Delroy '3-D Man' Garrett and other Initiative troops have rendezvoused with the Skrull Kill Krew and are teleporting around the country, killing the Skrulls who have infiltrated the teams of the Fifty State Initiative. Meanwhile, the Skrulls are preparing to launch a doomsday weapon so that, should their Secret Invasion be foiled, the Earth will be rendered uninhabitable. Can 3-D Man and the rest save the day?
In their war room at Camp Hammond, the Dum-Dum Dugan impersonator confers with his staff on the progress of the invasion. He monologues that while the Kill Krew has destroyed many Initiative bases, many yet remain, and only three are necessary to crack the Earth in two. In any case, 'Dugan' still aims to destroy the Krew, and 3-D Man in particular, because his ability to see who the Skrulls for what they really are is crucial to the anti-Skrull resistance.
Meanwhile, in single-panel snapshots, we see Krew teams take out the Skrulls who have infiltrated the Initiative in state after state. The most amusing is the Wisconsin panel, which features the Great Lakes Avengers, who don't quite break the fourth wall, but certainly bend it. Over the course of the montage we see many Skrulls get killed, but we also see the Skrull weapon in Washington State go on-line, thanks to the unwitting assistance of human demonstrators who have mistaken the Skrulls for benevolent saviours (a nice nod to Secret Invasion #6).
The clash in Texas proves the most significant, for there, in the aftermath of defeating the infiltrator among the Texas Rangers, Skrull agents in a crowd of civilian witnesses start a riot. In the midst of the confrontation a thrown rock shatters 3-D Man's goggles, depriving him of his Skrull-sense.
Elsewhere, Earth's heroes clash with the main Skrull force in Central Park, and per the events of Secret Invasion #8 ), they triumph. The Crusader, flushed with triumph, notices the Yellowjacket impersonator fleeing the scene, and the Crusader – secretly a Skrull himself – follows, determined to exact revenge for what he has done to the Initiative. And in Hawaii, Spinner tries to destroy the Hawaiian Initiative base, but her superspeed fails at a key moment: the weapon in the base goes on-line and Spinner herself is killed.
Crusader's pursuit leads him to Camp Hammond, where he uses his Freedom Ring to de-power the Yellowjacket impersonator and to kill him. The Dugan impersonator and his Skrull flunkies draw down on the Crusader, who is saved by the sudden arrival of the Kill Krew, who arrive via Initiative jump-gates. With a rallying cry of "Avengers Assemble!" the Krew attacks. Unfortunately for them, the Skrulls are prepared with a special biological weapon, a gas that only affects humans, not Skrulls. Whiz Kid is able to defend the Initiative with her superspeed at the cost of her own life; meanwhile Crusader, a Skrull himself, penetrates the gas curtain and kills the Dugan impersonator himself.
It's a Pyrrhic victory. He has one moment to savour what he has accomplished – saving the Earth, his adopted home – before 3D Man, who has drawn upon the power of the Triune within him to recover his Skrull-detecting powers, shoots the Crusader in the head. "What?" he says, as the rest of the Krew stare at him. "Skrull," he observes, staring down at the Crusader's body, which has reverted to its natural state.
In a one-page epilogue, the Crusader, still clinging to life, mutters to himself that he didn't deserve what happened to him, and that he wishes it could have ended differently. His Freedom Ring flashes, and his body is gone. The caption reads "The End...?"
A satisfying ending to the Initiative Secret Invasion arc, and indeed to the Secret Invasion– this title shipped a week after Secret Invasion #8, making it the final piece of the crossover event as a whole. Lots of strands come together, pulling in the story of 3-D Man, the Kill Krew, the various Initiative teams, the Yellowjacket impersonator, while paying off moments from other titles as well. Tony Stark gave Dum Dum Dugan the tech for the Skrull scorched-earth weapon in his own Director of SHIELD title, which makes Stark responsible for the near-destruction of Earth; a fact that plays strongly into the Dark Reign event now unfolding.
There's action and drama a-plenty. I complained last time that we hadn't spent enough time with Devil-Slayer to feel his death had dramatic weight. This time, though, we readers have had even less investment in Spinner and Whiz Kid, but their brief interaction early in the issue, combined with their separate deaths later, I found poignant. Crusader's death was also tragic, but less so perhaps, because this outcome was likely from the moment 3-D Man gained his Skrull-detecting powers. I'm sure I'm not the only one who saw this climax coming for some time now.
All in all, an excellent issue, and an excellent conclusion to the Slott-Gage era on this title, which is drawing to a close; future work will be undertaken by Gage alone, while Slott moves on to other projects. As much as I enjoy Slott's work, I think the title will be in good hands.