In Part One of EARTH'S MOST WANTED, CBR News and Marvel editor Tom Brevoort unveiled the Aces in the shape shifting Skrulls' poker deck, with each card depicting some of the biggest threats to the aliens' "Secret Invasion" of Earth.
This week, Tom Brevoort returns and discusses with us the next four dangers to the shape shifters' master plan: the Kings.
The old saying, "In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king" is true both literally and figuratively when it comes to Nick Fury. While most people remained ignorant of the Skrulls' plan, Fury's position as director of S.H.I.E.L.D. gave him access to intelligence that could be used to piece things together. "I think they definitely realized that Fury was dangerous when he was heading up S.H.I.E.L.D.," Tom Brevoort told CBR News. "I'm not sure they've taken on board how dangerous he is to them even acting on his own."
It wasn't just Fury's directorship of S.H.I.E.L.D. that made him a threat to the Skrulls. Now that he's been forced out of the U.N. spy agency and gone underground, Fury might prove more dangerous than ever. "He's completely off the grid, putting together whatever plans and marshalling whatever forces he may without any interference from the enemy," Brevoort explained. "They don't know where he is, they don't know what he's up to, and they don't know when he might reappear to throw a monkey-wrench into their plans."
If the Skrulls are able to find Fury and replace him with an imposter, they'll have gained a number of strategic advantages. "They'd have a guy whose authority is generally unquestioned," Brevoort stated. "And they would have removed a player with access to worldwide tactical information and a trained strategic mind from the playing field."
The big surprise of "New Avengers: Illuminati" #5 came when the Skrull agent impersonating Black Bolt revealed his true identity to the other Illuminati members. In the resulting fight, the Skrull agent was killed.
Black Bolt's membership in the Illuminati, the group that had the audacity to go to the Skrull homeworld and threaten the emperor, made the Inhuman a prime target of the shape-shifting invaders, and he was replaced by a Skrull agent. But it wasn't Black Bolt's membership in the Illuminati alone that made him such a huge a threat to their plans; it was his incredible powers. A shout from the Inhuman monarch could level a city or trigger violent seismic events capable of destroying a planet.
With Black Bolt out of the picture, it's likely the Skrulls no longer consider Black Bolt a threat. However, his whereabouts are unknown to us following the reveal of the Skrull impersonator. If the true Black Bolt should ever resurface, the Skrulls will face a very unpredictable and dangerous foe. Not only do Black Bolt's powers make him a huge danger to the Skrull invaders, but he has the potential to bring about a greater threat by galvanizing his fellow Inhumans to combat the Skrull invaders. "They're an entire society of super-powered beings," Brevoort said. "Just in terms of sheer numbers, they can tip the scales at least a little bit."
In the recent "World War Hulk" miniseries, the Green Goliath returned from space more powerful than ever and in command of an army of alien warriors. It's not hard to imagine the Skrulls were delighted with the outcome of the series, which saw the Hulk defeated and his alter ego Bruce Banner trapped in a catatonic state. But it's also possible the Skrulls could have quietly assisted in the Hulk's downfall. "Could Skrull technology have created the gateway that delivered the Hulk to Sakaar rather than the planet the Illuminati had intended?" Brevoort remarked. "Regardless, the Hulk's invasion created more strife and more division among Earth's heroes, so that can only be seen as a good thing."
Readers of "Hulk" #1 know that a new crimson Hulk has arisen, who seems to be just as powerful and perhaps more savage than his emerald predecessor. Additionally, Bruce Banner has regained consciousness, and what readers know, the Skrulls also know. "They follow Jeph Loeb's career avidly," Brevoort joked.
With both Bruce Banner and a new Hulk running around the Skrulls suddenly have two very desirable targets for replacement. "I'd think if they had to choose, they'd rather impersonate the Hulk than Bruce, with his tremendous physical strength at their command," Brevoort said. "But I don't know that it's an either/or proposition--especially since they could have one Skrull posing as Bruce and another as the Hulk."
"Though we've never really seen them before, it stands to reason that there must be sorcerers among the Skrulls--the powers Doctor Strange commands are universal, they're not tied to the Earth or Humanity," Brevoort explained. "So while he's certainly the most ephemeral foe they'd probably have to deal with, somewhere among their people there'll be Skrulls who have at least a basic understanding of what Strange does.
"Because we're typically seeing the Skrulls from a distance, and in one situation--when their military forces are trying to conquer the Earth or some other world--I don't think we at all have the complete picture of Skrull society and what they may have access to. One of the elements we're going to be delving into quite dramatically in 'Secret Invasion' is Skrull religion--what their belief-structures are, and how that plays a role in how they behave and what they do. So there's a spiritual side to Skrull society that goes back centuries, and we'll be seeing more of that."
If the Skrulls are able to replace Stephen Strange with an imposter, they'll gain the perfect tool to spread deception among Earth's heroes. "As Luke Cage pointed out an issue or so back, Dr. Strange cast the spell that proved the assorted new Avengers aren't Skrulls," Brevoort explained. "But if he's a Skrull himself, all certainty goes out the window."
Strange's magical abilities make him a difficult foe to capture. However, the Sorcerer Supreme has other weaknesses the Skrulls can exploit in their efforts to neutralize him. "Strange has always professed a limited command over the physical world--he's really good at combating mystical creatures through mystical means, but those same mystic abilities have fewer direct applications in the real world," Brevoort said. "Plus, Strange is a guy full of character flaws, a certain arrogance that makes him overconfident and even cocky at times--this is the same character flaw that turned him into such a bastard when he was a surgeon."
EARTH'S MOST WANTED
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