Like New Avengers / Transformers, I haven’t heard a lot of good things about Secret Invasion. Heck, I wasn’t even impressed with the tie-ins that Nova and the Guardians of the Galaxy had with this event (though they kept mostly to themselves and were harmless enough – they also didn’t make me want to seek out the “main” series and see what it was all about)… and yet, there was something about this story that called to me. Perhaps it was seeing Iron Man, Captain America and Thor on the cover of the TPB (and knowing these characters hadn’t been working together since the Civil War story had occurred). Perhaps it was the cosmic nature of the story – alien shapeshifters are among us, and are ready to launch their final offensive and take over the Earth. And maybe it’s because I was looking for a fairly straightforward story, another big ticket “event” where there’s lots of action – but Secret Invasion worked very well for me.
Our Marvel heroes are divided, having come down on opposing sides of the Civil War which pitted those who were ready to register as superhumans with the government and those who opposed the measure. Conveniently (perhaps even orchestrated by the Skrulls themselves) this has left our worlds heroes fighting against each other when the world needs them most. Reports of an alien craft landing in the Savage Land (a Lost World hidden within Antarctica) leads both the underground Avengers (opposed to registration) and the Mighty Avengers who are registered on a quest to find out what its purpose might be. As the spaceship opens, they find it filled with superheroes – some thought dead, some obviously imposters – or worse, the originals meaning the imposters have been among them the whole time.
And while they’re otherwise occupied, the Skrulls launch their all out invasion against the poorly defended country. They take out the Baxter Building first, hoping to eliminate the threat of The Fantastic Four – as well as the SHIELD helicarrier, which after the Avengers represents the country – and perhaps the world’s – last line of defense. In the Savage Land the Avengers discover that the Skrull ship was mostly a diversion to keep them from the real action, but also a way in which to take out Iron Man’s formidable armor. A few heroes return from long captivity among the Skrulls, and the Avengers all assemble and head back to New York (always New York) where the main thrust of the Skrull invasion is happening. Here they’ll band together with anyone available to fight, including villains, the new Captain America and even the reborn Thor – as they discover the Skrull Queen has been among them since the very beginning, and that everything that’s been happening for years now (in terms of comic plotting) have been leading to this point.
Yes, there are some flaws in the story – plot lines are shown here briefly, but then picked up in the respective comic series of that character/group instead of finishing within the pages of this book. Some characters make brief appearances, only to move out of the action soon after. But this story on its own is all about the action – and if the character in question isn’t a part of the main action at that point, then they’re left behind. I never felt like I couldn’t understand what was going on though, the series has enough of a plot on its own to feel complete (some things just made me interested in going out and reading other Secret Invasion stories, just to see what happened to certain characters). There are some great moments of betrayal and shock within these pages though, some good character moments, and nothing that felt out of place. There were moments in Civil War where characters didn’t seem like themselves to me – that wasn’t the case here. If you’re looking for some classic Avengers action, then you’ve come to the right place.
What’s great about this story is, it also sets up nicely a new status quo at the end of the book, a darker tone where a villain gets the chance to redeem himself by having become a hero through the luck of being at the right place at the right time. While the heroes may have saved the planet, they really lost this war – and things are only going to get darker from here (as my next comic review will be of Dark Avengers vol 1: Assemble).