A good deal is being written about the entertaining but rather haphazardly structured and at times unintentionally puzzling summer event from Marvel, Secret Invasion, but I haven’t seen anyone mention the one thing that immediately bothered me about the series: the completely unassuming and natural way in which the superheroes kill the Skrull enemies en masse.

Maybe I’m just old school, but the way I’ve always understood most superheroes, except Wolverine and his ilk, is that they don’t kill. I mean, back in the day, this principle was often taken to such absurd lengths that no-one seemed to get injured, much less die, from, say, the Hulk’s monumental rampages.

Those days seem to be over. Or at least when it comes to Skrulls. Apparently, the shape-changing little green men just don’t rate as Life Worth Preserving to any of these heroes. OK, they’re invading Earth and have no compunction against killing, themselves, but that’s besides the point: Batman won’t kill the Joker, either. Presumably writer Brian Bendis and editorial have chosen to go about the story this way for the sake of “realism” and, probably, some extra, cheap thrills, but it just seems to me wildly out of character for many of these so-called superheroes to not even stop and think about it. It is simply not addressed. At all. Anywhere that I’m aware of, that is (I’m not enough of a sucker to read all the tie-ins).

I’m not going to be all holier-than-thou about this — I know that the audience for these comics is largely adult geeks such as myself, and that a little killing won’t hurt our sensibilities much. But still, it’s gotta be some kind of landmark that the biggest superhero event this year so callously ignores what was once a central principle of the genre. And kind of auspicious too, that a series that at least superficially carries pretensions of political allegory most likely unintentionally lends to its heroes a borderline fascist groupthink outlook on their enemies.

Excerpt from Secret Invasion #5, written by Brian Michael Bendis, drawn by Leinil Francis Yu and Mark Morales, colours by Laura Martin and Emily Warren.