Graphic Lit: Marvel's "Secret Invasion"
It might only be April, but the big summer blockbuster roll-outs are already getting started, at least as far as the comic book industry is concerned.
Wednesday will see the release of the first issue of “Secret Invasion,” Marvel Comics’ new eight-issue limited series that, as with the ginormous crossover events of years past (“Civil War,” “World War Hulk”), promises to shake things up in the Marvel Universe considerably.
“If you made a movie of this, it would cost $600 million to make. It’s hundred of heroes and villains,” said “Invasion” author Brian Michael Bendis. “The stakes are so much higher than you’ve seen in other places.”
As the title suggests, the plot this time revolves around an alien attack. The Skrulls, a nefarious race capable of changing their shape to look like anyone, have infiltrated Earth disguised as a variety of well-known and trusted heroes.
Not only do these Skrulls seem capable of mimicking various heroes’ abilities, they are apparently undetectable as well, even by super-powered means.
“The series itself is literally about not being able to trust those around you. You look across the dining room table and is that person really your husband?” Bendis said. “This is the original players in the Marvel Universe dealing with the fact that they can’t trust their powers or their senses.”
Just as previous crossover events like “Civil War” touched upon current political and social issues, so too can readers expect “Secret Invasion” to touch upon post-9/11 fears and anxieties.
“Obviously we live in a world where you get on an airplane and you can’t help but look around and make sure everyone looks all right — and you don’t even know what that means,” Bendis said. “That’s the world we live in, and that’s definitely something that’s easy to write about, to delve into that paranoia and suspicion.”
Good manners (and a promise to Marvel’s public relations staff) prevents me from revealing any of the big surprises unveiled in the first issue, but longtime Marvel fans can expect a solid amount of surprises, action and explosions, all lovingly rendered by “New Avengers” artist Leinil Yu.
Still, there’s a danger that the series could wind up being one big “shock” revelation after another, a danger that Bendis seems well aware of.
“The biggest mistake we could make would be that every time you picked up a comic book this summer it would be ‘Ha ha, he was a Skrull the whole time,’¤” he said. “That joke would be old by April 15.
“It comes down to telling as good and honest a story as you can tell. It wasn’t crafted to gouge the audience. It was crafted to excite people,” he said. “If it’s good, there won’t be any fatigue. If it sucks, that’s where the fatigue comes in.”
To a large extent, “Secret Invasion” is dependent upon a strong familiarity with the Marvel cast of characters. It’s hard to care about who may or may not be a Skrull if you haven’t already made a serious time investment with Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the rest of the crew.
And while Bendis and Lu obviously don’t want to alienate new readers, they don’t do much to acclimate them, either.
All that being said, based on its first issue “Secret Invasion” promises to be a fun, slam-bang adventure comic that the Marvel faithful will delight in.
And if they don’t, they can always blame it on the Skrulls.
Copyright The Patriot-News, 2008