Marvel has finally revealed the biggest threat in its latest Secret Invasion, and it could be what tears the Avengers apart.
The following contains major spoilers for Secret Invasion #2, on sale now from Marvel Comics.
Secret Invasion has brought the threat of shape-shifting invaders back to the forefront of the Marvel Universe. While the world’s most clandestine forces move in silence to quell the situation before it gets out of hand, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes have been left wondering who among them might be an alien infiltrator. Thankfully, they have managed to at least uncover one Skrull in their midst, though not the one who is poised to do the most damage to the Avengers.
After dealing with the various Nick Fury imposters, Maria Hill is quick to move on to the ranks of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes for immediate blood testing. Though her methods are certainly intrusive, to say the least, the Avengers all acquiesce to her demands for a blood sample. As seen in the pages of Secret Invasion #2 (by Ryan North, Francesco Mobili, Jordie Bellaire, and VC’s Joe Caramagna), this leads to Black Widow being uncovered as a Skrull, which when coupled with the lack of any other failed tests, is enough to calm the rest of the heroes’ nerves for the time being. And, in the case of Tony Stark, it is enough to assure him that his fellow Skrulls’ plans are going exactly as intended.
Upon returning to his lab, Stark is met by another version of himself while revealing the blood bag taped to his arm which he used to pass Hill’s test. This is more than enough to make it perfectly clear that Stark has been replaced without anyone else realizing it. It also sets the stage for the latest Skrull invasion to do untold amounts of damage before anyone can stop him, assuming no one figures out the truth anytime soon.
This recent revelation harkens back to the events of 2008’s Secret Invasion, which saw Jessica Drew, aka Spider-Woman, unmasked as the conspiracy’s Skrull mastermind Queen Veranke. When her plot kicked off, Veranke was able to shut down the majority of S.H.I.E.L.D., S.W.O.R.D., and Stark’s infrastructure undetected. She even pitted the Avengers against one another and very nearly convinced the real Stark that he was a Skrull before her eventual downfall. As impressive as her achievements were, they were only made possible because Veranke had spent years impersonating Spider-Woman, gaining trust in her allies, and gaining access to everything she would need to take over the world.
With no way of knowing how long this Tony Stark has been around, there is also no way to tell how deeply he has sunk his claws into everything available to him. Beyond his enterprises, Tony has nearly unfettered access to every resource and piece of tech that the Avengers have on hand. This isn’t even to mention the sway that Tony has with his fellow heroes and geniuses, meaning that he could have easily taken advantage of any goodwill between them.
Even if this Skrull impersonator has only been acting as Tony for a short time, it wouldn’t take long for him to shut down many of Earth’s best defenses against an invading army. Especially if his machinations have gone on unabated, then disseminating Stark tech or the stockpile he amassed through Source Control would be easy enough. Hopefully, things haven’t progressed that far, although it is hard to imagine that whatever this version of Tony has going on behind the scenes won’t be just as bad.