If the denizens of Earth are going to weather the coming “Secret Invasion” by the shape shifting aliens known as Skrulls, everybody is going to have to do their part. That means registered and non-registered heroes, villains, mutants, and the spies of S.H.I.E.L.D. will all have to step up to defend their shared planet. The Skrulls are anticipating such an organized resistance, and over the past several weeks Marvel Comics editor Tom Brevoort and CBR News have been profiling those characters who may pose the biggest threats to the Skrulls’ master plan. Brevoort is back today and this time he’s joined by none other than “Secret Invasion” mastermind Brian Michael Bendis to help us unveil The Fives in the Skrulls’ “Secret Invasion” poker deck.
FIVE OF SPADES – PETE WISDOM
Combating an alien invasion requires both a capable defense as well as a fearless offensive; people willing to do potentially morally uncertain things for the greater good. Pete Wisdom is such an individual. As a mutant agent of British Intelligence’s MI:13 division – charged with managing supernatural and superhuman threats to the United Kingdom – Wisdom has often had to make difficult decisions in order to defeat the “weird threats” menacing the Britain. Most recently, in the pages of the “Wisdom: Rudiments of Wisdom,” the agent was instrumental in repelling an attack on the UK by Martian invaders.
Replacing Wisdom with a Skrull impostor could ease some of the conspirators’ worries. “They’d gain access to MI:13 and potentially the ability to misdirect any resistance efforts within the UK and possibly Europe as a whole,” Tom Brevoort told CBR News. “Plus, it would give them a clear shot at John the Skrull, who’s not their favorite person.” MI: 13 operative John the Skrull came to Earth as part of a previous invasion force before deciding to work with British Intelligence. The idea that John could have armed Wisdom with damaging secrets about Skrull culture makes the conspirators targeting Earth very nervous.
The Skrulls could also neutralize Wisdom using a variety of psychological attacks. The mutant spy’s penchant for morally murky decision making has taken its toll in the form of a number of psychological scars. “He’s not the most stable individual, and he’s prone to bouts of excess with cigarettes, alcohol and possibly strong pharmaceuticals,” Brevoort said.
FIVE IF HEARTS – SPIDER-MAN
Peter Parker is armed with a number of weapons the Skrull invaders are certain to find detrimental. The wall-crawler’s got superhuman powers including great strength, agility and the incredibly useful spider-sense. Spider-Man may not be Reed Richards or Tony Stark, but he is a gifted scientist, and as we’ve learned scientists are big threats to the Skrulls’ ability to operate on Earth undetected.
What makes Spider-Man doubly dangerous to the Skrulls is his “Never Say Die” spirit. “Peter Parker is really the heart of the Marvel Universe,” Brian Bendis told CBR News. “Look at the shit he goes through. He’s very inspiring to other heroes. I don’t remember if it was in ‘New Avengers’ or ‘House of M’ where I had Luke Cage say, ‘No one has put up with more shit than you, Spider-Man. Whatever is going on you’re still in the game. You never give up and that’s a hero.’ Peter is the most human of the Marvel heroes and if you’re against humans like the Skrulls are, he’s your quintessential enemy.”
Replacing Spider-Man with a Skrull doppelganger could reap the shape shifters a number of strategic rewards. “He’s basked in mystery but almost all the heroes like him and trust him,” Bendis stated. “He’s part of the Avengers and has a long history of Marvel Team-Ups. Plus he’s a member of the media, so they could infiltrate the media.”
If the Skrulls are unable to catch and replace Spider-Man they could always attack him through his friends and loved ones. As Peter Parker proved most recently in the controversial “One More Day” storyline, there are very few things he wouldn’t give up in order to save someone close to him.
FIVE OF DIAMONDS – THE HUMAN TORCH
Johnny Storm’s flame powers make him a one-man infantry unit, but just like his other team mates in the Fantastic Four, what makes him truly threatening to the Skrulls is his long history with them. “He one of the four people on the planet with the most experience in dealing with Skrulls,” Bendis explained. “They have yet to take the Fantastic Four down, for whatever reason they’ve not been able to seal the deal.”
Collectively, the Fantastic Four have been responsible for many humiliating Skrull defeats. But in the eyes of the xenophobic Skrulls targeting Earth, Johnny Storm is responsible for a notably egregious insult: he romanced a Skrull woman. Lyja was a Skrull agent who impersonated Alicia Masters and fell in love with and married the Human Torch. Her ruse was eventually revealed and she was exposed as a Skrull agent but she chose to help the Fantastic Four and Johnny stayed by her side for a time. “Johnny made sweet love to a bumpy chinned lady,” Bendis remarked. “So that certainly adds another level of controversy and anger to their animosity against him.”
In addition to infiltrating the Baxter Building and giving them a chance to stealthly take out their most hated foes, a Skrull agent posing as the Human Torch would have access to valuable pipelines of information. “Because he’s such a light character people trust him more,” Bendis said. “They’re more open to saying all sorts of things around him.”
If they are unable to replace Johnny Storm, the Skrulls have other ways of snuffing out the flame of the Human Torch. “His exploitable weakness is people’s perception of him,” Bendis said. “He’s not taken very seriously by his family or the rest of the Marvel U. They could really get under his skin by using that perception against him.”
FIVE OF CLUBS – CABLE
Cable is simply not intimidated by alien invaders. Not the Skrulls, not anybody. For Cable, war is a way of life. In an alternate future where/when the villain Apocalypse has/had conquered the Earth, Cable leads/led the resistance movement that ends/ended Apocalypse’s rule. Later/earlier, in the present day, Cable used his tactical knowledge and leadership abilities to create the nation of Providence and liberate the country of Rumekistan.
As if his battlefield experience and leadership skills weren’t enough, Cable also has access to something that terrifies the Skrulls: time travel technology. Even if the Skrulls do conquer Earth, Cable could conceivably travel back in time and undo all their hard work.
If a Skrull agent was able to impersonate Cable, the shape shifters would gain a valuable way to disseminate disinformation. “People listen to war time tacticians,” Bendis said. “And if that war time tactician tells you that you need to shove a banana up your ass you’re going to do it.”
If capturing Cable proves too difficult or costly, the Skrulls can always use his reputation against him. In addition to his checkered past as a mercenary, Cable’s nation-building efforts — embarked upon with the goal of creating “a better world” — have made the mutant an unpopular figure with many of the world’s governments as well as S.H.I.E.L.D.
Cards designed by Jim MacQuarrie.
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