When fandom realized, a few years ago, that Marvel was planning an “Avengers” movie, half of those who thought about it said it would be a huge hit and half said it couldn’t be done.
And all of them said the plot should cover the Kree-Skrull War.
Well, now that we’re on the other side of a billion dollars in box office receipts and great critical and fan reception, we know that it was doable, especially with Joss Whedon in the director’s chair.
But what about those Krees and Skrulls?
For those of us reading comics back in the day, the Kree-Skrull war was everything that was great about Marvel Comics, especially compared to DC.
Marvel had, by the time Avengers 89 came out in June 1971, spent nearly a decade building a universe that included not only costume-clad superheroes like the Avengers and the Fantastic Four but also more “cosmic” creatures like Captain Marvel, a Kree warrior come to Earth, and the Skrulls, alien invaders and shape-shifting imposters who fought the FF.
Writer Roy Thomas and artists Sal Buscema, Neal Adams and John Buscema gave us, over the course of eight monthly issues, a nice introduction to the larger universe outside Earth’s atmosphere and outside the influence of its “everyday” heroes.
Although Thor, Captain America, Iron Man and lesser-known Avengers like Scarlet Witch, Vision and Black Panther were the kings of New York superherodom, they were pitted here against alien menaces. While some of the storyline was large in scope – including space battles – other moments were (literally) small scale: One of the most famous sequences came in Avengers 93, when Ant-Man shrinks to microscopic size and goes inside the Vision to effect repairs on the android Avenger. The overall series plotline is almost ridiculously complicated and involves everything from the Fantastic Four to Skrulls masquerading as cows.
Because comics of the time were rarely planned out months in advance as “big events” are now, it was extraordinary that Thomas and company took the better part of a year to tell this story. DC comics was still, at this point, doing “one and done” stories. For all of us elementary school kids out there, the Kree-Skrull War series re-emphasized how different – and how much better – Marvel was.
So we didn’t get a Kree-Skrull war in the “Avengers” movie, although we did get a dose of Marvel’s cosmic characters. Particularly when Thanos shows up in the credits.
And of course, the Skrulls figured into the “Avengers” movie as the Chitauri, a disguised version of our favorite galactic marauders.
So maybe we’re inching toward a big-screen version of the classic comic storyline.
In the meantime, we can enjoy the original, which has been reprinted as a trade paperback a few years ago. The full-color paperback really emphasizes the artistry of Adams, one of my favorites.