Civil War did a great job of pitting heroes against one another, however, it did a better job of selling a lot of books. Unfortunately, at its conclusion, it left the world asking more questions than Marvel had answers for. Most important of these questions was, “Why would the heroes battle one another? Aren’t they on the same side?”
Sensing a problem, Marvel took these questions and gave them to the always reliable Brian Michael Bendis. Bendis immediately began constructing the answers. More than that, he found a clever way to realign the entire Marvel Universe.
And he did it with Secret Invasion.
Secret Invasion picks up as the Skrull Princess, Veranke explains to her people that the end of their homeworld is near and that they must take measures to find somewhere new to inhabit. She is then taken by Emperor Dorrek and imprisoned for spreading religious extremism. This wouldn’t last as she was proven right when Galactus came to feed on her planet. With her homeworld gone, Veranke rises into power and begins plotting the takeover of Earth.
For years the Skrulls studied the Illuminati (Black Bolt, Namor, Mr. Fantastic, Iron Man, Dr. Strange, and Professor X) and sought to learn everything about them. After many years, the Skrulls came to Earth and successfully captured some of its heroes. So as no one would suspect anything, the Skrulls then took the form and filled in for the missing heroes. In fact, Veranke herself takes on the form of Jessica Drew, Spider-Woman.
First Secret Invasion
The heroes become wise to the Skrulls when Pagon, disguised as Elektra, dies in battle. Upon its death, Pagon reverts back to its Skrull form. To further divide the Avengers, Veranke, after a few failed tries, hands the dead Skrull over to Tony Stark. Remember, Secret Invasion takes place directly after the fallout of Civil War.
Iron Man takes the corpse to the Illuminati, tells them that the Skrull went undetected and that if there are more Skrulls out there, no one would know. No sooner does he say this then Black Bolt reveals himself to be a Skrull. Just as he begins to use his Sonic Scream, Namor delivers him a devastating blow. Without warning two more Skrulls arrive and begin their attack. Lucky for the group, just as this happens, Dr. Strange teleports them far away. This attack shows does two things:
- It shakes their collective confidence
- Proves that nobody can be trusted
To figure out why the Skrulls are undetectable, Tony arranges a secret laboratory for Mr. Fantastic and Hank Pym to work in.
Coincidentally, out on the Peak (satellite headquarters of S.W.O.R.D.), Dum Dum Dugan and Abigail Brand discover an incoming Skrull ship set to land in the Savage Land. They quickly transfer the message to Iron Man and he gathers his group of Mighty Avengers and leaves for the Savage Land.
Sensing an opportunity to further drive a wedge between the heroes, Spider-Woman sends the news of the Skrull ship to the underground Avengers. They too then set out for the Savage Land.
Luke Cage’s Avengers arrive shortly before the Iron Man led Avengers. As Luke draws near the Skrull ship, he is stopped by a yelling Iron Man. Even with the warning from Iron Man, Luke Cage proceeds to rip open the door. Upon its opening, a light goes off alerting the hiding Skrulls all over the Earth to come out of hiding. In effect, it tells them that the time to attack is now.
Second Secret Invasion
Out on the Peak, Dum Dum Dugan, revealed as a Skrull, sets off a detonator that explodes the space station. At the same moment, Jarvis, also a Skrull, uploads a virus into the Iron Man armor. Not only does it cause the suit to malfunction, the virus takes control of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier as well. Worse than these, it also affects various Stark systems.
- Enterprise Plants
- Satellite systems
- The high-security prison, The Raft
Now compromised, the prisoners of The Raft begin to escape.
As the story flips back to the Savage Land, one by one Skrull version of Earth Superheroes emerge from the ship.
- Emma Frost
- Luke Cage
- Captain America
- Iron Man
- Invisible Woman
- Scarlet Witch
- Ms. Marvel
Notably, none of these heroes are in their present-day costumes. Instead, each has arrived in their early costumes. This, of course, is because the Skrulls have copied an older version of each hero.
A new discovery
Back in the laboratory, Reed Richards discovers how and why the Skrulls went undetected. However, before he could let anyone know, Hank Pym reveals himself to be a Skrull. Hank shoots Reed with a weapon that affects him at the molecular level. That is, Hank shoots Reed and Reed’s body scatters like Jell-o hitting a wall.
As confusion reigns supreme in the Savage Land, the heroes attempt to decipher who is a Skrull and who isn’t. At one point, Wolverine approaches Mockingbird and asks her questions that would either prove or disprove her status. He even opts to ask what happened on October the 12th, to which she calmly replies that she lost her baby. Ronin (Clint Barton) jumps in and vouches for her innocence. After all, if she were a Skrull, how could she have known something so personal?
As war wages on across the globe, Spider-Woman approaches Tony Stark, gives him a kiss, and thanks him for making the Invasion such a success. She reveals to him that everything up to this point, including Civil War had been planned. More so, she lets him know that she couldn’t have done it without his involvement.
Strangely, the only one who makes any sense of what to do is Black Widow. Rather than trying to figure out who is who, she employs the “shoot first, ask questions later method”. She then shoots two imposters, Beast and Phoenix, dead. Even Wolverine couldn’t escape her tirade as the moment he entered her vicinity, he too was shot. Luckily, his mutant power to heal himself prevented any sort of real damage.
Back in New York with things looking more bleak than ever, Nick Fury and Ms. Marvel do everything they can slow the invasion.
Over on the Skrull ship, a now free Mr. Fantastic uses his device to show who is and isn’t a Skrull. To the amazement of all around, the device shows that everyone on the ship is a Skrull. Most importantly, Mockingbird…the same one that Clint Barton vouched for…is proven to be a Skrull. Frustrated that the love of his life was murdered and replaced by a Skrull, Clint loses himself and vows to kill every last Skrull.
The big boom
The scene jumps back to New York where every hero involved, and the Thunderbolts, have found their way there. In the ensuing battle, Ronin finds his way back to his bow and arrow and immediately takes out a few Skrulls. He then takes aim and shoots an arrow at Veranke. The arrow hits its target and pierces her through her neck and then exits out of her mouth. The tides look to be changing for the heroes…until…
A formula that was given to Wasp just a few days earlier is activated and she begins to grow extremely large. She then emits a purple energy and becomes a living and breathing bomb. At the moment of her explosion, Thor flies in and makes her disappear.
Secret Invasion concluded
With the invasion foiled, Wolverine looks to make his final kill the Princess. Just as he is about to do so, Norman Osborn steps in and shoots her. Because of the gluttony of press coverage of the event, the shot was heard around the world and Norman was shown as a hero. At its conclusion, Norman, under the direction of the president, takes control of the Thunderbolts and is given all of the responsibility that Tony Stark once had.
The book concludes with Norman Osborn in a room with Dr. Doom, Loki, Namor, the Hood, and Emma Frost telling them that “Okay. It’s a new day. So listen carefully… This is how it’s going to be…”
Secret Invasion is widely considered both a critical and commercial success. It achieved everything that it set out to do, all-the-while remaining true to good storytelling.