New Avengers (1st series) #45

Issue Date: 
August 2008
Story Title: 

Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Jim Cheung (pencils), John Dell & Jay Leisten (inks), Justin Ponsor (colorist), Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne (letterers), Aleksi Briclot (cover artist), Anthony Dial (production), Jeanine Schaefer (associate editor), Tom Brevoort (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Queen Veranke and her fellow Skrulls are on Earth. Their mission is to undermine Earth’s population in order to successfully invade and take over the planet. M-Day hits, and reality changes. Veranke, like Wolverine, somehow remembers how reality should be, and heads off to find Hank Pym - a fellow Skrull named Criti Noll. Pym, meanwhile, also vaguely recollects how things used to be and he finds the experience most disconcerting. Veranke find him and takes him to the roof of a building for a chat. She helps him remember everything, and asks if he managed to kill the Scarlet Witch. Pym explains that he didn’t have the chance. Veranke decides to do it herself, and she joins the invading force that travels to Genosha. Once there, she heads straight to the palace and prepares to kill Wanda. Before she can do so, Wanda tears the palace apart and utters the words, “No more mutants.” With a flash of white light, reality is restored, only now there are just a handful of mutants. The Skrulls’ job has been made a whole lot easier.

Full Summary: 

(months ago, the House of M reality)
There is a blinding flash of white light, and everything changes. Skrull Queen Veranke, who is posing as Jessica Drew, momentarily blanks out as the new reality kicks in. All around her, her fellow Red Guard agents discuss things, though Veranke is seemingly oblivious. Natasha Romanov is requesting backup in Madripoor, Wade Wilson is calling in and an order is given to send a B-Team to the Savage Land. Veranke eventually wakes from her miasma and makes her way to a window. She looks outside, only to discover that she is aboard a helicarrier. Two massive Sentinels flank the ship and there are dozens of aircraft alongside to help protect it.

Greycrow says hello when he notices her and asks where her squad leader is. Veranke is still a little disorientated, and Mystique replies that he’ll be there. Nightcrawler asks if she is okay, and Veranke again struggles to speak. Greycrow asks her to go find Logan. He has to send them into the field. Veranke walks away and into a corridor. She feels faint and leans against a wall. Sweat drips down her cheeks as she spots some people ahead of her. She bolts through a doorway and into the restroom. Once inside the cubicle, she throw up into the toilet and wonders what on Earth is going on.

At Stark Enterprises, Hank Pym is chatting with Hank McCoy, who hangs upside down as he works. They are talking about their employer, Tony Stark. As McCoy tries to tell Pym that he cannot isolate the mutant gene as the idea is anti-mutant, Pym begins having flashbacks to his former life. He remembers the X-Men having a sweet moment. He remembers Veranke, as Jessica Drew, on a Skrull world. He stops listening to McCoy altogether as he silently recalls lying on the floor, naked, and the naked Veranke undergoing her transformation into Jessica Drew.

He snaps out of it when McCoy places a large hand on this shoulder. McCoy says that he knows what’s going on. No one gets it more than he. When it happened to the dinosaurs, they didn’t see it coming. They didn’t have the intellect or capacity to understand it. Pym does. He’s watching it happen and it stings like a bitch. McCoy adds that, if the roles were reversed, he doesn’t know what he’d do.

He removes his glasses and tells Pym that he’s right to feel the way he does. It’s not fair that he has to sit there with full awareness and watch it slowly happen. He then asks Pym not to be like this and suggests grabbing some lunch. As the enormity of what has happened begins to sink in, Pym walks away, feeling ill. He then dashes from the building and into the street. As he runs, Veranke, dressed in her Red Guard costume, swoops down and picks him up. She assures him that it’s okay and deposits him on a nearby rooftop. Pym is scared, so she tells him to get a hold of himself. She places her hand over his mouth and informs him that she is his queen and he will heed her word.

She tells him that his name is Criti Noll, and orders him to say it. Hank complies. She introduces herself as Veranke. Pym says that he doesn’t understand. Everything is wrong. Veranke reminds him that he called her and said he was going to go with the Avengers and the X-Men to deal with the Scarlet Witch. Does he remember? Hank vaguely recollects this. She adds that he went to the Scarlet Witch, and then the world went white. Did he kill her? Hank remembers now. They never got to her. “We came to Genosha, and… Oh, my God.”

He looks out over the city and asks how Wanda did this. She isn’t this powerful. She isn’t a God. Veranke replies that she is powerful. That’s why she was on their list. They couldn’t possibly take the planet with her on it. She’s one of the reasons they are there… hiding. Hank asks why the world isn’t in chaos over this. Why aren’t they reacting? She tells him that the people do not know. The live happily; satiated. Hank rubs his forehead. He sees just how many mutants populate the city and reckons that the Skrull Armada can’t battle against that. This is the opposite of what they were sent there to do.

Veranke asks him to listen. She’s seen with her own eyes that Logan saw right through the illusion. She has been sent to hunt him. She feels that there must be others like them. She can feel how paper thin the illusion is. It has cracks in it, and they are those cracks. They will get word out that a mutant did this, and a war against the mutants will begin. It will be immediate and fierce. The mutants will be decimated and imprisoned, the Scarlet Witch will be executed and then they will know that it is their time. If this proves anything, she adds, then it’s that as long as they are left to eat, sleep and fornicate, the human race will go along with whatever they are told to do. They will easily buckle to the will of the Skrull Empire.

Hank thinks she’s taking a very optimistic look at this. Veranke replies that she has to. She knows what her job is. She must find Wanda Maximoff and blow her brains out. Pym informs her that she’s in Genosha. It’s not a secret. Veranke says she will go alone. He must remain there in case she doesn’t come back. Someone has to take over the operations. He asks how she will get to Genosha. “I’ll find a ride,” she replies. She’s sure that she’s not the only one ready to take out the Scarlet Witch.

A team of assembled heroes from the helicarrier, including Wolverine, Spider-Man, Toad and She-Hulk, attack Magneto’s royal guards. Veranke shoots a guard in the face before swooping off to locate Wanda. She finds her in the palace and watches her through a window, playing with her twins. She then notices Hawkeye appear from the shadows, ready to kill Wanda.

As he hesitates, the unseen Veranke raises her gun but pauses. Clint has tears in his eyes as he converses with her. Veranke’s trigger finger begins to shake as she listens to their conversation. Wanda then uses her powers to take Clint apart piece by piece. Doctor Strange looks on as the building is torn apart in the same way. Veranke looks right into the eyes of one of the twins as he cuddles his mother, and is then thrown from the side of the building as it is destroyed.

“No more mutants,” says Wanda, and a blinding white light envelopes the world.

(reality, the recent past)
In an abandoned warehouse, the rogue Skrulls are gathered to discuss the situation. Only a few mutants now remain, meaning their invasion can begin. Pym finds that this planet is mad. The humans should be thrilled to have them take over. Another event like this and their reality will cease to be. Veranke starts to cry and Elektra is concerned. Pym asks if she is alright. Veranke informs them that she has news. It’s too much to even say.

She tells them about the annihilation of their empire. It was written in their book of worlds that a wave would come. It has come true. Her fellow Skrulls cannot believe it. This is devastating news. A billion Skrulls died to prove the words true, Veranke cries. A billion more died to tell them that they are on Earth with a purpose. It was written that a wave would come, and that a world of blue would be home for all that believed. “We are right,” she concludes. “He loves us.”

Characters Involved: 

Mystique, Nightcrawler, Rogue, Toad, Queen Veranke/Jessica Drew, Wolverine (Red Guard unit)

Hank McCoy, Hank Pym/Criti Noll

Greycrow, Weapon XXXC and several others (S.H.I.E.L.D.)

Luke Cage, Cyclops, Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers, Darkstar, She-Hulk, Spider-Man, Tony Stark, Storm

Magneto’s royal guards
Dr. Strange
Wanda’s children

Elektra, Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, Jarvis and several others (all Skrulls)

(in flashback)
Beast, Charles Xavier, Colossus, Cyclops, Emma Frost, Shadowcat (all X-Men)
Iron Man

Criti Noll, Queen Veranke and other Skrulls

Story Notes: 

This is a Secret Invasion tie-in issue.

The cover is an homage to the cover of House of M #1, only Skrullified. Much of the Scarlet Witch/Hawkeye scene is taken from House of M #7.

The Skrull Empire was mostly destroyed in the Annihilation crossover from 2006.

Weapon XXXC is actually shown here, but only as a silhouette.

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