Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Splash Page Exclusive: Secret Invasion #8

A few technical problems prevented this week's "Splash Page" column from appearing at Sequart.org, so Chad and I decided to run it as a MAJOR, EARTH-SHATTERING, CROSS-BLOGGING EVENT! We discuss the finale of Secret Invasion. Part I is below, and Chad has posted Part II on his blog, which I link to at the bottom of our chat here. Enjoy!

Chad Nevett: The event years in the making has finally ended and I kind of dug the ending to the Skrull invasion, which, when you think about it, was a pretty awful invasion. My god, they were taken down rather quickly, weren't they? For a race of shapeshifters who can blend in and take over completely in secret, they were very out in the open and obvious. Probably why they lost. Silly aliens, don't you know not to mess with Norman Osborn, director of H.A.M.M.E.R.? Tony Stark does... and didn't the end of this issue seem like a purposeful throwback to the end of Civil War? There's plenty there, but what I really want to know is what you thought of this issue, Tim, so please share.

Tim Callahan: I was woefully disappointed, actually. The big conclusion was to describe what happened between issues? "So, yeah, after the Wasp went all spazzy, the fight got really good, and then Norman Osborn blasted the Skrull Queen, and boy, that was a good time, wasn't it?" I don't understand that narrative decision at all. The whole series built up to be the last stand of humanity (and mutantdom) against the Skrull army (which has COMPLETELY infiltrated the world's mass-media -- even Oprah!), and the last stand happens between issues and is then talked about at the beginning of this issue?

It's a baffling decision to me. (And I know there was a big fight last issue, but it was just guys showing up and punching eachother -- there was nothing special about it.)

But I guess Bendis finds people talking about epic battles to be more interesting than the epic battles themselves. That fits his modus operandi, but it doesn't make it any less weak of a climax/resolution.

And I still don't understand the in-story explanation for how the Skrulls were so quickly dispatched, either. They had spent years and years infiltrating every level of world government and media and superhero teams and secret agencies, and then that was somehow all resolved by shooting the Spider-Woman/Skrull Queen and then blowing up a few ships?

CN: Honestly, the Skrull defeat bothers me, too, and has me thinking that we'll see random Skrull sleeper agents show up in the future. Although, I will point out that just because Skrulls on TV looked like famous people, it doesn't mean they replaced those people... they are shapeshifters and one of the people in that two-page sequence was Tony Stark who we all know wasn't replaced by a Skrull. But, yeah, they were defeated rather easily, especially those fancy Super-Skrulls that combined the powers of various Marvel characters.
And, you know what, part of me really wished that the ending would be the Kree showing up in response to the messages Noh-Varr sent out, and they take over with Noh-Varr finally making good on his promise to remake Earth in the image of his home. But, then I'd be bitching about how Noh-Varr comes from an alternate reality where the Kree are millenia beyond where they are now and why would he want anything to do with any of these primative peoples who think crudely and only know small words...

To be fair, there are still Skrulls out there. JarviSkrull still has little Danielle Cage and who knows how many more are in hiding, waiting for their moment to strike?
What do you think of the rise of Norman Osborn and the fall of Tony Stark?

Before I get to your last question, I want to talk a bit more about Skrulls, because, really, we haven't had enough of them lately. Yeah, I realize that the mass Skrull broadcast doesn't imply that those people were actually replaced by Skrulls, but it does imply that Skrulls have infiltrated the media ranks at least to some extent, I think. I mean they could have just transmitted the signal from their Skrull ship, but the whole "Embrace Change" campaign (which even flooded into our world!) had to have been the work of some Skrull agents working from within. My point is that all the Skrulls weren't in Central Park or on board the space ships. So what about the rest of them? It's like declaring "Mission Accomplished" years and years before the battles stopped.

And since the Kree didn't show up at the end, what was the point of all the Noh-Varr stuff, then? Why even bother to use him as part of the series, I wonder.

So, getting back to your question, I think the rise of Norman Osborn and the fall of Tony Stark happened way too fast. I don't think it sets up Dark Reign all that well. I mean, it does it efficiently, true, but the whole very sudden "Stark's out. Osborn's in" approach just seemed unearned. It needed to be explored a bit more. Once again, if it was shown and not told about, it would have been more effective I think.

I'm still just really baffled by the way this final issue felt like a synopsis of some longer story that was never told, yet the previous issue of this series felt like they were just treading water. Why not pace the series to actually show the story Bendis wanted to tell, instead of a whole lot of nothing and then, quickly, "yeah, all this other stuff happened really fast, so we're just going to recap it with narration"? I think it's a terrible narrative choice for an event book and a terrible choice for any kind of story at all.

And what about Mockingbird showing up alive? How is that earned either? She just randomly happens to be alive?

CONTINUED AT GraphiContent!


seth hurley said...

Two parts?

Next you'll say if I want to know how you REALLY feel about Secret Invasion, I should read The Splash Page review then maybe the one on CBR!

These tie-ins are bullshit!

Marc Caputo said...

I re-read all of SI as well as the Mighty/New Avengers issues this weekend and have to say I was very underwhelmed with the main mini - it tended to just lie there.

However, the tie-in Avengers issues were better, I thought. Despite that weird thing with NA 40-45, where you had to follow the artist, not the issue number, I enjoyed the perspective on the main mini. Sort of like how it is on LOST. But this was not one of Bendis' better efforts; I'll take "House of M" over this any day of the week.

James said...

Oh yeah, House of M was way better. I read it for the first time in trade about a year ago, so maybe it was a pain when it was coming out, but I never understood the dislike for that one.

I thought Secret Invasion was okay though. Actually, Marc, I think it was the tie-in Avengers issues that burned me out on the whole thing. I'd been following those 2 series very happily, and while the Secret Invasion issues weren't all bad - I love the Nick Fury ones, and I'd be hard-pressed to ever dislike a Jim Cheung comic - most of them I could've done without. There was a hell of a lot of "here's how THIS happened", to which I could only respond "So?". Also: Billy Tan and Khoi Pham? On your 2 biggest books? Hh.

So yeah, thoroughly burnt out by the end, but managed to enjoy #8 anyway. The anticlimax worked fine for me, but then I'm rarely a big battle scene guy.

James said...

Speaking of House of M/Secret Invasion/Jim Cheung. That tie-in: oh man. Hahaha, I was completely excited for some amazing reveals regarding things like why Jessica Drew was so keen to stay in the House of M reality, but it turned out: Bendis hadn't really thought about it, and the Skrulls spent the duration of that event going "¿wha happen?"

As much as Secret Invasion was planned in advance, it doesn't seem like he had the Skrull-swaps locked down til recently.

Chad Nevett said...

I've been thinking these past few days that I may do a series of posts looking at Bendis's Avengers stuff. Why? Because I can.

Anonymous said...

Colour me meh. The wasp death scene was framed so poorly. The skrull religion thing...was that ever expanded upon? Was it all just a reason to give them a catch phrase? I didnt enjoy secret invasion at all.

Unknown said...

Sounds like they left a lot of holes. Maybe next time they could fill those in with tie-in issues that aren't meaningless fluff! Like Civil War C-List Squad.

Anonymous said...

What's frustrating (as someone in the comics blogosphere has mentioned) is the inconsistency of Bendis' writing quality. Based on his past work, there was no reason this series should've been as poor as it was. It was obvious he was just phoning it in and focusing on Dark Reign, after all DR was the original pitch and SI was later created as its catalyst.

Still, with his recent quality, and the price increase on his avengers books, I'm definitely dropping New Avengers and not even giving Dark Avengers a second glance.

DeepSpaceTransmissions said...

"It's like declaring "Mission Accomplished" years and years before the battles stopped"

Kind of like when the TV said the Allies had won the war in Iraq when they toppled that statue of Sadaam? Even though they didn't know wherre he was, his army was still fighting and there were huge chunks of the country still loyal to him?

Not reading SI at all but could it be read as a more modern media-centric war analogy?

If not, whatever.