Marvel’s Secret Invasion has started this week and naturally everyone has a lot to say about it. Please be warned that these links contain spoilers.
Matt Singer is impressed by certain motifs:
The idea of an enemy hiding among us, and the dangerous effects of the fear of such an enemy, is obviously one that has a lot of cultural weight nowadays (The title of the series, Secret Invasion, seems an obvious nod to the famous invasion of a certain race of interstellar body snatchers). And from the very start, Leinil Yu’s art reinforces the idea of masks and hidden identities: Iron Man’s full-page introduction on page 3 is a series of images that show his armor’s faceplate lifting up to reveal his human face underneath. It’s a beautiful and subtle encapsulation of a lot of Secret Invasion’s motifs, one I hope is repeated with each issue.
The sense that you can’t trust anyone on the page, even beloved, decades-old characters, is heightened by the fact that Bendis’ comics, like most nowadays, do not employ thought balloons. Once a standard device used to allow readers inside a character’s head, thought balloons have almost completely vanished from American comics. Now when a character wants to bring us inside the protagonist’s head, he’s much more likely to use some much less invasive captions. Thought balloons may strike some as a simplistic device, but there’s also something quite intimate about them. And if you’re hearing a character’s thoughts, it’s difficult for them to shield duplicitous intentions. But the hidden villains of Secret Invasion don’t have to worry about such things anymore.
Chad Nevitt and Tim Callahan discuss, among other topics, the use of the comic story as an allegory:
I think there’s a connection, but how strong will be determined by the rest of the story. It’s not a big stretch to see the concept of sleeper agents destroying the government from the inside as relating to the threat of Islamic terrorism and sleeper cells. I have a feeling that, like Civil War, that connection will be there throughout, but become less and less evident as the story focuses more and more on the Marvel Universe. Right now, the actual plot and motivation of the Skrulls is thin enough that their actions provide the only meaning, but, once the story continues, we’ll get more explanations and justifications, and that’s where the story will depart from its reality-based allegory. If it stuck to that allegory, I think it would actually be a weaker story–placing the message and subtext above the primary plot is almost always a mistake. I do think that it adds to the overall tapestry of art reflecting the times, which is interesting, but only when also looking at other works of art that reflect the same concerns. But, I’ve always had a problem with primarily allegorical stories (just as I’ve always had problems with overly didactic stories) since there’s usually little to them beyond the allegory and that always raises the question, “Why not just write directly about the subject in question?” If Secret Invasion turns out to be very allegorical in comparing the Skrull invasion to the threat of Islamic terrorists, then I’d just wonder why Bendis didn’t write a story somewhere about Islamic terrorists. To maintain any real entertainment value and stand on its own, it has to stray from that jumping off point, I think.
Steve Chaput didn’t find it very new-reader-friendly:
Tony Isabella always reminds us that the old writers used to write as if the reader had never picked up a book before. The story may contain characters with which we were not familiar, but the writer would give us enough information so we didn’t feel completely lost. That is not how comics are written nowadays, unless of course it is the first issue and meant to introduce the cast. It’s the same with SI as it was with COUNTDOWN. If you aren’t already familiar with the comic universe you won’t have much explained and you really aren’t welcome.
SI begins on the day the Skrulls decide to publicly stage their invasion. While a Skull ship spotted landing in the Savage Land (where?), explosions take place at The Raft and The Cube, which are maximum-security installations. (for whom?) Apparently there are at least two groups who call themselves the Avengers, one of them hiding for some reason. Since the Avengers led by Tony Stark are not hiding out they must be the good guys, right? Of course, I always thought Spider-Man was a good guy, but I haven’t been reading Marvel for a while so maybe the movies mislead me.
So what did you think?