Think of Marvel's Secret Invasion author, Brian Michael Bendis, as a Comic Book Guy equivalent of Quentin Tarantino. Much like the director (who paid his dues behind the counter of a dusty L.A. video store), writer-illustrator Bendis also did his time as a clerk before helming potent, homage-packed indie projects, and ultimately landing on his industry's A-list. Granted, Bendis worked at a nondescript comics store (in a far less sexy metropolis: Cleveland); got his start crafting starkly artful, hard-boiled graphic novels (see Jinx, Powers, Torso); and then signed a contract with Marvel. But his steady ascent into the Geek Pantheon is no less remarkable. Just consider his most famous devotees: Charlize Theron, David Fincher, The O.C.'s Seth Cohen, and so on. Now, with Ultimate Spider-Man, a couple of Avengers titles, and The House of M stunt under his belt, Bendis is embarking on his most ambitious undertaking yet: Secret Invasion, Marvel's eight-issue ''event'' comic (issue No. 1 goes on sale April 2).
More than three years in the making, the title has generated enough anticipation that a seeming rogue Marvel employee (codename: Marvel Boy) recently created quite the Inter-nerd stir by leaking possible Invasion plot details. We wouldn't want to spoil the story, so here's what we can tell you: Invasion finds the shape-shifting alien Skrulls infiltrating Good Guy ranks undetected! while sundry superheroes, confused as to who's real and who's fake, succumb to paranoia. So how does this exercise in dividing and conquering end? EW.com found an exceedingly good-natured Bendis (now 40 and living in Portland, Ore.) tight-lipped on the resultant math, but eager to discuss his master plans both in the worlds of comics and Hollywood.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let's say you're a fan of the Marvel universe, but you're not an expert. Why should you read Secret Invasion?
BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS: The Skrulls were invented back in the day when Invasion of the Body Snatchers and the Cold War were a big part of the [Marvel] universe. And we're kind of back in that: The subtext of this story is not knowing if you can trust your friends or family. Years after 9/11, we go on a plane and start scanning the crowd...we can't help it. Plus, it's every character in the Marvel universe interacting with each other in a completely unique way. It's the biggest disaster movie the Marvel universe, we're hoping, would ever see.
Why the Skrulls?
They don't invade because ''Muhahaha! We need the Earth!'' but actually on a deep, religious level they already believe Earth is part of their empire. In the past, they were written as laser-gun toting, spaceship aliens. [But] they are shape shifters. Just think about what that means they [could] infiltrate us and feed off our existing fears and paranoia. And it isn't government or religion that stands in their way, it's the people who have the physical [super]power to step up. Once the Skrulls announce their intentions to the world, they say, ''You're destroying your world, the way you live. One of you will live in excess right next to someone who's starving, and none of you do anything about it. Our system works. Our system is complete. We're coming to give it to you.'' For some people, that's a damn attractive offer. They don't feel like they're being invaded. They think, ''Finally someone's here to save us.'' So what's right or wrong?
NEXT PAGE: How Nick Fury, the Fantastic Four, and Iron Man factor in to Secret Invasion