The Skrulls' "Secret Invasion" of Earth won't be easy. Many super powered champions, both good and evil, stand ready to defend their planet. But as Marvel's Tom Brevoort has shown us in previous installments of EARTH'S MOST WANTED, the Skrulls have a plan for dealing with Earth's defenders. In today's installment we get more hints of their plan as Brevoort helps us reveal the Eights in the Skrulls' Secret Invasion Poker Deck.
EIGHT OF SPADES - MARIA HILL
Maria Hill doesn't know all the details of the Skrulls invasion plans, but her rapid ascension through the ranks of S.H.I.E.L.D. to the position of Director over more qualified candidates has certainly made her suspect that her superiors might be harboring a hidden and sinister agenda. Hill's suspicions and position of power could rob the Skrulls of one of their biggest weapons -- the power of surprise
Forewarned means forearmed and in her current position as Deputy Director of S.H.I.E.L.D, Hill is definitely armed. Should something happen to
current Director Tony Stak AKA Iron Man, Hill is capable of stepping up and using the resources of S.H.I.E.L.D. to their fullest potential. She may not have the years of leadership experience Nick Fury had, but she's shown a remarkable aptitude for making difficult decisions.
Hills suspicions and position of power means she's a threat to the Skrulls plans and one they'd likely want to neutralize. But instead of trying to replace her, which could tip Hill to their plans should it fail, they're more apt to use psychological warfare. "She doesn't have the experience that others in her position
might have been able to bring to bear," Brevoort explained. "And she's aware of it, which could slow her up with self-doubt at a critical moment."
EIGHT OF HEARTS - AMADEUS CHO
Teenagers are supposed to live in their own little world and not be aware of things like the subtle and sinister machinations of an alien invasion force, but Amadeus Cho, "The 7th Smartest Person in the World," is not your typical teenager. "Amadeus Cho is a wild card, one who's been able to stay one step ahead of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the conventional authorities, and to accomplish things that he really shouldn't have been able to accomplish," Brevoort explained. "So that makes him especially dangerous -- particularly since the Skrulls are unlikely to have factored him into their plans at the outset.
"I think it's more his profile that makes them underestimate him, rather than his age. Until 'World War Hulk,' he really hadn't come to the attention of many people," Brevoort continued. "Now that he has, though, he'd be a critical asset to neutralize if the Skrulls thought he might tumble to their plans."
Replacing Cho would give the Skrulls many advantages, the greatest being it would eliminate someone who could devise a way to detect them. Cho is also infamous for finding and exploiting holes in the plans of large organizations like S.H.I.E.L.D. In his adventures, Amadeus has come to befriend heroes like Hercules and the Atlantean princess Namora.
Like most teens, Amadeus has a disdain and distrust for authority, like like Iron Man and groups like S.H.I.E.L.D., which is something the Skrulls have certainly noticed. "Amadeus has shown a penchant for wanting to side with the underdog, or with anybody whose situation in some way mirrors his own, or that he feels an empathy with," Brevoort remarked. "So it's possible that they could convert him to the Skrull cause without any need for a complex deception."
EIGHT OF DIAMONDS - BEAST
If one were to look at the X-Men's Beast without getting to know him, his monstrous appearance would make the most impact. But beneath Dr. Henry McCoy's bestial exterior lies a keen intellect. "I think the Skrulls are quite aware of the beast's capabilities as a scientist," Brevoort explained. "So in that capacity, he's potentially as dangerous to them as Hank Pym, Tony Stark or Reed Richards."
In order to maintain one of their biggest tactical advantages, the ability to operate on Earth undetected, the Skrulls will want to neutralize or replace Beast. "If they replace Beast, they eliminate a player who stands a decent chance of being able to find a way through their camouflage," Brevoort said.
EIGHT OF CLUBS - CYCLOPS
Conquering a planet where a portion of the populace has evolved to possess superhuman abilities is a highly dangerous undertaking. So you can imagine the Skrulls were delighted by M-Day, the tragic day where most of the mutants in the Marvel Universe awoke to find their superhuman abilities gone. The treacherous shapeshifters should be even more excited by the news that Scott Summers, the leader of the X-Men, has disbanded the MU's premier team of Mutant heroes. "It's a help to the Skrulls that there aren't any X-teams, in that it'd be easier to put down any resistance among the mutant population one by one," Brevoort said. "Cyclops is in a key position as far as the remaining mutant population is concerned, in that he's shown a consistent ability to rally them around a cause. "If he were replaced by a Skrull, he could theoretically, I don't know, disband the X-Men and desert the X-Mansion."
Replacing Cyclops gives the Skrulls an advantage on the battlefield as well. His optic blasts make Cyclops a dangerous opponent on his own, but Scott Summers is at his most dangerous when he's leading a force into battle. Cyclops leadership skills have made the X-men one of the Marvel U's most effective fighting units and his skills as a costumed general seem to be only second to that of the late Steve Rogers.
Should replacing Cyclops prove dangerous, the X-Men's leader has other exploitable weaknesses. "He's been plagued by self-doubt in the past," Brevoort said. "And his control of his powers is dependent on the technology of his visor."
The Earth's Most Wanted cards were designed by Jim MacQuarrie.