It’s 2008 and you’re Brian Michael Bendis and a few years ago you witnessed Mark Millar change the Marvel Universe for ever with Civil War. A couple of years before Civil War you managed to terraform the Marvel landscape with House Of M, an event that would continue to have repercussions all the way through to 2016. You’re editor walks into you’re office, smacks his hand on your desk and says ‘Brain, I want you to rock the world again!’ You pause. After a few tense seconds of internal deliberation you look up and stare your editor square in the eye and give him a two word response. ‘Fuck yeah’.
Tough Act To Follow
Whether that’s exactly how it happened I’m not entirely sure and I wouldn’t like to speculate too much but I am pretty sure that scene, or something similar must have played out in early 2008. It was another great moment in the world of comics and it resulted in a great piece of writer from one of the industry’s strongest workhorses. After Mark Millar had examined the fears of the patriot act and post 9/11 security paranoia, there was a lot of expectation on another Marvel event to bring a new level of introspection to the table and Bendis was more than happy to deliver.
Aliens, 9/11 And Paranoia
With growing anti-Muslim sentiment spreading across America, Bendis choose to bring back an old villain, the shapeshifting Skrulls, and have them play out a fascinating opening gambit. The Skrulls would drop what appeared to be an escape pod containing both heroes and Skrulls who believed they were heroes into the middle of an already tense super hero schism. This made for a good point from which to examine the growing anti-Muslim views as these super refugees had both the greatest heroes and extra-terrestrial terrorists in their midst.
Who Do You Trust?
The resultant feeling of mistrust and witch-hunting that followed only served to better reflect the political reaction of the time. There was a running theme throughout the book that the Skrulls had a religious motive and where jealous of the favour God bestowed upon humans (which might have been a little too heavy handed) and that they had managed to infiltrate many military offices and even replaced our favourite pop-culture icons. This created a sense of oppression and paranoia in even the staunchest heroes as well as the reader. I remember thinking through almost every hero’s actions over the previous few years, trying to work out if they had behaved more like Skrulls then themselves. The event even ended with a bittersweet impact as Green Goblin managed to kill the Skrull Queen while on camera, instantly securing himself a job at the helm of a reorganised S.H.I.E.L.D. This demonstrated how the government in 2008 were profiting of the war and their ability to ‘win’.
Secret Invasion managed to stay at the top of the sales charts across its entire release, furthermore, it also managed to annihilate its closest competitors (often sell 50,000 more issues than the second spot). The event was billed as the next Civil War and so the hype train was insane, however, the writing of the book relied a little more on previous knowledge and so it struggled to stand alone. This became a serious problem with the book as many newcomers decided to give it a read and then found themselves completely lost in the material. The art by Leinil Yu was a little weak as well for a book of this stature which left critics a little sour. If you look at most reviews they will compare the book to Civil War or World War Hulk which I feel is unfair. The series gets a lot of 7/10 or 4/5 which is still respectable but I feel that, had the book been released a few years later it would have created a much bigger splash in the industry. Join me next time when I will be looking at Siege and how man decided to fight god.
…That’s this week’s Comic History 101!!! Check back on Saturday for a new BearSleuth Spoiler Free Comic Book Bundle!!!