Secret Invasion (Paul Cornell) – Book Review

Contains spoilers.

Comic books have been described by much smarter people than myself as modern mythology, with characters that will potentially live on forever in some form or another, and stories that are designed to inspire as much as to entertain. And much like the stories of mythology, there are some comic stories that are so beloved that they have been retold over and over, changed into film, television, animation, and prose. Secret Invasion has had this treatment a few times, and now it’s time for it to have its prose version.

Written by Paul Cornell, who is no stranger to Marvel Comics, having written series such as Wolverine and Captain Britain and MI:13, takes the universe-changing events of Secret Invasion, originally created by Brian Michael Bendis and Leinil Francis Yu, and transforms them into a new medium – and does so very well.

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Much like the original graphic novel, the prose version covers the events of the Skrull invasion of Earth, a series of events that were building up for a long while across multiple titles. The book begins not with a scene from the Secret Invasion graphic novel, but with an issue from Mighty Avengers, where the Illuminati meet to discuss the fact that the assassin Elektra was killed, and reverted into a Skrull. The group of super-geniuses that each control some aspect of the Marvel Universe come together after divisions from the fallout of the recent superhero civil war, realising that this is a threat that goes beyond their differences. However, when one of them turns out to be a Skrull it begins a spiral of distrust within the Marvel Universe where no one can trust anyone else.

Tony Stark, the hero Iron-Man and the current head of S.H.I.E.L.D., is trying his best to get to the bottom of things, seeing if there’s a way to identify the now undetectable Skrulls, and to find out if Elektra is a one off, or if this is part of a bigger conspiracy. However, his investigation is barely underway when a Skrull ship enters Earth space, coming in to land in the Savage Land. Stark gathers his team of Avengers and heads down there to investigate, and finds that the rogue group of ‘criminal’ Avengers from the other side of the Civil War have also arrived on the scene. Tensions build as neither team is ready to trust the other, but when the Skrull ship opens and lets out a host of heroes claiming to have been taken prisoner by the Skrulls and replaced, it becomes the opening salvo in a full scale war.

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The Skrull fleet arrives, and hundreds of immensely powerful Super Skrulls descend on Earth, taking down the military, and crippling the planets defences. Every hero team, all of the fugitive heroes from the Civil War, and even a lot of Earth’s villains, come together in a desperate defence of the planet.

For those who’ve read the original graphic novel there’s not a huge amount here that will surprise or feel like new material. Cornell doesn’t make any huge plot changes, and this isn’t a re-imagining of the story but a fairly faithful adaptation. Where it does feel different, however, is in that thanks to the format we’re able to spend more time with the characters and get inside their heads. Each chapter is told from a different character’s point of view, and we get to see how the invasion is affecting them, how they feel about the recent civil war, and their fears in the face of overwhelming odds. So if you’re looking to try something that gives the same experience of the comics, but goes into more depth and doesn’t quite feel like the constant action slog that the comic was, this is the version of the story that you’re going to want to check out.

Secret Invasion is out now from Titan Books.

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