Written by: Tom Sanford V, CC2K Contributor
The invasion is more than half over, but the war is just beginning as this Marvel comic mass-event continues. With positives and negatives abound in its’ structure so far, the fifth issue hopes to add some consistency and further flesh out the story. CC2K’s Tom Sanford examines where the book stands and what its portrayal of the Marvel universe at war has to offer with three issues remaining.
Writer – Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller – Leinel Yu
Inker – Mark Morales
Colorist – Laura Martin with Emily Warren
Letterer – Chris Eliopoulos
Five issues into Secret Invasion, the “big reveals” from the beginning have so far remained the only ones, and reading the book can seem like a repeat of the same issue. This time around, less focus has been placed on Young Avengers and attempts to showcase other heroes and their situations. The war is now still beginning, opening with and briefly touching upon Thunderbolts Mountain, not nearly using Norman Osborn well enough or for long enough. To expect much of a specific character, however, is mostly useless as Bendis has so much ground to cover and feels the need to cram all of it in regardless of importance, so the only real character to be given any sort of development or interesting arch so far has been Reed Richards. This being the case, many like me are most likely disappointed in the portrayal of their specific and favorite characters, unless of course you’re a Mr. Fantastic fan.
Exhaustingly, the issue plays out almost identically to how the past two or three have, jumping from place to place and never connecting them for more than a quick conversation or something of the like. The ‘real’ heroes in the Savage Land end up in a situation where they’re STILL wondering if anyone who came off of the Skrull ship is not a Skrull. In the future when this event is complete and examined as a whole, it will be confusing and difficult to tell the difference between what was ever happening at the climax. Things, big things, took place in the beginning; they will undoubtedly take place in the finale, and sandwiched in the middle is a repeat scene that each set of heroes is stuck in.
While Secret Invasion has barely shaken the fact that it has so far been a mass advertisement for other Marvel books, a bit of clichéd political satire to go along with the character development has given a bit of backbone. It would be nice to read this and see those aspects of the story fleshed out and applied to specific characters at the very least, but a childish sci-fi epic still remains at the forefront of what the book truly is. It seems contrived to be enjoying clichéd satire, but anything is better than massive, epic fighting for no reason. Grasping onto even the most basic depth isn’t much of a problem.
The Civil War was a solid and enjoyable event because it portrayed a war that effected humanity as a whole, on a mutant, super-powered, and average Joe level. All the repercussions of that event, the problems it caused, and how it played out are mostly missing. Bringing Nick Fury back is not enough to fully replace the tense situation that took place between the heroes. In that event, even their ignorance at times as they forgot what they were brawling for was more obvious, building up to Cap’s surrender. Anything like that has been unfortunately absent so far here. Other than some running, screaming pedestrians, regular human beings have been few and far in between and are largely unimportant, making Earth little more than a backdrop for explosions and fights amongst a war of “infiltration” that is only really about heroes.
Speaking of Cap, the allusion to his appearance last issue has been overlooked in this one, for some reason. It’s doubtful that it was forgotten, but it most likely shouldn’t have been presented if it weren’t going to show up in the very next issue. That sums up Secret Invasion on a grand scale. It’s leading somewhere without a doubt, but it is giving hints to that somewhere and taking much too long to get there. While we as readers should be immersed in the event’s effects, we are still waiting for it to have any real effect, and that’s because it has largely been comprised of fights and empty character portrayals. Some characters are good enough to live and breathe around this problem, like the aforementioned Green Goblin, but most of them are cardboard cutouts with incredible powers.
Secret Invasion is not beyond the point of being good. Unless literally nothing happens in the next three issues, something will shake the foundation and force character development. The emptiness is on its’ last legs, though, and it will have to change within the next issue to be worthwhile. It seemed as if it were going to be as good if not better than Civil War when it began, with room for all sorts of excitement on various levels. So far it has not delivered on a high level, and it may deliver as a whole when finished, but it will be nothing more than a timeline passer when concluded.
2.5 out of 5.