Brian Michael Bendis follows the same pattern he established in the previous collection, Secret Invasion 1, setting the content around the main Secret Invasion storyline without ever delving right in. That being the case, there seems to be no reason other than maximising profit for issuing two short collections rather than one longer book. The same applies to an alternative query as to why this couldn’t be incorporate the three issues that comprised the following volume, Power, particularly as we end on a cliffhanger.

Billy Tan draws almost everything here, and with the possible exception of Steve McNiven’s precision he’s the most traditional superhero artist to work on the series since it began. And unfortunately he’s nowhere near the artist that McNiven is. He’s competent, but no more. His layouts are standard, his men overly muscled, his women overly endowed, and his faces inscribed with extraneous lines. In the interests of fairness, as he draws much of the following two collections, it should be noted that he improves greatly.

We open with a follow-up on Spider-Man in the Savage Land, which is ho-hum, but segues into a far more compelling background section concerning the invading Skrulls. They’re also the focus of the following chapter, although it’s not obvious from the start as it begins with a meeting of the Illuminati, Earth’s most powerful and influential super-powered beings. The Skrull sections are surprisingly compelling, as Bendis pulls off the trick of Avengers comics barely featuring any Avengers, replacing them as narrative focus by green, shape-shifting aliens.

A surprisingly effective sequence relates how the Skrulls coped with the entire reality of Earth warping during the House of M material, definitely elevated by being drawn by Jim Cheung. The Skrulls’ plans appear not to have been jolted by reality twisting, and they come to an interesting conclusion about the expectations of the average human.

Bendis is also good as he drops in on another favourite, Parker Robbins, the Hood and how and his army of villains learn what’s going on.

Michael Gaydos is back to illustrate most of the final chapter as Bendis neatly bookends his Secret Invasion material with dramas involving Luke Cage and Jessica Jones. A split seemed on the agenda at the start of the previous volume, and this concluding chapter displays how that played out. Gaydos drew the pair for the acclaimed Alias series, and so it’s fitting he’s on hand for another great trauma in their shared lives.