Sporadic Sequential
Friday, August 15, 2008
Comic Reviews: Secret Invasion #4

The Lowdown: This issue things continue to ramp up as the deadly shape-shifting aliens unveil the latest phase of their mysterious agenda: They've infiltrated the government! But why? What is their ultimate goal? Will our heroes be able to uncover their plan in time to put an end to their nefarious plot? And is danger lurking in the wings for a potential love interest?

The Details: This may be the most engaging installment of this series yet! Developments are really picking up and taking surprising turns! I was completely on the edge of my seat throughout this story, as there are so many high-stakes matters in the balance! This issue really showcased the premise of the series, as the aliens show they have a long-range goal in mind by running for office! Brilliant! Talk about a "secret invasion"! How will our heroes expose the villains without risking his own life or the lives of others?

And speaking of the lives of others, this chapter really upped the ante when it comes to matters of life and death. The fight scene between one of the shapeshifters and the local mobsters was both shocking and stunning! I know some have complained about the art in this series, but it's really grown on me, and here the artist really cut lose! The battle scenes were graphic and intense, but there was also a strange beauty to the choreography and efficiency of the slaughter. And when the alien pauses to reveal that the whole massacre was simply a training exercise to him -- wow, what a breathtaking moment! I think I literally felt chills run up my spine!!

But things aren't all action in this comic: There are also some nice quiet moments with our main hero and his girlfriend where we see how the strain of recent events has affected both of them and their relationship. Throw in another possible love interest and you've got the ingredients for plenty of gripping drama! Plus, the internal struggle of the main protagonist, as he questions how much of his humanity he's lost, is surprisingly compelling and relatable. Who among us hasn't had a similar moment, where we stop to examine our recent behavior and suddenly question whether we've become too cold and remote as a result of pursuing our goals? Can we take on dehumanizing tasks without losing our own souls in the process?

Another question this series has consistently posed is: How do you know you can trust those around you? Now that the existence of the shapeshifters is public knowledge, do you look at those around you with a little more suspicion? You know, now that you think about it, that neighbor of yours has always seemed a little "off" to you. And recently your old school friend has been acting really strange. And your spouse suddenly seems cold and distant. Maybe they've all been replaced by the aliens! The paranoia in this volume is palpable, with citizens distrustful of anyone who seems "different." It's like a metaphor for our suspicious society: With the government alert level always at "Orange," we've become a nation living in constant fear. Luckily for those in our story, the government actually devised a means of detecting aliens, but with so many "false positives," people's guards have begun to slip down again, and that's just what the aliens have been waiting for...

But don't think this series has suddenly slipped into nothing but existential examinations and political allegory! Just when things seem to settle down, the comic throws a major curve your way! I don't want to spoil and of the genuine surprises contained in the story, but let's just say there is a shocking death of a major character and a HUGE cliffhanger in the final panel that will make you wish the next installment was out right now!!!!

Added Bonus! This volume also includes the return of a fan-favorite character! The appearance is all too short, but perhaps this mean we'll see more of him in the future!

The Bottom Line: Parasyte by Hitoshi Iwaaki continues to be a gripping yarn with themes more thought-provoking than your typical action manga. Highly recommended. (What? Did you think I was talking about something else?)

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