It’s not exactly a secret that one of the major influential factors in making this blog was the excuses it would provide me for buying comics that I could otherwise never justify buying for myself. So when I went into the comic shop the other day and found the complete series of the Secret Invasion: Runaways and Young Avengers serial for only four bucks, it didn’t take some convincing to shell out the cash. After all, I’ll deal with the ads to save a couple bucks.
The first thing that you notice when you pick up this arc of Secret Invasion is most certainly the artwork. The art for this storyline is done by Takeshi Miyazawa, and has a noticeably more cartoonish, even manga-like feel to it than many of the original Runaways arcs. For some people, this might be an attraction, but others like myself might be a bit turned off by the style, which feels noticeably simpler than other issues. Also, where previous arcs –including the Civil War team up arc– are noticeably dark and gritty, this arc is surprisingly bright and colorful. The combination of the colorful panels and the manga-ized character designs make much of the comic feel immature — despite being a comic that’s always been around kids, this arc was the first time I’ve always felt like the story itself was childish. There were also some issues with the character designs; Hulkling looks incredibly awkward in every single panel he’s in, and it gets incredibly frustrating. On the other hand, all of the enemy Skrulls look fantastic, even if I did mistake them for Namekians at times.
The Skrulls look more cartoony (and thus a little bit less frightening), but they look in no way less badass. The designs of their clothes, tattoos, facial expressions, and especially shapeshifts, give each individual invader a different, impressive personality. Though both the Runaways and Young Avengers look even more youthful than in other incarnations, the viciousness of the skrull invaders creates a contrast that makes the fight scenes – (which are well choreographed, if short)—even more intense.
The story for the Runaways and Young Avengers arc of Secret Invasion is done by Chris Yost, and is met with mixed results. The only main problem I felt lay in the story was that, once again, I felt like both the Runaways and Young Avengers grew backwards a few years before the invasion hit. The same teams that were fueled with rage and dealing with torture and violence during Civil War are suddenly fighting a battle more out of Saturday morning cartoons, and it’s really just harder to take seriously. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing: sometimes you want something less intense.
Once again, though, where the humans begin to fault, the Skrulls shine. And not just the badguys, here. Both young teams, Runaways and Young Avengers, have their own resident Skrulls: Xavin, the gender-bending Super Skrull of the Runaways and Hulkling, the half-Skrull, half-Kree prophesied prince. Though I can’t speak for Hulkling, Xavin is one of the less-focused on characters in the Runaways stories, so it’s kind of cool to have a story that has him stepping up to the plate in. He takes charge of the situation and gets to show off his Super Skrull training, though it is admittedly—like everything else—significantly more G-rated than the occurrences in Civil War.
I admit that it’s probably not best to start reviewing “Secret Invasion” storylines right in the middle of the story arc– or heck, before I’ve even touched on what happened in Civil War (which I promise to do as soon as I get the volume back in my hands). To be perfectly honest though, it’s just so much to keep track of. With every superhero and superhero team getting their own volume with each story arc, it’s hard to keep it all straight. And I promise, I want to get there, and I will soon, but when it comes to these story arcs I wanted to start with the heroes I love most and already know best (not that I don’t have an incredibly pathetic, encyclopedic knowledge of other Marvel characters—just ask the poor souls that had to see Wolverine with me) and that’s the Runaways. The Runaways will always have a special place in my heart, and even though this arc is significantly less serious than it could have been, maybe less serious than it should have been, and certainly less serious than it’s precedents, it’s still a fun romp with my favorite teenage superhero team. And well worth four bucks.
Final verdict: If you like the Runaways or Young Avengers, or are simply trying to complete your Secret Invasion collection, definitely check it out. But if you’re not a big fan, you might want to consider the possibility that you’ll be turned off by the manga-esque style and less than completely serious storyline.