SPOILER WARNING: The following contains Major Spoilers for "Secret Invasion" #4.
Issue #4 of Marvel Comics' hit summer event miniseries "Secret Invasion" is in stores now, so it's time for another installment of CBR's SPOILERS OUR WAR, our in-depth exploration of the series with "Secret Invasion" scribe Brian Michael Bendis. If you're just joining us, welcome! If you've only read the first two parts of "Secret Invasion" you can catch yourselves up by checking out our commentaries for issues one, two and three.
In "Secret Invasion" #4, some of the Marvel U's top female heroes take center stage in the multi-front battle against the Skrulls while three new major players step forward. CBR has enlisted the aid of Brian Michael Bendis to walk us through the action of the issue on page-by-page.
CBR: Here in the second half of a "tracking shot," we follow the action from high above the Earth to down on the ground.
Brian Michael Bendis: Originally, I wanted this to be one giant tracking shot that actually takes the whole issue, but once you get to New York, which is quite an achievement , you can't go back to the Savage Land. So we did this one tracking shot and every shot reveals something new and also shows you the scope. At the same time, you're also catching up on a lot of plot threads. So I thought it was unique. Outside of some Alan Moore "Swamp Thing," I can't think of when this has been done, at least at this level.
In this double-page spread, Nick Fury's new team of heroes show the attacking Super Skrulls and Ms. Marvel just what they can do.
Sometimes when new characters come from out of nowhere and do a little dance it can be a little jarring. "Who's this?" But we've already introduced these characters in "Mighty Avengers" and I was really proud of that. But now some people are going, "I wish I didn't know anything about them." I just can't win.
Covering Nick Fury's back is Stonewall, a hero readers didn't learn too much about when he was introduced in "Mighty Avengers."
You're going to find out some interesting things about him in "Mighty Avengers" #18, like who his father is. He's a big Marvel icon.
This page reveals the captions running throughout the first half of the issue have been conveying the thoughts and words of Queen Veranke, the leader of the Skrull invasion. Last issue and recent issues of "New Avengers" revealed the Queen had been impersonating Spider-Woman.
What I like here is you have not a narration of what's going on in the first half of the issue but a monologue, which clearly defines where the Queen is at and not in a villainous way. We don't know who is talking. It could be anybody but when we reveal it's Spider-Woman, we got something good.
We also have the Black Widow, who many thought was the weakest link of the Mighty Avengers, stepping up and showing how formidable she really is.
Her actions are very similar to Nick Fury's because she's been trained by Fury. And what I like about putting her here is that she's doing spy work. She's getting information, taking it in, and handling it correctly. Also I thought with the Widow being an espionage agent and an ex-double agent it made her point of view very interesting.
This page finds Special Agent Abigail Brand of S.W.O.R.D. making her way deeper into one of the Skrull ships in orbit above the Earth.
I think I may have written Brand's scenes in one sitting because I was just enjoying her a lot. I was thrilled that Joss [Whedon, who along with artist John Cassaday created Brand in "Astonishing X-Men"] let me have her for this. He was knee-deep in X-Men at the time, so I had to give him a call. He was like, "Yeah. That's great. Go ahead." I thought it would be cool to have her sort of make like John McClane in "Die Hard" and go crawling through the air vents.
Maria Hill is given a hint at how compromised S.H.I.E.L.D. has become due to Skrull infiltration.
Yeah S.H.I.E.L.D. is pretty fucked up. It's a big mess and if anything that's a hint that things aren't going to be the same in the Marvel Universe when this is all over with.
When readers last saw The Hood at the end of "New Avengers Annual" #2, his super villain crime syndicate had been smashed. Here we see the villain has begun to rebuild his organization and plans to pit it against the Skrull invaders.
There's no good or evil here, just humans. We're going to show that the Hood started to rebuild things in "New Avengers" #46. There will be a Hood-dedicated issue. Not only will we see his rebuilding efforts and see where he was with the Skrulls before this, we'll actually find out the identity of the Demon that controls The Hood.
"Secret Invasion" #4 ends with what looks to like two of the Marvel U's most important champions, Captain America and Thor, stepping forward to fight the Skrull invasion.
I think these four issues have been a pile on of, "Oh my god! How can you possibly get out of this?" Now we're getting inklings of hope; first with Nick Fury than he runs away. Then here we have a little bit of hammer and a little bit of shield, so now we've got hope. But these are just elements of hope. They don't have a total hold, but if one or two of these things can get something going, we may have something going on. Hope is what I wanted to leave people with. It's not the end of the Marvel Universe.
BENDIS' FINAL THOUGHTS ON "SECRET INVASION" #4
That opening tracking shot in particular was in my head for a year a half. So it was great to see it finally executed.
These middle chapters are tricky things. You get what's been called "The Second Act Dilemma." On some levels it's very easy to write a great opener and a great closer, but it's hard to take the middle part and make it exciting. You see a lot of movies where they open great and taper off. You get in the middle here and there's a lot to be done to make it as intriguing and interesting as possible. I do get the extra bonus of, "Hey cool! It's Thor!" But it's great to get through this and have too many ideas.
BENDIS LOOKS AHEAD TO "SECRET INVASION" #5
The Invisible Woman will be in issue #5 and you'll see more Nick Fury. Now Nick has his Secret Warriors as well as some Initiative and Young Avengers members. He's got himself a little Boy Scout troop. You'll also get the end of the Savage Land and a big reveal on who's a Skrull and who's not a Skrull.
We're also seeing pieces fall into place that could result in a reunited Avengers for the first time in maybe a decade. Thor, Iron Man and Captain America, the holy trinity of Avengers characters could come together and whoop some ass! Avengers Assembling? Maybe--I don't know. I'm just saying.