When the Skrulls "Secret Invasion" of Earth finally hits high gear in April, many elements will determine whether or not humans maintain their dominion over the planet or lose it to the shape shifting invaders. Cunning, inspiration, scientific acumen, and toughness are some of the predominant traits of the characters CBR News and Marvel Comics editor Tom Brevoort have been considering for the past several weeks in our look at what Marvel characters pose the biggest threats to the Skrull plans. Our profile series continues today as Brevoort returns to reveal The Sixes in the Skrulls' "Secret Invasion" poker deck.
Natasha Romanoff is a dangerous woman. She doesn't have any flashy superhuman powers, but the Widow's ruthlessness and years of experience as a spy and superhero make her just as dangerous to the Skrulls' plans. "Natasha's got connections to any number of groups-S.H.I.E.L.D., the Avengers, the Champions--and she's perfectly at home striking from the shadows and operating in a morally-gray clandestine world," Brevoort explained. "So she'd be a natural person to work towards ferreting out the Skrull plot were it to become known to her, in that she'd be willing to do whatever it took to get the job done, and has the skills and the experience to see the mission through to the end."
Should the Skrulls accomplish the difficult task of outwitting and capturing the Black Widow they'll be able to create another valuable doppelganger. The Widow's lack of any real superhuman abilities means she'd be an easy hero to duplicate and her multiple areas of influence means she'd be a valuable espionage tool against Earth's heroes.
As Spider-Woman, Jessica Drew possesses many superhuman abilities. She's got superhuman, strength, speed and endurance. She can fly and shoot deadly bolts of bio-electric energy in the form of "venom blasts." But her pheromone generating powers, which allow her to attract males and make them susceptible to her will, could prove especially dangerous to the Skrull invaders. "Skrull physiognomy is totally different from that of a human being, so you would think it'd have no effect," Brevoort said. "By that same token, if the Skrulls can imitate human beings so closely as to be able to avoid detection, then perhaps a part of that duplication would include the biological mechanisms that would make them vulnerable to this ability."
Even if she didn't have her superhuman powers, Jessica Drew's training would still make her a force to be reckoned with. Spider-Woman has training as both a S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra agent and worked as a private investigator. "Spider-Woman has associations in all corners, and is used to living in the shadowy world of espionage," Brevoort said.
It's Drew's associations, which make her an especially desirable target for replacement. Spider-Woman's status as a triple agent meant she worked for S.H.I. E. L.D. and Nick Fury while feeding misinformation to Hydra. And even though she defected to Tony Stark's team of Avengers, Spider-Woman is still respected by many of her former comrades in Luke's Cage's Avengers team. So a Spider-Woman impostor could subtly influence both Avengers team as well as provide false information to both S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra.
Should replacing Spider-Woman prove too costly, the Skrulls could always try to manipulate her through other means. "Jessica's sort of stumbled into a role as a triple-agent, so she's got conflicting loyalties, and those loyalties are mostly to big, faceless organizations," Brevoort explained. "So it would be a very simple matter to feed her instructions from a compromised source without even needing all that much background."
James Rhodes has been a soldier his entire adult life. He started off as a helicopter pilot and now flies one of the most dangerous weapons known to man, the War Machine armor. But War Machine is just one of the many weapons Rhodes can bring to bear against Skrull Invaders. "War Machine is one of the administrators of Camp Hammond and the Initiative," Tom Brevoort told CBR News. "So he's in a front-line position when it comes to organizing the nation's superhuman assets and coordinating tactics against an enemy."
Even if War Machine hadn't accepted his position in the Initiative, his status as a close friend and confidant of Tony Stark and his years of service as a soldier, superhero and sometimes both would have made him a high profile target to the Skrull conspirators. "Rhodey had been working for the O.N.E. as part of their 'Sentinel Squad O.N.E.' program, so in that capacity he still would have been worthy of notice," Brevoort remarked. "But not to the same degree that he might in his current role."
If the Skrulls are able to replace James Rhodes with an impersonator they'll get the chance to sabotage one of the United States most valuable strategic resources, its superhumans. "They get a highly-placed agent right at the heart of the Initiative, one who could possibly subvert the structure of the Fifty State defense plan from within," Brevoort explained.
Should War Machine prove too difficult or risky to try and replace the Skrulls can always exploit some of his weaknesses. "He has some but I can't tell you what they are," Brevoort stated. "You'll have to wait until they come to light in a couple short months in 'Avengers: The Initiative.'"
England may have less superhuman defenders than the United States does but the Skrulls know they won't be in for an easy time trying to take the United Kingdom. One of their biggest problems comes in the form of Brian Braddock, also known as Captain Britain. "Captain Britain is probably most dangerous due to the fact that his origin stems from an extradimensional source of magic," Brevoort stated. "That would make him a bit harder to quantify, I would think, in terms of what hidden resources he might be able to bring into play. Plus there are theoretically many, many cross-time doppelgangers of Captain Britain who are among his fellow members of the Captain Britain Corps whom he might be able to call upon."
In addition to his magically bestowed abilities and potential extradimensional allies, Brian Braddock is also a brilliant scientist with a Ph.D. in physics. Captain Britain's scientific skill may not be equal to that of Reed Richards, but there's still a chance he could concoct a device to strip the Skrulls of their biggest advantage, the ability to operate on Earth undetected. "His unique viewpoint and background might allow him to come up with something that his fellow scientists might not even think of," Brevoort said.
Captain Britain's vast superhuman strength and endurance makes him a difficult opponent to capture and hold on to. But if the Skrulls are able to field a Captain Britain impostor they would have an agent with access and influence in extradimensional realms as well as pull with the British government and other UK heroes.
Should Brian Braddock prove too difficult to capture, it's likely the Skrulls will employ psychological warfare against him. "He's been regularly crippled by self-doubt, to the point where it would occasionally even affect the workings of his powers," Brevoort explained. "So he's perhaps more readily vulnerable to psychological mind-games than the average hero."
Cards designed by Jim MacQuarrie.
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