SPOILER WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR "SECRET INVASION" #5, IN STORES NOW
The curtain has opened on the second half of Marvel Comics' hit event miniseries "Secret Invasion." With issue #5 in stores now, it's once again time for an in-depth analysis of the latest chapter with "Secret Invasion" writer Brian Michael Bendis. If you're joining us for the first time, welcome! You can get yourself up to speed with our commentaries on issues one, two, three and four. Don't worry, we'll wait for you.
In "Secret Invasion" #5, S.W.O.R.D.'s Agent Brand went on the offensive, the Marvel Universe's biggest brain got himself back in the game, and the Skrulls revealed they're on a mission of peace...?
CBR: Norman Osborn gives some straight talk to the Skrull infiltrator posing as Captain Marvel.
Brian Michael Bendis: For those of you who think you see the same scenes over and over again in a story, here's one you haven't seen before. And what Norman is saying is extremely honest. It's probably the most honest thing we've heard him say publicly in a couple of years. By talking about having the two voices, one pink and one green, he's getting to Captain Marvel.
Those who followed the 'Captain Marvel' miniseries or the 'Who Do You Trust?' one-shot know that the Skrull Captain Marvel has something almost like a schizophrenic personality disorder. It's like there's two personalities in him fighting for dominance. One minute he says, "Fuck it! I'm going to get the Skrulls!" and the next you see him trashing Thunderbolts Mountain like he was programmed to.
Then there's Norman talking his way out of the confrontation, which would almost seem to be his other great super power. As a comic fan you never saw this version of the Thunderbolts coming and you've got to look at it like the Skrull Empire wouldn't have seen it coming either. Even though they did send an attack dog, it wasn't enough. You can't predict this kind of crazy coming at you.
In this double-page spread, the invading Skrulls unveil their message to the world by using their shapeshifting abilities to assume the forms of celebrities and important people from around the world.
This is where "Embrace Change" became the motto of the series. Not only is it what they're selling, but in a weird way it's kind of what we're selling. It's what's going to happen to the Marvel Universe over the next few months. It's about change and we're telling you, the audience, what we've been telling ourselves. It's time to embrace some change. You're going to see some things you haven't seen before, and some players, in a mode you haven't seen before. Embrace it; it's going to be a lot of fun.
This is also the first time the Skrulls have talked to the world and explained what they want and it's not "Mwa-Ha-Ha!" at all. They're basically saying, "Listen, like it or not what you do doesn't work. What we do does work." That's an argument and I'm a big fan of villains that when they say something you go, "Well you got a point. What we do doesn't work."
Here, S.W.O.R.D.'s Agent Brand shows off her combat training and how lethally capable she is.
I saw online that some people were disturbed by the level of violence and ruthlessness of the characters here and on some other pages. I'm not making a comment that this is cool. I'm just saying this is what needs to be done here. They're at war and anything less would seem disingenuous and fake. What we're looking at here is what these characters will do when their backs are to the wall. It goes back to my days as a crime writer. When you're a crime writer you take your characters throw them up against the wall and see what they'll do. And in this series all of the characters have their backs up against the wall, so what will they do?
And this sequence isn't out of character for Brand. This is hardcore stuff. She's doing what needs to be done. She's seen what's going on down on Earth and as she sees it, it's her or nobody else. And she may be right, if she doesn't do something that could be it.
Brand did what she did to rescue a captured Reed Richards. Once she releases him, Mr. Fantastic mistakes her for a Skrull, incapacitates her, and than gets right to work doing what he does best.
Some people thought the fact that Reed Richards was able to create a device which allowed people to see Skrulls was a Deus Ex Machina. It's not. If Reed Richards was not in the story up until this very moment and showed up with his gizmo that would have been a Deus Ex Machina. Reed has been part of this story since the first issue. His appearance in the story allows for the fact that he has the ability to stop them, which is why the Skrulls captured him and why he was being tortured by them. A lot of hints were made that he may have the key to how this is happening. So those of you who were saying this is a Deus Ex Machina, that's not the case. You may not like this beat and you may not find it satisfying, which is fine, but know your terms before you get all fancy.
Also he's right there looking at their computer. He looks it up and knows exactly what they need. That's what's going on. He's not whipping it out of his ass, it's all right there. It's well within defined characterization and where he's located that he would be able to find something and put it together.
In a scene that may be symbolic of something larger, Maria Hill escapes the Skrull infested S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier by blowing it up.
Listen, if every S.H.I.E.L.D. agent on the Helicarrier was a Skrull and she blows up the Helicarrier, that just may be the end of S.H.I.E.L.D. as we know it.
On this page readers are back in the Savage Land with both Avengers teams, the heroes from the Skrull ship, and Ka-Zar and Shanna the She-Devil.
I know some people seem to think the story is at a stand still if the characters remain in one location but that's not a philosophy I hold. For these two acts, these characters are in the Savage Land and there's a lot of elements going on, a lot of back and forth, a lot of mistrust. There's no easy way to get them out and the intention wasn't to rush them out of this set piece.
And really if the Skrulls' intentions were to lure them there and let them kill each other it shows you how close it came to happening. It's a good plan and it should at least come close to working. It shouldn't fall apart by issue #2. So that's why these characters stayed in the Savage Land.
Here we see the after effect of the Skrull detecting device Reed Richard devised in the earlier scene. The heroes who arrived in the Savage Land via the crashed space ship stand revealed as Skrull agents.
This where you find out that the Skrulls were fucking with everybody, and by everybody I mean the readers as well. This is tough. You don't want people reading a book to feel like they've been fucked with. That's not something everybody wants to purchase, but that always has been part of the story; either the Skrulls are fucking with you or they're not. So now I'm hoping, you the reader feel like the heroes and want to go along with them and see what they're going to do about the Skrulls.
I was very sensitive to that going in here. Because it was a little similar to what I was doing with "Avengers Disassembled." Some of the criticism I got from that storyline was that I put the reader at the table with the team in the mansion. I made you an Avenger and than I blew it up and took it away from you. You were being punished along with the Avengers and it's not necessarily a feeling that's appealing to people but at the same time it's visceral. Hopefully if you're feeling something, that's what you're feeling.
BENDIS'S FINAL THOUGHTS ON "SECRET INVASION" #5
I've been really thrilled at the level of debate generated by the series and the idea of the series. I also think that "Secret Invasion" and even "Final Crisis" have been able to do some genuine reflection on the world we live in without being preachy. If there's any connection between the two series it's that they're about non-preachy, real world stuff that people can relate to on some level. So keep up the debate! I adore it. It's been fantastic
BENDIS LOOKS AHEAD TO "SECRET INVASION" #6
"Secret Invasion" #6 is done and the art is the best in the series. To me, artistically, the art in the second half of the series has to be better than the first half. Like in your best action movies, as good as the first half is, the second part is always better. You don't always know if that's going to happen. That's not something I have control over but I'm happy to announce that's what is happening here.
Also I know I've been doing a cliff hanger, skip an issue, get back to that cliff hanger, and than skip an issue on a few things. And I know people are eager to see more of Captain America and Thor. I'm sorry we couldn't get them into this issue but I promise you plenty of Thor next issue.