Posted - July 2, 2013 | Updated: August 16, 2015

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Secret Invasion

Of all the Marvel events I've read, Secret Invasion is the one that is the most dependent on its tie-in stories. Brian Michael Bendis' epic is so huge, parts of it just doesn't fit in the eight issues comprising the main story arc.

It all begins with this.

a skrull that impersonated electra lies on the operating table as reed richards, henry pym and tony stark look on

It was in the pages of the New Avengers that Iron Man and his team confronted the seemingly endless ninja assassins of the Hand led by Elektra. Or at least, we all thought it was Elektra until she was revealed as a Skrull. And that's pretty much the crux of Secret Invasion, the shape-shifting Skrulls have infiltrated Earth's heroes and their allies. Who's a Skrull and who isn't is going to be a big problem moving forward.

Leinil Francis Yu does the art for this event and early on we get this beautiful landscape of a Skrull world.

landscape from a desert planet outpost of the skrulls

I've always been a big fan of S.W.O.R.D.'s 'The Peak' headquarters. Just look at it.

the peak

Here, Dum Dum Dugan, legendary Howling Commando and S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent visits the Peak.

dum dum dugan visits the peak

So we have two groups of Avengers here.

We have Iron Man's registered Mighty Avengers

the mighty avengers

Then we have Luke Cage's Secret Avengers, underground and illegal and wanted by the government.

the secret avengers

Both teams are on their way to the Savage Land; located in the middle of the Antarctic. An unidentified ship has crash landed in this location. The Savage Land is, of course, well - savage.

a brachiosaur bites a quinjet in mid flight

Luke Cages' team are the first to find the ship - later on revealed as a Skrull ship.

the secret avengers surround a skrull ship

It is a mark of the deep rifts caused by the superhero Civil War that the seemingly urgent matter of this ship is shunted aside in favor of the animosities between registered and unregistered heroes.

the secret avengers faceoff against the mighty avengers

Tony threatens Luke with his repulsor rays and Luke has this to say about it.

luke cage ignores tony stark and attempts to open a skrull ship

I am in such awe of Iron Man's power that it never occurred to me that Luke Cage would be proof against it - or is he?

And here I just said how beautiful the Peak was.

the peak explodes

Now its gone, sabotaged by the Skrulls. I'm going to miss that great shape in Earth orbit.

The S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier too is sabotaged. Look at this breathtaking panel.

the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier becomes imbalanced

Back in the Baxter Building, there's an interesting shot of a Fantastic Four tour being conducted.

a tour of the baxter building

A Sue Storm Skrull infiltrator manages to compromise the controls holding the Negative Zone in check. Here's Johnny reacting to the emergency.

johnny changing into the human torch

I haven't come across any really good panels showing Johnny transitioning from his human form to his flame form so the panel above really caught my attention.

Equally good is Yu's rendition of the Negative Zone causing the Baxter Building to implode.

baxter building implosion caused by the negative zone

Back in the Savage Land, the Skrull ship opens to an astounding sight.

heroes emerge from the skrull ship

Old versions of heroes who may or may not be Skrulls. Real or not its a nostalgic sight. Look at the Bronze Age Luke Cage sporting the yellow and blue costume and the metal headband. The Beast seams a fairly new (circa Astonishing X-Men) version. Iron Man in the Mark II. The old, mature Vision that I prefer to the current Young Avengers version. Ms. Marvel in the old costume; and Captain America seemingly back from the dead. This panel gives notice to the unprecedented levels of confusion that Secret Invasion will introduce.

Here is how the two Avengers teams react to all this.

the avengers reacting to the unexpected arrival of the heroes from the skrull ship

Henry Pym is a Skrull and he shoots Reed Richards, resulting in a pair of panels that are fascinating in that really gross out way.

henry pym is a skrull
henry pym shoots reed richards

The confusion of the Secret and Mighty Avenger teams encountering the "heroes" from the Skrull ship quickly devolves into a fight.

the heroes from the skrull ship fight the combined avengers teams

Here's the Vision from the ship tussling with Sentry

vision vs. the sentry

This particular encounter ends in a curious fashion : the Vision says something to the Sentry that affects Sentry's extremely fragile mindset causing the Sentry to leave the battle.

I also like this one.

ronin grabs some arrows from hawkeye

Ronin a.k.a. Clint Barton appropriates the arrows of one who I am assuming is a Skrull-Hawkeye. Ronin has been using swords and nanchucks; its about time Clint came back to the weapon that he's deadliest with. True enough he does a lot of damage with them bow and arrows.

Who are the confirmed Skrulls so far?

There's Spider-Man-Skrull

skrull spider-man

And Hawkeye-Skrull

skrull hawkeye

Did I say Skrulls? The main Skrull attack force has just landed in New York. Look at these guys!

a force of super-powered skrulls land in new york

The most famous one (actually the only one I recognize), is in the lower left hand corner - I mean, isn't that the Super Skrull? Famed foe of the Fantastic Four?

This may be the saddest infiltration of all : Jarvis is a Skrull.

jarvis in the deck of the helicarrier

Here's another great spread by Yu.

the young avengers and the runaways confront the skrull invasion force in new york

The Young Avengers and the Runaways against the Skrull invaders in New York. I like the rendering of Hulkling and Patriot the best, but any way you look at it, the heroes are outgunned and outmanned. The Young Avenger Vision has all the powers of the classic Vision but compared to that legendary member of the 1976 Avengers this Vision looks like a cream puff; he just doesn't look that confident.

In this panel Hulkling - who is half Skrullv- attempts to talk to his supposed 'brothers' to no avail.

hulkling tries reasoning with the skrulls

Short lesson : race means nothing, your true brothers (and sisters) are those who share your culture.

In the biggest piece of psychological tension in all of Secret Invasion, Skrull-Spider-Woman attempts to convince Tony Stark that he is the 'the biggest sleeper agent in all of Skrull history'.

the skrull queen tries to convince tony stark that he's a skrull

Back to the fight in NYC, a giant Skrull throws the equally gigantic Stature into the New York skyline. Makes for a great panel this one.

a skrull giant throw stature into the new york skyline

I know I've been critical of the new Vision but this panel still made me wince.

the vision gets his head shot off

As you may have gleaned by now, New York is slowly being lost. But reinforcements have arrived.

nick fury arrives with some reinforcements

Nick Fury and company have arrived, presumably to 'save the day'. Also arriving with them is my favorite pet peeve in all of Secret Invasion, that gun Nick is currying. That incredibly stupid-looking gun.

For the second time, the Skrulls have captured, and are torturing, Reed Richards.

reed richards is being tortured by the skrulls

The first time was in the pages of 'The Illuminati', and the method of 'containment' the Skrulls used was very much like this one. Yes, I am angry that Reed is being treated this way, I want to bring Ben in at this point, the Thing will go berzerk if he saw this. Although there is a very small part of my brain that remembers how big a jerk Reed was in Civil War, maybe he deserves a little bit of this for helping create that Thor clone? Nah.

Here's the fight in New York as the heroes get a second wind courtesy of Nick and his new howlers.

the skrull hero battle in new york

And look at that, right in the middle of what could have been a really good art panel is that gun again - like a huge pimple right on the nose of a nice face.

Phobos, the God of Fear.

phobos uses his power

This is one of those things that happen in the main story and I can't understand it so I'm thinking one of the tie-ins will have the answer.

nick fury shoots ms. marvel
nick fury leaves ms. marvel to the skrulls

Nick Fury shoots Ms. Marvel,the heroes leave her with the Skrulls but we are not shown that she changes to Skrull form. What is that?

Two more Skrulls

phoenix skrull and beast skrull

Phoenix-Skrull and Beast-Skrull.

In the midst of all the 'who's the Skrull' confusion, the Black Widow is a bastion of surety.

black widow helps clear tony starks head

One of the biggest surprise heroes of Secret Invasion is S.W.O.R.D.'s Agent Brand, first introduced in Astonishing X-Men. Her first move : infiltrate the Skrull mother ship.

agent brand infiltrates a skrull ship

As the Hood logically demonstrates here, even the villains must side with the heroes on this one.

the hood musters his forces

I love this panel sequence. No heroes around, big bad Skrull is about to stomp on civilians then this happens to him.

a skrull gets hit by lightning

People look up and see the arrival of Thor.

I hated Norman Osborn in Siege. I thought he was pathetic in Civil War. But I really like him in Secret Invasion. His finest moment is when he manages to convince Skrull-Captain Marvel to side with Earth. Here's the page :

skrull captain marvel attacks
norman osborn talks to skrull captain marvel
skrull captain marvel wants to side with humanity
norman osborn says all the right things

Back to Agent Brand. She manages to take out the Skrulls . . .

agent brand fighting the skrulls

. . . and rescue Reed Richards.

It is a mark of Reed's level-headed personality that this relatively 'tame' panel is the angriest I've ever seen him.

read richards working some controls

Here is the Skrull-Captain Marvel turned rogue attacking the Skrull Armada.

read richards working some controls

Impressive power level - I believe the word 'cosmic' is applicable.

A key turning point happens with the use of this device.

reed richards holds a device that will reveal if someone is a skrull or not

The equipment Richards is holding is able to 'reveal' any Skrulls in disguise - the deception is at an end at last. Speaking of which . . .

mockingbird is revealed as a skrull

I was a bit baffled by Skrull-Mockingbird's innocent reaction even though she has been exposed as a Skrull - the brainwashing must have been so complete that even she 'forgot' that she was really a Skrull. If they can do this to one of their own, and thay have, then the Skrulls are a truly brutal race.

With the Savage Land 'big reveal' over, the combined Avengers teams make their way to New York to give the forces there a badly needed hand.

I find the panels showing the death - the valiant death - of the Skrull-Captain Marvel particularly poignant.

the valiant death of the skrull captain marvel

Breathtaking panel by Yu as the heroes arrive in New York

new york with skrull ships floating up top

The Skrulls have brutally invaded New York and most of the populace is terrified of them. But not all, a small group of people have actually turned out to welcome the Skrulls - and yes, this is very realistic isn't it?

skrull supporters in front of dr. strange's house

Here they are now in front of what looks like Doctor Strange's Greenwhich home. It only looks rundown, of course, part of the Sorcerer's enchantment.

A lull in the fighting has the Human and Skrull sides having a final conversation of sorts. This is my favorite part.

my god has a hammer
the skrull queen talks to the heroes

"Yeah? Well my god has a hammer!". Oh yeah.

Here's the 'Avengers Assemble' double-page spread - the best pinup in this pinup-rich series.

avengers go into action

From here on end its page to page action, huge panels with lots of participants. Here's two of my favorite small panel sequences.

ares gets hit
and he likes it

Obviously, Ares has been hurt by the blast, but true to his being the God of War, he actually likes the roughhousing. This is Marvel's Ares, the classic Greek Ares isn't so tough. In the Iliad when Ares got wounded, he beat a hasty retreat.

Wolverine vs. Skrull-Spider Woman is also wonderfully done.

wolverine vs. the skrull queen

Incidentally, the Skrull-Spider Woman is also Queen of the Skrull Empire.

While the battle is ongoing we have another huge disaster brewing. Remember that Jarvis is a Skrull? Jessica Jones doesn't know it so she does this.

jessica jones leaves her baby with jarvis

She just left her and Luke Cages' firstborn with a Skrull infiltrator. Cage is going to go ballistic on this one.

Here's another shot of the heroes on the attack.

the heroes of earth attack

Young Avengers' Hawkeye on the left just outshines everybody on this panel don't you think? Unfortunately, she'll get severely wounded during the battle.

Suddenly, the Wasp loses control, she becomes gigantic. The Skrulls have turned her into a human bomb.

wasp becomes huge and goes out of control

There's nothing to be done but for Thor to warp here out of there.

thor warps wasp out of earth space

I love the Tnunder God's last word to the Wasp.

thor vows revenge on those who harmed the wasp

Here is the panel showing the death of the Skrull Queen.

the skrull queen has been shot

Looking at these panels I initially thought that Wolverine was the one who killed her - I thought he hit her head with his claws and it somehow exploded, some kind of alien reaction. But no, her head exploded because somebody shot her. And that someone is . . .

osborn holding the gun that shot the skrull queen

You can see how this is leading up to Norman Osborn's Dark Reign.

With the ground fighting nearly over its time to wrap up the Skrull invaders in space. Here's a great panel showing that.

the hroes of earth attack the skrull armada in space

As all the fignting winds down another Skrull ship touches down and to everybody's shock . . .

the real heroes emerging from a skrull ship

This ship contains the heroes the Skrulls kidnapped and replaced. I'm looking at this panel and my big question is : How long have we been reading about Skrulls instead of the real heroes? When were each of these heroes kidnapped? How many issues of what series had Skrulls instead of the real heroes? What are the issue numbers? It's important isn't it? Sue Storm, Yellowjacket, these are major heroes. And what's Iron Man doing there? Lots of questions about this panel. Lots of questions.

Here's the heart rending panel when Jessica and Luke find out their baby has been taken.

Kudos to Bendis for pacing things so that the panic really is palpable during the read.

The Baxter Building takes the cake for ultimate high-tech. Remember it was destroyed by the Negative Zone? Well here it is rebuilding itself!

the baxter building rebuilds itself
as a number of people look on

This full page scene is long in coming. Remember the events of Civil War? In it Stark, Richards and what is now the Skrull Pym (!) created a murderous clone. Well you can bet the real Thor isn't thrilled about it - specially since the clone was based on his DNA and this clone murdered Bill Foster. I think Thor's actions here is more than justified and Tony really has this coming.

thor still mad at tony
tony carrying on as usual
not a good day for tony stark
the rift between the core of the avengers

The end of Secret Invasion is the start of Dark Reign. This panel is the harbinger.

the president promotes norman osborn

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