Total War: Aaron talks Black Panther / Secret Invasion Tie-In

In the Marvel Universe, the African nation of Wakanda has existed for thousands of years, with no invading army ever having conquered it. But that may change this summer, when July's "Black Panther" #39 begins a three-part tie-in "Secret Invasion." Written by Jason Aaron with art by Jefte Palo, the arc finds Wakanda under siege by the invading forces of the Skrull Empire.

Editor Axel Alonso wanted the "Secret Invasion" tie-in issues of "Black Panther" to tell an epic war story, which is why he offered Aaron, the author of Vertigo's Vietnam War graphic novel "The Other Side," a chance to write it. Being a fan of Black Panther, Aaron eagerly accepted the gig. "He's not only as big a badass as Batman, but he's also the king of his own country and head of his own religion," the writer told CBR News. "It doesn't get any cooler than that."

Aaron's three-issue "Black Panther" arc is very new-reader-friendly. "This is pretty much a standalone story," he said. "You won't need to have been reading 'Black Panther.' You won't really even need to be reading 'Secret Invasion' (but you certainly should be reading both of those.) This takes place at the very beginning of the invasion, but the story is contained to Wakanda, so we're not really aware of what's going on in the rest of the world. The Avengers are busy. So is the Fantastic Four. Wakanda is on its own."

Wakanda is home to the largest deposit of one of the Marvel Universe's rarest metals, Vibranium, an alloy capable of absorbing both sound and kinetic impact. The Skrulls' assault on the country is an attempt to claim both its Vibranium mound and human prisoners to mine it.

The Black Panther is one of the world's most resourceful and strategic minded superheroes, and his country is home to some of the most advanced sciences on the planet. But a Wakandan victory against the Skrulls is far from certain. "The Black Panther has a contingency plan for everything, including an alien invasion," Aaron remarked. "So he's never going to be caught unaware. But then when you're outnumbered five to one by the invading Skrull armada, what does it really matter?

"And the technological sophistication of Wakanda quickly becomes useless, as we'll see in the opening salvos of the battle," Aaron continued. "This turns into a ground war. Hand to hand combat. So yeah, things are quite dire for Wakanda. They either fight or get conquered for the first time in their country's history."

Aaron's three-issue "Black Panther" arc is mainly about the ground war battles fought on a front line right outside the gates of Central Wakanda's main city. "It's straight up war and action; Skrulls vs. Wakanda. There's the plot right there in all its intricacy, Aaron said. "The question is how the hell can the Wakandans prevail when they're so grossly outnumbered."

The sheer number of Skrulls attacking Wakanda means every able bodied man and woman will need to pick up a weapon and fight. This includes X-Men member and Queen of Wakanda, Storm, who plays a big part in the storyline.

A handful of the attacking Skrulls will also play significant roles in Aaron's story. "We'll focus a lot on the Skrull commander, and we'll also being meeting a few Super Skrulls, one of which combines the powers of Marvel's most badass streetfighters," Aaron said.

The writer has been wowed by the way Jefte Palo has brought to life his tale of total war. "Jefte's doing some great work on this," Aaron remarked. "I think the battle scenes are really allowing him to shine, and he draws the creepiest Skrulls you've ever seen."

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