Secret Invasion Review – “Captain Marvel #1-5”

This is the new series, not any of the other six Captain Marvel series Marvel has published. Later this weekend: reviews of the latest Smallville episode and the World War Hulk: Aftersmash – Warbound miniseries, wrapping up the World War Hulk coverage.

General Information

Title: Captain Marvel #1-5

Author: Brian Reed

Illustrator(s): Lee Weeks (pencils), Stefano Gaudiano, Robert Campanella, Jackson “Butch” Guice, Klaus Janson, and Jesse Delperdang (inks), Jason Keith and Matt Milla (colors)

Cover Date: Range from January to June 2008

Cover Price: $2.99 US or $3.05 Can

Detailed coverage of all applicable issues of all Secret Invasion related titles can be found at this address. It’s being continually updated with plots and issue lists. The goal is to include every issue with the “Secret Invasion” banner on the cover, every issue with a known Skrull, every issue later revealed to have a secret Skrull, and anything else that seems very relevant. (For example, I’m going back to the “Extremis” arc in Iron Man, for the sake of those who haven’t read the issues that explain Iron Man’s current powers and limitations, so they understand why certain things play out as they did in issue 1.)


Many many moons ago, a Kree soldier named Mar-Vell arrived on Earth. He participated in several significant events, including the Kree-Skrull war back in “Avengers #89-97.” He later learned that he contracted cancer in one of his battles, and the disease eventually killed him.

More recently, the New Avengers formed when fate drew several heroes together to prevent a massive breakout from the supervillain prison known as the Raft. Several of them escaped. Later investigations into the roster revealed that the Raft was being used to house several supervillains previously believed to be dead. Before they could investigate further, a Civil War broke out. In the middle of this war, Captain Marvel was flung from a point in the past into the new supervillain prison known as 42. He agreed to help with the efforts there, but soon learned of his terminal cancer. He finds it difficult to cope in this new world, and leaves to try and deal with it. This series deals with the results of these ruminations, which tie directly into Marvel’s Secret War event.

High Point

The final splash page of issue 5.

Low Point

The slow start. There’s too much time to anticipate the big reveal, due to repetition and foot dragging. The first three issues should have been restructured as two. Even greater is the continuity error, which cannot be discussed without revealing a rather massive spoiler (highlight to read): The Skrulls captured Mar-Vell during the Kree-Skrull War, and replaced him at that time. They reproduced his DNA, implanted his memories in a duplicate, and copied his body so exactly he even had the cancer that Mar-Vell had. The problem is this: the Kree Skrull war story takes place entirely between issues 21 and 22 of the original Captain Marvel title, but it’s my understanding that he didn’t fight Nitro and contract his cancer until issue 34. There was no cancer to duplicate during the Kree-Skrull War. Unless issue 34 was a flashback of some form, that portion of the story falls apart.

The Scores

There are original elements in the series. We’ve seen the “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” type of story before, but this one has an agent that does not behave in the typical manner. I give it 4 out of 6.

The artwork is surprisingly consistent considering the number of contributors. I can see the differences when I read all of the issues in a single sitting, but I didn’t really notice when I read them individually as the series came out. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story has the pacing issues mentioned above, and suffers from the blacked out continuity issue from the Low Point, but it works otherwise. It starts out a little too slowly, but it does kick in quite well at the end of the series. I give it 4 out of 6.

The characterization works pretty well. Mar-Vell himself seemed a bit off at first, but that’s adequately explained by the time it’s all wrapped up. The other characters are consistent throughout. I give it 4 out of 6.

The emotional response takes time to build, but it eventually delivers well. I give it 4 out of 6.

The flow is fairly smooth. Things generally move well, both in terms of the series itself and its synchronization with other titles involved in the event. (Check the above linked PDF for the reading order of the issues as best as I can determine. Be ready for spoilers, even in the table of contents.) I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, it’s not a terrible series, but I’d recommend sticking to the last two (or, perhaps, three) issues unless you’re a major Mar-Vell fan. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, Captain Marvel #1-5 receives 29 out of 42.