By Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Leinil Yu (pencils), Mark Morales (inks), Laura Martin (colors)

After months (even years) of anticipation, Secret Invasion is finally here. Now, I’ll readily admit I wasn’t a big fan of Brian Bendis’ last epics, House of M and Secret War. House of M felt like 90% set up and 10% payoff, and Secret War, well, it just didn’t seem to go anywhere at all. But with Secret Invasion, I’m beginning to see how Secret War is finally going to pay some dividends.

Brian Bendis wastes no time creating complete chaos with this first issue. I hate making comparisons, but it’s very reminiscent of the first 15 minutes of a summer blockbuster (ala Michael Bay). Potential confrontations are over before they even begin, and we get lots of damage on a planetary scale (not to mention explosions). The Skrulls make their move very quickly and everyone is pretty much caught off-guard. Even Tony Stark, the futurist, didn’t see this one coming – he’s held completely powerless to stop the onslaught. With the tone set at such a serious level, I found it even more hilarious when I came across slices of humorous dialogue. I literally laughed out loud when I read this stuff; the timing was just impeccable.

The production values are just as impressive. I think this is Leinil Yu’s best work since that Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk series he did a few years back. Bringing Mark Morales on board to ink his pencils was a touch of genius, too. Normally, I hate it when we get a book that’s digitally inked, but Yu’s one of the few artists that can pull it off. With Secret Invasion, however, his art is clearly takes a new shine with Morales’ inks. Laura Martin’s colors add to that shine, adding a lot of vibrancy to Yu’s art. In a way, this book looks like a brand new car you just bought off the lot. If only the cover by Gabriele Dell’Otto wasn’t so dreary.

It’s very hard to talk about this story without spoiling it, so I’ll just go into why the story works. The beginning gives us a good rationale as to what’s going on with the Skrulls. It’s moody, brooding, and all that dark stuff. From there, the story slowly builds up speed until it hits a sprinter’s pace around page 20. From here till around page 40 (the last page), it’s a non-stop ride of suspenseful moments that’ll leave your jaw on the floor. I just can’t believe we’ve gotta wait 30 more days for the next installment.

Secret Invasion is off to a dizzying start and like its pacing, it’ll leave you breathless. You did good this time, Bendis. You did good. (Grade: A)

– J. Montes