Review by Win Wiacek
Scripted as ever by Brian Michael Bendis, Secret Invasion Book Two naturally enough continues the Avengers’ involvement in Secret Invasion from Book One, picking up midway through, proceeding to the end and offering an epilogue. Rather than continuing with the main story Bendis nips and tucks around the edges, providing single chapters focussing on single characters.
It begins with a flashback. Tony Stark’s team of Avengers first learned of the Skrull infiltration when Spider-Woman put aside her difference to bring Stark the corpse of a Skrull impersonating ninja assassin Elektra. Now we now learn about the revelatory, cataclysmic clash which led to the human Elektra’s apparent demise and how her killer took over the criminal ninja cult The Hand. Koi Pham (sample art) continues to illustrate as a battalion of S.H.I.E.L.D. agent-shaped Skrulls hunt one of their own. In the wilds of rural America the quarry fights manically to escape since his psychological deep-conditioning – used to protect the infiltrators from telepathic discovery – overwhelms the totally entrenched invader, making him believe he is the Avenger he mimics.
Next up Stefano Caselli limns another sidebar as Nick Fury assembles his Secret Warriors. Hellfire, Phobos, Stonewall, Yo Yo, the Druid and Quake are put through torturous final training before being despatched to kidnap/save S.H.I.E.L.D.’s head honcho Maria Hill just as the Secret Invasion goes terrifyingly public.
Pham returns for ‘Back from the Dead?’, training attention on Thunderbolts HQ. In the prison where super-criminals can join a covert government penal battalion to mitigate or reduce their jail sentences we see Kree captive Noh-Varr. He reacts with shock at the news that fallen legend and universal saviour Captain Mar-Vell has returned from the dead, just in time to be ambushed by a flight of murderous Super-Skrulls. The displaced neophyte and ancestral enemy of the scurrilous shapeshifters is naturally suspicious and doesn’t know how to react.
Various artists provide the epilogue in the aftermath of Earth’s bitter, hard-won victory as one emotionally-shattered, memory-taunted Founding Avenger prepares for a heartbreaking event. Rather than disclose too much, let’s just say that if you like this sort of thing you’ll love these yarns and a detailed familiarity is not crucial to your understanding. However, for a complete experience, you will want to see the other 22 Secret Invasion volumes that accompany this one, although at a pinch you could get by with the Secret Invasion Omnibus containing the core story and all Avengers tie-ins. Or alternatively there’s The Mighty Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis: The Complete Collection, including all Bendis’ Mighty Avengers stories.
With another tranche of superb pastiche covers by Aleksi Briclot and Marko Djurdjevic, this rollercoaster ride not only wraps up one crossover event but leads directly into the next one; a Dark Reign which is a tale for another time and place.
This is the final Bendis outing on Mighty Avengers, and Dan Slott takes over, introducing a new team with Earth’s Mightiest.