SPOILER WARNING! THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS FOR "SECRET INVASION" #1!
After months of build-up and anticipation, Marvel Comics’ “Secret Invasion” #1 is finally in stores. The kickoff issue to the long awaited event has answered some burning questions, but also left fans with a whole set of new ones.
In an effort to help answer those questions, CBR News kick off SPOILERS OF WAR, new monthly feature (inspired by Augie De Blieck Jr’s feature THE COMMENTARY TRACK), in which we speak in-depth with writer Brian Michael Bendis about “Secret Invasion” on a page-by-page basis as the series rolls out.
Today, we look at issue #1.
Here we get our first glimpse at one of the mysterious architects behind the Skrull Invasion of Earth.
This is a new and important character that we’ll learn more about as the series and the tie-ins go on. She’s got a long history and we’ll see where she came from, how she connects to the Illuminati mini-series, and what her point of view is. Obviously she’s been cast aside and is being brought back into the fold of the Empire. We’ll find out what she did to cause this and what has brought her back.
On the last panel of this page, the expression on the face of Dum Dum Dugan, who will be revealed as a Skrull later in this issue, is our first hint that something may not be right with the veteran S.H.I.E.L.D. agent.
That last panel with Dugan, that’s not hate. This isn’t about hate. Hate’s easy to deal with and understand. This is a more complicated set of emotions. You’ve got these agents; some of them have been in place for a pretty long time, who are on what is pretty much a suicide mission for the sake of what they believe in. Dugan is one of those agents. That look on his face is a little euphoria mixed with fear.
Also I was really happy to include Agent Brand of S.W.O.R.D. in this scene, an excellent new character that Joss Whedon created in “Astonishing X-Men.” And considering her job she’s gotta be part of this story.
Cloak makes sort of a walk-on appearance here to teleport the New Avengers to the top of Avengers tower. Readers may recall Cloak was a background character in your last Marvel event story, “House of M.”
I do like cloak and in the next year or so I’m going to do more than just use him as a taxi service. I apologize to fans of Cloak for teasing them with this drop off but he’s got a great history with some of these characters and he’s definitely someone Luke would call for a quick drop off. And it does harken back to “House of M” with Luke, Hawkeye and the other Avengers being dropped off by Cloak. And I like Cloak’s line, “Stealing Tony Stark’s Car? You guys have fun with that.”
These pages are the last with the appropriate chatter and people making cracks about Hawkeye banging everybody. This is the last page of it being an “Avengers” story. From here on out it’s an invasion story.
Also, when Tony Stark says, “Where the fuck is my Quinjet?” that’s an homage to the scene in the movie “Stripes,” where John Larroquette asks, “Where the fuck is my truck?” That’s what that moment is, I stole a beat from “Stripes,” it’s the last thing you’d expect in a big Marvel universe cross-over book.
The New Avengers’ very first adventure took them to the Savage Land, and it was there they got their very first inklings that something was wrong with S.H.I.E.L.D. and other elements of the Marvel U. Now on these two pages the team has come full circle. They’re back in the Savage Land to confront the forces of those they believe responsible for S.H.I.E.L.D.’s corruption. The domed building they encounter upon landing is the citadel of the Savage Land Mutates and the fact it’s a burning wreck indicates something sinister has gone down recently.
The cause of the fire will be established in future issues of “New Avengers.” It’s somewhere they’ve been before and in it’s in worse shape than even the last time they were here. In Marvel time, not much time has passed between this issue and the first story arc of “New Avengers.” Also this is one of those foreboding moments. Something bad has happened and now it’s all quiet. Something else has been here.
On the second-to-last panel of this page, the Skrull doppelganger of Dugan reveals himself and utters the mysterious phrase, “He loves You,” which will be uttered by all the Skrull doppelgangers in this issue as they attack their targets.
We don’t know exactly who they’re talking about but there’s certainly a religious tone to it of some sort. We’ll find out who “He” is later on. It’s funny, the original line written was, “As it is written.” Then someone pointed out to me that I was stealing from the Ten Commandments.
The Skrull agent impersonating Tony Stark’s faithful butler, Jarvis, starts a domino effect by attacking Tony Stark’s armor and all his technology with an alien virus.
We’ll show more of the virus later. I don’t want to ruin the intricacies of it. There are certain characters in the Marvel Universe that have to be taken out and Tony is one of them. His position of power, his biological technology like Extremis, and his companies make him the best cop in the world but they also make him ground zero, the point of attack.
Tony in what some would say his arrogance and others say his heroism put himself in charge of everything connected to him; The S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, Stark Enterprises, and the prisons that S.H.I.E.L.D. runs. You take him out and you have a party. That put a target on him but he knew it and thought he had things under control. You can’t fault him for that.
On this page, Marvel Boy, who in the past has often come across as a brash hot head seems strangely calm.
Marvel Boy has been through some things since he was put in the Cube. The most obvious being in “Illuminati” #4, when the Illuminati came and visited him and gave him a talk to see what he’s thinking. They told him, “This is how the world will be and this is how you need to be. It’s time to step up.” So when the Cube cracks open, Marvel Boy is at a moment where he’s kind of having his superhero bar mitzvah. We’re going to watch his journey and it sure is going to be interesting.
Readers will notice the Skrull here, transformed into the Invisible Woman in the lobby of the Baxter Building. This seems to indicate, unlike some of the other Skrull agents revealed in this issue, the Invisible Woman impersonator has only recently gotten into place and the real Sue Richards has not been missing for very long.
That’s exactly true.
It’s only the current occupants of the Baxter Building who are in danger of being swallowed by the opened Negative Zone portal.
Reed has got stuff in place, and this will be dealt with in the “Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four” miniseries. The portal has got safeties so it does suck thing in to a certain extent and than it locks. You can imagine Reed had to have things in place in order to have the Negative Zone portal in the middle of fucking Manhattan.
The Skrulls are at war and they have a couple of targets they’ll take out by using their world against them. Even if they completely fuck this up they’ll have gotten at Reed Richards. Here they’ve sucked his entire family including his little kids into the Negative Zone.
This double-page spread of the current Avengers confronting what appears to be '70s incarnations of various Marvel characters is bound to spark some debate.
The obvious assumption is that since the classic Marvel characters come out of the ship, all the heroes we’ve been following are all sleeper agents or Skrulls of some merit and they either didn’t know it or have been fucking with us and everything you’ve read since the '70s is a lie.
Or everybody on that ship is a Skrull and they’re fucking with the heroes. They’ve taken the Avengers, one of the largest and most powerful gatherings of heroes, removed them from society and created a battleground in which one army is united and the other is not. In war, you realize the battle is only good as the amount of trust you have in the person next to you and the modern heroes have no trust for anyone who’s next to them. Or it’s a mixture of both, some of those people are human and there are Skrulls on both sides.
Let’s think about what this page means on another level. If you’re one of the modern day heroes you’re looking at yourself at a more innocent time. And you’re senses are overloading. Look there’s Luke Cage’s wife and she’s still a superhero. Does this mean his wife and baby are Skrulls? Or say you’re the classic hero who’s finally escaped the treachery of the Skrull Empire after years of confinement only to find your heroic persona has become part of this dark, mistrusting nonsense.
All of this will be dealt with. It’s one of the ongoing mysteries. Some of it gets dealt with right away. Some of it gets dealt with down the line. And some of it will haunt characters for years to come.
Here the Skrull agent impersonating Hank Pym outs himself and blasts Reed Richards with an energy weapon which seems to turn him into a stretched out pile of goop and then utters, “He even loves you.” This is bound to leave some readers wondering if Reed Richards is worth more to the Skrull invaders dead or alive?
That’s a huge question and a big part of the series. Maybe they have something worse in store for him. Whatever the case, Reed is a big part of the series.
Lenil Yu did an awesome job. There are maybe ten artists in the history of comics who have been asked to draw this much shit in one issue and who have done it extremely well. I can’t say enough about how much he accomplished here. Everything, all the looks and the subtext, is fantastic.
Then Mark Morales came in and cemented himself as one of the all time great inkers. I’m not just saying that because he’s working on the book. He really killed here.
And here’s Laura Martin who’s been one of my favorite colorists since her work on “The Authority.” That’s exactly the tonality this book needed: big but still subversive. And she brought it. I can’t tell you how happy I am. I waited years to work with Laura and I’m kind of a colorist nerd so this is a big deal for me. It’s certainly time to stand back and look at what's been accomplished.
I also want to thank the readers and the retailers. We put out this thing about the Skrulls and everybody had a lot of fun. The internet message boards lit up. I can’t thank you guys enough for being into it. The whole point of this story is to have fun and tell a big yarn. There’s so much more to come. This is only the first issue. If you dug this you’re going to have a lot of fun this summer. We’re going to turn over all the cards. It’s all going to be revealed.
UPDATE: Astute CBR readers in the "Secret Invasion" discussion thread on the CBR Forums picked up on something that had changed in the final publication of "Secret Invasion" #1. Originally, we included a look at the last page of "Secret Invasion" #1 which included a four panel sequence that showed the Hank Skrull infiltrator touching the forehead of the Elektra Skrull. Except, the published panel didn't include that moment. Have a look at the following image for the before/after comparison.
With speculation running high regarding the change, CBR News spoke with "Secret Invasion" writer Brian Bendis to see what the true reasons for the change are. Is this a Skrull conspiracy or something a bit less sinister?
"I made some tweaks to the scenes at various stages including rearranging a couple of scenes at the end for maximum effect," Bendis told CBR News Friday afternoon. "Originally the armada page was going to be the final page, but we all decided Hank and Reed should be. That beat with Elektra Skrull at the end became confusing and unnecessary at that point. It could be read as something other than what it is, so we left it on 'the cutting room floor.' But it was still attached to the preview copy that went out. Basically everyone thought I was done picking, but I wasn't. I'm a picker."