Secret Invasion #8

Dang it, Marvel.

You do this every time. Your big storylines are like Knicks seasons. You start off with a great new pick, an exciting new direction, and then you flounder your way to the end, missing the playoffs and leaving me draped on my couch, pining for another Larry Johnson's Four Point Play (or in this instance, let's say, another "Uncanny X-Men Annual" #10). And so here we are again. The end of another Event Book that started off with a juicy concept, had trouble sustaining itself over the course of almost a year, but has now left the Marvel Universe in a legitimately interesting position.

I have to say, of all the potential results of "Secret Invasion", this was the last one I saw coming. Skrulls living side by side with Humans? Sure, why not? Like "Alien Nation" but green. Skrulls becoming our butlers? Possibly. But what happens at the end of this issue? Totally did not see that coming.

I won't get into too many details, but it's certainly as big a Status Quo Game Changer as Civil War was, and a lot less preachy. This issue is, basically, a road map for the next few years, told in the structure of that last ten minutes of "Die Hard" -- you know, when John McClane is wrapped in emergency blankets and everything is resolved and, yes, there's even the Plot Development version of a big blond dude with an assault rifle popping up out of nowhere.

Plenty of interesting stuff happens, but there are a few dots I don't really see the line between. For instance, all of a sudden the lion's share of the blame for this whole debacle is put on Tony Stark. I can get the Marvel Universe being peeved at the guy for a host of other reasons but, I mean, Earth was invaded. By the time he found out, it was already pretty much underway. What more could he have done? And then they depowered his super suit. I don't really see how all of this is his fault. Be mad at him, sure. He's been a total jagwad. But putting all this on his shoulders? Seems like just an excuse to get Matt Fraction writing a drunk Tony Stark. (Not that I wouldn't read the heck out of Matt Fraction writing a drunk Tony Stark.)

It wouldn't be the first time Marvel took the quick and easy and often questionable route to get to a more interesting place, thematically. But they've also shown that it works, as "Amazing Spider-Man" has blossomed into one of the best books Marvel's published in years.

But on its surface, this issue just has too much to do in the space allotted, and so it's a bit hard to really be engaged in individual plights when everyone is getting shoved off the desk with the same burly forearm. You can't fault Leinil Yu and Mark Morales, as they finish off this issue with the same top shelf work that they've dedicated to the entire series so far. It's been a testament to how well this particular penciller's work looks with the inks of this particular inker. Try not to throw him back into the Digital Inking pit too soon, Marvel. He, especially, is so much

better off like this.

When all is said and done, though, I'm tempted to recall the stated judging criteria used by "Top Chef." Viewers often wonder why a particular contestant was ousted even though for the entire season thus far their food has been great and they must have a ton more potential than that dude who just squeaked by with the tuna tartar. Every judging, they say, comes down to the dish they just made. So, as much as I'd love to review the next three years of Marvel's books, I have to focus on the one I just read. So, sorry, the meal I just ate here was serviceable. Not terrible, not exceptional.

But I have to say, I'm pretty excited for breakfast tomorrow.

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