You can actually blame the Fantastic Four for the events of the Kree/Skrull War arc.

Both the warlike Kree and the shapeshifting Skrulls debuted in the pages of Fantastic Four, and have since become two-thirds of the biggest power brokers in Marvel space along with the Shi’Ar empire. (Whether the Shi’Ar are the nicer ones depends on who’s writing it, who’s sitting on the throne that Thursday, and what you consider positive about a group of conquerors just because one of the rotating leaders is playing mental footsie with Professor X. When he isn’t busy being dead.) Despite what the Captain Marvel movie may have told you, in the comics neither are the good guys. They both want to conquer Earth, and this story gives us the reason why.

Over at “Yesterday’s” Comic I’ve been reviewing the trade collection of “The Kree/Skrull War”. If you want my thoughts on the individual issues I’ll toss some links at you in a moment. This article is my overall thoughts on the event, which surprisingly was kept to the pages of The Avengers. The question is how important this arc is, whether it was worth collecting, and if it was any good as a story. The short version is I have…concerns.

Based on looking up cover dates for the individual issues I didn’t know if this comic was called Avengers or The Avengers, but now that we’re caught up on my thoughts on the individual issues, let’s go over the series itself.

The Kree/Skrull War was conceived by writer Roy Thomas and artist Neal Adams. Thomas thought having the two races at war and not liking each other would make for an interesting story, and the idea of a war with Earth stuck in the middle (literally as this was why they wanted the strategically placed planet) is a good one. The opening salvo they thought of goes back to cows, specifically the Skrulls that Reed Richards hypnotised into thinking they were cows and making them shift into cows. The short version is this is Reed’s favorite method of getting rid of Skrulls. It would later prove to be a very stupid thing for Marvel’s resident genius to do–being a genius doesn’t make you a smart guy, but you can read up on that for yourself. We’re only interested in the first time he did it.

Somewhere, Billy Batson smiles and doesn’t know why.

In the final panel Jack Kirby didn’t draw all four in cow form. So Thomas and Adams decided he escaped, later reviving his comrades (leading to Adams wanting to call issue #93 “Three Cows Shot Me Down” but Thomas going with the less silly and more dramatic “This Beachhead Earth!”), and having them try again to conquer the planet just as Kree usurper Ronan The Accuser decided to overthrow the Supreme Intelligence for not going to war because Ronan is a violent and revenge-loving psychopath. He also wants the planet but he wants to wipe out the human race while the Skrulls want slaves. The Intelligence later tells Rick Jones that both alien races have hit the tail end of evolution while humans still have a long way to go, even beyond the current “homo superior” mutants or the science and magic altered humans that form the superhero and supervillain members of the population of Earth.

The idea of the rival empires battling for control of Earth, with the Avengers and Kree soldier turned Earth’s champion Captain Mar-Vell standing in to keep the prize from both of them. The roll at the time consisted of Captain America, Thor, Iron Man (Tony Stark), Goliath (Clint Barton at the time), Vision, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and joined at various parts of the story by Mar-Vell, Rick Jones (who at the time was switching bodies because Jones has a weird life for a punk kid who entered a military base during a gamma bomb experiment on a dare like a moron), Hank Pym–going by Yellowjacket at the time, the Wasp, and even SHIELD and the Inhumans. That’s a lot of cast, which leads to my first problem with the arc.

The stuff with the Inhumans in the end doesn’t really do a lot. The Skrulls do a thing with Maximus to help him take control and it doesn’t really amount to anything. The Skrulls already have another plan in motion so unlike Rowan trying to push the evolutionary reset on Earth so there would be no mutants, Inhumans, or other superhumans to oppose his petty conquest and revenge on Mar-Vell the stuff with the Inhumans just wastes time.

H. Warren Craddock is replaced by a Skrull and turns the people against aliens and the Avengers, despite this being the Marvel Universe and they don’t believe in space aliens whenever stories like “Secret Invasion” occurs because there’s a reason I make fun of the citizens of the Marvel Universe for lacking solid IQ points. At best he does more to restrict the Avengers than anything else but I’m not sure what he contributes otherwise. Not that it matters because the thought to do so was somehow the Supreme Intelligence’s plans because it can apparently control or mentally suggest the Skrulls like he can the Kree…I guess…but nothing Craddock contributes really couldn’t have been done a different way without the distraction of the anti-alien crusade. It just comes off as Thomas wanting to play on the McCarthy witch hunts and doesn’t really serve a purpose. The Skrulls still snag Mar-Vell, Quicksilver, and Scarlet Witch at one point without it and RIck Jones is grabbed by the Kree and locked up with the Supreme Intelligence. In the end CraddockSkrull does himself in when he’s forced into his alien form and killed by the very mob he was controlling and frankly it just feels like a forced ending, like they needed to wrap this arc up quickly but it didn’t really contribute to anything. The Intelligence says he wanted to get the Avengers involved, but was this the only way to lead Mar-Vell into the Skrull trap leading to him being where it wanted him?

I miss covers that don’t just look like posters but actually try to grab you with the story inside.

The Intelligence has a cockamanie scheme to get back control that Cohaagen would be jealous of, mostly because it actually works. He’s able to tap into RIck’s potential and allows him to call up shades of the World War II heroes he used to read about in the orphanage to build up his energies to freeze everybody. I can see all the other ways it put the plans into motion, using Mar-Vell, Rick, and the Avengers the way it did. Forcing Mar-Vell to make an omni-wave projector comes off as a red herring because he never uses it, smashing the thing when he thinks it somehow caused Rick to be launched into the Negative Zone, a trip that also appears to do nothing but show off Rick’s temporary brain blast. Maybe the Intelligence needed to send him in there to tap his latent mental powers (well, not “Rick’s” necessarily because any human would do…Rick was just in the room at the time) but that isn’t suggested. There’s a lot of stuff that happens in this story that doesn’t contribute to the actual event, and we don’t get an actual WAR in this war story until the last half, and even then it doesn’t get good until the last few issues before a rushed ending.

There are some good individual stories, like Rowan’s failed reset attempt and how what happens there affects Clint, causing him to quit using Pym Particles…for some reason I didn’t clearly understand outside of maybe Roy wanting to keep him depowered for whatever story he was about to be used in next as he got left behind for the final non-battle or maybe Roy wanted to turn him back into Hawkeye. I don’t know, but the story itself was interesting, and admittedly so was the adventure in the Great Refuge, distracting as it was to the actual arc. The art was good for the time and the concept was sound. I don’t hate the storyline, but it does have a number of execution problems that keep it from being good. I also don’t know why Rick and Mar-Vell get merged Ultraman style into one body. It keeps him from doing the same nonsense as Rick and Quasar anymore of trading locations between Earth and some part of the Negative Zone Annihilus doesn’t come across the unmoving body but it just trades one body switch for another. I’m not sure how it played out but it felt unnecessary.

Overall the Kree/Skrull War story arc is a good idea but with some odd execution choices. It leads to some good and bad stuff going forward depending on the writer, but it’s not the storyline I was hoping it was.

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About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

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