WW Chicago: Marvel's "Secret Invasion" panel

Editor's Note: We regret not being able to present the Secret Invasion panel live, however the wireless access in the convention center was too unreliable.

Starting a little late, partially due to DC's Crisis panel running up to the hour mark, Writer Brian Michael Bendis was on hand to discuss Marvel's war effort, the "Secret Invasion" crossover. Alongside Bendis were writers Ivan Brandon and Brian Reed, publicity whiz Jim McCann and editors Bill Rosemann, Tom Brevoort and hyphenate C.B. Cebulski.

Bendis started by speaking about Michael Turner's passing, showing some of his work and reading comments from Joe Quesada. "In this all access world, very little remains that is truly rare, and Michael Turner was one of those things," Quesada wrote in part.

A two page spread was shown from "Secret Invasion" #4, with Nick Fury firing a gun larger than himself. Mostly new characters appear with Fury, including, "Phobos, the son of Ares, is with Fury. He's the god of fear, and I believe that he will eclipse Squirrel Girl as the coolest character in the Marvel Universe," Bendis said. They teased a new "Secret Warriors" comic launching in January, written by Jonathan Hickman and co-plotted with Bendis. Issue #18 of "Mighty Avengers" will focus on Fury training his "Secret Warriors."

Doom, Emma Frost, Namor and others appeared on an Alex Maleev/Bendis comic that was described as maybe an "Evil Illuminati, or 'Illuminaughty,'" Bendis said. "That's not the title."

With a Nova finger puppet, Bill Rosemann talked briefly about his twenty issues of "Secret Invasion" crossovers, including a "Secret Invasion: Inhumans" mini, drawn by Tom Raney and written by Joe Pokaski. "Medusa is trying to figure out what happened to her husband, Black Bolt," Rosemann said. "It allows them to get out there and kick some Skrull booty!"

Reed talked about "Secret Invasion: Frontline" "It's pretty amazing that this guy can crawl on walls, and this guy can shoot lasers out of his eyes." "Secret Invasion: Spider-Man" brings the Brand New Day cast into the Marvel universe proper, and has them running from a Skrull with the powers of the Sinister Six and Spidey's nowhere to be seen.

A viral MySpace project has transitioned into a web comic by Ivan Brandon with a teen girl who wanted to go to prom who finds out her brother is a Skrull. It shows the human perspective on the conflict. Guest stars will include Nick Fury, Young Avengers and ultimately more heroes fighting in Times Square (including "Naked Cowboy"). "She's you guys' first person perspective on what's going on," Brandon said.

Questions started off with Bendis, asking how far back this was going to happen. "I came to Tom with this inside 'New Avengers.' As the other events happened, it only accentuated, like 'this is perfect.' Civil War happened, that's good for the Skrulls. The Hulk drops on New York, that's awesome. It got to a place where 'this is it,' we're ready to roll. It was last year when Joe and Dan said 'you should do it in the summer, it's gotta be a Marvel universe book.' That's how it became this as 'Secret Invasion.' I thought after I got 'House of M,' you only get one ..."

"We're gonna keep doing it until you get it right," Brevoort joked.

"I did not want this to be the 'Golden Compass' or 'Speed Racer' of events," Bendis said. "Sometimes it hits, sometimes it doesn't, so thanks for not letting it tank."

Bendis said, "What excites us, staring with House of M, is if we say things are gonna be different, to stick to it. We've got new stories, and that really excites us. There would be nothing cooler than the classic Avengers getting back together to kick some ass, and I'm not saying that would never happen."

How did Hawkeye make it back? "Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye had a really intense relationship," Bendis said. "You've gotta remember Scarlet Witch is a mentally unstable woman. Lashing out at him and then sparing him are both because of her mental illness. There's a randomness to it for sure, there's a history with the character and I thought the less explained the better. They had an off panel intimate moment that may or may not relate to a future story written by Allan Heinberg ..."

"Your mic is on," McCann admonished.

"One day, he might pick up an arrow and shoot a Skrull in the head," Bendis continued. "That's in three issues." Wanda will be coming back and the X-Men's location in San Francisco will affect the Skrull's plans unexpectedly.

Brevoort said, "By the end of 'Secret Invasion' #8, you're gonna know pretty concretely who was a Skrull and who wasn't a Skrull."

"I did a lot of lying in the promotion of this," Bendis said about an IGN interview that claimed no heroes were Skrulls. "We're lying now," Brevoort added.

"'Gilmore Girls.' That's all we ever watch," Reed said about what inspired the '50s pulp movie styled images. "'Alien Agenda' by Jim Mars inspired a lot of what happened here. The Skrulls were flat out stolen from 'Invaders of the Body Snatchers,' Stan Lee admitted it, that kind of paranoia, and we definitely live in that world again. It's not unlike what they did with the Klingons in 'Star Trek' movies and the Cylons in 'Battlestar Galactica.' It has a theme -- who do you trust? -- and you'll know all these things."

"If you read his books, you'll know what's gonna be happening for the next three years," Brevoort said.

Elektra and Spider-Woman were called as Skrulls early on, and even artists didn't know before they got the individual pages. "The less Skrulls the better, we figured, would be a better plan for them," Bendis said. Brevoort kept pushing requests back for more Skrulls, and the Ethan Edwards Skrull from Reginald Hudlin's "Spider-Man" arc has no involvement in the crossover, despite his presence in New York.

The Skrull Kill Crew will be back in Mighty Avengers #16. Captain Marvel was a prototype, and Bendis said, "It's like T1, T2, T3 ... to get to the hottie Terminator, you have to get through the skinny guy Terminator."

A seven page Dum Dum Dugan preview will return in a "Director's Cut" version of "Secret Invasion" #1. There will be no Hulks -- red, green or whatever -- in the crossover.

"I don't know that being reflective of the movies will boost sales," Brevoort said, "and I don't feel bound by that. It's great that they're drawing so much of what they're doing from what's happening in the books, and what has happened in the books for years. It's a really good synergy." Bendis agreed, speaking in regards to Daredevil carving a logo on to Bullseye's head.

"There's never been a better synergy between Marvel East -- Marvel Comics -- and Marvel West -- Marvel Studios," Cebulski said.

Bendis noted that the Jim Shooter/Bob Hall issues created the boozing, dramatic Jan and Hank and is still reflected in the dysfunctionality of their relationship. "The fact that their marriage doesn't work is more interesting than Reed and Sue's marriage to me," Bendis said.

Retreats lock in for six months, are very close to coordinated for a year ahead and have an idea of where to go 18-24 months ahead.

Does Marvel worry about fan reaction in this pre-planning? "We're not afraid of you," Brevoort said of the fans. "The fact that a year later you're still talking about the story [the death of Steve Rogers] ..."

What about the War Skrulls in "Uncanny X-Men?" Bendis described them as steps towards this plan. "What's the plan? Where do we [Skrulls] learn, from the cows on up?" Bendis answered.

Down to the wire, the panel closed down teasing the 5PM panel, where more announcements are pending.

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