SPOILERS FOR SECRET INVASION #8
The bad guys lost, so the good guys must have won. Right?
Don't be so sure. With the release this week of Secret Invasion #8,
readers found out that the Skrulls invading Earth may have lost the
war, but victory for the heroes is anything but sweet. When the smoke
cleared, The Avengers lost one of their founders, a baby has
disappeared, and the war has ended with a shift in power that leads the
Marvel Universe into what the publisher is calling "Dark Reign,"
complete with new titles, new teams and a new leader named Norman
Almost five years in the making, the story of Secret Invasion
has dominated the Marvel Universe since March, spanning an eight-issue
miniseries by Brian Bendis and Leinil Francis Yu, as well as dozens of
tie-in issues and spin-offs. As the story ended this week, Newsarama
talked to Bendis to find out more about what's coming in Dark Reign, as well as looking back Secret Invasion's end.
Newsarama: The Secret Invasion may be over, and the Skrulls didn't win, but Brian, it's not really a happy ending with who did win, is it?
Brian Michael Bendis: You know what? It's just like any war
we've ever seen in the real world. There are winners and losers –
physically, politically, mentally – and that's how this shook out too.
And it's not even what Norman was looking for necessarily, but it's how
it shook out, and he grabs it. He goes for it.
NRAMA: Is the dark turn at the end something that was always
planned, or is it something that came to you as you were writing the
BMB: No, it's part of the original pitch. What I pitched was
that what happens at the end was there's a power shift in the Marvel
Universe that creates a situation where most of the heroes get to feel
what it feels like to be Peter Parker all the time, that even when you
win you lose. And it was interesting to me to have Luke Cage or Clint
Barton or even Captain America feel like they know what Peter Parker
always feels like. And everyone got charmed by that idea at Marvel.
While I was putting it together, Warren [Ellis]'s Thunderbolts
run made it very clear that if one would choose to do so, Norman was on
track to head toward this kind of storyline, very organically, very
in-character, and very much within the realm of what was going on. When
Warren left Thunderbolts, I kind of raised my hand and said,
"Hey, you know that thing with the thing there? This is it." And
everyone said yes, including Warren, thank God in heaven, and I got to
go write my Warren Ellis fan fiction. So that's great. So yeah, that's
where we ended up.
NRAMA: And from that came Dr. Doom, Osborn, Emma Frost, Namor,
The Hood and Loki uniting as the Dark Illuminati on the last two pages
of Secret Invasion?
BMB: The idea was, in the original pitch, that there was a
secret group, a cabal, that got put together that was the mirror image
of the Illuminati, with five or six characters who almost mirrored the
other group. And we see them from their day one. I thought the most
intriguing character would be Namor, who's on both secret little groups
and is the only one that knows both exist.
NRAMA: Namor kind of walks the line between both sides, doesn't he?
BMB: Yeah, and he always has. He does whatever's best for him
and his kingdom. I love the relationship between him and Doom. I always
have. The only change that was made from the original pitch was that
Magneto was not available. So we sat down and thought, who would
replace Magneto? And the idea of Emma was brought up -- I think
Fraction said Emma. And that's not something I would have suggested
unless an X-writer suggested it. Emma now becomes the most interesting
person in that room. Now, it's like, why is Emma in that room? And Matt
and I have been working diligently to produce some really interesting
stuff for her. So when you read Secret Invasion: Dark Reign, I
actually rewrote it to be from her point of view, because I think her
point of view is the most interesting. The initial meeting of the group
will be seen through her eyes. I had the meeting set, but when Emma
became part of it, it just became that much more interesting. So now
Emma's the one who has to make some hard choices.
NRAMA: So we'll get to hear what's going on inside her head?
BMB: Absolutely. From page one of Dark Reign Special.
Because we know what Doom wants, we know what Namor wants, we know what
Loki wants, we know what everybody else wants. But Emma has wants as
well. And is she willing to go this far to make them happen, in this
And I'd like to publicly speak to Joss Whedon, whom I haven't spoken to
about this. I'd like to tell Joss, I'm not going to undo all the work
you did to make her awesome.
NRAMA: Well, that's good to know. You're starting a new Avengers that spins out of Secret Invasion called Dark Avengers. What role does the "cabal" play in Dark Avengers?
BMB: We'll talk about Dark Avengers soon, but Dark Avengers obviously rolls right out of the last couple pages of Secret Invasion and the Dark Reign Special.
You'll find out who the Dark Avengers are, and why they are, and how
they are -- all in the first issue. We're not going to drag it out.
Right in the first issue, you'll find out who everybody is, including
Iron Patriot. Very, very clearly. By the end of that issue, you'll go,
"OK! Well, that's something!" And hopefully it will be enough to make
you want to pick up the next issue. But it sends a lightning bolt
across other books in the Marvel Universe as well. There's no way
people can't react to it.
And then New Avengers #50 is a big one, as far as that's concerned.
NRAMA: Big as far as... what?
BMB: Dark Avengers. It's the New Avengers' reaction to the Dark Avengers.
NRAMA: That doesn't sound like it's going to be good. And it will send shock waves through the New Avengers team?
BMB: Absolutely. Double-sized, wrap-around cover. It's "big" in
page count, big in words, big in stuff happening -- it's going to be
big! [laughs] And what you'll have is a new roster for New Avengers, a
new place where they'll live, a new agenda, and they'll be pretty much
up against the wire as far as who the Dark Avengers are and what they
can do about it, if they can do anything about it.
But the cabal itself will be popping up all over the place in parts or
in whole, over the Avengers books, over the X-books, over a couple
other books. Regardless if you want to follow Dark Reign or just follow
your book, all you'll need to know is this group got together and why
they got together and how uneasy the truth may be, or the agreements
between the characters may be.
NRAMA: Is this "cabal" going to function like the Illuminati, controlling things from behind the scenes?
BMB: Yeah, and not to ruin the Special, but Norman pretty much
puts it out there to them and says, the way it's been going has not
worked out for you, or you wouldn't have even agreed to meet with me.
Doom has no kingdom, Namor has no kingdom, Loki has no kingdom. It's
not working. So Norman says, I'm willing to do that which Nick Fury and
Tony Stark were unable or unwilling to do, and that is to work with you
so we can put everyone at ease. And in return, I get credit for getting
you guys to settle your asses down. And from there, plans are made. And
the plans and how they are executed are what gets really interesting as
the year goes on.
NRAMA: What does the existence of the cabal do to the various X-Men and Avengers books?
BMB: Well, they don't know about its existence. And the question
is, when will they figure this out, how will they figure it out, and
will it be too late to do anything about it by the time they figure it
NRAMA: But Norman's role is public. Even ignoring what this will
do to Peter Parker, there are other Avengers who can see a problem
here, aren't there? Won't there be factions among these Avengers books
who will fight against him having control?
BMB: Oh, absolutely. There are going to be tantrums, there are
going to be covert operations, there are going to be all kinds of
dealings like that. But I think what charmed most of my peers about
this, as well as my bosses, was that, like the Initiative, it created
all kinds of new stories. You get the characters that you love, but in
stories that you haven't seen them in before, including Spider-Man and
Norman Osborn, including the Avengers, including the New Avengers, and
including the Fantastic Four. All these characters have a new agenda,
and a pretty vital one. One that's got many different aspects to it. So
far, I've seen some stunning writing, particularly from Matt, who wrote
an X-Men Annual that's fantastic and deals with some of the history
between some of the cabal members.
NRAMA: Let's clarify what the president was saying about how the
heroes shouldn't have been fighting each other and this should be
blamed on Tony Stark. What happens as we go forward with the things
that were established during Civil War?
BMB: Well, think for a second about real world scenarios. Think
about Katrina, think about any wars -- immediately, people are thrown
under the bus and ruined without even an investigation, and it's very
politically motivated. It's very damning. And people kind of eat it up
because they want it. They want someone to blame. They want to feel
safe immediately. You know, there's an argument that people want to
watch TV and not feel panicked. And some politicians use that fear to
So what happens is, here's Tony, who put himself up on the mountaintop,
very controversially, and chose to fight a battle that ended up killing
Captain America, instead of doing this other thing. Although, people
who are reading both Avenger books know, there's not much he could have
done. But tell that to the people, right? You're the one that's in
charge. So he takes the hit. He's out. And what happens is people like
the president or other world countries, they want to keep their power,
so they all band together and point to Tony to keep it off of them. So
Tony takes the hit.
NRAMA: SHIELD is gone, so what are we getting now? The Marvel version of the Department of Homeland Security?
BMB: It's being replaced by something else, which will be debuting in Dark Avengers.
But yeah, it is the world we live in where there's a new organization
put forth to make us feel better, but it never quite does, does it?
Never really makes us feel better.
NRAMA: Let's talk about some other things that were revealed in this issue of Secret Invasion. Jessica and Luke are obviously pretty upset now, right?
BMB: Yes. And that goes right next week into New Avengers.
And I know some people will be irked that there's a little bit of a
cliffhanger into another book, but I say to you that people who just
wanted to read Secret Invasion, as far as you know, the baby
was eaten and that's it. Story done. But 99 percent -- and I thought
about this for awhile -- 99 percent of the people reading Secret Invasion were reading New Avengers. And because New Avengers birthed Secret Invasion, it seemed only fair to have something from Secret Invasion that kind of eased you back into New Avengers. And this was harmless enough to the people who were buying Secret Invasion, but strong enough emotionally to get you right back into New Avengers.
And for those of you who weren't reading New Avengers yet, I would like you to now read New Avengers because you want to see what happens to the baby. So I apologize for that, but this is the world Stan built,
and there is always a next issue. I know it's a tiny bit of dirty pool,
but hey -- there's a baby in jeopardy. E.R. does it every week.
NRAMA: It's also interesting to see how Nick Fury reacts to his former SHIELD agents. Not a lot of trust left there?
BMB: Yeah, the whole theme of this was, "Who can you trust?" And
just because it's over doesn't mean everyone all of the sudden trusts
each other. And Nick Fury, in particular, may be the most damaged of
the group, may be the most distrusting, and turns is back on his older
friends to work on his Secret Warriors. And that will be picked up in Secret Warriors #1.
NRAMA: We have Mockingbird coming back in this issue?
BMB: Yes! I'm very happy to say Mockingbird is back in full
force in the Marvel Universe. You're going to get a grand reunion
between her and Clint Barton in the pages of one of the Avengers books.
NRAMA: Which Avengers book?
BMB: I can't say yet! But it's going to be pretty cool. And you know Jim McCann said, they're like the Mr. and Mrs. Smith
of the Marvel Universe now. They have to find out if they even like
each other. Do they even fit? And all that's pretty cool stuff. I'm
looking forward to that. And then you get these two characters who have
both been resurrected and been through the mill, and maybe they're
different ages now. And that's all interesting. During the series, I
could tell that even when we found out the first Mockingbird was a
Skrull, I could tell people had this growing feeling that they kind of
wanted her back. It was funny because in the beginning, it was like,
"Who's Mockingbird?" And halfway through, they're like, "Oh, I like
Mockingbird!" And I was thrilled, because I knew Mockingbird wasn't the
most iconic character, but I knew people who liked her really liked
her, especially her and Clint's odd relationship in the '80s. Hopefully
her resurrection stops some of the pain of Janet's sad demise.
NRAMA: That's the next question. Janet?
BMB: Well, I'm sure no one on Newsarama has a problem with it.
So I'm sure I'm speaking to deaf ears. No, I will say to those of you
on Newsarama who think I hate the Avengers, and that I am ruining the
classic Avengers to make New Avengers look cool [laughs] you're right! And now you have proof. So there -- you win!
But as far as Janet's demise, I know it's a sad one, but it's a sad one that you'll see right away in Mighty Avengers #20
how it affects the major Avengers players, including poor Hank. It's a
very emotional issue. And I know it is, 'cause I even heard from the
letterer. You never hear from the letterer! He said, "That was sad!" So
we'll be dealing with it with much compassion and honor. Her death will
bolster certain characters to do other things in Dan's book and in some
of my books.
NRAMA: I got a hint from Dan Slott that we might see some classic Avengers uniting in Mighty Avengers?
BMB: Dan's got a whole thing cooking that I think people are
really going to dig. And the Avengers books are going to rub up against
each other nicely. But they're each going to each have a very unique
theme and feel to them, which I think is the most important thing if
you're going to have three Avengers book. They each have a very
specific agenda and a very specific tone and feel. And maybe they'll
even have different audiences -- who knows? But I have a feeling most
people will want to buy all of them at the same time, just to enjoy
that juxtaposition and how close they are to each other, but how
different they are.
NRAMA: Thor made it pretty clear he didn't want to work with Iron Man, but will we see him show up anywhere near the Avengers?
NRAMA: Yeah. He's got to be tough to write, and you haven't written him much before. You wrote him well, I thought.
BMB: Did I? You know, I rarely walk around talking that way, so
it's hard. He's the only character there's not someone I know that I
can base it on. Like, I know a Tony Stark. I know a Luke Cage. It's
hard to even get your friends to talk like Thor, even if you want them
But I know Thor's got a cool issue #600. And Marvel's Free Comic Book
Day will be a special issue written by me and drawn by Jimmy Cheung
that stars Dark Avengers, New Avengers and Thor. What's really cool
about that is I like when these Free Comic Book Day things are
something A-list. It's a brand new story, and it kind of lays out the
tone of the Marvel Universe pretty good, as far as the Avengers go.
NRAMA: Sue and Hank and everyone who was on the ship -- will we
find out more about what was going on with these characters while they
BMB: Yeah, and see, I love this. These characters, for better or
for worse, they wake up and all their relationships are different.
Everything's been changed.
NRAMA: Particularly Spider-Woman! Are you dealing with that in the Spider-Woman comic you've got coming up?
BMB: Absolutely. I mean, she's Osama bin Laden. She's the face
of terrorism, publicly and privately. Every relationship she's ever had
in the world has been dramatically altered. There are people she's
slept with, and she had no idea! There are friends she had that are
better friends, and friends she had that are not friends at all, and
enemies and whatnot. And even her relationship with Hydra has changed.
And she's unaware how. So walking into a world like that, I think
that's just juicy writer stuff. That's a lot of fun stuff to write.
NRAMA: You're writing a lot of comics going forward, Brian. Are
you also coordinating what other writers can do with this "cabal" and
the various characters who are behind Dark Reign?
BMB: I try not to be. Tom and the editors do that. I honestly
don’t want to. I don't want to be told what to write and what not to
write, so why would I want to do that to other people? But the only
word we put out there, as we set up our main manifesto and where this
is all headed -- there's a place it's headed that was important -- and
we don't anyone to do anything to contradict that.
NRAMA: Uh oh... when you say it's all headed somewhere, does that mean there's another event coming?
BMB: What? Event? No! [laughs] No, there's no event, but there's
a storyline. There's a larger storyline. Within that storyline, there's
plenty of fun to be had, much like Secret Invasion and Civil War. For
those who are creative and have the ingenuity, like Paul Cornell or
Jonathan Hickman, guys who come up with takes that other people would
not have come up with, there are a lot of places to shine.
The only note I put out there was I had this creepy feeling we were
going to see Norman in every single book, like we saw Tony in every
single book a year and a half ago. Remember how every character got to
yell at Tony in their book? I just said, look, the good news here is
that there are many members of the cabal, there are many underlings of
the members of the cabal, there are many team-ups inside the cabal, so
it doesn't always have to be Norman. Already, you can feel, there's a
mystery that readers want to get into, but let's not make everyone get
sick of him by April. So that's the only thing I said, and from there,
[editor] Tom [Brevoort] takes over. And Tom is a story ninja.
NRAMA: I talked to Tom in Chicago about the coordination of Secret Invasion. Looking back, do you feel good about how it all came together?
BMB: Coordination-wise, I had little to do with it other than having witnessed what happened with Disassembled and House of M and Civil War
and the things that worked and didn't work. I witnessed all of it, so I
could help Tom with what he was already doing amazingly. And I do think
this was the best coordinated event, the best tie-ins, as far as
quality goes. The best tie-ins are the ones that you didn't even need
to read Secret Invasion to enjoy them. Like you didn't need to read Secret Invasion to enjoy Hercules or Captain Britain. They were just good Skrull stories on their own. And Civil War had those too, where you could just read the tie-in and get it. That's good. And I felt like Secret Invasion
had a lot of those. And yeah, we got out on time. I know we had a blip
at the end here, but that just had to do with having four extra pages,
and it's a lot of drawing. And I was very, very proud of this. I'm
walking out of here relieved, honestly. It didn't tank. I have no
control over that, but it's a relief.
NRAMA: Is this "manifesto" of the storyline that's coming up next also your brainchild?
BMB: Huh? There's no next event!
NRAMA: I didn't say event! I mean the "ongoing storyline" of Dark Reign and where it's eventually heading. Is that your baby too? You pitched it, right?
BMB: Well, the Avengers stories, just because of the characters
and who's involved, do seem to be the center of what's going on. And
because I'm writing two of them and I did pitch them out, it is
something I put out there. So... yes is the answer. But that discussion
of the ideas behind where this is going is for another time. Right now,
it's just Dark Reign. Nobody needs to worry about something else down the line yet. Just enjoy Dark Reign for what it is.
NRAMA: You'd think after this, Brian, you'd be taking a vacation or something. But you're writing Dark Avengers, New Avengers, Spider-Woman, the Specials, and co-writing Secret Warriors -- not to mention your other stuff in Icon and the Ultimate universe.
BMB: No, honestly, Jonathan is writing Secret Warriors.
But no, this is a miracle job. You know. You feel the same way about
yours. It's like, oh, cool, I get to do this? Eventually they'll boot
me, but as long as I'm here and I have the ideas and the stories and
the inclination, I might as well do it.