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Inside the secrets and lies of Marvel Comics' Secret Invasion with its creator Brian Michael Bendis

15 years later, Brian Michael Bendis looks back on the Secret Invasion legacy.

Secret Invasion
Image credit: Mark Brooks (Marvel Comics)

It was 2008, and Brian Michael Bendis was keeping a secret. For the past four years, the writer behind Marvel Comics’ top-selling Avengers franchise – and then-Marvl-editor-in-chief Joe Quesada’s choice for, in his word, “MVP” among the company’s writers – had been hiding sleeper agents in plain sight among Marvel’s heroes. From the moment he took the helm on Marvel’s flagship title, Bendis, with the willing collaboration of his editors, had substituted a select group of key characters with shapeshifting Skrulls: the better to reveal them, with a shocking lack of advance warning, almost half a decade later.

The result was 2008’s Secret Invasion, an event series written by Bendis and drawn by Leniel Francis Yu with the scratchy, moody atmosphere of a '1970’s'70s conspiracy thriller, which imagined the central premise of Invasion of the Body Snatchers transplanted into the superheroic Marvel Universe. Coming a year after the mammoth sales of the Civil War miniseries, at the apex of the era of event-driven summer crossovers, Secret Invasion arrived at a moment when fan interest, editorial experience, and a thriving online comic book culture were combining into a heady brew of pop culture.

And from the moment the series hit the shelves, it inspired an almost equal measure of sales, enthusiasm, and furious controversy. First, because of its capacity to inspire first obsessive speculation and then appalled response as to the identity of the hidden Skrulls. Second, because of its shock ending, which saw the villainous Norman Osborn (better know to readers as Spider-Man foe the Green Goblin) delivering the final shot to defeat the Skrull invaders, and becoming embraced as a hero and political leader by the American public.

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