The Proper Reading Order For Marvel's Secret Invasion

Marvel Comics has published a great many crossover events over the years, with the likes of "Infinity Gauntlet" going on to inspire huge blockbuster hits in "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Avengers: Endgame." But one of the publisher's biggest, most ambitious crossovers came in 2008 in the form of "Secret Invasion," which reshaped the Marvel universe as we know it and saw the Skrulls attempting a long-in-the-works invasion of Earth. Written by Brian Michael Bendis with artwork from Leinil Francis Yu, it has since become embraced as one of Marvel's most satisfying crossovers ever. With that being the case, it shouldn't be a real surprise to anyone that it is being turned into an event series on Disney+.

But there were more than 100 individual comic book issues across several titles that tied into "Secret Invasion." So, how many of these books do you need to read? And what's the proper order in which to read them? Today, we're going to take you through the event and how best to read it, going over the absolute essentials, adding in some recommended reading, and touching on how to read the expanded version of the story in order. Let's dig in.

What is Secret Invasion?

"Secret Invasion" was Marvel's major crossover event series for 2008, with the first main issue in the series being published in April of that year. Not only was it an ambitious series that brought The Avengers and many, many other heroes (not to mention villains) into the equation, but it recontextualized much of what we thought we knew about the Marvel universe up to that point. Basically, the shape-shifting alien race known as the Skrulls had been planning a major invasion of Earth for a long time, and their plan was finally unveiled. Marvel Cinematic Universe fans will be familiar with the Skrulls from the role they had to play in 2019's "Captain Marvel."

In the comic, the Skrulls have been infiltrating the Earth by replacing many of Marvel's heroes with impostors. This, in turn, sets the stage for an all-out invasion and planned takeover of the planet. The big hook here is that, with the Skrulls taking over the bodies of many known characters over a number of years, it was very difficult to know who — or what — to trust.

The essential Secret Invasion issues

Luckily, for those who aren't looking to get overwhelmed with a gigantic to-do pile of reading, "Secret Invasion" is actually a pretty contained story, all things considered. While some of the Marvel Comics events require lots of backstory and additional reading to truly get the most out of it, this is an exception; it can largely function on its own as the core story. That means the absolutely essential issues and reading order are extremely straightforward here.

First, if you can get access to it, the "Secret Invasion Prologue" is good to read: It's a brief introduction to the story that sets the stage for what is about to happen. The only problem is that it is a Marvel Unlimited exclusive (read it by clicking here) and can't be purchased physically or via any other digital retailers. So, if you have a Marvel Unlimited subscription or have been looking to get one, that is not a bad place to start.

Beyond that, it can be as simply as reading the main storyline, which consists of "Secret Invasion" #1 through #8. The book has been published in a variety of formats and can be found easily either digitally or in physical form. Individual issues can be purchased or there are several trade paperback editions that collect the eight main issues in the series. For those who want to just get to the meat on these bones, that's all there is to it. But if you're looking for a slightly more robust experience, we've got that covered as well.

Secret Invasion omnibus reading order

For that more robust experience, does have a layout of every single tie-in issue in order. But that consists of over 100 individual issues, which is an awful lot and, quite frankly, is more than most readers will want to put into it. So, the best middle ground approach is to read the issues contained in the "Secret Invasion" omnibus. That collected edition contains not only "Secret Invasion" #1-8 as well as the prologue, but it also has "New Avengers" #31 and #32, as well as #39-49, "Mighty Avengers" #7 as well as #12-20, and "New Avengers: Illuminati" #1-5.

The only problem with the omnibus is that it's not readily available in print and copies of it on Amazon can sell for close to $200 (as of this writing). The good news, though, is that most of the issues are available readily digitally or as individual issues that can be purchased. There are also trade paperback editions for these books, meaning you have quite a few options. So for those who wish to read the expanded version of the story as collected in the omnibus, the suggested reading order is as follows:

"Secret Invasion Prologue"

"The New Avengers" #31 and #32

"The Mighty Avengers" #7

"New Avengers: Illuminati" #1 – #5

"Secret Invasion" #1

"The Mighty Avengers" #12

"The New Avengers" #39 and #40

"Secret Invasion" #2

"The Mighty Avengers" #13 and #14

"The New Avengers" #41

"Secret Invasion" #3

"The Mighty Avengers" #15

"The New Avengers" #42

"The Mighty Avengers" #16

"Secret Invasion" #4

"The Mighty Avengers" #16

"New Avengers" #43

"Secret Invasion" #5

"The Mighty Avengers" #17

"New Avengers" #44

"Secret Invasion" #6

"The Mighty Avengers" #18

"New Avengers" #45

"The Mighty Avengers" #19

"Secret Invasion" #7

"New Avengers" #46

"Secret Invasion" #8

"New Avengers" #47 – #49

"The Mighty Avengers" #20

Recommended additional reading

Because "Secret Invasion" truly doesn't require a whole lot outside of the main story, it really does kind of become a choose-your-own-adventure sort of thing. But for those who perhaps just want to read the eight core issues and do some exploring outside of that, here are recommendations for some of the tie-in storylines that are most worth your time.

"New Avengers: Illuminati" #1-5 may well be the most essential suggested bit of reading to go with the main story. Those issues do a lot to lay groundwork for the main event and shed some light on how it all comes together. That would be the main go-to storyline to read in addition to the core eight issues. Outside of that, there is a collected edition series called "Secret Invasion: The Infiltration" which traces the roots of the Skrull invasion way back in Marvel Comics history. The popular collected edition includes "Fantastic Four" #2, "New Avengers: Illuminati" #1 and #5, "New Avengers" #31-32 and #38-39, "Mighty Avengers #7, and "Avengers: The Initiative Annual" #1.

There is also "Mighty Avengers" volume 3 and volume 4, both of which collect the issues that take place during "Secret Invasion." Similarly, "New Avengers" volume 8 and "New Avengers" volume 9 collect the issues pertinent to this storyline and can be read to add more to the story, though they aren't totally necessary. Happy reading!