This issue has not just been months in the making, but years, going all the way back to when Brian Michael Bendis launched "New Avengers." Not only does it have to end "Secret Invasion," it also has to set up the next overarching story, "Dark Reign." That's a lot of pressure on a single comic book and a lot of expectation to live up to. Does the finale of "Secret Invasion" manage to do all of that?
Here's what we know going in: the Skrulls have invaded and, last issue, let loose a last-ditch effort to defeat the heroes of Earth and, possibly, destroy the world itself rather than lose. The Wasp has been infected with some sort of growth formula by the Skrull that replaced Hank Pym that has her spewing energy and primed to kill everyone. How exactly is not clear, but things do not look good.
What follows is unexpected and not without losses for the heroes. This issue does change things across the board, affecting nearly every part of the Marvel universe. One change is a surprise, but Bendis uses that event to set up an even more shocking moment, demonstrating that "Dark Reign" will have much greater implications than expected.
Much of this issue is tying up the loose ends of "Secret Invasion" and setting up "Dark Reign," and, as a result, this issue does feel like a collection of scenes rather than a cohesive story at times. To Marvel and Brian Michael Bendis's credit, they could have tried to fit everything into the previous issue like they did in "Civil War," but decided to give the resolution more space to breath, which does allow for much more powerful moments between characters.
The greatest strength of this issue isn't the shocking moments or the actual plot, but Bendis's wonderful handling of the people who we have spent the better part of a year cheering on and hoping would pull through. This issue demonstrates that while "Secret Invasion" may have been motivated by external plot mechanisms, at the end of the day, it really comes down to the characters and how it affects them, what it means to them. Granted, a lot of the consequences will be dealt with in other books, but Bendis does his best to make sure there is some emotional closure here.
Leinil Francis Yu is a big reason why Bendis is able to pull off those great character scenes as he handles the emotion well, knowing when to make it big and dramatic, and when to give it an understated look. Each character's reaction to various events is unique to them and instead of a "one size fits all" expression, Yu makes each character unique. Even in big crowd scenes, everyone doesn't just blend in, which is saying a lot. Some of his panels are just perfect.
While it doesn't provide the best story ever told like everyone no doubt hopes it will, "Secret Invasion" #8 does conclude the story well and sets up the next stage in the Marvel universe in an appropriately surprising and compelling manner, choosing to focus more on character than big plot movements - which is how it should be when you think about it.