Damn Dirty Skrulls: What We Know Now, 8

Best Shots Extra: Secret Invasion #4

Regular readers know how this works. We run down the latest events in Secret Invasion-land, keeping track of who’s Skrulling who, who’s being true, and who don’t even care anymore. Yes, that’s a Charly McClain reference. Onward (and of course, spoilers on!)

Disqualified: Young X-Men #4: We start out by DQing a contender from stealth tie-in status. Recently, we posited the notion that Cyclops in Young X-Men (and only in Young X-Men) might be a Skrull. There were a few reasons for this, chief among them his immediate commitment to killing the original New Mutants and the lack of Emma Frost by his side. Granted, Cyclops has turned a corner on lethal force, but typically in the context of saving infants (see “Messiah Complex”) or hitting some long-established right bastards (see “X-Force”). It seemed unlikely that Cyke would sanction Sam and the gang right off the bat. So, in the interest of that and other clues, we put forward the “THIS Cyclops as Skrull” theory.

Well, we were half-right. “Young X-Men” Cyclops wasn’t Cyclops or a Skrull, but Donald Pierce (cyborg nut from The Hellfire Club and The Reavers) using an image inducer. There were a couple of readers (ryanrhome was the first to name Pierce specifically when our bit about that ran on June 8th) who guessed this, so big ups to them. That revelation takes Young X-Men out of our possible stealth tie-in rotation.

Captain Britain and MI 13 #3 continues to settle the question of “what about magic?” With Dr. Strange currently out of the picture in the states, the only centre of magic is Great Britain and its ties to Avalon. When last we left, our heroes were getting beat both in Avalon and in England. Pete Wisdom and all his compatriots were unable to draw Excalibur from the stone, leaving it as a nearly-last remnant of magic not in possession of the Skrull army. The magic Super Skrull had just been created and was ready to take on the world. Here we see England’s military battle, and get utterly wiped out by, the Sorcery Skrull, with the Black Knight seemingly falling in battle. Aside from during actual battles, the Skrulls were certainly not the real focus of this issue, however. We finally found out for sure who had been guiding Pete Wisdom through voices in his head: none other than Merlin. The great wizard had been imprisoned after going mad, but managed to heal himself during his jailing. A shard of The Fury, a mystical weapon, had been the catalyst for his madness. Upon Wisdom freeing him from his prison, he reversed the energies of the Fury, destroying it. By reversing its power, Merlin used the weapon forged to kill superheroes to bring one back instead. All the nation’s flags moved to a central point of Britain, reviving the country’s namesake, Captain Britain. He was instantly transported to Avalon to do what no one else proved worthy of doing, and drew Excalibur from its stone sheath. The tides of war changed nearly instantaneously, as Captain Britain reappeared in the regular world, striking down Sorcery Skrull with the mighty fabled blade. The “next” banner implies that this will in fact be a swift end to the Skrulls machinations on magic as “The Lion Lives, The Tide Turns.” Two other things should be noted. We didn’t see many new Super Skrulls, except some slightly magically endowed ones. Also, when Merlin was released, so was every other evil magic that had ever been imprisoned. While that may not have much consequence during Secret Invasion, it is sure to lead to further stories for the heroes here contained.

Secret Invasion #4: The biggest moments in the secret invasion this week come from, wait for it, Secret Invasion. A lot happened in this issue; in fact, from a reviewing standpoint, I’d say that this issue comes closest to the first in establishing an epic scope. In short, things are tough all over for Earth’s heroes.

First off, Reed Richards is getting the full-on Cenbobite treatment from the Skrulls. He’s been unfurled and put on display like a flag at halftime, and it ain’t pretty. Elsewhere in space, Agent Brand (likeable for the first time!) struggles in her survival bubble. And in yet another part of space, Sentry cries. No, we aren’t surprised either.

Ms. Marvel hauls it to New York in time to see Nick Fury and New Secret/Now Public Howling Commandos take it to the Super Skrulls on-scene. Hellfire and Phobos establish that they can be a fun team in one panel, and Fury continues to fire a gun that’s roughly the size of my first car. Unfortunately, Fury doesn’t know if he can trust the arriving Ms. Marvel, so he drops her without hesitation. As the remaining Skrulls descend on her, Fury and his team abscond with the heroes that were defeated last issue. Note to Fury: Nice job, Nick; Carol’s got most of her baggage in hand and now you saddle her with abandonment issues? Note to Brian Reed: Actually, that’ll make a good post-crossover issue, won’t it? Carol tearing Fury a new one for leaving her behind? (Lucas will want co-plotter credit for that, but Troy thinks it’s hipper to be uncredited, like Will Ferrell in Wedding Crashers).

We finally get to some Skrull-revealing action when Black Widow hits upon the latest way to tell if someone is a Skrull or not: shoot them in the face. Okay, to be fair, she shoots Skrull-Phoenix and Skrull-Beast waaaay more places than in the face; in fact, I counted 40 “Buddas” in the sound effects. That’s some clip on that thing. Natasha also manages to free Tony from Skrullder-Woman’s mindgames with her loud entrance, then gives him a motivational kick in the ass by injecting adrenaline into his neck. Black Widow is f*@$ing scary.

As if that weren’t enough, she Buddas the arriving Wolverine seven times to verify his identity, and the three begin making some plans. As much as I’m down with the single-mindedness of Natasha’s detection method here, that’s not exactly going to work with every single character. Wolverine happens to have a healing factor, but what happens when they run into Spidey? Eight to ten Buddas later, will Peter be bleeding to death and choking out, “Tell Mary Jane . . . I wish . . . we could have had . . .one more . .” before expiring?

Back in space, Agent Brand makes it aboard the Skrull vessel that was holding Reed Richards. She finds some monitors that update her on the world situation with impossible angles (seriously, where was the camera that was on Fury located? Was one of the Skrull’s YouTubing the Invasion from a low angle?). Upon seeing Reed on one of the monitors, she cries like a Sentry until interrupted by a pair of Skrulls. The scene ends as one levels a gun at Agent Brand and speaks (maybe he’s saying, “All right, the green hair is hot, but you’re in trouble, lady”).

Sliding over to the Bermuda Triangle, we observe Skrull-Jarvis still demanding surrender from Maria Hill. He tells her that she was in indeed placed in charge through Skrull machinations. As she tries to talk tough, Jarvis reveals that the entire team with her has been replaced by Skrulls as well. That, of course, begs the question: is Maria Hill the only human still at S.H.I.E.L.D.?

In Brooklyn (didn’t I tell you a lot happened?!), The Hood and his criminal gang decide that they’re going to round up a posse of super-villains (alien invasions being bad for business) and join the fight. The Hood’s plan may turn on finding a second-string Super-Skrull, threatening her in her bedroom, and shooting her in the kneecaps while her mom is on the ansible in order to make a statement, but it’s too early to be sure.

Things wrap up as one extremely pissed-off thunder god appears with a KRAKABOOM over New York. And from a distance, New Cap watches.

Overall, we get confirmations of Skrulliness on ‘70s Phoenix, ‘70s Beast, and a handful of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. We also learn that Black Widow’s guns hold a s#!+load of bullets and that it’s even harder to tell a Skrull from a human with only one eye.

Questions to Ponder

How many cyborgs with image inducers are now posing as super-heroes?! Has another invasion already begun for next summer’s Rise of the Machines?! (Yes, we’re kidding. Please let us be kidding.)

Provided he survives Secret Invasion, will Nick Fury need back surgery from lifting that frickin’ huge gun? Nick, Nick, Nicky…middle age men are supposed to use Cialis and buy a convertible. As everyone’s grandma used to say, “Leave something for the imagination, dear…”

Not a question, but a statement: We like that Phobos’s big regret is that he didn’t have his powers earlier so that he could have made bullies beat the crap out of each other when he was in school. That’s a righteous motivation, kid. But now that you’re aware, you can use that gift for battling true evil, like the Skrulls, politicians, and the Jonas Brothers.

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