Marvel’s new Secret Invasion event can fix all the problems with the original – making it an even more effective, paranoid adventure story.
Marvel Comics’ upcoming Secret Invasion event is an opportunity for the comic book publisher to fix the mistakes of the original. Marvel has recently announced a new Secret Invasion event; a sequel to the 2008 epic that rocked the entire Marvel Universe. Marvel is keeping details more secretive than the Skrulls themselves, but it’s known to be written by Ryan North and featuring art by Francesco Mobili.
North has revealed the series will focus on former SHIELD head Maria Hill, and explore the idea of how Earth’s security services and heroes react to an alien invasion while already knowing what the Skrulls are capable of. While hero will still be tricked into fighting hero, the story seems like it will apply a closer focus on a super-competent hero trying to fight back against an invasion by the shapeshifting alien race.
The announcement is an exciting one, not least because the change in focus means this new Secret Invasion can fix a lot of problems with the original event. It may have been iconic, but in truth Secret Invasion was deeply flawed, and though the story is inspiring an MCU Disney+ TV show, that series is likely to pay homage to the core concept rather than to repeat the comics’ many mistakes back in 2008.
Secret Invasion Forgot to be Secret
It’s a curious fact that, until the buildup to Secret Invasion, Marvel Comics had never really explored the shapeshifting potential of the Skrulls. Their various invasions of Earth had largely depended on force of arms, rather than exploring the potential for conspiracy and infiltration engendered by shapeshifting. Writer Brian Michael Bendis began laying the groundwork for Secret Invasion when he launched his New Avengers run, and as the story developed he built up a tremendous sense of paranoia as the heroes began to wonder just who had been compromised. Marvel wisely figured it couldn’t be anybody too important, simply because the longterm nature of the Skrull imposters would distort previous events such as House of M or the first Civil War; a Skrull Tony Stark would have felt cheap after Iron Man’s arc in that story, while a Skrull Captain America would have been too easy a way out of Steve Rogers’ recent death.
But everything changed when Marvel turned Bendis’ New Avengers story into their next summer event. Years later, in an interview with CBR, Bendis would remember Dan Buckley’s revision of the arc. “He said, ‘It’s got to be its own miniseries and a whole big thing, because it’s not just the Avengers: You’re talking about the whole Marvel Universe. The whole world has been taken over, so we have to do this big, and it’s perfect. It’s got all this stuff that will reward both long time fans and long time followers and short term fans and followers. So why not hit it all on those levels?’” The problem, though, is that adapting Secret Invasion into an event of such a dramatic scale led to the main event abandoning its core concept. It inevitably became the story of how the invaders stepped out of the shadows, and the sense of paranoia was dramatically reduced. The event began with a mass battle in the Savage Land and ended with an even bigger battle in Central Park, with all the heroes assembling against the Skrull army. The Skrull invasion had become the polar opposite of a secret.
Secret Invasion’s Best Moments Weren’t Part of the Event
Secret Invasion did many things right, but much of what fans remember fondly actually took place around the event itself. When readers remember Secret Invasion, they tend not to think of the event itself, but rather of the build-up – the seeds sown in New Avengers and Mighty Avengers, and the discovery the assassin Elektra had been replaced by a Skrull and her presence could not be detected by any means, inviting both heroes and fans to develop their own theories about who had been replaced with the biggest question of all, “Who do you trust?“
The event is seen as being so important particularly because of what it set up, too, because the final battle ended with Norman Osborn becoming the new Nick Fury when he fired the killshot against the Skrull leader. This led to an era known as “Dark Reign” and Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers. Strikingly, Bendis remembers even key figures at Marvel were only sold on Secret Invasion because it set up this dramatically changed status quo.
Marvel’s New Secret Invasion Can Be Better
Marvel’s new Secret Invasion event can fix all these problems. North’s comments suggest it takes place on a very different scale, centered upon a single woman who’s constantly having to watch for Skrull infiltrators – and who presumably stumbles upon the fact there really is another Skrull invasion taking place on Earth. This is perfect for a much tighter narrative, one that’s filled with paranoia as Maria Hill tries to figure out who she can trust and just who the Skrull impostors really are. While North has promised there’ll still be a lot of Avenger-versus-Avenger action, that doesn’t sound to be the focus – and that’s all for the better. Recreating the build-up to Secret Invasion can tap into the things that are most fondly remembered in relation to the event, but this time as the focus of the main story.
Unlike the first Secret Invasion, this one shouldn’t end in a spectacular battle in Central Park. Rather, it should be a conflict the world never knows about, one that leaves the Avengers wondering just what’s gone on – and with only Maria Hill fully aware of the invasion that’s been repelled. In other words, this time round Secret Invasion should be exactly what its title suggests – a secret, with readers learning about something most of their heroes know nothing about. It’s true that the repercussions would be infinitely less spectacular, but the story would be a whole lot better as a result, making this Secret Invasion a marked improvement on the original.
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