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New Avengers #42: Review

Jun 2008
Brian Michael Bendis, Jim Cheung

Story Name:

Secret Invasion (part 3)

Review & Comments

4 stars

New Avengers #42 Review by (May 18, 2024)
Albert Deschesne and Richard Starkings share the lettering again.

This cover is a Skrull-homage to that of Avengers #221 (with licensed Rom replaced by Jocasta) - 1 of the 'who'll be in the Avengers' issues.

This issue is composed of flashbacks to Veranke replacing Spider-Woman and her actions since then.

The page with the chat with Nick Fury and the surgery page are direct replays of 2 of the pages in #14 where Spider-Woman (Veranke) went into more detail when explaining the whole double-agent setup to Captain America. We can't of course trust everything the secret Skrull said but we do know that this all happened before Nick Fury's Secret War put him on the run from SHIELD. As we learned in another Secret Invasion flashback issue Mighty Avengers #12 SHIELD suspected Jessica of working with Fury and fired her. Then Fury met with SW (not knowing she was a Skrull) and told her worm her way back into SHIELD and become a triple agent working for him. Which leads to the next fb here with Skrulls discussing how to get Veranke into SHIELD again.

The Contessa Skrull at the meeting here isn't the only such. Another Skrull posed temporarily as her in order to replace Dum Dum Dugan as seen in the Secret Invasion Prologue 1-shot. Another posed as her to get info out of Fury while he was on the run. He killed her in MAv#12. According to the Marvel Chronology Project the current 1 has already been seen by us in her disguise (published earlier but later than this fb) in the Union Jack (2006) mini-series, Captain America (2004) #26 (just after his Civil War death) and Punisher War Journal (2006) #14,19-23 before SI starts.

The New Avengers saw the Savage Land SHIELD vibranium operation in #6, but it was only last issue that revealed they were Skrulls. We didn't see any Skrull or SHIELD operation in Wakanda before SI itself.

The Skrulls get lucky about the growing mutant problem because it resolves itself. At the end of this issue Scarlet Witch initiates the House Of M reality. #45 will show what happened to the Skrulls there, and at the end of it she drastically reduces the number of functional mutants.

Scarlet Witch takes herself out of the picture after House Of M. And the Skrull infiltrators, especially Henry Pym/Criti Noll, play their part in causing the Civil War. And MAv#16 reveals that Elektra/Pagon's death in our #31 was planned to cause paranoia among superhumans.

Henry Pym being a Skrull is revealed/explained in MAv#15 which was published on the same day as this issue.

We've already seen this Spider-Woman and Henry Pym in House Of M but #45 will reveal that Veranke and Criti Noll (and other Skrulls) knew what was happening to the world.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

New Avengers #42 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
In #40 we saw how Veranke rose to power in the Skrull Empire and initiated the Skrull infiltration of Earth, and how she chose herself to replace Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew).

Jessica lost her powers (in Avengers #241 and worked as a PI since then). Now she tells Nick Fury that Hydra have promised to restore her powers if she gets back into SHIELD and spies on them. Fury surprises her by telling her to take the job and become a double agent really working for SHIELD. So she does and has the surgery.

But that's the last we see of the real Drew because we now see that the surgery team and other Hydra agents are Skrulls under the direction of Veranke. Later Drew's DNA and memories are transferred her in a religious ceremony and she becomes Spider-Woman. (We see a montage of Jessica's past ending with Fury.)

This issue skips past Fury losing the Directorship of SHIELD after his Secret War, and SW(V) being fired because she was tainted by association. And Nick asking her to rejoin SHIELD and become a triple agent reporting to him on them and Hydra.

Which is why we now see (as Spider-Man swings past) her holding a Skrull meeting in a warehouse to discuss how to get 'Jessica' back into SHIELD. A Skrull who's replaced high ranking SHIELD Agent Contessa Valentina De La Fontaine says she has it organised. Contessa will recommend her. They've already replaced the Agent who will vet her for readmission. And they'll organise a low-level job for her that she can work up from.

They then discuss 3 targets in their subversion plan:-

1) They will hit the vibranium mines in the Savage Land and Wakanda because that metal is something the Skrull Empire has no defence against. The Contessa will organise  a group of Skrull SHIELD Agents to masquerade as Fury loyalists gone rogue to handle this.

2) The mutant population is growing and organising, and they have their own island now (Genosha, much earlier than Krakoa). They need to stir up more anti-mutant hatred.

3) They need to eliminate or negate the top superhumans, including the big gun mutants. They are lucky that Thor died but Veranke is worried about Scarlet Witch. A Skrull offers to become Sue Storm and kill Reed Richards in his bed, but Veranke wants him and Tony Stark to be taken alive to the Skrull Empire and punished and killed for their crimes. For now they'll concentrate on turning the superhumans against each other. Veranke suggests to the Contessa that she should be assigned duty at the Raft super-penitentiary where she can cause most chaos.

Now we reach our #1 where 'Jessica Drew' at the Raft meets Luke Cage and Matt Murdock who've come to see prisoner the Sentry. Then Electro strikes the island. We seque into Jessica and Hank Pym (Skrull Criti Noll) discussing it. They say that Electro did exactly what he was hired to do (by a mystery figure which Mighty Av #16 reveals was Elektra (Skrull Pagon)). The stunt freed many supercriminals including specifically Sauron who they want in the Savage Land. As well as killing some SHIELD Agents it wounded many more who they think they can replace in their hospital beds by Skrulls. But on the negative side it accidentally kickstarted a new Avengers team, and the Sentry is another big gun for them to worry about. Captain America asked Spider-Woman herself to join. Criti in Pym-mode is miffed that *he* wasn't asked, but he says that she's *got* to accept and she agrees. But 1st she's got to tell Madame Hydra.

That meeting repeats the contents of the last page of #3 where she asks someone if they authorised the strike on the Raft, risking her life. And says that if she's to spy on the Avengers as well as SHIELD then she wants a lot of money. But we didn't know then who she was talking to.

The 1st panel on the next page is Spider-Woman's 1st day as a New Avenger and duplicates her entrance from #4. But the Marvel Chronology Project puts the succeeding conversation later between #6 and #7, between the Breakout arc and the Sentry arc. When Captain America, Iron Man and Edwin Jarvis reminisce over a Scarlet Witch story Jessica asks where she is. Tony Stark says she had a mental breakdown and Steve Rogers explains that she caused the Avengers Disassembled event, which is news to Spider-Man (and maybe to Luke Cage). Wolverine blames it on her father being Magneto, and *he*'s surprised when he learns that she's now being looked after by him on Genosha. Spider-Woman apologises for bringing it up, but Veranke now has the information she sought.

The remainder of the issue is set just before House Of M. Jessica Drew is called to the SHIELD helicarrier for an interview with Director Maria Hill. Hill is very suspicious about her having been originally recruited by the disgraced Nick Fury, about her being a spy within Hydra and now joining the Avengers and says she'll be keeping an eye on her. Drew responds that most of SHIELD are more suspicious of Hill than they are of her, including the rogue Agents the Avengers found in the Savage Land.

On the way out she gets a call from Yellowjacket/Criti Noll asking why she isn't here at the Tower with the rest of the Avengers. They and the X-Men are off to Genosha to confront Wanda Maximoff. Half of them want to save her but the other half want to kill her. Veranke tells him to kill her. Pretend to lose it because she killed some of Hank Pym's friends (in Avengers Disassembled). She promises to pull Criti out afterwards.

Spider-Woman does make it to Genosha but then everything goes white.

Jim Cheung
John Dell
Justin Ponsor
Aleksi Briclot (Cover Penciler)
Aleksi Briclot (Cover Inker)
Aleksi Briclot (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: ?.
Editor: Tom Brevoort. Editor-in-chief: Joe Quesada.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Luke Cage
Luke Cage

(Power Man)

(Peter Parker)


(Jessica Drew)

(James Howlett)

Plus: Elektra (Pagon), Jarvis (Edwin Jarvis), Val de Fontaine (Skrull) (Contessa Valentina de la Fontaine), Yellowjacket (Criti Noll).

> New Avengers: Book info and issue index

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