it's very easy to write a great opener and a great closer, but it's hard to take the middle part and make it exciting. You see a lot of movies where they open great and taper off. You get in the middle here and there's a lot to be done to make it as intriguing and interesting as possible. I do get the extra bonus of, "Hey cool! It's Thor!" But it's great to get through this and have too many ideas.

Liana said...

Not for nothing, but why can't these middle issues be condensed, if there isn't so much to write? Who decided this HAD to be 8 issues? Maybe it could have kept a better pace at 6 issues?

The General said...

I like CatBeast.

That is all.

Chris Ware said...

Not for nothing, but why can't these middle issues be condensed, if there isn't so much to write? Who decided this HAD to be 8 issues? Maybe it could have kept a better pace at 6 issues?

I was thinking the exact same thing.

Jon Quixote said...

You know how Bendis could avoid the "Second Act Dilemma?" Stop writing his arcs like they're a Robert McKee Mad-Lib. Or at least write EACH ISSUE like a Robert McKee mad-lib.