Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Longbox - Secret Invasion Edition

The Mighty Avengers #12
writer: Brian Michael Bendis
artist: Alex Maleev
Marvel Comics, released 4-23-08
I know this book came out over a month ago, and I've since read #13, but this particular issue was so good, I had to go back and write about it.
Here we have the Bendis and Maleev re-teaming again in the wake of their run on Daredevil to tell us what Nick Fury has been up to since the Secret War fallout. There are disguises. There are skrulls revealed. And there are just flat-out superb espionage twists all over the place. The deeper we get into Secret Invasion, the more the amped up the paranoia and mistrust has become, and stories that focus on characters such as Fury only grow that much more fascinating. Between his Avengers books and the Secret Invasion mini itself, Bendis is running on all cylinders right now.
What is most surprising upon rereading this issue is how much trust Fury has put into Spider-Woman. At this point, all signs are pointing to her being a skrull. I feel that Bendis is leading the readers astray with these clues, but if it turns out that Jessica Drew has been replaced, one really must wonder what this will do to Fury. He's prepared for anything, even her being a skrull, but at some point I'd think he would hit a wall from being so isolated from every thing and every one in any form of normalcy.
All that said, the real kicker is the double-page spread at the end of the issue. It's just Fury staring at a wall of polaroids of many Marvel characters, a few with circles on them. However, there are both red and blue circles. I take that to mean that one circle represents who he thinks is a skrull and the other for those who he has deemed not to be skrulls. After reading Secret Invasion #2, we know that the Spider-Man running around on Earth was, in fact, the real Spidey. Fury has a blue circle around this picture. Daredevil, Stature, and Lockjaw also have blue circles around their pictures, so they are probably all safe for Fury to associate with. With red circles are the Sentry, Dr. Strange, Wolverine and Hulkling. I'm pretty sure Hulkling isn't aligned with the skrulls, but we do know that he is half-skrull. But in the world of comic books, it's hard to say when this moment occurred for Fury in relation to other books, so his being a skrull may not have been common knowledge at that point. I've been convinced that Wolverine is a skrull ever since reading Secret Invasion #1. He is depicted by Yu in some panels in full shadow, just as Jarvis, Dum-Dum Dugan and Hank Pym are in that same issue. Dr. Strange was acting very un-Dr. Strange-like a few issues ago in New Avengers. And who knows what's going on with the Sentry, but it wouldn't be shocking to learn that he's a skrull as well. At any rate, that's my interpretation of this panel and my theory as to who is and who isn't a skrull.
By the way, I love Maleev's art throughout this issue. The man draws street-level superhero stories as well as can be hoped for. Plus, you have to love the visual gag of Fury in disguise, but using his Ultimate Universe persona to do so.
The Avengers books by Bendis should definitely be read by anyone reading Secret Invasion right now. They will fill out the story considerably, and with this sort of story, that's what you really want.
10 out of 10

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