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The Secret?s Out!

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Forget Civil War. Forget World War Hulk, too. The biggest crossover to come down the pike in the last several years has to be Secret Invasion. This story has been years in the making, ever since Brian Michael Bendis started writing the New Avengers. The Skrulls, a race of shape shifting aliens, have been infiltrating the Marvel Universe for a long time. Some of the world’s greatest heroes have been replaced by alien doppelgangers. And we have only begun to understand the extent of the invasion.

Every event of the last few years, from Secret War to New Avengers: Illuminati to the aforementioned crossovers, have been affected in some way by this. Now, we will finally have answers. Bendis and Leinil Francis Yu will be putting all the pieces together and providing fans with a blueprint to the invasion, and a score card as to which of our favorite characters has been an imposter all these years.

The idea that those we know are not who they seem to be has been a concept that has been returned to again and again, especially in the world of horror. Movies and books such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Slither, Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, The Fly, and many others have tapped into the fear that the people we trust the most are people we shouldn’t trust at all.

So, the concept behind Secret Invasion isn’t unique. As a matter of fact, it isn’t even new for a comic summer crossover event. It echoes plot points from DC’s 1988 event, Millenium. In that series, alien robots called the Manhunters replaced the friends and families of the DC superheroes with hired agents, robotic duplicates or mind-controlled dupes in order to stop a new generation of the Guardians of the Universe from being formed.

That crossover showed some of the pitfalls of this kind of story. DC wasn’t bold enough with the replacements. Only a few supporting characters were actually revealed to be robots, and those ones were recently introduced characters. There were no big names, and it really didn’t have a long-term effect on any of the titles.

This crossover, however, promises to be different. Long-time characters are rumored to be revealed to be Skrulls. And there promises to be some major characters in the mix.

Of course, this leads to a double-edged sword when it comes to fan reaction. A lot of readers are hoping that Marvel will reveal that certain heroes who have been acting out of character in the last several years (not mentioning any names, but a lot of people seem to be looking at you, Iron Man) have been Skrulls all along.

But, comics fans being what they are, some will probably be up in arms if their favorite characters are exposed as aliens. I can almost hear the cries of “The last X number of years have been a lie” now.

The only way to counteract this is to make the best story possible, especially when it concerns continuity. Marvel hasn’t always been good with respecting what has come before—take One More Day for example. But since this series builds on past events in such a concrete way, the continuity had better be tight. People will be scrutinizing the heroes who turn out to be Skrulls with a fine tooth comb. Marvel should cover all their bases and be able to answer any and all questions the fans might have about the character.

But as long as proper respect is given to continuity, the story should be in good shape. The plot is so logical that one wonders why it hasn’t been thought of before. An alien race who can assume any form they want will not invade you full on with battleships and guns drawn. They will infiltrate you and destroy you from the inside out. That aspect is genius.

I am genuinely excited about this series. I, like many other fans, can’t wait for the shocking revelations that are in store. If they play their cards right, this could be the series comics fans talk about for generations to come.   

Also out this week:

Trials of Shazam #12:

The trials are almost over, and Freddy Freeman is on the cusp of discovery on whether or not he will be the next Captain Marvel. There is one more deciding factor in the contest—the Justice League of America. What do they have to do with the decision, and will Freddy even survive the process?

While Mary Marvel has been a focal point of the Countdown series, this revamp of the Captain Marvel universe has gone on all but unnoticed. It is all but under the radar—nary any internet chatter or promotion from the guys at DC. For something that is supposed to revamp one of comics most legendary characters, that is a bad sign. My prediction? There will be another revamp in less than five years time. 

Judd Winick (W), Mauro Cascoli (A), DC Comics, $2.99.   Final Issue.

Archibald Saves Easter:

Since he did such a good job with Christmas, I guess it was only natural that he’d have to save Easter next.

Yes, Archibald is back, and Easter’s in jeopardy. The holiday—and Archibald’s friends—are apparently in danger from demons from Hell. Archibald must take a trip from the big city just to straighten things out.

You might think that this special commemorating the holiday revolving around Christ’s death on the cross might be a theological discussion of the Christian belief in the redemptive power of that act. But, considering the cover features a furry animal firing decorated Easter eggs out of its rectum, I don’t believe that’s the case.

Grant Bond & Dwight MacPherson (W), Grant Bond (A), Image Comics, $3.50. One-Shot.

Young X-Men #1:

The Messiah CompleX sounded the death knell for the New X-Men series, but fans of the series knew not to fret. Nothing stays dead in the X-universe for long. Now, like the phoenix (pun intended) the surviving members of the team are back in a brand new book with a fresh, barely used adjective to boot!

Rockslide, Blindfold and Dust were left in the lurch when the X-Men broke up. They were left with a lot to learn and no one to teach them. But, a new version of the Brotherhood causes Cyclops to gather up the youngsters and give them a new mission. What does Cyclops want them to do?  He wants them to hunt down the Brotherhood and kill them.

Marc Guggenheim (W), Yanick Paquette (A), Marvel Comics, $2.99. Ongoing Series.

Action Comics #863:

The one thing that remains constant in the DC Universe is that continuity, when it applies to Legion, will probably always be screwed up. I guess that’s a problem with setting a team in the future. Whenever continuity changes in the present, it will affect the Legion. There are currently at least two versions of the Legion in existence—the one in their own book and the guest starring here.

This Legion appears to be the ones Superboy met in the Silver Age, although that meeting was once retconned out, but I guess Infinite Crisis brought it back (God, I hope Final Crisis clears this all up). Anyway, an evil man in the future has sullied Superman’s good name and sent the Legion on the run. Now, the real Superman has to set the record straight before the Legion is destroyed forever.   

Geoff Johns (W), Gary Frank (A), DC Comics, $2.99.  Ongoing Series.

Omega: The Unknown #7:

Gary Panter is a legendary artist who has risen from the punk underground to having his art shown in galleries. He has created the cult character, Jimbo, drawn album covers for the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Frank Zappa, and has won Emmys for his work in designing the set for Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. His periodical art is usually found in indie comics or in the pages of Time and Entertainment Weekly. But this week, he makes his debut at Marvel Comics.

Panter provides the cover for this issue of Omega and, from the looks of it, some interior art work as well. It’s rare that such a “Master of American Comics” (as his inclusion in the gallery exhibit by the same name indicates he is) would be seen in a mainstream comic from the big two. Which makes this issue truly exceptional.

Jonathan Lethem & Karl Rusnak (W), Farel Dalrymple, Paul Hornschemier and Gary Panter (A), Marvel Comics, $2.99. Ten-Issue Miniseries.

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William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY with his wife Jennifer. He also writes periodic comic reviews for PopMatters, is a weekly contributor to Film Buff Online and writes title descriptions for Human Computing’s Comicbase collection management software. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.

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