In the lead up to ‘Secret Invasion’ Marvel released a number of promotional images teasing the identity of the Skrull impersonators. It was eventually revealed that it was Spider-Woman and Hank Pym who had been replaced.
Of course if you were to run our own version of this Event you change the identity. Not only will this keep the PCs guessing it can have larger ramifications for how things turn out.
Let us look at the possible candidates.
The Skrulls could choose to replace Spider-Man due to his connection to the Fantastic Four and the Avengers. His powers would also be easy to replicate.
In the months leading up to ‘The Secret Invasion’ Spider-Man had undergone several physical changes (undergoing a transformation after confronting The Other, for example) which can be attributed to a Skrull adjusting his power set to be more useful.
He had recently joined the Avengers and publically unmasked during ‘Civil War’, making him a prominent figure. Both can seen as a Skrull Spider-Man manoeuvring to make himself more important or as a reason why the Skrulls would think that Spider-Man would be a good candidate for replacement.
The events of ‘The Superior Spider-Man’ show that someone else can take his place without others from noticing. The main advantage for the Skrulls is that Spider-Man is often overlooked and so can easily sabotage the heroes from the inside.
If Peter is still alive (and he does tend to die in ‘What If’ scenarios’) it would be typical of his Parker luck to have to pick up the piece of his life once the imposter is revealed. How does he cope with the changes in his personal life?
Shortly after ‘Civil War’ Captain America was assassinated. Given the tendency of superheroes to come back from the dead the Skrull may choose this opportunity to introduce an imposter, counting on the publics joy at having their champion return preventing them from asking too many questions.
Captain America is influential not only in the hero community but in the country. He could sabotage the government and mislead the military, making the US vulnerable to invasion.
If the Skrull offer peaceful co-existence the Captain America imposter could try and convince others that this is the best solution. Who would argue with such an important and persuasive hero?
Many would not want to believe that Captain America was a Skrull because the alternative would be almost too horrible to consider. That the real Captain America was still dead.
A key to the success of the ‘Secret Invasion’ was that they had compromised Stark Technology. Since taking over as director of SHIELD Tony Stark had made the organisation almost completely reliant on his technology. This left them vulnerable when the Skrulls shut it all down.
While they used a Skrull impersonating Jarvis to achieve this it makes even more sense if Iron Man had been replaced. As director of SHIELD he’d be able to pass valuable information along to the Skrulls.
In this light his pro-registration stance during ‘Civil War’ can be seen as a deliberate effort to keep track of the super-powered community and control them. This data would be invaluable when the Skrull administration took over.
It was also during this period that the Iron Man began using his Extremis armour, that emerged from his skin. This would be much more convenient for a shape-shifter than having to use Earth technology.
The drawback is that the heroes might not entirely trust Stark, particularly after the events of ‘The Crossing’. ‘Civil War’ illustrated how quick others were to oppose Tony. The Skrull would have to count on the value of his resources and influence outweighing the lack of trust.
Not only does Storm have a strong connection to the X-Men she had recently married Black Panther, making her Queen of Wakanda. She’d also recently become a member of the Fantastic Four. All good reason to have her impersonated.
Using her influence she could have ensured that Wakanda was successfully invaded, something that had never been achieved. Once captured the unique mineral sources would have been invaluable to the Skrull.
The biggest problem would be overcoming the intelligence of Black Panther and the keen senses of Wolverine. This isn’t outside the realms of possibility since the Skrull had developed the means to go undetected by most means of detection.
This is exactly why having a Wolverine imposter would work so well. He knows just about everyone and his surly manner means that people don’t get close enough to him to easily spot a replacement.
He’d recently joined the Avengers when the encountered him in the Savage Lands, while they were uncovering what later turned out to be a Skrull operation.
If the Skrull saw the Quinjet crash they could have despatched their Wolverine imposter to meet up with the heroes and join their ranks. They’d only need to capture the real Wolverine to make sure no one noticed. Of course the joke is made so frequently people probably don’t keep track of where he is and even Wolverine might not realise something is strange.
When the Elektra Skrull was revealed the Avengers turned to Wolverine to see if he could detect imposters. If he was a Skrull imposter he could easily misdirect them, covering up the presence of other infiltrators and sowing suspicion against other heroes.
The Skrull hate the Fantastic Four. What better way to torment Reed Richards than replace his wife? She would be perfectly poised to shatter the family, weakening a possible source of opposition and distracting Reed from the infiltration.
This might be used to explain her opposition to Reed during the ‘Civil War’. In this continuity she might go further to drive wedges between members or use the time that Reed and Sue spent reconciling to get him alone and either capture or kill him.
Invisibility is a power that the Skrull can easily replicate, although her force fields might require other technology. Not only might Reed Richards notice this but so too could Franklin and Valerie, as children are often able to tell if their parents aren’t the same.
He has a strong connection with the Avengers but he also has a romantic connection with Scarlet Witch. The Skrulls would certainly want a mutant powerful enough to eradicate a large portion of the mutant community on their side.
The biggest drawback is his reliance on trick arrows and natural skill, difficult to copy with shape-shifting alone. It is possible that Skrull technology could be used for the arrows and this could act as a clue to anyone who examines them that these weren’t made by an Earth Man.
There is no reason to believe that the Skrull would only concentrate on the hero community. Doctor Doom is the ruler of a small country and has influence amongst villains. Strong reasons for putting a Skrull impersonator on the throne of Latveria.
Luckily for them Doctor Doom is known for having others impersonate him, particularly his Doombots. Who can keep track of the real Doom?
Just how would the Skrull ensure that Doctor Doom didn’t unmask the imposter? He has a tendency to escape both assassination attempts and attempts to hold him captive.
Once freed it wouldn’t be out of character for Doctor Doom to team up with the heroes to defeat a common enemy. He might try and turn it to his advantage, just as Norman Osborne did, becoming a hero himself for defeating the invaders.
If the Skrull wanted to take over street-level New York they could do worse than replace Luke Cage. A member of the Avengers his powers were impressive enough to be useful while low-level enough for most to overlook him.
He’d also recently had a child with Jessica Jones, with hints that the child might be Skrull. While that didn’t turn out to be true in Earth 616 continuity if its father was a Skrull that would explain the babies unearthly nature.
As with this Captain America few would question this resurrection. Her return would be even more welcome after the mutant population had been recently decimated. Jean would have huge influence over the X-Men, particularly Cyclops and Wolverine. She would be in the perfect position to manipulate them before the arrival of the Skrull.
The events of ‘Avengers Vs X-Men’ revealed that the Phoenix Force was heading towards Earth. It is possible that the Skrull were aware of this and put their Jean Grey impersonator in place so that she could become its host (maybe choosing a ‘mutant’ Skrull to fulfil its criteria).
If this is the case they might hold of their invasion plan until the Phoenix Force arrives. If it worked there would be few that could stand against them. This would put a whole new angle on adventures based around ‘Avengers Vs X-Men’ (allowing you to combine both events).
Following the events of ‘Secret War’ Nick Fury vanished into the shadows. This could have been an opportunity for the Skrulls to send in a replacement. If they keep him in the shadows they could use his covert op connections to acquire information, resources and eliminate those trying to expose their imposters.
If you want to diverge from Earth 616 continuity further he might re-emerge to take control of SHIELD back from Tony Stark. If they were in total control of the organisation they could use it to further their goals during their invasion, rather than neutralising them.