Comic Review: Secret Invasion #1

By Brian Michael Bendis and Leinil Yu

I know I’m rather late to proceedings, but that has never stopped me before. This week, I have been posting my thoughts on recent books from the library written by Bendis, in roughly chronological order (apart from my review of the first New Avengers trade here, showing that I’ve been interested since the beginning), which supposedly lay down the groundwork for Secret Invasion, according to the Cup O’ Joe at the back of this first issue. I know I didn’t pick up on any clues in those books, but I can see that Bendis has been plotting this for a long time, so this isn’t just a quick idea for a crossover miniseries – it’s the end result of meticulous clue-dropping and the climax of the reason behind a lot of the books that he has been writing.

What he has also been doing is learning – he learnt his lesson from House of M (which was a slow approach to storytelling where nothing happens in the first issue) and applies it here. Stuff happens in this issue. The plot advances. The invasion begins. And shocks occur. This is the way to start a mini-series and an event story.

The story starts with some beautiful alien world artwork from Yu – he is a very snazzy artist, and I’m glad he’s getting the chance to shine on a big book – before returning to the present day, and Tony Stark telling Reed Richards and Hank Pym the biggest secret in the world: the Skrulls are living among us now, undetectable (in the presence of the naked Elektra Skrull – and we all know what sort of invasion they’re thinking about …). Then, Tony gets word that a Skrull ship has crash-landed in the Savage Land. He calls the Avengers; Jessica Drew is the only one there. She is told to gather the troops and head out. She calls Luke Cage and the other Avengers and lets them know what’s going on. So, they do the natural thing and steal a Quinjet. They fly down to the Savage Land and arrive at the ship at the same time as the ‘real’ Avengers. And that’s when things kick off, but not in the hero vs hero manner: A Skrull Dum-Dum Dugan blows up the orbiting headquarters of SWORD; a Skrull Jarvis downloads a virus into Tony Stark (he should really get a better firewall …), which is also going throughout all related Stark Enterprises, including SHIELD, and the Raft maximum security prison for supervillains; and a Skrull Sue Storm breaches the Negative Zone in the Baxter Building. With all the Skrulls intoning, ‘He loves you.’ as they act.

Didn’t I tell you stuff happens? This is a packed issue. Yu is up to the task of handling the visuals, sleek and muscular and rugged, and Bendis slots everything into place so you don’t know who to trust or what will happen next. And the double-page reveal of the contents of the Skrull ship is great – and the final page is a cracker. This is entertaining comics. The only caveat is that highlighted by Kevin Church’s amusing review of this issue: this is not an issue you can come to without knowledge of what has gone before. It’s great if you’ve been reading New Avengers and Mighty Avengers and The Illuminati but it would be almost impossible to derive as much entertainment if you haven’t. Nonetheless, I’m happy – enjoyable stories based on years of build up.

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