It's the clash that you people have been asking for (well, some of you, anyway): Marvel's alien invasion paranoiafest Secret Invasion versus DC's superhero dystopia Final Crisis. Which one makes your heart flutter? Which one opens your wallet the most? And which, like the Hulk, is the strongest there is? Let's take a look at the two big superhero publisher's Summer Event Books and see which one comes out on top.
Secret Invasion, Marvel's big crossover has a few things on its side. Being written by arguably Marvel's most popular writer Brian Michael Bendis - writer of New Avengers, Mighty Avengers and Ultimate Spider-Man - and the result of literally years of planning (Bendis started laying the groundwork for this storyline with his 2004 Avengers Disassembled story), the idea of aliens having infiltrated Earth by disguising themselves as superheroes and villains throughout history allows for any and all character development (including deaths - This week's second issue brought back a character by retconning the death into having happened to an undercover Skrull - to be undone without having to say that all those old stories never actually happened. They just happened to aliens, is all.
Final Crisis, on the other hand, comes somewhat out of left field. It's also the result of a long-running storyline, but one previously told in scattered titles - Who knew that Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle would be so important? - before ultimately spinning out of an unpopular, critically-panned, series (Countdown to Final Crisis). Its real problem, however, may be its lack of high concept hook; sure, it's what happens when "evil wins," but what does that actually mean?
Let's compare the two in what we do know:
The Pitch: Like all of Marvel's big event stories, Secret Invasion has a movie-conscious high concept sale: "Aliens are amongst us, trying to take over the world! Who do you trust?" Final Crisis, though, is pretty much relying on the creators' star power and a vague promise of putting favored heroes through bad times to sell itself. Evil may have won the cosmic struggle, but how does that concept translate into a story...?
Win: Secret Invasion
The Scale: Secret Invasion more or less takes over the entire Marvel line for its' run - The main series is eight monthly issues, but there are multiple spin-off titles (including Secret Invasion: Who Do You Trust, Secret Invasion: Front Line, Secret Invasion: X-Men, Secret Invasion: Spider-Man, Secret Invasion: Thor, Secret Invasion: Young Avengers/Runaways, Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four and Secret Invasion: Inhumans) as well as continuations of the storyline in issues of other series; by midway through its run, the storyline will have totaled 34 comics, and that's not counting all the stories that led up to the official launch. By contrast, Final Crisis is fairly self-contained; besides the seven-issue main series, there are seven spin-offs to bear the brand (The mini-series Final Crisis: Rogues' Revenge, Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds and Final Crisis: Revelations, and the one-off issues Final Crisis: Requiem, Final Crisis: Submit, Final Crisis: Resist and Final Crisis: Superman Beyond) with a minimum of crossover into regular series promised. By midway through Crisis' run, you'll have had to purchase nine comics - again, not counting all of the prologue books - to get the whole story.
Win: Depends on how you look at it; Secret Invasion is bigger, but Final Crisis is cheaper
The Creators: Invasion's Bendis and artist Lenil Yu have the fan-favorite thing sewn up, having previously worked together on New Avengers and having separate runs on books like Daredevil, Ultimate Spider-Man, Superman: Birthright and X-Men. However, they've probably not got the cache of Final Crisis' Grant Morrison and JG Jones. Having written acclaimed runs on JLA, X-Men, Animal Man, Doom Patrol, 52 and more personal projects like The Invisibles and We3, Morrison is easily one of the most highly-regarded comic writers around, and Jones' work on Wanted and the covers for 52 have made him a well-loved artist... and one who rarely does anything other than covers. Crisis will be his first sequential work in four years.
Win: Final Crisis
So, is it a tie? Can you play comics Switzerland and not choose a side? The final choice may simply come down to what kind of comics you like - Both series are, in their own way, dealing with cultural and political zeitgeists, so it may just come down to whether you want to see bad guy aliens in positions of power punching Iron Man, or the more metaphorical thrills of submission and subjugation of free will by a New, evil, God. The decision, as they used to say on Blind Date, is yours.