A lot of the “Secret Invasion” tie-in issues of “Mighty Avengers” and “New Avengers” have felt really dragged out and hollow to me. They were, often, expansions of moments that didn’t warrant expanding or explanations of how a character was replaced by a Skrull, something which got old quickly. The best of the issues have provided genuine insight or emotional depth to the main book, like the issues explaining the creation of Nick Fury’s new Secret Warriors, or this issue, which focuses on Luke Cage’s family and how much it means to him.
Framed by Luke and Jessica Jones figuring out how to be parents to their newly-born daughter, the issue tells a new story about Luke hiring Jessica to find his father. Firstly, the interaction between Luke, Jessica, and little Danielle is funny and heartwarming as Luke is both terrified of and enchanted with his new daughter. He doesn’t know exactly how to be a father, especially since all he knows how to do is beat up bad guys. This is a new side of Luke Cage that Bendis expands upon by creating an implicit link between Danielle and Luke’s father.
Luke’s father wants nothing to do with him, because of his past where he was framed for murder and heroin dealing, and went to prison. Luke keeps trying to get in touch with him, but his father keeps moving and, now, Luke wants Jessica to find him. Joining Bendis for this story is “Alias” artist Michael Gaydos, a reunion that’s occurred a few times when a flashback to the old “Alias” days is called for and always a joy.
Gaydos’s art is perfectly matched with Justin Ponsor’s colors in the scene where Jessica and Luke talk to Luke’s father’s new wife through the screen door. The use of the screen door points to the barrier between Luke and his father, and of the barrier between the worlds of superheroes and regular people. The few moments where Gaydos alters the angle so the screen doesn’t cover the entire panel are well chosen and add to the emotional impact.
The only person who doesn’t come off as well is Billy Tan, whose work just looks ugly next to Gaydos’s evocative, thick lines. Tan produces some of the best art I’ve ever seen from him, but it suffers by comparison to Gaydos and makes me long for Gaydos to join Bendis again on a book.
The tie to “Secret Invasion” #8 comes at the end and is even more powerful here than it is in that issue. By focusing on the connection between Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, and the importance of family, Bendis makes a heartbreaking moment even more so, which is quite the feat.