Secret Invasion Review – “Secret Invasion: Dark Reign”

The first chapter of “Dark Reign” is here, setting up the next chapter in Marvel Universe history. If you haven’t read Secret Invasion #8, expect major spoilers.

General Information

Title: Secret Invasion: Dark Reign

Author: Brian Michael Bendis

Illustrator(s): Alex Maleev (art) and Dean White (colour)

Cover Date: February 2009

Cover Price: $3.99 US


In the wake of Secret Invasion #8, Norman Osborn has called a meeting with the Hood, Emma Frost, Loki, Namor and Dr. Doom.

The issue concludes, as Civil War: The Initiative did, with previews of upcoming titles, including Secret Warriors, Agents of Atlas, and War Machine.

High Point

Emma Frost introduces herself to the Hood.

Low Point

The individual who would appear to be at home in a small, dark British pub who is pretending to be Namor.

The Scores

This is an original concept, with the villains quietly running the show in the background. The exact proposal is made, and we get a feel for where everything is headed, at least in the broad strokes. There’s still a lot that’s unknown. I give it 6 out of 6.

The artwork on most characters is great. I like the way Maleev handles, the Hood, Emma Frost, Osborn, and Dr. Doom quite a bit. As mentioned, I have no idea who the individual referred to as Namor is supposed to be, but if I hadn’t read the speech balloons, I wouldn’t have been sure who exactly this was supposed to be. It’s definitely a clear mental picture or photo reference on his part, since the character is consistently on model, but it’s not Namor. Loki doesn’t seem to stay on model very well, either. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story is all setup. It’s good setup, but that’s all it is. The round table is much like the Illuminati, and there’s nice contrast there, but this is really talky, even for Bendis. I’m definitely interested by what this implies, but it was a stiff one to reread to write this review. I give it 4 out of 6.

The characterization was great. If you don’t already know who these characters are, you’ll get to know them quickly and efficiently. You may not understand Emma’s nightmares if you haven’t read Whedon’s run on Astonishing X-Men, but you’ll still likely understand the emotional impact of the remembered trauma. I give it 6 out of 6.

The emotional response works very well right now, seeing these characters come together for the first time. The response is all in the anticipation of what this sets up, though. I give it 4 out of 6.

The flow is smooth, but when all but the first and last pages are part of a single, continuous conversation at a table, it’s hard to mess that up. I give it 6 out of 6.

Overall, it’s worth reading if you plan to follow the Marvel Universe for the next little while, but I don’t expect it to have the same impact if you reread it next year after seeing everything that comes after it. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, Secret Invasion: Dark Reign receives 34 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 -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
  • 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 -34+