If you weren’t already aware, Marvel Comics is gearing up for Secret Invasion, a crossover mini-series that will most likely interrupt your favorite stories for the summer. Whereas last year readers were challenged to choose sides in a superhero civil war, this year Secret Invasion wants us to think about which characters we do and do not trust in the wake of an alien invasion… ugh.
Pull out your magnifying glasses, because this will take some detective work!
In a perfect world this would be an opportunity to look at recent out-of-character actions as clues, but it reality it’s impossible to distinguish those things from bad writing: Did a Skrully She-Hulk become a bounty hunter to keep away from the superhero community’s watchful eyes, or did she simply think it would be a cool career choice? Were Spider-Woman and Luke Cage always this interesting, or are the Skrulls working their way into the Avengers using poorly defined C and D-List characters?
These questions could literally go on for hours, but the truth is that this crossover will not be nearly as Earth-shattering as it thinks it is. In the end Secret Invasion will follow the same rules that apply to every crossover of its’ kind: you can shake the package, but can’t break the box.
Here is a simple equation we can follow to determine the identity of probably every Skrull: Add a point for every category a character fills in Column A, and then subtract a point for every category the characters fills in Column B. If a character fits a single category for multiple reasons, count it twice. Pencils ready. Let’s begin!
Column A: Who is NOT likely to be revealed as a Skrull (or die, for that matter:)
Characters who headline their own series (Iron Man, Wolverine, etc.)
Long-standing characters who have only taken center stage in recent years (Iron Fist, Hercules, Emma Frost, etc.)
Long-standing characters who have been resurrected in or played major roles in recent crossovers (Thor, Storm, Captain Marvel, etc.)
Anyone your Mom has heard of.
Column B: Who IS likely to be revealed as a Skrull (or die, for that matter:)
Characters the mini-series’ writer has an established history with, or created (Maria Hill, Jessica Jones, Elektra, etc.)
Long-standing members (not leaders) of superhero teams who contribute little dramatic tension or interest (Wonder Man, The Invisible Woman, The Wasp, etc.)
Characters where death is irrelevant, because they’ll be back in a week anyway (Dr. Doom, The Vision, etc.)
B and C-list superheroes whose popularity cannot support a monthly series (The Inhumans, Blade, Namor, etc.)
Characters who have undergone recent, unpopular changes to their personality, appearance, and/or superpowers (Beast, Speedball, etc.)
Pencils down! Now add up your scores. If your character has a positive score they are NOT a Skrull. If they have a negative score, they ARE. If your score is zero, they are probably safe as well. Let’s do a couple to practice:
Column A) Not only does Iron Man headline several series (two points,) but he has only recently taken center stage (two points) as a result of the recent Civil War crossover (three points.) Plus, he has a movie coming out that your Mom might have heard of (four points.)
Column B) As a member of The New and Mighty Avengers Iron Man character has a long-standing history with Secret Invasion’s writer, Brian Michael Bendis (one point.)
Final Score: Three points. NOT A SKRULL
Column A) Your Mom might know who Beast is (one point.)
Column B) Not only is he a long-standing member of several superhero teams (Avengers and X-Men, two points) but he his transformation into a more cat-like creature has received mixed reactions (three points.)
Final Score: Negative two points. TOTALLY A SKRULL!
Column A) Not only did Mr. Fantastic play a large role in Civil War (one point,) but your Mom probably knows him (she probably knows him as ‘stretchy guy,’ but that counts! Two points!)
Column B) Everyone thinks Reed Richards is a jerk now as a result of Civil War (one point) and he has an established history with the writer via The Illuminati mini-series (two points.)
Final Score: Zero. Probably not a Skrull.
There will obviously be some exceptions to the rule (mostly in the “I forgot that character even existed!” sort of way) but I imagine that this formula will work on just about every crossover ever.
Try some examples of your own before it’s too late!