The Marvel Universe has been the scene of many wars as of late and in "New Avengers" #31, the title characters made a frightening discovery: the people of Earth are engaged in another war, one they didn't even know they were fighting. The enemy, the shape shifting alien race known as the Skrulls, have begun a clandestine offensive against them by replacing characters such as Elektra with Skrull impersonators. The Skrulls' machinations on Earth will continue throughout the year and come to a climax in April of 2008 with the launch of "Secret Invasion," an eight-issue miniseries by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Lenil Yu with covers by Gabriele Dell'otto. CBR News spoke with Editor Tom Brevoort about "Secret Invasion" and the ramp-up to the series.
The Skrull invasion is a story that's been in the works for a while now, but "Secret Invasion" itself is a more recent development. "There's the story, and there's the series, and the two aren't entirely the same thing, as concepts tend to change and grow over time," Brevoort told CBR News. "The planning for the story started three or four years ago, when Brian was working on the 'Secret War' series. In a way, this is the bookend to that. The series was only solidified around six months ago, at one of our regular creator retreats--until that time, we thought this would be a storyline that would primarily play out in the 'Avengers' titles."
However, the Skrulls' scheme will spill over into other books as well. "There will be other significant elements popping up in assorted places along the line, but such is the nature of this storyline that I can't tell you at this point exactly where, for obvious reasons," Brevoort said. "Brian Reed's 'Captain Marvel' limited series is definitely involved in what's going on, and all of the most obvious places will be, well, most obvious, as this last issue of 'Illuminati' is."
When "Secret Invasion" begins, books that directly tie-into the series will be clearly labeled on the cover, but readers will want to keep an eye out for books that tie-into the ramp-up to the miniseries because Marvel has no plans to label those issues. "I realize that this is going to be vexing to some, but the nature of the story simply doesn't allow it-it would be like printing the name of the killer on the front cover of a murder mystery," Brevoort explained. "The paranoia and the reader speculation is all part of the game; all part of the experience. But as we typically strive to do, we're going to do everything we can to make 'Secret Invasion' as inclusionary as possible, so that if you've read nothing that came before, you can still start with issue #1 and understand all the players and the stakes."
The Fantastic Four may have a long sordid history with the Skrull Empire, but writer Mark Millar has no plans to involve the FF in the stakes of "Secret Invasion" when he takes over "Fantastic Four" in 2008. "Mark and Bryan Hitch will be doing their own thing in FF," Brevoort confirmed. "But the characters will still turn up in 'Secret Invasion' elsewhere."
The X-Men will become embroiled in "Secret Invasion," but the details of their involvement are still being ironed out. "Whether or not there'll be any direct bleed-over into issues of their ongoing titles remains to be worked out," Brevoort explained. "Again, we try to make this stuff as modular as possible--we want people to want to read all the books, not feel like they're being railroaded into buying them all."
"Secret Invasion" may leave many "Young Avengers" fans wondering if the group will play a large role in the story because of Hulkling's unique pedigree --his mother was a Skrull princess and his father is Captain Mar-Vell. "There's no roll-out timing for 'Young Avengers: Season Two' just yet, but we do have another 'Young Avengers' project in the pipeline that'll begin around January."
Because of the Skrulls' designs for Earth, "Secret Invasion" and its ramp-up will involve many Earth-based Marvel characters. Naturally, the cosmic characters of the "Annihilation" books will have a much more limited involvement in the story -- if any. "There's a definite connection between the events of 'Annihilation' and what's going on in 'Secret Invasion,' but much as when this question came up during 'Civil War,' we're content to let each storyline be it's own thing, without forcing the readers of one to have to buy the other," Brevoort explained. "The puzzle all fits together if you choose to fit all the pieces together, but each piece is designed so that it can operate on its own."
Given the Skrulls' shapeshifting powers, fans are likely to wonder if their favorite character is who they claim to be. Brevoort revealed that Marvel does indeed have a list of what established Marvel characters are Skrulls and that the list was locked down some time ago, but cautions readers against thinking "linearly" about things. "A given character need not have been a Skrull in every appearance from a certain point forward, and each individual Skrull is perfectly capable of duplicating or replacing more than one individual (though not more than one at one time.) So this guessing game is a great deal more involved than many readers are thinking about at this point."