Comics : Secret Invasion: The Amazing Spider-Man #2

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This story is part of an Arc: "Brand New Secret Invasion"
     Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

This review was first published on: 2009.

Background...

The Skrulls have invaded New York! Unfortunately most of our finest super- heroes (including Spidey!) are away in the Savage Land fighting the Secret Invasion on a different front, which means that the defence of New York is left to the likes of Jackpot. Not that she isn't holding her own in fighter against a super-skrull in the offices of the DB!. While Harry Osborn and Lily Hollister are trapped between two skrulls bent on their destruction, and Vin rushes to the rescue, Jackpot has to work out she is going to save Dexter Bennett, Betty Brant, Robbie Robertson and herself.

In Detail...

Secret Invasion: The Amazing Spider-Man #2
Nov 2008 : SM Title
Summary: Spider-Man appears
Arc: Part 2 of "Brand New Secret Invasion"
Editor:  Stephen Wacker
Writer:  Brian Reed
Pencils:  Marc Santucci
Inker:  Mark Pennington
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Articles: Green Goblin II (Harry Osborn), Menace

As most of the staff of the DB! flee the building, Vin Gonzales is rushing the other way. He comes across the fight between Jackpot and the super- skrull and quickly fires three shots into the alien's skull. Of course, a standard NYPD side-arm isn't going to take down this monster, but it gives Jackpot time throw the thing aside and she quickly leads Vin, Bennett, Betty and Robbie away from their attacker.

Meanwhile, Harry and Lily duck a blow from one of the skrulls attacking them. The fist hits the alley wall instead, caving it in and revealing car showroom. Harry and Lily head through the hole and hop into the nearest car: a tasteful convertible - Harry wouldn't want to flee from alien invaders in any old thing would he? He decides to head the police station and see if Vin or Carlie know what's happening.

Meanwhile, our other protagonists are also running for a car. Vin wants to drive but Robbie reveals a hitherto unknown life as a street-racing tough, and so the policeman bows to his expertise. As Jackpot does her best to hold off the skrull the foursome leap into the car and speed away. The alien gives chase but Jackpot (now atop the car) manages to beat it back. Jackpot suggests they need some heavy-duty help and they hurry to the Baxter Building.

Unfortunately, the Baxter Building is in ruins and it seems the Fantastic Four have their own problems. Bennett tells Betty that he wants all this documented for tomorrow's paper, but the reporter is one step ahead of him. Suddenly the super skrull catches up and the chase is on again.

Meanwhile Harry is trying to stay one step ahead of the skrulls while trying to get through the police. Didn't anyone ever tell him not to use his mobile phone when driving? An errant energy blast causes him to crash the car into a lamp post. Harry and Lily bail out and run for their lives from a rather vicious looking super skrull who seems to sport the powers of Illuminati (that's Doctor Strange, Black Bolt, Iron Man, Namor and Professor X).

Another explosion separates the pair. Harry dives through a broken window and crouches in the shadows. Outside the Illuminati-Skrull is going on a rampage. Harry knows that he will be found if he stays put, but where can he go? The skrull uses Black Bolt's vocal powers to devastate the street. Suddenly another player enters the fray and beheads the skrull. Looks as though Menace doesn't like Skrulls any more than mayoral candidates.

Abandoning the idea of getting help from the FF, Jackpot and her companions head to Stark Tower. Unfortunately, there's no sign of the Avengers either. The Sinister Six-Skrull has caught up with them again and throws Jackpot into a near-by building. By the time she has recovered, the car has sped off: Robbie and the others are being pursued by the skrull, and are beyond her help. As it is, Jackpot has slightly more pressing matters as she scooped up by a steaming mad Menace. He'll take the opportunity to kill "Spider-Man's girlfriend" while he can! Girlfriend? Jackpot is disgusted by the idea!

Meanwhile, the Sinister Six-skrull lands on the car and peels back the roof. He says that the vehicles reeks of Spider-Man, and deduces that one of the people in the car must be Spider-Man in disguise! The alien demands that Spider-Man reveal himself, or all will die!

In General...

This issue is one extended chase scene. Reed keeps the action, the dialogue and the humour pitched just right to retain the reader's interest. There is a definite sense of momentum and desperation throughout the issue. Santucci's art, although not jaw-dropping, is solid and visually appealing. He knows how to tell this sort of story. However, even with these advantages, the story feels a little thin. After all, at the end of the issue our heroes are in pretty much the same predicament they were in when it started. That's not usually a good sign.

Reed attempts to inject a rogue element in the form of Menace. The way the scene is written, there is a definite implication that Harry Osborn is Menace. Of course this could well be a red herring. There's every reason to doubt that clues left in a Secret Invasion tie-in series will be essential to working out Menace's true identity. However, it does illustrate how deeply and how well Reed has anchored his tale in current Spider-Man continuity.

There was a time when one-shots or mini-series (regardless of whether they were attached to a major crossover or not) didn't bother to retain any coherence with the parent title. Whatever else you say about Brand New Day, messrs Wacker and Brennan are working tremendously hard to keep all the plates spinning. Their efforts to keep the sub-plots alive despite so many different writers has not gone unnoticed. I for one am very grateful to them. This is the sort of care and consistency that you don't often see in a mini-series, but it really helps to ground the book. This story could just as easily have been three issues of Amazing Spider-Man and I wouldn't have noticed the difference.

However, the main problem with this issue is nothing to do with the inter- title continuity. The problem is that our heroes don't actually do anything. This is a Jackpot mini-series. It's her title so she should be the one instigating events; but she doesn't. Rather than doing, Jackpot spends the entire issue reacting. She doesn't drive the narrative, and that's a bit of a faux pas for any writer. While this approach may work as the middle act of a three part story, taken as an issue in its own right, this is a bit weak.

Overall Rating...

A solid and unambitious story that benefits from strong editorial guidance, but doesn't give Jackpot enough to do. Not awful by any stretch, but could be better. Three webs.