A customer came in with a handy little heft of Marvel books and he wasn't sure on New Avengers. Issues had been hit and miss with him and I properly bit my tongue and tried to sell the book as the Secret History of the Secret Invasion. The customer perked up as Secret Invasion was awesome in his eyes especially the part where they "shot the hell out of Reed Richards".
I proudly sold him a copy of New Avengers #44, knowing he would be satisfied.
In this issue, the Skrulls are working on a project in which (and I'm nto joking) they are CLONING various Marvel heroes in order to learn their secrets. That's right: clones. The first part is a big long talk with the Illuminati as they catch on ahead of time about the ways the Skrulls would backlash against them. In fact they catch on so quick that Black Bolt makes a run for the door only to get shot up by the Skrulls who'd been watching their puppets dance for the intel. This intel being that one final clue that will help the Skrulls go undetected amongst... well, who are we kidding? Amongst the Fantastic Four and the incredible genius of Reed Richards.
So, their plan is to CLONE REED RICHARDS and keep putting the clone in situations where he'd willingly give up that information. They put him in league with his Illuminati buddies, they torture him and his wife and kid, it's... it's actually kind of gruesome. Personally, I find it just as distateful as the whole Tigra getting the crap kicked out of her in her underwear thing because, storywise, it isn't necessary and is brutality for brutality's sake and shock value.
Out of all the ways that the Skrulls could have learned how to hide themselves from the genius of Reed Richards, this is the way they go about it? Repeatedly cloning a copy until it did naturally what they wanted it to? Doesn't that seem a little wasteful? Couldn't they have figured it out on their own, out of sheer desperation? Why not have religious aspect factor in, something about believe in His Love or an ancient writ come to the fore with secret knowledge? Hell, they just got through an Annihilation wave, who's to say they couldn't have scavenged the tech out of some other destroyed culture. In fact, that'd have been kind of cool: bit space battle showing the Skrulls triumphant and raiding weaker races for their information and technology, absorbing it into their own. They could have even shown a successful 'mini Invasion' of some other schmoe race to give us even the barest hint of a chance that this Secret Invasion could have been a success.
So they torture and they test a variety of Clone Reeds until they finally get the math problem that will allow them the key to Invading. They get it by having his son ask precocious little questions in bed with the wife on some lazy morning until the idea strikes him. Then they shoot him in the head and declare war.
All you really need to know out of this issue is that the key to the Invasion and being undetected was discovered through Reed's brain and so the Real Reed could probably reverse-engineer it.
Oh, and Skrulls got clones.