Well, the news hit yesterday that Secret Invasion #8 is going to take a little longer than expected to reach our hot little hands, about two week’s worth of delay as they promise an arrival date of December 3rd.
No big deal, right? The book’s been remarkably on time thus far and a couple weeks shouldn’t hurt the story. Heck, look at the delays on Astonishing X-Men or Straczynski’s Thor! Two weeks is a cakewalk! It just might be a little difficult for retailers who were going to be given some extra, non-classified, post-SI solicitations to make their orders from. There’s the books like Invincible Iron Man and Mighty Avengers who are going to have to do a little shuffle of their own as they wait for the sweet release that is the end of Secret Invasion.
At this point, as the finish line looms ahead, Marvel readers need answers. How is this all going to end? What’s Dark Reign going to be all about? Why is the future so uncertain? Looking at what we know and narrowing our focus down to what’s expressly penned by Mr. Bendis himself, it’s hard to guess at what he’s getting at. Yes, there’s an invasion of alien invaders, yes the heroes are pushing themselves past their limits to defeat an immensely powered foe (yeah, that does sound a little like World War Hulk!), but what’s this all for? In Civil War and the aforementioned World War Hulk, the line was clear: either one thing happens or another. Either the Pro-Registration side wins or they don’t. Either the Hulk destroys everything or he’s defeated. Here, the line is less clear.
Or is it? Looking back at the history of the Bendis Blockbuster, there’s a few things we can learn about what’s ahead for us this December and beyond.
Before men were men and Skrulls were also men, Bendis started out on his multi-character event comics on Avengers: Disassembled. While certainly small compared to other epic works, it’s a good template to compare Secret Invasion and his other multi-part epic, House of M, to. In Avengers: Disassembled, the first issues starts off loud and proud, full of explosions and confusion as characters are tossed right into the middle of the conflict with little warning, rhyme or reason. BOOM! The lawn at the Avengers Mansion explodes! BAM! Ant-Man’s dead! KAPOW! Tony gets drunk at the UN meeting! One thing after another, Bendis starts off hard and strong. House of M starts a little differently, all the Michael Bay but on a more personal level. BAM! Wanda’s crazy! BOOM! The X-Men and Avengers have teamed up and they might kill her! KAPOW! Suddenly, everything burns out and Peter Parker has a kid and married Gwen Stacy and oh my God, what’s going on!?
Another earmark of the Bendis Blockbuster is dialogue. Lots and lots of dialogue. Hey, it’s not like I’m surprised Bendis writes a talky book or anything, it’s just that I find it a lot more noticeable in a book that’s heavy on the splash page. One moment there will be great landscapes, double page spreads of a cast of thousands and the next, a tightly paneled page of nearly nothing but word bubbles. Avengers: Disassembled had everyone talking in the midst of madness, House of M tried to explain a whole new world in less that eight issues and then had to explain how they destroyed it all while getting hordes of heroes into the thick of battle.
In both Avengers: Disassembled and House of M, the ‘plot key’ so to speak is Wanda Maximoff. She’s the reason behind the great end of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, she’s the alpha and the omega for House of M. The world turns on her axis, which certainly is misguided and very very crazy. Doctor Strange has to take her down personally to end the conflict, after which Magneto comes and quietly escorts her off stage. In House of M, she litterally brings her own end, crashing the world she created about her ears and tucking herself far away from any sort of justice for what’s she’s done. Don’t get me wrong, the woman’s been through a lot and sometimes just living with yourself after such acts of destruction is punishment enough, but you can’t say that there’s any sort of closure. In fact, there seems to nearly be more going on after the events than there was during. Our worlds are never the same again.
Which brings me to Secret Invasion. Big explosive beginning? Check. Secret Invasion #1 was the best start to an event book I’d read in a long time, where so many awesome things are happening at once that the next issue couldn’t come soon enough, even if it materialized in your hands after the last page of #1. Splash page to dialogue ratio weighing heavily on the dialogue side of things? Oh yes. Bendis and Yu even gave us a splash page of text as the Skrulls broadcasted their intentions world wide. So far, this is traditional all the way which suggests to me that all the hubbub over how this is going to end is unnecessary.
Because this isn’t going to end. The Skrulls may be defeated, sure, but don’t expect the sun to rise and the credits to roll. If things fall out the way they have in other Bendis Blockbusters, Secret Invasion could simply be called ‘Dark Reign: Prologue’ as it’s purpose can only fuel what is to come. There will be no closure for our Skrull invaders as they will most likely be shuffled off screen to serve their fate in space (possibly in War of Kings) as our heroes belly up to the bar for their next conflict. The Skrull Empress will lament her loss but live on with her followers or be re-exiled. The heroes will come out not unscathed, but on the cusp of a new crisis, a new decision with work to be done right from the start.
What we should focus on is less Secret Invasion #8 and instead direct our eyes to the future of Dark Reign #1.