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New Avengers #44: Review

Aug 2008
Brian Michael Bendis, Billy Tan

Story Name:

Secret Invasion (part 5)

Review & Comments

4 stars

New Avengers #44 Review by (June 8, 2024)
This Skrull cover is an homage to New Avengers: Illuminati v2 #1 where the team visited the Skrull throneworld Tarnax IV before this issue.

The letterers are Deschesne and Starkings again.

This issue explains how the Skrulls learned how to be undetectable.

Dro'ge only appears in 2 flashback issues, this 1 and #40, but he still manages to cause a continuity problem.

In #40 he was head science priest of Emperor Dorrek VI just after NAv:Ill v2#1 where he was tasked with exploiting the DNA they had taken from the Illuminati on Tarnax X. And Veranke got banished.
In Uncanny X-Men #370/X-Men #90 we saw new Super-Skrulls in training on Tarnax X just before Galactus destroyed Tarnax IV in FF#257.
Later in #40, after Dorrek is dead and Galactus has destroyed Tarnax IV, Dro'ge shows new Queen Veranke how they've learned to create Super-Skrulls with any combination of the real powers of any superchars. And also how they've recently perfected a method of making shapeshifted Skrulls undetectable.

But in the current issue at least 1 new Super-Skrull exists, albeit with FF powers like the original, but they haven't yet been able extract a method of making Skrulls undetectable from Illumnati clones. Minor science priest Dro'ge believes he can get such info by concentrating on the mind of clones of Reed Richards alone, and Dorrek makes him head scientist. This would mean he wasn't head scientist at the start of #40.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

New Avengers #44 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
In New Avengers: Illuminati v2 #1 the Illuminati (Black Bolt, Dr Strange, Iron Man, Mr Fantastic, Prof X and Sub-Mariner) visited the Skrull throneworld Tarnax IV soon after the Kree/Skrull War epic (Avengers #89-97) and warned them not to invade Earth again. But they were captured and experimented upon and their DNA sampled before they managed to escape.

Now some years ago the same 6 convene again at the behest of Charles Xavier who wants to discuss the likelihood that the Skrulls will retaliate for the destruction and humiliation caused by the group's *invasion* above, or the possibility that they're already here. He's concerned that during their capture 1 or more of the group might have been replaced by Skrulls. Reed Richards figures that Prof X's telepathy or Dr Strange's magic would have detected them. But Namor points out that *those 2* might have been the ones switched. However Reed and Tony Stark have also used their tech to scan the current assembly. They and Xavier confirm that everybody's clean, and Stephen Strange offers to scan them with the Eye Of Agamotto.

But Charles takes things a step further. The Skrulls know humans can do stuff like this, but what if they've found ways to make themselves completely undetectable. As a King (of Atlantis) Namor suggests that their Emperor would be under severe pressure to find a way to beat the super-powered Earthians, especially as they have a holy prophecy that Earth *should* be theirs. But Xavier asks how *could* they do it? Reed finds it an interesting problem. Charles reminds him that the Super-Skrull had the powers of the Fantastic Four, but Reed dismisses that as a technical trick. The shapeshifters would need to replace their physical mimicry with deeper genetic changes.

Strange decides to use the Eye anyway increase the level of trust in the room. But when he tries the spell required he finds that he can't do it. He remembers doing it during their 'invasion'. But he now realises that he can't remember how they escaped the Skrull Empire. Everyone gets confused and then Mr Fantastic announces that he doesn't have his stretching power, and Iron Man finds that his armour won't respond. Black Bolt prepares to leave the room but Prof X asks him not to and tells everyone to calm down. Namor accuses him of betraying them and Xavier says the experiment is terminated ...

... and he turns into a Skrull with FF powers (but not it seems the original Super-Skrull) who beats them all up. Black Bolt opens the door and is shot down by a squad of Skrulls. And we discover that this is an experiment using clones of the Illuminati (except Prof X who is a Super-Skrull) by the Skrulls to learn how to make themselves undetectable by humans, even super-powered ones. Head priest of the sciences Galan asks priest of the mind Fry'lu why she wasn't able to mentally keep the Illuminati clones believing in the scenario. She gives 2 excuses but is spared further interrogation by the arrival of Emperor Dorrek.

Now it's Galan's turn to make excuses. But minor science priest Dro'ge points out that their experiment showed that the mind of Reed Richards clones contains the secret of undetectability. Dorrek asks the mind-priest Fry'lu why she can't extract that information but she replies that she doesn't know enough science to understand it. So Dro'ge suggests that they concentrate on getting a Richards clone to tell them the answer. And the Emperor makes him head scientists with that goal.

Later the Super-Skrull is trying to beat the answer out of a Reed clone. Like the others he believes he's the real deal, but still a prisoner of the Skrulls and they've neutralised his powers. He continues to refuse to surrender the information. So they bring in his wife Sue Richards (actually of course a Skrull). She begs him to tell them or they'll kill their children. They shoot her and then bring in young Franklin Richards. At last Reed agrees to tell them the secret, but Fry'lu says he's lying and plans to kill all the Skrulls with a chemical-based weapon. So they terminate the experiment and the clone (and Sue-Skrull wasn't harmed). Fry'lu suggests a more subtle approach to Dro'ge.

(Clone) Reed Richards is in bed with his (Skrull) wife Sue. He can't sleep and his side of the bed is littered with pages of scientific scribbles. (Skrull) Franklin enters the room to say *he* can't sleep because he's worried about shapeshifting Skrulls who might already be on Earth coming to get his dad who they hate. Reed assures him that the Skrulls *aren't* here because he has machines that can detect them. Franklin asks what if they found a way to be undetectable but Reed says to do that they'd have to be as smart as *him*, which they aren't. Franklin is satisfied that his dad could figure out anything the Skrulls could do and goes to sleep. But it triggers the idea in Reed's mind and by next morning he's worked out how they could do it. And he's got it all written down on a piece of paper. So the Skrulls terminate him and the experiment again, this time in success.

Billy Tan
Matt Banning
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.

Emperor Dorrek VII (Dorrek).

> New Avengers: Book info and issue index

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