WWLA: Marvel's "Secret Invasion" Panel

Welcome to CBR's coverage of the SECRET INVASION PANEL at Wizard World LA from the Mike Wieringo Room at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Below you'll find - courtesy of Marvel Comics - a spectacularly large gallery of artwork that premiered at today's panel and offered some clues as to announcements and news revealed during the hour-long presentation.

As the AV guy's iTunes visualizer displays graphical interpretations of music by Gorillaz across the two large projection screens, dozens of Marvel fans crowd into the Mike Wieringo Room to hear the latest on the publisher's long awaited "Secret Invasion" event. On the dais today are Marvel marketing guru Jim McCann, writer Christos Gage, editor Steve Wacker, writer Brian Reed and writer Chris Yost.

"Who here is a Skrull?" asked McCann of the rowdy LA crowd, many of whom cheered and raised their hands. "Not a very good infiltration!" McCann scolded.

"A lot of you know the Skrulls are behind 'Secret Invasion,' but what you don't know is what's behind 'Final Crisis,'" continued McCann, who displayed on-screen a picture of a fan dressed as Superman wearing a Skrull mask.

McCann then explained that "Secret Invasion" has been in the works for several years, and indicated "Mighty Avengers" and "New Avengers" will be hugely important as the event approaches.

Additionally, Gage said, many of the younger characters will be taking a large role, specifically those in "Avengers: The Initiative." As seen in the "Avengers: The Initiative Annual," a Skrull has infilitrated the organization at a high level, and the Skrull's plans are for a Skrull to be in place in every state in which the Initiative operates. He also urged the crowd to cheer for McCann, who he credited with working behind the scenes to "keep working in comics fun."

McCann confirmed that Marvel knows who was replaced by Skrulls and when and how it occurred, and those answers will be revealed in many of the "Secret Invasion" tie-ins across the Avengers line and other tie-ins.

"Incredible Hercules" will depict the battle between Earth's dieties and those of the Skrulls, beginning in May.

Also tying-in heavily into "Secret Invasion" is the forthcoming series "Captain Britain and MI-13," which we've covered heavily here on CBR. The title exists to reinforce the idea that the entire world is being attacked by the Skrulls, not just America.

A series of tie-ins acompany the main "Secret Invasion" miniseries, including a Captain Marvel story by Chris Gage and Mike Perkins, which promises to feature the "leisure suit Wonder Man" and the ape-like Beast. In this story, Captain Marvel will be forced to make a decision he doesn't agree with.

Jeff Parker is writing an Agents of Atlas tie-in, which will also serve to set up Agents of Atlas for future stories, and Mike Carey will write an Agent Brand one-shot. "She will be the sleeper hit of the 'Secret Invasion' event," McCann declared.

"Good morning, Angels," said Brian Bendis via speakerphone. McCann indicated that Bendis has seen the final production copy of "Secret Invasion" #1 and asked the writer what he thought. "I'd like to thank Brian Reed for writing it," Bendis quipped.

Alan Davis will provide covers for "Secret Invasion: Fantastic Four," one of which was displayed and features Johnny Storm "getting his ass kicked by a female Skrull," who some fans may recognize.

Chris Yost will write "Secret Invasion: Runaways/Young Avengers," with art by Takeshi Miyazawa.

"'Thunderbolts' #122-125 will be a huge part of 'Secret Invasion," Gage said. "In the tie-in issues you will see an iconic Marvel character revealed as a Skrull attacking the Thunderbolts."

"Secret Invasion: Inhumans" will be written by "Heroes" scribe Joe Pokaski, who took the stage to explain that the miniseries will follow up on the revelation that Black Bolt is a Skrull.

McCann then turned the floor over to the audience. The first question was about how relevant older Skrull-based stories are to "Secret Invasion," to which Bendis said "absolutely," but also said that familiarity with those older stories is not necessary to read "Secret Invasion." Although Bendis had read many of the original Skrull stories when they were released, the writer explained that editor Tom Brevoort provided Bendis with copies so he would know what not to write.

"How far back are you going with the list of Skrulls?" asked a fan. "Are you guys going to use this correct any mistakes you've made in the past?"

"No, we are using Skrulls to make more mistakes," Bendis said, adding, "George Washington was a Skrull." In seriousness, the writer said the storyline goes back only approximately as far as the beginning of "New Avengers." Brian Reed added that during the plotting of "Avengers: The Illuminati," he knew which characters would be involved with "Secret Invasion" along the line, and that some characters were removed from "the list" to facilitate the future event.

"Bendis actually worked with Stan and Jack on this," laughed Steve Wacker.

A fan asked about the idea of the Skrull dieties come from. Bendis said the notion of Skrull gods was something he made a note of in early story meetings and that Fred Van Lente came up with such a good pitch based on the idea, it led to the "Incredible Hercules" tie-in.

In response to a fan's question about the previously cheese-factor associated with Skrull stories, Bendis confirmed he's made a conscious effort to make the villains far more menacing and credible, citing "Invasion of the Body-Snatchers" and Purple Man from his own "Alias" series as an inspiration.

Before hanging up, Bedis thanked the audience for supporting his work as well as the writers on the panel for "contributing immensely cool shit to this story."

In addition to the Skrull dieties and the British, Marvel will be examining the ramifications of "Secret Invasion" from the point of view of the man on the street. Hence, "Secret Invasion: Front Line," written by Brian Reed. "These people in the Marvel universe see Spider-Man on the news every night, but they don't see him in their real life every day," comparing the scenario to seeing violence in Iraq on the news. "We're seeing how 'Secret Invasion' effects real people on the ground level, so that when Spider-Man moves through the panel, it's a freakin' event. You will see it how the people in the Marvel Universe see it."

Jim McCann indicated that Marvel Boy would play a role in "Secret Invasion," and that he would Nor-Vahh, Grant Morrison's character.

"How deeply is 'Ms. Marvel' going to be tied-into 'Secret Invasion?'" asked one fan. "She is incredibly tied-into it," Brian Reed declared, saying he's beeing trying to up the ante with every page. "Since before she was Ms. Marvel is how far back she is tied-into it. What we really see is how the Skrulls have tried to take over his position amongst the Avengers, and we see her basically alone in Manhattan taking on the invasion."

"Brian's 'Secret Invasion' story changes pretty much everything about the character," said Steve Wacker.

As to whether the villains of Marvel will be involved in 'Secret Invasion' as they were in 'Civil War,' in which they joined with the heroes to achieve their common goals, Gage said, "Wait and see," and reminded the audience that the Thunderbolts will be big stars of the event.

"What happens to the people who've been replaced by Skrulls?" asked another fan.

"Very good question," McCann said.

"That's the plot of the book!" Wacker sighed.

Another fan remarked that comic books have been going through a renaissance as compared to the variously dubious product of the 1990s. McCann said the credit goes to Joe Quesada and editors like Steve Wacker and Tom Brevoort. Brian Reed elaborated, saying Wacker once asked him of a 'Ms. Marvel' script, "Are you bored writing the book?" Reed had written the issue following a wisdom teeth operation and while intoxicated from the assorted drugs that come with recuperating from such an ordeal.

"It was weird!" Wacker said. "Grant Morrison would have read this comic and said, 'This is weird!'"

Returning to "Secret Invasion," the panel said that virtually every question fans have about the Skrull campaign -- how could the Illuminati not know that Black Bolt was a Skrull, for example -- is a question that will be asked by the Marvel heroes in "Secret Invasion" and its tie-ins.

"What about Nick Fury?" asked a fan.

"We will be seeing Nick Fury," McCann said. "Whether it's past, present or future, Nick Fury does play a major, major role and he is badly needed right now."

As to Thor's involvement in "Sectet Invasion," McCann said, "There's lots of lightning on covers. That's all I'll say."

"How are the X-Men involved? Will there be tie-ins?" asked another fan. McCann said yes, but that he could reveal no more at this time.

Concerning "Annihilation: Conquest" and its place in the grander "Secret Invasion" scheme, McCann said the events of "Annihilation" are relevant to Bendis' story, and that the cosmic series did not take place in a vacuum, so-to-speak. "Space is a vacuum," Wacker reminded.

A fan then asked if non-super-powered characters have been or will be replaced by Skrulls. "That's an awesome question," said McCann, who said no more.

In response to a fan's question, Pokanski indicated his Inhumans series would pick up from "Silent War."

The panel explained that clues as to who is and isn't a Skrull can be determined in part by the nature of characters' internal monologues - "who has them, or whose don't make any sense?"

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