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The Untold Truth Of Marvel's Queen Veranke

"Secret Invasion" is one of the biggest Marvel crossovers of all time. It involves a number of significant characters, and, most importantly, made readers rethink several years' worth of stories. It was only a matter of time, really, before "Secret Invasion" entered the MCU, especially once the benevolent Skrulls were introduced in Captain Marvel.

Those Skrulls just want their persecution at the hands of the Kree Empire to end. However, Skrulls have a different history in the comics. As "Secret Invasion" reveals, said history contains a Skrull sect of religious fanatics. The leader of these zealots, Queen Veranke, is banished to a far-off, empty world. She goes on to become the mastermind of the Skrulls' greatest scheme to conquer Earth.

In disguise as Jessica Drew, AKA Spider-Woman, Veranke is at the very heart of the New Avengers. Her scheme is especially sinister, because it makes every character wonder who they can trust. Sowing dissension is an integral part of her plan, and she almost makes it work. Let's take a look at the life, secrets, and lies of Queen Veranke.

The Illuminati make a bad choice

"Secret Invasion" is rooted in an excursion to the Skrull homeworld by a secret group of Earth heroes known as the Illuminati. It consists of Iron Man, Prince Namor, Black Bolt of the Inhumans, Professor Charles Xavier, Reed Richards, and Doctor Strange. The group convenes after the Kree-Skrull War, which devastated Earth: The Skrulls, having infiltrated the government, tried to turn people against superhumans. Iron Man believes they could have stopped the war if they had been able to pool all of their knowledge together, and proposes a kind of superhero government. In the end, they have to settle for a secret council instead.

One of their first acts is to travel to the Skrull homeworld to tell them that Earth is now off-limits. There, they are overwhelmed, imprisoned, and experimented on. The heroes are able to escape, but it's not all good news — as a scientist informs the Skrull king, Dorrek VII, the Skrulls were able to get extensive DNA samples and a long look at Earth's tech and magical capabilities. Even more promising, the samples represent a wide swath of Earth's powers and potential: Two mutants, a Kree-created Inhuman, a master of the mystic arts, a human irradiated by cosmic energy, and a human who happens to be one of the Earth's greatest technological geniuses. Basically, the Skrulls have everything they need to conquer Earth. 

Veranke, Dard'van extremist

Queen Veranke begins as a member of the extremist Dard'van sect. To put it bluntly, it's a Skrull doomsday cult centered around a series of apocalyptic prophecies. According to the Book of Worlds, a "devourer of worlds" will come for their homeworld, as well as "a wave of destruction." As the holy book predicts, "And out of nothingness will you outstretch your hand and take in that which needs you. Only then will the doors to the heavens open for you and your brothers." The book's final prophecy maintains that the Skrull will eventually take a "world of blue" as their own

The Dard'van sect is not looked upon kindly by mainstream Skrull society. Emperor Dorrek VII sees Veranke as a threat, but tolerates her until the Illuminati show up. After the stalemate of the Kree-Skrull War, the Skrulls' failure to infiltrate and conquer Earth, and the arrival of humans who dare to approach the Skrull throneworld, Veranke plays up what she genuinely sees as the prophecy starting to move toward its culmination. She also sees that Dorrek's grip on power is loosening. She confronts him with her followers after the Illuminati escape, but he shrewdly deals with the crisis by exiling her. She's of royal blood and a cult leader to boot, so he doesn't want to risk killing her outright, for fear of martyring her. Thus, Veranke is sent to a barren rock–  but she survives, and holds firmly to her faith.

The world-devourer prophecy is fulfilled

As it turns out, Veranke and the Dard'van prophecies are right: The world-devourer Galactus hungers, and his herald Nova leads him to the Skrull homeworld, Tarnax IV. After being hidden from Galactus for millennia, Nova (the former Earth woman Frankie Raye) easily discovers it, and destroys the Skrull armada. Dorrek VII is assassinated and replaced by his wife, Empress R'Klll, after he fails to conquer Xandar and kill the Fantastic Four. So it is R'Klll and her daughter Anelle who are there at the end, when billions of Skrulls die. 

Years later, some surviving Skrulls try to have Reed Richards sentenced to death for having saved Galactus' life, prior to him destroying their world. Years after that, R'Klll emerges once more, in an effort to wrest control of the empire away from her grandson, Dorrek VIII, AKA Teddy "Hulkling" Kaplan of the Young Avengers

The Skrulls are in disarray. The followers of Dard'van take this opportunity to rescue Veranke and install her as queen. Given that her first doomsday prophecy actually came true, everyone is ready to listen to what she has to say. Even in her darkest moments, she never lets go of her faith, crying out the prayer of Dard'van in spite of all obstacles: "He loves us."

Infiltrating the Avengers

After Veranke is installed as queen, the scientists who have been working on the Illuminati's DNA on a far-off world of the Skrull Empire share their findings. The first thing they reveal is that they have created a method to splice any Earth mutant or mutate's powers together, to create an infinite variety of new Super-Skrull soldiers. 

The Skrull delegate Ch'gra points out that physical attacks never seem to be able to defeat the endless variety of Earth's superheroes and mutants. Chief scientist Dro'ge has a solution to this, however: If they can infiltrate Earth undetected, they can remain there, so long as they stay transformed. Thus, the Skrulls quietly start replacing key figures who already have mysterious backgrounds.

Veranke wants to be in position to do the most damage, so she chooses to infiltrate Earth as Jessica Drew, AKA Spider-Woman. Drew is working for S.H.I.E.L.D., but goes undercover with HYDRA in a bid to get her powers back ... only to get kidnapped by the Skrulls and replaced by Veranke. Veranke is assigned to the super-prison known as the Raft and promptly engineers a super-villain breakout. In the process, she accidentally encourages the Avengers to reform, and later becomes a member. Thus, she ends up operating as a triple agent for the Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D., and HYDRA, all while spying for the Skrulls!

No more Skrulls?

Veranke and the Skrulls know they have to play the long game in conquering Earth, and accordingly, their plans are exhaustive. Reed Richards and Tony Stark must be neutralized for their crimes against the Skrulls, and because they represent huge threats. Organizations like S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA need to be infiltrated. S.W.O.R.D., whose entire existence is dedicated to defending Earth against aliens, must be destroyed. Superheroes have to be set against each other through paranoia. All of this is reasonably within reach. 

The Skrulls' biggest problem is Earth's out-of-control mutant population. The sheer number of powerful mutants that keep coming out of the woodwork gives Earth an unbeatable army — if they're willing to use it. Veranke's long-range plan is to continue to foment anti-mutant hysteria using the distrust and hatred that's already present.

One day, everything changes: Wanda Maximoff alters reality and creates the House of M. In this world, Wanda has tried to make many of her friends' dreams come true. Veranke realizes, to her horror, that her disguise is so thorough that Wanda made Jessica Drew's dreams come true instead of her own — she has become a S.H.I.E.L.D. team leader! She regains her bearings and comes close to assassinating Wanda before the Scarlet Witch utters her most fateful words: "No more mutants." Reality warps again, Wanda disappears, and the decimated mutant population suddenly becomes manageable. It's time for the invasion to begin. 

Queen Veranke's masterstroke

Before the invasion begins, Veranke receives word that another part of the prophecy has been fulfilled: The "wave" foretold in the Book of Worlds turns out to be the Annihilation Wave, and it wipes out billions of Skrulls. Now, more than ever, Veranke believes their conquest of Earth to be destined. In short order, Skrull agents destroy S.W.O.R.D. headquarters and infect all Stark technology with a virus, rendering most of Earth's defenses helpless. The S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier falls out of the sky, the Baxter Building is shunted off into the Negative Zone, Reed Richards is captured, and all supervillain prisons lose power. It's a good day for the Skrulls. 

But Veranke doesn't just want to conquer Earth — she wants to make its heroes suffer. Her masterstroke is distracting the planet's heroes by crash-landing a Skrull ship in the Savage Land. Emerging from the ship are several dozen Earth heroes, implying that a number of them had been captured but got free, led by Captain America, who was officially dead at the time. The whole ship turns out to be full of Skrulls. The Mighty Avengers and the Secret Avengers both investigate, and a huge battle erupts that sows even more distrust. The best part for Veranke is that, as Spider-Woman, she helps both Avengers teams get there. The final piece of the invasion puzzle falls into place as a ship lands in New York filled with the new Super-Skrull army, each of them out for blood.

The coming of the Uniter

While part of the New Avengers, Veranke becomes aware of the existence of the superhero known as Hulkling. Teddy Altman is the secret child of Kree Captain Mar-Vell and Skrull Princess Anelle, daughter of Dorrek VII and R'Klll. He was conceived during the Kree-Skrull War, but not even Mar-Vell was aware of his existence. Fearing for her son's life when Dorrek VII became aware of his existence, Anelle had him sent to Earth with a Skrull nursemaid to raise him in safety. 

When he joins the Young Avengers, Kl'rt, the original Super-Skrull, deduces Teddy's true identity and announces it to the empire. He demands that Teddy take his place as Skrull Emperor. However, when the Kree figure out who his father was, they demand that Teddy should join their militia. The plan is for a disguised Kl'rt to take Teddy's place for half a year with the Skrulls, and then with the Kree. That plan, however, is interrupted by the Annihilation Wave

Veranke knows all too well of a competing prophecy of "the Uniter," who would end the Kree-Skrull War by uniting both empires. She realizes that Teddy, whose real name is Dorrek VIII, is the culmination of that prophecy, and so she sends the terrifying assassin X'iv to kill him. Teddy is saved by his distant cousin Xavin, a Skrull member of the Runaways, allowing Teddy to defeat X'iv. Teddy later does, in fact, unite the empires against the Cotati

Torturing Iron Man

A big part of Veranke's strategy is using Tony Stark's status as de facto superhero chief against him. Stark has, at this point, been given increasing amounts of power and responsibility by the government. While that often results in disaster (like that whole superhero registration fiasco), he's still heading up the Avengers and his tech still powers nearly everything. Finding a way to infect all Stark technology, including the most recent version of his armor, thus makes Earth nearly defenseless. 

However, that isn't enough for Veranke: She truly despises Stark for everything he represents as an Earth man, as well as his role challenging the Skrull empire. After she nearly kills him with the tech virus, Stark goes off on his own in an effort to rebuild his armor. She discovers him in her Spider-Woman disguise, and proceeds to reveal herself as a Skrull. She then tells Stark that he is actually the greatest warrior of the Skrull empire, and that his name is Kr'Ali. She even kisses him, and claims that they're lovers. A feverish Stark starts to lose his mind, which is, of course, exactly what Veranke wants. Luckily, Black Widow chases her off. Stark eventually shakes off his fever and helps lead the Avengers to victory, but permanent damage is done to his reputation.

Punishing Reed Richards

Ever since Reed Richards hypnotized the first Skrull invaders into thinking they were cows, the entire empire has hated him. However, they also know they need his genius in order to find a way to conquer Earth. When Skrull scientists capture Richards' DNA and engineer clones, they're after one thing: A way to infiltrate Earth. If anyone can manage this, it's Reed Richards. They create Richards clones and try to torture the information out of him, but nothing works. Then, they create a scenario where Richards' young son Franklin tells him he's scared of Skrulls, which spurs clone-Richards into writing out the formula the Skrulls are after. Thus, the Skrulls become able to walk on Earth completely undetected.

When Iron Man and the New Avengers discover that Elektra is a Skrull, Stark has Hank Pym and Richards figure out why they couldn't detect her. Unfortunately for Richards, Pym is a Skrull agent as well, who blasts him. Richards is captured and tortured on a Skrull spaceship, as Veranke has ordered that Richards and Stark will be executed on a Skrull world only after they see Earth conquered. It takes S.W.O.R.D. commander Abigail Brand to rescue Richards, along with the Skrull version of Captain Mar-Vell, who fights for justice, to turn the tide. Richards then invents a device that can detect Skrulls, allowing Earth to unite. 

Kicking off the Dark Reign

Freeing Reed Richards means that he and Brand can rescue the Avengers stranded in the Savage Land. The Skrulls lose their ability to hide among humans and fail to kill Hulkling, so their only chance is an all-out battle in Central Park. Slowly but surely, the combined forces of Earth's heroes and villains wear down the Skrulls. The Hood leads a group of deadly villains against the Skrulls, Norman Osborn employs his psychotic Thunderbolts against them, Nick Fury comes out of hiding with a new group of Howling Commandos, and in our heroes' greatest hour of need, Thor returns.

But the Skrulls have one last trick up their sleeve: Weeks prior, Skrull-Hank Pym gave the Wasp a growth formula containing a toxin. The Skrulls proceed to activate said toxin, threatening to kill everyone. Thor extinguishes the threat, at the cost of the Wasp's life. That leaves a lot of vengeful heroes lining up to take down Veranke. Hawkeye nearly does it with a series of arrows, and Wolverine slashes her in a one-on-one battle, but the final shot belongs to Norman Osborn

Importantly, this shot is televised worldwide. Osborn takes advantage of the moment: The President hands him control of the Avengers and every significant superpowered security measure. Stark's failures help a great deal in pushing Osborn to the top. Of course, the psychotic Osborn immediately cuts a deal with a number of supervillains, kicking off the "Dark Reign" storyline.