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Keeping Secrets

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Let’s be realistic here, as much as Joe Quesada refuses to admit it the Avengers are Marvel’s JLA. And there’s nothing wrong with that!

All comic universes should have a central super team that everyone can rely on when times get tough. The JLA is most certainly that for DC. But it had been a long time since the Avengers were that for Marvel. So it wasn’t much of a shock when they choose Brian Michael Bendis to restructure the team and return them to their former glory.

However, when Bendis was put in charge of writing Avengers in 2004, who would have guessed he was being charged with changing the entire Marvel Universe? Things are starting to be revealed that show Marvel hasn’t just been throwing these events together like many of us have suspected. This was all planned. And it all started with the Avengers.

Be forewarned, there be spoilers ahead.

It’s rare that a comic comes out of wich, when you read it, you think, "Holy crap, so that’s what really happened!", forcing you to go back and read comics that came our nearly four years ago. But that’s exactly what Bendis and company have done. The events that have transpired lately in the 616 were great stories when they were taking place, with one leading into the next. But to find out that each major story event was just one domino tipping into another leading up to a giant climax? That’s just brilliant. Avengers: Disassembled, House of M, Secret Wars, Civil War, even the death of Captain America, it can all be traced back to one thing: Skrulls.

Everything up until this point has been carefully woven into a giant quilt of awesomeness.

Fans were still trying to catch their breath from the Civil War when Marvel socked them in the breadbasket again. The New Avengers were in a state of disarray when they decided to steal away to Japan in search of Ronin. But little did they know that not only would they find their comrade in the hands of Elektra, they would also find out that it was really a Skrull posing as Ms. Nachios that was behind it all. Almost immediately the New Avengers started to turn on each other, no longer trusting their comrades. Who else among them might be a Skrull?

Last year, readers were excited to hear they would learn about the hidden secrets of the Marvel Universe when New Avengers: Illuminati was announced. Bendis and Brian Reed showed fans how a small group of powerful Marvel characters have secretly been involved in some of the key Marvel events. But this title was cleverly disguised as a history lesson when it was in fact paving the way for the upcoming Secret Invasion. Bendis and Reed just wanted to remind fans of some of the stuff that’s gone down and how it’s led up to the craziness that is about to unfold. New Avengers Illuminati #5 just released last week is proof of that. Add to that the major events that have been taking place in New Avengers and you’re looking at the biggest Marvel event to take place since, well, ever.

So now we have a new and huge Marvel-sized event on our hands, one that has been in the making since Bendis took over the Avengers book in 2004. I was concerned Secret Invasion was going to use the ‘witch hunt’ story device we’ve seen used so many times before, but Bendis has made it clear that is not the case.

In an interview with IGN.com he stated: "…in the first issue or two you'll find out who were the Skrulls that infiltrated the Marvel Universe and what they've done." Atleast we’ll see who the key players are in this story pretty early on. Now let’s hope that the shipping schedule doesn’t get wonky like it did with Civil War.

I’ll be the first to admit that I condemned the use of giant event story lines as a tool to bring in sales. This is the second column where I talk about how I've changed my tune about Marvel’s recent event books. But it appears that Marvel has lured fans in for a big pay off. I’m constantly afraid this is going to turn into the ‘90s again, when comics were all about the hype and crazy storylines with big names that were so ridiculous and drawn out you had to purchase all the Marvel titles to find out what was going on and then when you did not only were you broke but the story wasn’t that good. Now you can buy just the core title and be content, or you can buy a couple other titles and get the full effect.

Will Marvel hit another one out of the park? We’ll just have to wait and see. You can’t please all the fans all the time, and Marvel fans are no exception. For every handful of fans that love the book there is a swarm of fans that will not rest until Bendis and the rest of Marvel are burned at the stake. But I’m confident I speak for many fans when I say, make mine marvel.

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