X-Men: Secret Invasion

Writer / Artist
X-Men: Secret Invasion
X-Men Secret Invasion review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Marvel - 978-0-7851-3343-8
  • Release date: 2009
  • UPC: 9780785133438
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: no
  • CATEGORIES: Superhero

There’s a clever start to the X-Men’s involvement in the Secret Invasion crossover. We first see the Skrulls landing troops in San Francisco, confident superhero presence is minimal, but their information isn’t up to date, and they’ve not accounted for the X-Men having recently relocated to a coastal island.

Of course, Mike Carey realises your basic ship full of Skrulls isn’t a match for the X-Men, even taking their shapeshifting abilities into account, but he supplies an intelligent threat. It’s established in the core series that there’s a faith basis to the invasion, and of the X-Men it’s Nightcrawler who’s the most spiritual. So, while the remainder of the X-Men face the more substantial physical threat of Super Skrulls, Kurt Wagner is wrestling with his own demons.

The art is distinctive for seeming painted, which may just be Dave McCaig colouring over Cary Nord’s pencils. Nord works with shading for definition rather than outlines, which is a different look for superhero comics, resembling animation cels, but it’s also a look you can tire of after a the novelty has expired, and the use of colour for backgrounds means a lack of depth. Ma Sepulveda provides slightly more than a chapter in the same style, but it looks no better.

There’s a smart connection between Nightcrawler’s temptations and a terrible solution to the Skrull invasion, and the final chapter is great, action and ethics combined, but Carey’s plots have to overcome the art, and never entirely manage.

In 2009 Marvel weren’t prepared to consider four chapters as adequate value for a graphic novel, so there’s also the bonus of a 1980s John Byrne Fantastic Four story. On the face of it, it’s a dust-up between some X-Men and Gladiator from the Shi’ar Imperial Guard, who’s already seen to the Fantastic Four, with Captain America and Spider-Man also involved. However, given the story’s now appearing in a Secret Invasion tie-in, the surprise may be a little more telegraphed than Byrne intended. Back in the day Byrne also made a point of defining Gladiator’s powers for the first time, and it’s still a fun superhero story illustrated in Byrne’s pleasing graphic style.

Overall, though, there are better Secret Invasion tie-ins than this.