By Joe Quesada
Five years ago or so...Brian Michael Bendis came up with this wild idea, a conspiracy theory. At first, I thought he'd been off his medication, he was so excited and, well, almost paranoid.
"They can be anyone or anything! They're everywhere!" he said.
"Who?" I asked.
Skrulls, huh. Not what I was expecting.
"Little green men with ray guns? Those guys?"
"That's just it," he pressed. "They're more than that. They're already here, among everyone. And as soon as people find out, you won't know who to trust!"
And with that, he'd sold me. This was at the beginning of his run on AVENGERS. He had just disassembled the team and was rebuilding them in NEW AVENGERS. In that very first issue, as you now know, the first seeds of Brian's master plan were planted.
In small meetings with Senior Editors, we talked about who was and who wasn't a Skrull. We eventually had to let others in on it as we got closer. We crossed our fingers that no one would put two and two together. Sure, everyone knew something was up, but we wanted it to be a surprise until that first reveal: The last page of NEW AVENGERS #31, where Elektra is revealed to be a Skrull.
With that, the Infiltration was revealed, and the Invasion set in motion.
Now, we stand among the ruins of what this Invasion caused. The tide was turned and an armada defeated, but at what cost?
The war brought all of our heroes together for the first time in almost a decade, but some wounds are too fresh and run deep.
Our captive heroes are back, but the damage their Skrull counterparts caused using their names, their faces, their voices has been potentially irreversible.
A founding member of the Avengers has died. And, at the end of the day, it was Norman Osborn who saved the day.
Cup o' Joe:
This Invasion has ended, and with it comes another shocking revelation on the final pages. A portent of things to come. A new age is dawning, my friends, and I fear for our heroes more now than ever before. Norman Osborn and his Cabal are here to usher in a New World Order. DARK REIGN has begun!
What exactly this means to our heroes and villains of the Marvel U will be played out in the coming months, but I can tell you, I haven't been this excited for a storyline since the first mention of Secret Invasion. Believe me when I say that the ride you are in for makes everything that came before seem like a walk in the park!
Think about it for a moment. The Hood. Namor. Emma Frost. Dr. Doom. Loki. Norman Osborn. These are your new rulers. They have been given the keys to the kingdom. With all that power, what chance do our heroes stand? What surprises and evil plots do these villains have in store? If they are really united, who can oppose them?
The new order of Dark Reign will call for new heroes, a new way of fighting the enemy from within, new alliances to be forged and old wounds healed if anyone is to stand a chance.
The surprises in store lie in every corner of the Marvel Universe during Dark Reign. Who are the DARK AVENGERS? The most controversial lineup since Spider-Man and Wolverine joined! And what of Norman's former team, the THUNDERBOLTS. Already divisive, how far down can these villains actually get when given greater power? The NEW AVENGERS will be fighting these fights to their dying breaths. How will Hank Pym deal with the loss of his beloved ex-wife?
The MIGHTY AVENGERS will be a team to watch…and possibly even fear! And as one couple is torn apart by death, another seems to be reunited. In NEW AVENGERS: THE REUNION, you will find out what the future holds for Clint Barton and the returned-from-the-grave Mockingbird.
The invasion revealed secret weapons, some new and some old. What will the world think of Nick Fury's virtually unknown group of SECRET WARRIORS, and what connections do they have to the very fabric of the Marvel Universe? Can the AGENTS OF ATLAS, a group that has existed under the radar since before most of our heroes began their careers, turn the tide of Norman's reign?
Cup o' Joe:
What of some of our heroes who suffered the most during the Invasion? The Skrull Queen personally took the mantle of SPIDER-WOMAN and destroyed the trust our heroes had in each other through her machinations. How can Jessica Drew rebuild that, and who does she really work for now? MS. MARVEL, WAR MACHINE and DEADPOOL all faced their own battles and must now carry on missions in ways that only they can.
And what of the man who has been at the center of all this for so long? What of IRON MAN? He was trusted to keep everyone safe with his Initiative. That failed. Now he has the one last thing that Norman needs for absolute power. I have three words for you for the future of Tony Stark: WORLD'S MOST WANTED.
After years of war, infiltration and invasion, a new Dark Reign is here. Deals will be made, friendships broken and the war against Norman and the Cabal will make for strange bedfellows.
If the saying is true, that it is always darkest before the dawn, then our heroes better pray that the Dark Reign means that a new dawn is nearing.
This is the ride of your lives, Marvelites.
So Strap yourselves in, the world just got a lot more dangerous!
See ya in the funny books!