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Secret Invasion #4 (of 8) – Review

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

I’m going to out right say it: The first nine pages of this issue pretty much suck. All we get is the usual boring diatribe we’ve been fed time and again in just about any science fiction story where conquering aliens lecture the human race. It’s also the same stuff Brian Bendis has been spewing in our face for the last year or so. Is it necessary to regurgitate all this crap back to the readers even if this is the first time Tony Stark’s hearing it? Couldn’t this have been done off page, saving us nine pages of useless narrative?

Other than the rhetorical nonsense, the first nine pages do give us a decent, if not, fleeting view of Nick Fury and his team of Commandos in action (along with Reed Richard getting the torture treatment). Personally, after all the build up leading towards Fury’s return, I was rather disappointed with how little we see of him and his team. The hit and run tactics they use are smart, especially when dealing with overwhelming odds, but come on, I wanted to see of Nick’s huge gun in action! Oh, and poor Ms. Marvel.

Poor Ms. Marvel.

From the battlefront in New York, the story shifts gears and plays with the drama brewing between Spider-Woman and Iron Man. Just when it seems like Black Widow’s ready to save the day, the story cops out with an unruly distraction. Sure, a few more Skrull agents are dispatched, but was this really necessary? It’s a frustrating scene, but I understand that it’s probably just too early to “off” the Skrull Queen. Meanwhile, Agent Brand’s plot feels wasted as she finds a way aboard a Skrull ship and catches up on events. The Jarvis incident taking place in the Bermuda Triangle is given a measly one page. Even more annoying is what’s been more or less revealed months ago (through the Bendis hype machine) is redundantly touched upon with Jarvis dropping a bomb on Maria Hill. Again, nothing surprising.

Despite my litany of complaints, the book is well-paced and entertaining as any summer blockbuster should be. Other than the events taking place in the Savage Land, here’s little dialogue spoken in this issue. That leaves most of the heavy lifting to be done by Leinul Yu, who once again proves that he’s one of the best artists at Marvel. What this issue lacks in iconic scenery and double page splashes (there’s only one in this issue) is more than made up for with excellent storytelling.

As one would expect, all the good stuff is saved for the last three pages. Readers will be treated as to what the villains’ stance is in this war, and two heavy hitters finally show up to play. This is a good build up, but then again so was the return of Nick Fury. Hopefully, Bendis doesn’t drop the ball (again) next issue. I almost hate to say it, but for me, this book is becoming a victim of its own hype. That said, I think people who’ve ignored the Marvel propaganda and marketing machine will be happily entertained. (Grade: C+)

-J. Montes

A Second Opinion

Secret Invasion has, so far, been more hit than miss, but let me just get this out there right off the bat. This is the Secret Invasion issue everyone has been waiting for. It is a perfect blend of explosive action, fitting characterization, and solid storytelling that really works to elevate the event as a whole. For this one issue that actually manages to live up to the massive amount of hype and buildup.

My hat’s off to Brian Michael Bendis for his use of narration in this issue. While I agree with Jason that there is a definite sci-fi cliche at work, I was honestly having too much fun with this issue to care.  Bendis’ writing of the Skrull Queen’s narrative is, quite honestly, haunting at times and it works extremely well in framing the story within the Skrull viewpoint. Bendis shines outside of his use of narration as well. The dialogue is spot on as he uses dark humor and character moments to great effect. This was easily his strongest Secret Invasion showing yet and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us next month. If I have one complaint it’s that there are still a few hanging plot threads, but I can’t let that weigh on my score much because I am fairly certain they will be covered in some future tie-in.

As for the art, the team has once again hit a new high mark as Leinil Yu’s pencils are the best it’s been thanks, in no small part, to some spectacular work by inker Mark Morales and colorist Laura Martin. Also, I must mention how well done the panel layout is as it manages to pack a whole lot into one standard sized issue. The chaotic action is well directed as well. High marks to everyone involved. This is one good looking book.

What else can I really say? I loved Secret Invasion #4.  Here’s to hoping the tie-ins do their job or else the wait for next month’s installment is going to seem endless. (Grade A)

- Kyle Posluszny

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