“Secret Invasion: Front Line” was designed to fit in the “Marvels” box, showing the effects of the Skrull invasion on ordinary people, thrust alongside extraordinary situations. With a touch of “Cloverfield” about it, it has succeeded to some degree. Unfortunately, much like “Cloverfield”, it also expects just a little too much of the audience to get themselves invested in a cast of nobodies.
With the usually-dependable Brian Reed this series, Jenkins’ cast and plot arc are largely gone from this series, making the “Front Line” of the title slightly baffling, since it’s neither about the front line of the invasion, nor the fictional “front line” paper that was the focus in previous incarnations. Sally Floyd may not have been the most well-received character, but at least she was a recognizable character with a personality attached to her. Only Ben Urich serves to keep readers interested, and even he isn’t as prominent as many readers would like.
Reed also missteps slightly in the portrayal of Urich’s reaction to the invasion. Urich has been around for longer than most of Marvel’s readers at this point, so to see him claiming the Skrull invasion is the worst things have ever been is truly mind-boggling. Almost everyone reading this title will be able to think of three examples where things were far worse, and in many of those Urich would’ve been found doing a report on the events as they happened. It’s easy to see what Reed’s trying to do, but it doesn’t remotely feel like a believable reaction from anyone who lives in the Marvel Universe, let alone someone like Urich.
Castiello’s artwork is reasonable for most of the issue, though it’s made clear that he’s not playing to his strengths by an utterly brilliant spread depicting the actual battle from the pages of Secret Invasion, the only time the superheroes have really had a look in during this series. Castiello does well to depict the diverse cast uniquely, but compared to that one moment, the pages tend to lack a certain energy.
Unfortunately, after three issues, I’m left with almost no desire to see what the fate of these characters is. Whether or not they survive doesn’t really seem to make a difference. The concept was worth a shot as an experiment — “Cloverfield” in the Marvel Universe — but unlike its predecessor, it seems increasingly unlikely that it’s going to be an unexpected success.