By Kiel Phegley
In terms of Secret Invasion, call Brian Reed the advance wave of attack.
An early adopter of the Skrully goodness that's currently burning up the charts, Reed spun heads with Infiltration tie-in arcs on CAPTAIN MARVEL and his own ongoing MS. MARVEL. Now that the event has hit full bore, Reed has shifted into big fight mode with SECRET INVASION: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN just hitting shelves last week and even more action in MS. MARVEL to come. And that doesn't even cover the human side of the conflict in SECRET INVASION: FRONT LINE. We tapped Reed to talk all of the above including why Spidey's cast can take a lighter look at the invasion and why Ms. Marvel's past will be of much importance to her future.
Marvel.com: Brian, reading over your first issue of SECRET INVASION: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and some pages from this week's MS. MARVEL ANNUAL guest-starring, the quips alone give me the feeling that you've been holding some Spider-Man ideas in the pocket for a while and just waiting for your chance to pounce on a Spidey book.
] Well, I've written, what, three Spider-Man video games? Yeah. He was always my favorite character as a kid, so it's just hanging out with Spidey, you know? [Laughs
] And when [editor] Steve Wacker came on and took over MS. MARVEL and we were talking about other things I wanted to do at Marvel, I said, "Honestly, I'm here because I want to write Spider-Man. And whatever I can do to do that works for me." And we've been finding ways for me to do just that.
Marvel.com: With the game work you've done like the Ultimate Spider-Man game, it seems that the classic Spidey stories that Brand New Day have really harkened back to are a good fit for you. Especially in the SECRET INVASION: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN series, was part of your intention to shift out of the more grim SI stuff you've done in other books and get a bit more lighthearted?
Oh, with SECRET INVASION: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN it was saving my own sanity. I'd done six issues of MS. MARVEL, three of which are just her slaughtering Skrulls for six pages, and I was doing SECRET INVASION: FRONT LINE which is just Skrulls slaughtering humans for five issues. And those are both just these horrible, downbeat, terrible things, and the chance to do Spider-Man and all the Spider-Man characters showed up, and it was like, "This is the chance to do the exact opposite Secret Invasion story to what everybody else is doing. We're all doing the end of the world—let's have fun with it now."
Marvel.com: One of the things I've found reading a bunch of the tie-ins is that "shape-shifting aliens invade the world" is an idea that you can do almost anything with.
It's a great plot hook, and that's why everybody's had so much fun with it, and that's why I think it's hit so well with all the fans.
Marvel.com: In the first issue, you worked hard to establish that we're in the world of Brand New Day both in terms of actual literal space and in terms of tone. Now that the Spidey cast is being chased down by a Super Skrull mockup of the Sinister Six, how do you pull the Spidey world further into the Secret Invasion world in #2?
FRONT LINE #3
As they're in the car chase, they end up driving through the city and seeing a lot of the things we see in the main series. And a lot of that was my just wanting to bolt Brand New Day to the rest of the Marvel Universe because that really hadn't had a chance to happen yet. This was kind of our golden opportunity to go, "No, look! Brand New Day is really here! All of your conspiracy theories that it's an alternate universe or whatever? No, no, no. This is the state of Spider-Man." That's been a lot of what all three issues are about: maintaining that sense of fun and being completely different from everything else Secret Invasion that's happening but still showing you that we're all part of the same big thing.
Marvel.com: As you've gone along with all your tie-ins to the event, have you gotten the itch to write your own little mini continuity like Mark Millar is with his Marvel books where things crossover in ways only you know?
There's some of that just because in your brain you've got this thing going on, and you forget which book you're in. [Laughs
] That's the nice thing about having this big shared universe—when you accidentally type a scene and go, "Oh crap! That was in this other book!" you end up just going, "Well, it works just fine." My joke was that the main character of all my books was a city bus because it shows up in MS. MARVEL, it shows up in FRONT LINE, and it shows up in SECRET INVASION: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. But there have been little things I'm tying in. You see Ms. Marvel fly by in FRONT LINE which is actually a scene that you see from her book. There are little moments like that littered through.
Marvel.com: With MS. MARVEL, you were an early adopter of the replacement elements of Secret Invasion so that by the time you got to this current arc that lines up with the main SECRET INVASION series, you just get to blow stuff up for three months…
MS. MARVEL #31
Frank Martin Jr.
] I've had three whole issues of blowing things up.
Marvel.com: Well, was that part of your reasoning behind getting into the Skrull stuff so early—to save up your explosions for a big arc on their own?
It's been a lot of knowing that Secret Invasion was coming for so long. Like, before the story was announced to the world, I knew what it was. There've been things all the way back to the first couple of issues after the Civil War tie-ins where I already knew Secret Invasion was coming. So I was already dropping things into the plot and using these set up bits so that when we got to the big blow stuff up time, I could go, "Here. Here's what we've been doing. Here are all my cards on the table," and give Carol that moment of "Oh my God! What the hell have I been doing? I've been trying to be a celebrity instead of a super hero—it's time to kick some ass now!" [Laughs
] So it's nice to know that these big things are coming so you can set things up like that.
Marvel.com: The challenge of any big event is to answer the question of "How do I make this big crossover matter to my lead character?" With MS. MARVEL, the challenge of the book since House of M was to test her and see how big and powerful a hero she could really be. Is Secret Invasion the story that finally shows her what her limit is?
Yeah, it does actually. And I was talking to someone the other day, and I said that I hadn't written it this way intentionally, but it turns out that's the way it was. And it makes me look like a genius. [Laughs
] In House of M, she was the only person that had a good experience. Everyone else went through hell, but she was like, "You know, I could be better than I am. Let's go!" Secret Invasion is giving her that same gift again. The world is ending, and she just finds herself.
Marvel.com: In September, you wrap the Skrull arc with MS. MARVEL #30 and then a few weeks later we get #31. Did you line those up so close to have an immediate fallout issue for Secret Invasion?
MS. MARVEL #32
You know, I'm not all that sure how that came together schedule-wise. We've had a little bit of a rotating art crew just so we can keep the book on schedule. We've had a really good art crew, but we've had to keep them moving in and out of the door to make sure it came out on time, so I'm not sure how the schedule came together, but what is interesting is that #31 could not be more different than what's been going on in the entire history of the book. And it's actually kind of a setup for what the next year of stories is all about, although it won't seem like it when you read it.
It's just this very quiet, small story after six issues of things exploding. Carol finds out her dad is on his deathbed and goes home to visit. Carol never had a good relationship with her parents, particularly her father, and after her encounter with Rogue when all her memories were wiped out, to her parents are just these people that she knows about. She doesn't have any emotions for them. And she has to go into what for any of us can be one of the most emotional times of our lives—watching a parent die—and she's got nothing to back that up. She doesn't have the emotion she needs to understand what's happening. We do this nice, quiet issue looking at her as a human being and not as a super hero. And after that, things get crazy again.
Marvel.com: Through all her iterations and various code names, the stealing of her memories by Rogue and her past in general is something that many writers have passed over with her. Is part of that next year of stories about unpacking those issues?
Yeah. We're starting with flashbacks to her time before she was Ms. Marvel—back when she was in the Air Force. We explain how she became a spy, which people have touched on but haven't really explored. A lot of this is to explain "This is why she behaves how she behaves now." I've always felt like the one thing with Carol is that she really wants to do good, but deep down inside she is a very damaged, very broken woman. And she maybe doesn't admit it. That's what the next few stories are about is exploring why is she like that, what's going on and how does she deal with it.
Marvel.com: The final stop on your Secret Invasion tour of duty is SECRET INVASION: FRONT LINE. You've already delved into the lives of Ben Urich and some everyday New Yorkers, but as you move forward, how will you bring those people into the bigger events and in contact with some of the bigger heroes?
That's what issue #3 is really all about. The big thing for me is that this is all through Ben Urich's eyes. We're seeing these stories throughout New York, but they all come together with him at some point, and we realize that all the stories we've been seeing are him getting everyone else's tale. Rather than doing what previous FRONT LINE stories [have done] which is reporters researching and writing their stories—which is a fantastic and fun story, but we've seen it twice—this story is about a guy who survives a day and tries to piece together the stories of everyone he encountered and how they survived the day. And it's still about a reporter gathering a story, but it's really looking at it more as a human interest thing.
So as we moved through it, I really tried to see all the big events. Ben is there at the end of SECRET INVASION #6, which when everyone sees it, they'll go "Oh my God!" And Ben is there in Times Square when the big fight is happening from #2. It's really letting us see these things that we looked at with super heroes and didn't think twice about because we're so used to super heroes and trying to see them with our own eyes. To go, "Oh my God! What does that mean when an alien ship comes through in the sky? What does that mean when Times Square is a war zone?"
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