The Enemy Within
Last week Marvel comics launch it’s 8 month epic series Secret Invasion. The political subtext leading up to this 3 years in the making event goes further than the “Colbert 08” t-shirt snuck into one of the panels in issue number 1.
Secret Invasion is the continuation of a story started 3 years ago involving the invasion of Earth and replacement of some of Marvel’s most powerful heroes by alien shape shifters call Skrulls. This feeling of sleeper cells amongst us was no accident. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the series writer Brian Michael Bendis said:
The Skrulls were invented back in the day when Invasion of the Body Snatchers and the Cold War were a big part of the [Marvel] universe. And we’re kind of back in that: The subtext of this story is not knowing if you can trust your friends or family. Years after 9/11, we go on a plane and start scanning the crowd…we can’t help it.
As Bendis describes above the original story of the Skrulls focused on Cold War hysteria, this new story updates it for the post 9/11 era, just replace Skrull for Al-Qaeda and you see where I’m going with this. Following the events of Marvel’s previous event Civil War, covered here, as well as the limited series Secret War, dealing with super power terrorism, Secret Invasion leaves the Earth’s protectors wondering who they can trust. Much like Civil War’s dealing with restrictions on liberty and freedom, Secret Invasion focuses on the paranoia of the unknown. Not knowing if you’re neighbor or friend is really a terrorist preparing to strike. The first issue saw numerous sleeper agents activated resulting in a global orchestrated terrorist strike, and calling into question various actions by some major characters over the past 3 years (ugh, I’m going to have to go back, re-read, and dissect).
The series takes on extra meaning with the recent news of convictions of a Chinese sleeper agent who had been the United States for two decades. An interesting time frame since (spoiler) the final panel of issue 1 reveals many of Marvel’s super heroes returning in their late 70’s/early 80’s uniforms. Weird coincidence, of course they could just be Skrulls as well.
Now this is just the first issue and judging by it, there’ll be tons to dissect over the next 8 months (at least). Bendis will make sure of that.