CC2K

The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Something’s Skrully: An Analysis of Marvel’s Upcoming Secret Invasion, Part One

Written by: Sal Crivelli, Special to CC2K


Image I was all set to write an article about the latest impending Marvel Comics "event," written by Brian Michael Bendis and illustrated by relative newcomer to Marvel, Lenil Yu. The premise is simple: think Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but with comic book characters. Then I realized, the whole thing is a little less simple than I previously thought. Some people may be unfamiliar with the antagonists (a race of shape-shifting malevolent space jerks called "Skrulls"), or even the protagonists (primarily, the legally registered Mighty Avengers, and the rough-and-tumble New Avengers).

One of the more important things to know before this event hits is the climate it emerges from. The Marvel Universe has been hit pretty hard over the last couple of years, with one important element behind the scenes: Bendis, himself. He has even admitted to laying the groundwork for this story in all his work for Marvel Comics, pulling all the way back to 2004. While two of the more recent stories (Civil War and World War Hulk, respectively) were not directly written by Bendis, all such stories still set the tone for where these heroes are, both literally and figuratively, and have an effect on what is now officially titled: Secret Invasion.

This article’s purpose is to give you the background you need in order to keep the whole thing straight in your head, and hopefully enjoy the impending alien invasion Marvel is about to suffer (or perhaps, as we delve deeper, has already suffered). First off, let me hit you with some context:

2006
New Avengers: Illuminati

What was it?
The world was almost destroyed by two warring alien races: The Kree and the Skrulls, in a centuries-old war that found its way on Earth. After narrowly avoiding eradication, representatives from each of the most powerful superhero forces on Earth formed a secret alliance to meet, trade information, and quietly deal with threats to their species’ survival, without massive loss of life. It is a direct result of their first action as the self-proclaimed "protectors of Earth" that there is now a secret Skrull invasion. They usually screw up more than they succeed.

Who was in it?
Iron Man
Doctor Strange
Professor Xavier
Namor
Black Bolt
Mr. Fantastic

What Changed?

These guys are directly responsible for the impending (or already launched) Skrull invasion, pissing off a hormonally charged Kree teenager, After the Kree/Skrull war, the Skrulls went back to their homeworld crying about how badly they lost. The Illuminati immediately arrived to threaten retaliation if they ever tried again, blew up a ship, got captured, had their genetic materials copied and mapped, and returned home. It was revealed already that one member of the Illuminati is a Skrull, and we have no idea for how long he’s been in hiding or where the original Black Bolt is. Additionally, in the final issue of the Illuminati mini-series, the remaining Illuminati were attacked by additional Skrulls, all exhibiting powers of X-Men Cyclops, Colossus and Nightcrawler, and heroes Mr. Fantastic and Namor. Whether these are clues or just red herrings has yet to be seen.

2004

Secret War

What was it?
Nick Fury, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., the world’s peacekeeping task force (kind of like NATO, but with bigger guns and flying aircraft carriers), finally notices that all those annoying supervillains who break into banks and steal upwards of ten thousand dollars a pop couldn’t possibly afford their super high-tech octopus arm, goblin gliding costumes with the amount of money they manage to steal. Fury discovers these villains are all funded through a foreign source (the small, Eastern European country of Latveria) thus making these supervillains more than punching bags and fashion dont’s: they’re terrorists. Problem here is, America recently invaded Latveria and installed a puppet dictatorship, which means our own phony government isn’t doing what we tell them! Rather than risk public humiliation, the President decides to do nothing about it, so Fury takes a few superheroes who owe him a solid and topple the newly toppled government, themselves.

Who was in it?
Only Bendis’ favorite characters, of course:
Nick Fury
Captain America
Wolverine
Spider-Man
Luke Cage
Daredevil
Black Widow

With cameos by the Fantastic Four and only the popular members of the X-Men.

What Changed?
Nick Fury is ousted as a result of his incredibly illegal action and goes underground. In his place, they promote Maria Hill, a low-ranking S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, putting her in the most powerful position in the world (Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.), privy to some of the most coveted secrets in the Marvel Universe.

2004
Avengers: Disassembled

What was it?
It was the worst day in the history of the Avengers, the world’s greatest superheroes united under one roof, one name, one bank account. This event, written by Bendis, would set the tone of edginess for all involved in the Marvel Universe from here on out. One of their own members, the Scarlet Witch, went batshit insane and used her magic, reality-altering powers to royally screw, destroy, or flat-out murder half the team.

Who was in it?
All the Avengers at the time. This includes:
Captain America
Ant Man
Captain Britain
Falcon
Hawkeye
Iron Man
She-Hulk
Vision
Wasp
Yellowjacket

What Changed?
Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) decides the Avengers are no more. After the deaths of Hawkeye, Vision, and Ant Man, and the destruction of their million-dollar mansion, Iron Man becomes disenchanted with the concept of the Avengers. Being the man with the bank account, no one is in a position to argue, and thus Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are no more.

2004
New Avengers

What was it?
A mysterious figure employs the ridiculously dressed supervillain Electro to bust into an island prison ("The Raft") off the cost of Manhattan, housing the deadliest villains with superpowers in the world, and break them out. Seemingly by fate, an assorted group of superheroes wind up responding to the scene, including Captain America and Iron Man. Impressed with what they accomplished, Cap decides the world needs the Avengers, and takes it upon himself to form a new team.

Who was in it?
Why, the Bendis Bunch, of course!
Spider-Man
Captain America
Luke Cage
Daredevil
Spider Woman
The Sentry
Iron Man

What Changed?
After Daredevil rejects the invitation in favor of being the most emo superhero ever, Iron Man offers his newly built skyscraper (kind of like the Freedom Tower, only good-looking… and finished) as the new home for the New Avengers. When they unlocked The Sentry, his Watchtower appeared, attached to the top of Stark Tower. This team is a little less powerful than the previous, but hey, at least we can be sure nobody on the team will go fucking nuts and turn on everybody like last time.

2005
House of M

What was it?
The source of Scarlet Witch’s madness is her belief that her children, creations of her own neurosis, must survive. After undergoing intense therapy via Professor Charles Xavier and her mutant father Magneto, the consensus is not good. A decision has to be made about what to do about this potential time bomb. As a result, her overprotective brother/former Avenger Quicksilver conspires to change reality and make the world a better place for their friends and her children. With the combined powers of Doctor Strange and Professor X, Scarlet Witch reforms the world where mutants are the dominant species, everyone she knows has everything they’ve ever wanted and cannot remember their previous lives, and her father, Magneto, is undisputed lord and master of the Earth. Ultimately, Scarlet Witch turns on her father and puts the world back to the way it was, with one minor detail: "No more mutants." Except all the popular ones.

Who was in it?
The New Avengers
The X-Men
Scarlet Witch
Quicksilver
Doctor Strange

What Changed?

The mutant population went from close to a million mutants to about two-hundred in the blink of an eye. All of reality was changed and the most powerful of Earth’s heroes could do nothing to prevent it. Even when everything was put back, the mutants were screwed.

2006
Civil War

What was it?
A group of stupid superheroes freak out an exploding bad guy, who excessively kills about six hundred people (mostly children) in Connecticut. As a result, in what must be one of the most impressive bi-partisan collaborations in the history of this country, the government passes a Superhuman Registration Mandate, forcing all super-powered beings in the United States to register their powers and identites with the government and S.H.I.E.L.D. Cap disagrees. Iron Man turns on everybody and builds a giant gulag in an alternate dimension for all his former buddies and bad guys. Everyone fights and Cap gives up. Lame.

Who was in it?
Um… everybody? Except the X-Men, who were still crying.

What Changed?
Only a few things. Iron Man won, making Superhuman Registration mandatory, and gets the biggest promotion ever: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. The Initiative went into effect, essentially putting an Avengers in every state, and a superhero training camp on the corpses of the dead in CT. Most of the New Avengers went into hiding. Iron Man formed the Mighty Avengers with the heroes who agreed with him. Spider-Man unmasked in front of millions of people in what would surprisingly wind up being the second most out-of-character decision he’s made in the past two years. Oh, and Captain America was assassinated.

2006
Annihilation

What was it?
A space opera during Civil War.

Who was in it?
Almost all the cosmic Marvel characters, and Nova (who basically became Marvel’s Green Lantern).

What Changed?
During this ridiculousness, the Skrull Empire was scattered throughout the universe with no home to call their own. All the more reason to claim the Earth (plus they think it’s theirs by Divine Right) as a sanctuary.

2007
Mighty Avengers

What was it?

After the Initiative took place, Iron Man decided there needed to be a figurehead team that the newly formed teams could look to for inspiration. As a result, Iron Man offered the team-leader position to Carol Danvers, aka Ms Marvel. The team dwells in Stark Tower, where the original New Avengers used to hang. They handle the more epic-powered bad guys, and try to reign the agoraphobic, manic-depressive Sentry so he doesn’t go bonkers like a certain former teammate did.

Who was in it?
Iron Man
Ms Marvel
Black Widow
Ares
The Wasp
The Sentry
Wonder Man
(and currently): Spider Woman

What Changed?
There’s a new Avengers in town. Several superheroes we haven’t seen in awhile (even in Civil War) come out of the woodwork and join up, bringing us a random assortment of characters that, quite frankly, could not sell their own books on their own.

2007-2008
The New New Avengers

What was it?
With the split, we’ve got a new team, sans Cap. This team chills in Doc Strange’s Santum Sanctorum, and for now, obsesses over Skrull invasions and does its best to collect their own teammates and hide from the Mighty Avengers.

Who was in it?
Here’s the line-up (and peripheral characters):
Luke Cage
Spider-Man
Wolverine
Doctor Strange
Ronin (Hawkeye)
Iron Fist
Echo (formerly, Ronin)

Jessica Jones (and her baby, Danielle)
Night Nurse
Wong

What Changed?
Pretty big change, and the reason for this article, came when the New New Avengers went to Japan to rescue Maya Lopez (aka Ronin, aka Echo) from Elektra and the assassins guild known as The Hand. Lopez stabbed Elektra through a vital organ, and upon her demise, her body reverted to that of a Skrull. Dun dun dunnnn! Spider Woman promptly nabs the body and takes it to Tony Stark, gaining his trust and joining the Mighty Avengers.

2007
World War Hulk

What was it?
The conspiratorial Illuminati decided to shoot the Hulk into space, and he wound up a gladiator with a wife and a baby on the way. While enjoying his newfound happiness, some of his followers repaired the ship he crashed in, and a message popped up from the Illuminati (Doctor Strange, Mr. Fantastic, Iron Man, and Black Bolt): a hydrogen bomb. The blast killed his world, his friends, and the mother of his unborn child. Needless to say, he was pissed. He came back to Earth with plans to smash the Illuminati and anyone who got in his way.

Who was in it?

Major players included:
The Hulk
His Warbound friends
The Sentry
Rick Jones
Hercules
Doctor Strange
Iron Man
Black Bolt
The Fantastic Four
The New Avengers
The Mighty Avengers
General Ross

What Changed?
Not too much. Bruce Banner is in a facility three miles below the Earth. Both Avengers teams are at odds, but with a mutual respect for one another, and there’s a new, red Hulk. Either way, the Hulk is (as he has been the last few years) irrelevant.

With this in mind, stay tuned for my next installment, wherein we’ll discuss who is/isn’t/could be/can’t be a Skrull, and what sorts of Skrully things you can look for to smoke ’em out!

Author: Sal Crivelli, Special to CC2K

Share this content:

Leave a Reply