Kree-Skrull War Review (1971-1972)
What is the historical importance of the Kree-Skrull War story arc?
- It started a space war theme in the Marvel Universe (40 years in real time!) that is still referenced today in almost every major title with additional elements added to it.
- The romance between the Scarlett Witch and The Vision started to blossom.
- It could be considered the first real Marvel crossover event (Marvel epic), or at the very least a forerunner of things to come in terms of a large cast of characters combating a major menace.
- Writer Roy Thomas and artist Neal Adams teamed up for the first time.
- Some of the characters had such a good showing in this storyline, that they lived off it for years: Rick Jones, Captain Mar-Vell, The Supreme Intelligence, Ronan the Accuser, the Sentry robot, Carol Danvers (before she was Ms. Marvel), and the Mandroids, not to mention that the Skrulls and Kree were catapulted to being staples of Marvel’s interstellar affairs.
Why do some consider the Kree-Skrill Wart be overrated?
- Well, a child of the 1980s may consider Roy Thomas’ dialogue to be dated, although I do get tired of this argument (a kid born in the future would consider EVERYTHING in 2012 to be dated). A child of the 1990s and 2000s would not even give this a chance, and instead indulge in Secret Invasion.
- Although it feels fun and organic that this story arc wasn’t completely planned and plotted out (the genesis of it was that the Avengers were caught up in an interstellar war) to label The Avengers 89-97 “The Kree-Skrull War” is misleading. The actual “war” (which was prevented!) occurs in issues 96 and 97! Only issue 97 has a label that even mentions the war and its conclusion. This, perhaps, is the only real problem I had with the storyline- the name of it misled my expectations. It’s very important to understand that Thomas was creating individual issues, and at times was all over the place with plot and momentum. I’m sure if he had the opportunity to have a redo, he’d clean up the focus a bit, since these are regular Avengers issues, not structured as a maxi-series. For example, John Byrne was able to better keep things focused when he did Fantastic Four story arcs.
- Although John Buscema and Sal Buscema perform admirably with their classic Marvel styles, Neal Adams (the Todd McFarlane of his era) blows them away with his “modern” bombastic style, but only handles issues 93-96. I mean, seriously, even Page 1 on issue 93 seems like I stepped through a time machine, that’s how advanced Neal Adams’ style was compared to the reliable Marvel Bullpen. My jaw dropped.
Avengers #89: Captain Mar-Vell is on the run and being hunted by the Avengers (Vision, Quicksilver, and Scarlet Witch) and it feels like I missed an issue. The shocker is that Rick Jones guns down Mar-Vell with a ray gun. Then he goes into a flashback and explains the whole set up. Gotcha!
This is necessary as Mar-Vell has inadvertently absorbed a lethal amount of radiation from spending weeks in the Negative Zone, and it will prove fatal unless treated. With the aid of a scientist, the Vision drains the excess radiation from Mar-Vell. A flashback sequence explains that the Avengers detect an alarm from the Baxter Building, the headquarters of the Fantastic Four. The Avengers arrive at the building and find Mar-Vell using the portal to the Negative Zone—created by Reed Richards—to try and free Rick Jones from their need to “share molecules” (alternating between the same space, one on Earth and one trapped in the Negative Zone until swapping). Mar-Vell is successful, although while the portal to the Zone is open the Avengers are forced to drive back the entity Annihilus, who attempts to escape the Zone. Mar-Vell takes advantage of the distraction to steal the Avengers quinjet, which is tracked once the Avengers realize that the Kree hero has absorbed a lethal amount of radiation. The flashback ends and the group are then attacked by a robot Sentry.- From Wikipedia
Avengers #90: Sentry defeats the Avengers (!) and steals Mar-Vell’s body. Rick Jones briefs us on the secret origin of the Kree: they had sent the Sentry to the Stone Age to check up of their genetically engineered humans (the Inhumans)! The Sentry is a sleeper agent and the FF fought him previously, along with Ronan the Accuser. He recounts how that’s why Mar-Vell was sent to earth in the first place- to help his Kree allies destroy the earth. But he fought the Super Skrull and turned good.
The Avengers respond to a call from fellow member Goliath, who advises that he is answering a distress call from Avenger Janet Pym, also known the Wasp. With husband and fellow member Henry Pym, the pair were en route via ship to a research base in the Arctic Circle, there to study the effect of oil exploration on the environment. The pair apparently found a lush island, and investigate as the Wasp and Yellowjacket. Yellowjacket guesses the truth and pushes the Wasp away before reaching the island. When he disappears, the Wasp in turn summons Goliath.
The Avengers arrive and are attacked once again by the Sentry, now aided by a hypnotized Goliath.
The Avengers defeat Goliath but cannot stop the Sentry, who captures all but Quicksilver. The culprit is revealed to be Ronan the Accuser, now a Kree outlaw. Ronan begins “Plan Atavus”, intending to devolve Earth to a prehistoric time to use as a base in the war against the Skrulls. Ronan shows the heroes how the research scientists at the base, and Henry Pym, have devolved into cavemen, who now lust after Janet Pym. Quicksilver arrives and attacks, and Ronan ends the battle when contacted and advised of an impending attack by the Skrulls on the Kree homeworld of Hala. Lacking purpose, the Sentry self-destructs. The Avengers and Mar-Vell recover and find that Pym and the other scientists, like the environment, revert back to normal.
I had the issue back when I was a kid and wondered why there were cavemen running around. Doesn’t fit the rest of the arc.
Mar-Vell’s existence is revealed when the scientists advise the authorities as to what they witnessed, and the “Alien Activities Commission” is formed, led by Senator H. Warren Craddock. The Avengers agree to participate in a hearing, but this is abandoned when the Avengers refuse to hand over Mar-Vell. The Avengers encourage Mar-Vell to go with Danvers to a private farm, and although pursued by Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. escape. The Avengers deal with frustrated members of the public, who picket Avengers Mansion and then force their way in to vandalize the building.
Avengers Captain America; Iron Man and Thor apparently return to the Mansion and announce due to the behaviour of the team it is now disbanded forever.
This issue is significant for a few reasons: 1) Senator Craddock is an analogy for Senator McCarthy, and there is an actual hearing; 2) The Avengers refuse to turn in Mar-Vell because they understand that once you discriminate against aliens, all super-powered heroes would eventually be regulated (proven true years later with Civil War); 3) the general public turns against The Avengers, and there is a sign reading Avengers: Disassemble!; 4) Roy Thomas teases us that the powerhouse team of Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor are taking over; 5) Rick Jones longs for the “black and white” morality of the old days when he used to read comic books (Timely Comics). Although Cap and Sub-Mariner were “real” the other Golden Age Marvel characters were fictional.
Avengers #93: The famous Neal Adams issue has more pages, too. The Vision is knocked out. The bulk of this issue features Ant-Man inside of the Vision trying to restore him. I think Marv Wolfman and George Perez were paying homage to it in CRISIS when the Atom went inside the Red Tornado. Anyway, the artwork is just mind-blowing here. Roy Thomas does some weird stuff in this issue, though: it was confusing to see Iron Man, Thor, and Cap acting good since they were jerks at the end of 92. All gets revealed but it was distracting. Also, Thomas actually outdid his idol Stan Lee by penning the most melodramatic and over the top scene of all time when Ant-Man reveals how attached he is to ants.
But Thomas redeems himself by bringing back the cows that were hypnotized by Mr. Fantastic at the end of FF#2! Yes, those same Skrull cows (cattle/bovine) whose plot hole was also used by John Byrne, Grant Morrison, and Michael Bendis. But Thomas used Lee and Kirby’s dangling plot first!
Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch and the Vision decide to leave and check on Mar-Vell, but while there are attacked by what at first appear to be three cows. The cows fire energy beams that cripple the Vision, who while able to turn intangible cannot move. Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch are captured when the cows turn into three members of the Fantastic Four, and then reveal they are in fact Skrulls, the ancient enemies of the Kree. At the same time Danvers has led Mar-Vell to a Skrull vessel she claims to have found, and persuades Mar-Vell to build an “Omni-Wave Projector”, a communications device that in the hands of non-Kree is a deadly weapon. Mar-Vell, however, sees through the deception [Editor's note: Carol was The Super-Skrull!] and destroys the device, but is captured and along with Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch is taken off Earth. Although injured, the Vision is able to return to Avengers Mansion, where founding members Captain America; Iron Man; Thor and Henry Pym (now in his original identity of Ant-Man) have gathered. Ant-Man reduces himself to microscopic size and enters the Vision, and is able to repair the android. Ant-Man departs and on questioning the recovering Vision the Avengers determine it was the Skrulls – previously disguised as cows – that dissolved the team.
The four Avengers find and capture the Skrulls for interrogation, and determine that the aliens are in fact three of the four members of the original exploration team that once visited Earth and battled the Fantastic Four. The Avengers are then attacked by a team of threen Mandroids, sent by Senator Craddock to apprehend the heroes for failing to cooperate. Iron Man – secretly Tony Stark – designed the Mandroids and overloads their armour with an electrical discharge.
Funny note: When the Avengers contact the FF via viewscreen, Reed Richards is SHOCKED that the cattle Skrulls survived, and says he has to check his records from that time period and will get back to them. He never does..lol.
Although the art in this issue is once again phenomenal, and there’s lots of action, the story is kinda hard to follow since it’s all over the place. It’s also a very important issue because it seems the Super Skrull is exile and the Skrull Emperor sees him as a rival. They don’t trust the Super Skrull and he has to fight his own people until he presents the Emperor with his captives. It is agreed that Mar-Vell will work on the Omni-Wave or his friends will die.
At the same time Triton of the Inhumans arrives, and unable to locate the Fantastic Four, asks the Avengers for aid in locating their ruler Black Bolt, needed as his brother Maximus has seized power in their homeland Attilan. The Avengers aid Triton, and after locating Black Bolt accompany the Inhumans to Attilan. Maximus is revealed to have entered into an alliance with the Kree, and in exchange for rulership uses Kree technology to control the population, intending to use them as soldiers against the Skrulls. The Avengers defeat Maximus and his minions, and after restoring Black Bolt to power leave (with Goliath) for Skrull space, intent on rescuing their comrades.
By the way, for the first time the inside of the comic says “Part VII”, which links back to Avengers 89.
More proof that this story arc was in fact a crossover event, this issue wrapped up the Inhumans storyline that was happening in Amazing Adventures. I’ll be honest with you, I have always found The Inhumans boring, and this is no exception. They are used all the time because Jack Kirby created them, sorta like The New Gods.
Note: Nick Fury takes the Avengers side over the corrupt Senator.
Mar-Vell is taken to the heart of the Skrull empire and after being advised that the captive Avengers will be executed, is forced to build another Projector. The Avengers arrive in Skrull space, and hold off the alien fleet while Mar-Vell is forced to use the Projector, which casts a temporarily freed Rick Jones back into the Negative Zone.
This is actually the first time The Avengers go to war with the Skrulls. They head straight into the Andromeda Galaxy. Truly epic. Rick Jones’ role is huge, as Ronan the Accuser holds him captive but Rick actually fights back. The Supreme Intelligence seems to be a good guy (since Ronan seized his power) and he helps Rick.
Avengers 97: “Godhood’s End”
Jones is rescued from the Zone by Kree leader the Supreme Intelligence, who shows him Senator Craddock on Earth being discredited and killed by a mob, with Craddock in death reverting back to his true form: the fourth Skrull from the Earth expedition. The Supreme Intelligence unlocks hidden mental powers in Jones, who sends a wave of Golden Age heroes with the Avengers against the Skrulls, ending the war. The heroes return to Earth to discover that the real Senator Craddock has been found, and the Avengers’ reputation has been restored.
The characters that Rick Jones summons are Golden Age Captain America, Golden Age Sub-Mariner, Golden Age Human Torch, Golden Age Vision, Golden Age Angel, Golden Age Patriot, The Fin, and the Blazing Skull.
The “fourth Skrull” is a great touch to Fantastic Four #2, as only three of them are shown at the end of FF2 (probably an oversight by Kirby).
Mar-Vell and Rick once again become joined together voluntarily, but differently this time. (They both had hated to share time together.) Rick was the true hero of this story.
The Skrulls and Kree actually fight each other from their respective galaxies, so “war” is being used loosely.
Kurt Busiek’s Avengers Forever was heavily influenced by this saga.
The Supreme Intelligence never turned bad in this story.
Michael Bendis’s later retcons: One reason why Bendis is hated by older fans is because he added the following concepts to the Kree-Skrull War: the Illuminati ended the war behind the scenes, Infinity Gems, and the Beyonder was always an Inhuman. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.