Tomorrow I’ll review the “Dark Reign” special, if all goes as planned. ‘Tis the season for hard to hit deadlines.

General Information

Title: Secret Invasion: Home Invasion

Author: Ivan Brandon

Illustrator(s): Nick Postic (art), Chris Sotomayor and J. Brown (colours)

Cover Price: Part of a subscription to Marvel Digital comics. $14.99 US for the trade paperback version due in January.

Preliminaries

Marvel was experimenting with a new online content delivery system with this series. Marvel digital comics subscribers can get the entire series here now, where it was scheduled to be released a page at a time each Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the Secret Invasion. The last page was posted on Friday, December 12. The other half of the experiment was only online; the story doesn’t begin on page one. Rather, it picks up after the events of the 18 chapter myspace series which can be viewed here. Viewers didn’t know it was related to any Marvel product of any kind until the 18th chapter went online. It’s an interesting idea, but it has one drawback. If I buy a paper copy of a comic, no change in technology will prevent me from reading that copy ten years from now. Online formats change, and online sites gain and lose popularity. Printing the TPB helps somewhat, but there’s no guaranteed way to have perpetual access to the myspace page, meaning you can buy the TPB and find yourself unable to reread the start of the story a few years down the road.

Premise

Kinsey Walden is a typical high school girl, with a highly atypical brother. In fact, he’s a Skrull, and is serving as an agent of a large scale invasion going on right now. Kinsey has to try and protect her friends while seeking her brother out to save him.

High Point

Nick Fury’s level of patience for a typical high school girl. He’s such a great character, I don’t understand why it’s been so hard to find a keep a writer that can keep his own series going. (Here’s hoping Hickman’s upcoming “Secret Warriors” breaks that trend.)

Low Point

Sasquatch was used here at the last minute, but he doesn’t seem to be used the way he was being set up for use in the past few years. I can’t help but wonder if he’d have had a very different role in the invasion had “Omega Flight” maintained enough sales to keep its original ongoing status.

The Scores

The content is original, given that it focusses on a new, non-super character, and has a unique role in the invasion that her brother fits into. Most of the originality is in the publication methods, but the story has new elements to it. Sadly, the execution isn’t quite what it needs to be to properly exploit these elements. I give it 5 out of 6.

The artwork is stiff, overly inked, and just plain ugly. Character appearances aren’t consistent, everyone’s got perfect posture throughout undermining the emotional tone of the story, and the inked lines are so thick that detail is often lost. There are even a couple of points where the dialogue is hard to follow due to the placement of the speech balloons. It’s good enough to convince me that the artist will produce quality material a few years from now if he continues to refine and improve his craft, but he’s not there today. I give it 3 out of 6.

The story is a bit weak. Much of it seems to be a result of awkward moments that were geared for the online delivery format. The writer had to try too hard to have cliffhangers each page to keep readers coming back regularly for the next portion of the story. There are numerous cameos that go on too long, and don’t do enough to move the story forward to justify their presence. Yes, the appearances by the Young Avengers, Nick Fury and his Commandos, Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau version) and Sasquatch eached moved things forward, but they often didn’t do so efficiently enough to warrant their extensive use in the story. I give it 4 out of 6.

The characterization of Wiccan, Hulkling, Fury, and Kinsey is generally well done. The others get a little single dimensional. I give it 4 out of 6.

The emotional response was weak. The online reading format Marvel has is one I find irritating. Pages turn too slowly, zoom levels aren’t as responsive as a keyboard-driven PDF reader as I use for the GIT Corp releases, and it’s hard enough to jump back in to the last page you read as new pages are added that I gave up on regular reading during issue 1 and just came back to read the whole series in one sitting once it was completed. These frustrations in the reading continually took me out of the story. I understand that Marvel wants to move from PDF to a proprietary format to reduce piracy, but they should continue developing their viewer to maintain the features that one can find in a regular PDF viewer. The single key jumps around pages and between zoom levels that I use in Adobe Acrobat Reader and KPDF are missing from the online viewer, and I doubt I’m going to read many of the comics until they come in. I’ll maintain my subscription for access to original content and some of the archival stuff I don’t have in printed collections, but I’m not using it nearly as often as I could be. The fact that I’ve now spent so much space talking about the reader instead of the content I’m reviewing should say a lot about how distracting the technological limitations are. When my TPB arrives I’ll read and return to this review to add the feedback from that perspective, but right now, the irritations of the reading process outweigh the enjoyment of the story itself. (Marvel has free sample issues available at their digital comics website if you want to check some out and form your own opinions of the viewer.) I give it 2 out of 6.

The flow is hindered by many of the same technological issues that the emotional reponse has. Even simple things, like having a link at the end of issue n that takes you directly to issue n+1 would help maintain the momentum of the online reader format. Right now, it’s a choppy read. Again, I’ll return to this review with new comments when I’ve got the paper version. I give it 3 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a worthwhile experiment in the content delivery model, but I wouldn’t bother subscribing unless you know there’s enough other content available to keep you going, and that you’re okay with the way the current reader works. (I say “current” because Marvel has upgraded the reader in the past, and there’s nothing that prevents them from doing so again.) I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, Secret Invasion: Home Invasion receives 25 out of 42.

Secret Invasion Review Checklists

Background reviews:

Infiltration reviews:

Main Event reviews (including date the last issue should be available):

Dark Reign reviews:

  • Agents of Atlas #1-2+
  • Avengers: The Iniative #20-22+
  • Black Panther #1-2+
  • Dark Avengers #1-3+
  • Dark Reign: Elektra #1-5
  • Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #1-
  • Dark Reign: New Nation: December 17
  • Deadpool #6-8+ (crosses over with Thunderbolts)
  • Incredible Hercules #127+
  • Invincible Iron Man #8-10+
  • Mighty Avengers #20-23+
  • Ms. Marvel #34-37+
  • New Avengers #48-51+
  • New Avengers: The Reunion #1-4
  • Punisher #1-3+
  • Secret Invasion: Dark Reign: December 10
  • Secret Invasion: Requiem #1: December 24
  • Secret Warriors #1-2+
  • Thunderbolts #126-130+ (crosses over with Deadpool)
  • Uncanny X-Men Annual #2: January 21
  • War Machine #1-4+
  • Wolverine Origins #33-34+