Posted by Don MacPherson on December 3rd, 2008
Secret Invasion #8
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Leinil Francis Yu
Inks: Mark Morales
Colors: Laura Martin
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99 US
Back in February 2007, I wrote the following about the final issue of another Marvel event book, Civil War: “We’re missing an ending, which is something that happened at the end of House of M as well.” After making my way through this oddly tidy and rushed final chapter of Secret Invasion, I was left with the feeling that this story lacked an ending as well. In fact, it really feels as though the larger narrative of the Marvel Universe just keeps going on and on and on. Ultimately, if Secret Invasion #8 does anything, it provides a long overdue ending to Civil War, but even that seems like more of a footnote than anything else. The main purpose of the entire series (and the long-running Hood subplot in New Avengers) seems to be to set up yet another new status quo for the Marvel Universe, and while it’s intriguing, it’s far from inspired. A lot of super-hero comics readers have complained as of late of event fatigue. After reading this comic book, it seems as though some creators might have reached that same point.
An army of Super-Skrulls continues to wage war with Earth’s superhuman heroes and criminals in New York, and for a time, it seems the invaders’ backup plan, involving sabotaging the Wasp’s powers, will put an end humanity’s last ditch effort to repel the alien invasion. The heroes overcome, of course, but that doesn’t bring the fight to an end. There’s an entire armada of warships in orbit to contend with, not to mention the question of what’s to be done with the Skrull Queen. In the aftermath, the heroes mourn a fallen friend and celebrate at being reunited with lost friends, while the people look for someone to blame for the chaos and someone to credit with victory.
Right off the bat, the book is hampered by unclear storytelling, both from Bendis’s script and Yu’s art. We’re told that the Wasp’s powers have been sabotaged, that she somehow presents a deadly threat, but we never learn how or even what’s going on. The art shows a lot of characters writhing and screaming in pain, but there’s no sense of what’s causing it (other than some Kirby dots). Any chance of resonance for the entire issue really relies on that opening scene, and instead, the creators leave their audience confused.
The artwork for the standard-edition cover is underwhelming, to say the least. It says nothing about the nature of the larger plot or development in this issue, and it features the new Captain America prominently even though he’s a minor player in the events of this final chapter. The variant cover is a bit more on the mark, but perhaps to too great an extent, at least for those who want to avoid potential spoilers.
Yu’s art is pretty sketchy throughout this issue, and that lack of definitely leads to some confusing moments. Of course, given the number of characters and the scope of the action, a looser, less defined look isn’t entirely unexpected. Even so, I was left with the impression that the art was a bit rushed, and the fact that this final issue shipped to retailers late reinforces that belief. We’ve definitely seen stronger work from Yu in the past (Superman: Birthright comes to mind immediately). I found the colors were a bit flat here, but given the tone of the plot, darker and muted tones really do fit the bill, one could argue.
Just as the art seems rushed, so does the pacing of the plot. The big battle is wrapped up rather conveniently, making for an anti-climactic feel, not something you want for a series climax. The resolution seems a little too easy, truth be told. Furthermore, a lot of space in this issue seems dedicated to tidying up the Marvel Universe. Three pages alone are dedicated to wrapping up loose ends from the Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four limited series, for example. Housekeeping rather than real drama seems to be the focus for much of the issue.
That being said, I do like the new direction for Marvel unveiled by the end of the issue. It doesn’t necessarily make a lot of sense, but it’s such a simple, Silver Age idea that logic isn’t such a big requisite. I think the effectiveness of the ending (and appreciation of the aforementioned continuity housekeeping) relies a little too much on one’s previous knowledge of the Marvel Universe, and I worry that the line as a whole will become so interconnected that enjoying select titles will be a bit of a challenge. 4/10
Note: Further spoilers are mentioned in the comments thread below.