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Secret Invasion #7 Review
by Bruce Banner
Sadly, this scene does not appear in the issue. I would have liked to see Wolverine pose alongside a Spider-Man Skrull while pigeons fluttered about.
Secret Invasion is a boring reiteration of every Skrull storyline ever written, albeit on a larger scale now because Marvel is in need of more capital. Therefore, many tie-ins, from the halfway decent (Nova) to the abysmal and insulting (Secret Invasion: X-Men, Secret Invasion: Amazing Spider-Man, Mighty Avengers). I have not been following much of the event because as a rule I do not like to spend my accrued money on stories for which I already know the ending beforehand. I do not trust Bendis as an event writer and Secret Invasion #7, an issue read under coercion, proves my conclusion that Bendis should stick to "street level" comics to be correct.
First, let me note that Secret Invasion #7 consists of 23 story pages, 7 of them double spreads and/or splashes, and it costs $3.99. That comes out to 17 cents per page. If I had bought the issue instead of reading it from a DC++ download, I would express much more anger. Regardless, that kind of pricing, and the acceptance of the pricing on part of the readership, shows what Marvel will be able to do in the future months. If they see people willing to spend $4 for the same page count as $3 comics, what will stop them from line-wide increasing to $4? The possibilities of gouging a servile readership is endless, and I expect Marvel to take popular titles and make then $3.99 under the logic that any reader lost will be compensated by the extra dollar made for every remaining purchase. Even if Secret Invasion was not bad and overtly racist, it should be boycotted on principle.
The "story", such as it is, consists of one big fight in Central Park. Every major Marvel Universe crossover has ended in a big fight scene in New York City, from Civil War to World War Hulk to this. But the other two I mentioned had more rationale for ending that way than Secret Invasion. The Skrulls give up their covert machinations in order to invade New York City...and the entire invasion apparently rests on winning a fight in Central Park. For all the promotional interviews claiming the Skrulls have learned from their past mistakes when trying to conquer Earth, the Skrulls of Secret Invasion fall prey to those same mistakes as shown by this issue, in which they throw away all vestiges of infiltration in favor of a frontal assault. I believe this is because Bendis does not know how to end an "event" besides with a chaotic fight scene. Nothing happens except for Skrull Yellowjacket is shot in the eye, Ronin shoots Skrull Spider-Woman in the face with an arrow and Skrull Yellowjacket, seeing all may be lost, causes the Wasp to start leaking out Kirby dots. Or something. Neither the writing nor the art are very clear on the matter.
Bendis writes a more sympathetic murderous Skrull version of Henry Pym than he does Henry Pym.
While nothing much occurs in terms of advancing Secret Invasion, Bendis makes sure to include several character moments. Unfortunately, they do not fit the situation and end up detracting from the utter seriousness and the high stakes of the battle. He adds a level of levity with Spider-Man's quips, but they feel out of place. And there is a Watcher gag that made me groan out loud when I saw it. Spider-Man tells Iron Fist the battle must not be that serious or else the Watcher would have shown up. On the next page, the Watcher shows up. Bendis' dialogue is simply terrible in Secret Invasion #7, from Luke Cage/Jessica Jones interplay ("Well, if this ain't the last place I expected to see you." "I am an enigma wrapped in a riddle.") to his lack of understanding of Marvel Boy, he nails maybe 2 or 3 characters' voices. Which does not include Thor; he is once again speaking like he did in the 60s. If Marvel managed to line up Thor's costume with Straczynski's series, they could have suggested to Bendis that his Thor ought to not use thee and thou all the time.
Marvel should stop letting Bendis write characters created by Grant Morrison.
Clearly Bendis wrote the issue to contain fanboy moments which are supposed to resonant with the reader base. An example of this would be Ronin using a bow and arrow. This would resonate more if Bendis had not already had Ronin do that earlier in the series. He also inexplicably manages to kill Super-Skrulls with regular arrows. This raises the question of why does he continue to use the Ronin identity when in one fanboy moment he manages to kill more Skrulls than he has as Ronin the entire miniseries. Much like in Civil War #7, several characters show up presumably to turn the tide of the battle but do not do anything after their introduction. Marvel Boy causes an explosion in his entrance, telling everyone "this fight is over!". He does not do anything past his introduction. Most bizarrely, when he says "this fight is over!", Captain America responds to everyone "you hear that?" and then Nick Fury goes "THAT'S OUR CUE, GUYS AND DOLLS!". Did the gathered Marvel heroes not fight until that moment? Were they really not going to try hard until someone yelled "this fight is over!". I do not particularly enjoy mocking Bendis' writing, but he makes it very easy.
Daisy Johnson looks exactly like Maria Hill.
I continued to detect a strain of racism in the event; essentially, the plot is about an invasion of religious fundamentalists who walk among us Americans and want the world because their scripture tells them it belongs to them. They also have no individual will of their own, gladly blowing themselves up for the greater good. Not only does the concept resemble the revamp of Battlestar Galactica, it carries strong similarities to the current War on Terror as well as past instances in which the United States fought against a faceless foe of a different race. This connects with the large amounts of the killing in the series, even by heroes who once stated "Avengers don't kill!" as their code of conduct. I am referring to Hawkeye specifically, a character who left his wife because she let her rapist die. Now he is killing vast swaths of Skrulls. I expect there to be nothing in the series or the aftermath about the inherent racism in killing off lots of villains who 'look different' while not murdering, say, white villains Norman Osborn or Kingpin. But perhaps this is too alarmist. Marvel in the past showed the heroes having no real qualms with killing Hand ninjas. They too are non-white, though. I doubt Joe Quesada would greenlight Nigger Kill Krew, yet he seems perfectly happy to greenlight Skrull Kill Krew, which is basically the same except the posse in this case lynches people for being green.
Eyes are the Skrulls' Achilles' Heel.
But the main fault of Secret Invasion #7 and the series itself is the idiocy of the Skrulls' plan. Their main assault is New York City, wherein about 90% of Marvel's heroes are situated. Why not send much of the invasion fleet to New York as a distraction while invading the areas of the country and world with few heroes? The Skrulls could take over the entire Midwest in a matter of hours (whether they would want the Midwest is beside the point). There is no reason for them to bet the success of their entire invasion on one battle in Central Park, unless you see 'because it will fulfill Marvel plot purposes' an adequate reason. The Skrulls blow their major advantage and settle for a large dust-up. It makes no sense and neutralizes the Skrulls as a threat. Marvel and Bendis spent months and months hyping up how dangerous they were, but in the end, the Super Skrulls can be taken out by regular arrows and no heroes die except for Vision temporarily and likely the Wasp in the finale. The threat dissipated once all the introductions to heroes (Nick Fury, Thor, Captain America) turned even a Skrull based on Galactus a pushover (considering Galactus destroyed the Skrull homeworlds, wearing his visage is like dressing up the IDF in Nazi uniforms and leaving a Hitler clone in charge of Mossad).
Artist Leinil Yu's pencils look nice, and are greatly improved by the coloring team, but if one tries to understand what is actually going on during the fight scenes, no doubt the opinion of his skills will take a hit. I spent several minutes trying to decipher what was happening on the opening double splash. I gave up. The large spreads that seem to have no writer input do lead to some amusing situations. The opening shows several people shouting at each other to reach the Spider-Woman Skrull. But several of the characters, including the one who plans on getting to her, are jumping away from Spider-Woman, who, along with Yellowjacket, is just standing there in the battle. Although the incoherence of his art and the inconsistencies of the placements of various heroes over various pages befits Bendis' script, Yu makes it difficult to follow the story, what little of it there is. Like every other Bendis event which ends in a fight, it is just a clusterfuck of characters jumping at each other.
Ultimately, Marvel is racist against size changing heroes.
My predictions for next issue are that Wasp, who barely appeared in the miniseries proper at all, will explode and die and the Skrulls will be vanquished as a result or due to some more rampant killing from the heroes. The finale will set up a new status quo and Marvel will try to get you to buy more of their product at inflated prices. I will not care and go back to reading my Vertigo and Image comics. The Walking Dead provides more entertainment and pathos in one single issue than Secret Invasion in an entire 50+ issue event. And it costs one dollar less than Secret Invasion.