Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Skrullduggery Week: The one in which I second-guess Grant Morrison. Or Mark Millar.

I had a spare copy of Skrull Kill Krew #1, and was flipping through it with a thought in mind. If you haven't read it, it's an entertaining but flawed series: the Krew members gained shape-changing powers and the ability to see Skrulls, and brain cancer that will eventually kill them, by eating hamburgers that had been made out of the Skrulls that had been hypnotised and left as cows back in Fantastic Four #2. Yet another sentence underlining why comics are awesome.

Ignoring that I'm not sure those particular Skrulls were still there to be turned into hamburger (they made an appearance in the Kree/Skrull war, and were being milked in an FF annual) the series is flawed because the Krew members are often a little unsympathetic as characters. You should feel bad for someone with terminal brain cancer, but I just didn't feel it for the Krew. Still a good comic, although I feel it's stronger in a technical sense, and needed more heart.

This is what the Krew sees, when they see Skrulls:
Skrulls have infiltrated the fashion industry! It's all over now, people!
But that isn't literally what they see. When the Skrulls change shape, they physically take the form they're assuming; unlike an illusory change like Mastermind or an image inducer. So, when the Krew looks at a Skrull that's turned into Mr. Fantastic, they should see Reed's face, not Skrull-Reed. Their vision is either psychic, or psychosomatic, if I'm using the term right: whatever gave them their powers made them sensitive to the Skrulls around them, and their eyes fill in that information as best they can. They see the truth, but it's literally a lie.

Or it's artistic license. Well, either or.

An opinion: is it my imagination, or does Grant Morrison offer these great concepts to mainstream comics as gifts, only to have them praised and fawned over and then shelved, like a lavish present you're trying to be gracious about but secretly hate? Skrull Kill Krew, Marvel Boy, probably 80% of New X-Men, Bulleteer over at DC; all well done, strong ideas, popular, and unused. Skrull Kill Krew has lain fallow for years, Marvel Boy was misused in a Young Avengers/Runaways Civil War thing, writers are tripping over themselves to retcon the X-Men, and poor Bulleteer's been reduced to a character to fill superhero crowd scenes. On more than one occasion, flying, even though she can't. I came late to that one, but I liked Bulleteer...

So, since the Krew can see Skrulls, I got to wondering if Skrulls can recognize shape-shifted Skrulls. Anecdotal evidence suggests, 'no.'
'Ooh. Sorry, S'tve.'
What's the friendly fire rate for the Skrulls? Double-digits, I figure, easy. I suppose when everything's prepped in advance they have codewords and signals and where not to stand all planned out, but on the fly they're surprised just as easy as anyone else.

The above is from Fantastic Four Annual #19, ("Summons from the Stars!" Story and art by John Byrne, inks by Joe Sinnott) which crossed over with the Avengers annual of the same year...which I don't think I've read. Anyway, at least two plans from the fractured Skrull empire run afoul of earth's heroes, and each other.

A particularly insane Skrull named Zabyk has completed his hyperwave bomb, which certainly sounds impressive. Captain Marvel is in position to destroy it, but Mr. Fantastic countermands Captain America's order, letting Zabyk activate it. (There's a page of the bomb sending out waves, and concerned-looking headshots of the Avengers and FF, including a glum-looking Cap.)

Reed and Captain Marvel point out they couldn't have stoped the bomb without imploding the universe or some damn thing, but the hyperwave only affects the Skrulls, locking them in whatever shape they had at the time. "Forever," says Prince Dezan; but it was more like a few years, and although he was left in charge, I don't think he was ever seen again. And I don't know why Zabyk thought taking away his entire species' one advantage would be a good idea, especially since he built himself a suit of armor that was supposed to protect him so he'd still be able to change shape. Ironically, the suit didn't work, and since Zabyk had to change shape to get into it, he was stuck merged with it. Fortunately, he was probably lynched soon enough, so no worries there.

Since Reed had seen the machine and it's description, it's no stretch (as it were...) to guess he probably could build a hyperwave bomb if he wanted too. Although he apparently allowed it to happen more out of a safety concern than just to dick over the Skrulls, it's hard to say if Reed would use such a final response, since it did lead to millions of Skrull casualties. We'll take a look at some of the effect this had on the Skrull people later, but one more note:
'Even the Super-Skrull? But I look forward to his attack every year!'
The Super-Skrull was at the time, 'dead,' reduced to a microwave transmission and bouncing around earth's atmosphere or something. Luckily for him...

Skrull fashion show panels from Skrull Kill Krew #1, "Skrull Meat" Written by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar, pencils by Steve Yeowell, inks by Chris Ivy.

Good grief, I still have at least one that I've been looking for and haven't found.


Ron Hogan said...

It was very interesting to read Skrull Kill Krew years after its original release--it was almost like a weird version of The Invisibles set in the Marvel Universe. I wish they'd had more time to work through the SHIELD backstory that was so clearly itching to be told there.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the Kill Krew didn't see skrulls at all.

Maybe they just had halucinations from the brain cancer.

CalvinPitt said...

The new Heroes for Hire title's first arc played off the Kill Krew, except someone (I forget who) was finding the people affected by Skrull meat and harvesting their alien organs, so they could be transplanted into people who wanted super-powers. Kind of gross, but an attempt to use the idea I guess.

I remember the Skrulls being locked into one form, because I had a Silver Surfer issue where some new Empress had the ability to give Skrulls back their ability to shape-change. . . somehow. It involved glowy hands, and one glowy eye, which means it was probably related to Cable somehow.

I mostly remember being surprised Surfer was teamed up with Super Skrull. Then the Badoon showed up. The the Stranger took the Empress because he's weird like that.