Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Invasion of the Super-Skrull!

The Super-Skrull is one of those villains who can be plugged into practically any story and make it an entertaining read, though it always seems to be a foregone conclusion that he's going to go down. And since he possesses all the powers of the Fantastic Four, and none of their restraint, you have to wonder how this guy is constantly coming out on the losing end of a fight.

Sometimes it's easy to forget just how "super" the Super-Skrull was created to be, as well as why the Skrulls would devote so much time and effort into creating his unique abilities. The answers can be found in 1963, when work has been completed on this project and the new Super-Skrull is finally presented for inspection:

Since the Skrulls devote the bulk of their economy and resources to their military logistics, it's interesting that all of those resources have been diverted to the creation of the Super-Skrull, particularly since his mission is to seek revenge for the defeat of three Skrull operatives at the hands of the Fantastic Four. Assuming you prevail over the one(s) you're retaliating against, revenge has a short shelf life--so we can probably assume that the Skrull emperor would have further plans for the Super-Skrull in the field once his initial task was completed. His tactical value for the Skrull empire would no doubt justify the depletion of the planetary treasury--a sacrifice made for greater value down the road.

So, what exactly can the Super-Skrull do that will give him a substantial edge over his targets? For one thing, he can stretch much, much farther than Mr. Fantastic:

He also has greater, more durable flame power than the Human Torch, as well as considerably more destructive capability:

As for the Thing, it stands to reason that the Super-Skrull's strength surpasses that of Ben Grimm:

(No, I don't know how the Super-Skrull is actually lifting this unit. His posture gives the illusion of him lifting--but unless the guy can tie in his strength with the ability to levitate, there's no way for him to be actually pulling something out of the ground and be lifted upward with it.)

Which leaves only the Invisible Girl:

"You must outdo her! You must be her superior!" Not exactly a tall order, is it? Sue didn't yet have her force field power when the Super-Skrull was deployed--but either way, he could probably accommodate his Emperor's wish without too much trouble. And it appears the Skrull scientists have given him an ace in the hole, which we'll learn of later.

So the Super-Skrull not only has the FF's powers, but has them many times enhanced--as well as added abilities which will allow him to completely overwhelm his four targets. Can anything save the FF from the retribution of the Skrulls?

In 1963, the Skrulls didn't bother with secret invasions--they pretty much put their cards on the table on arrival:

It doesn't take the FF long to respond--but the Super-Skrull is their match, and then some!

The Super-Skrull has already been doing what the FF might want to think about doing more of--using his powers together, instead of attacking with one power at a time. And as we've seen, he also has the advantage of using his own shape-shifting powers. The FF have their work cut out for them.

Regrouping back at the Baxter Building, Reed has put two and two together and discovered the Super-Skrull's Achilles heel:

But when the time comes to put Reed's plan into effect, the Super-Skrull decides to uncork the additional power he was provided with--and as badly as he had the FF on the ropes, it's all but game over when he begins to use it:

Thanks to Sue, the FF now have a fighting chance against a Skrull who must depend on his shape-shifting power to prevail. But the FF's plan goes further than cutting off the transmission of the beam of power that made him the Super-Skrull:

I wouldn't count on the Super-Skrull being imprisoned in that crater too long--all he has to do is remove and destroy Reed's jamming device. But Loki, the God of Mischief, isn't about to wait around to see if the thought occurs to the alien--because he'll soon sic the Super-Skrull on the God of Thunder! That should put a dent in this guy's bill from the Skrull treasurer.

Fantastic Four #18

Script: Stan Lee
Pencils: Jack Kirby
Inks: Dick Ayers
Letterer: Art Simek


From What If #21, the battle with the FF as laid out by writer Bill Mantlo and artist Gene Colan.
(Featuring a surprising fourth FF member!)


david_b said...


Great column today, sir. I never picked up any 'What If's' back in the day or since. I know most where 'hit or miss', but that delicious Colan art makes this one a winner.

I do have a F+ copy of FF ish 13 (my oldest issue so far..), will have to hunt down ish 18 now.

Anonymous said...

CF, I followed the links back to your favourite issues of 'What If'. One of the very few I owned was 'What If Iron Man Was Trapped In King Arthur's Time' - it stuck in my memory because, as I recall, King Arthur gets killed and Tony Stark is crowned as "King Anthony of Britain". I had also owned Iron Man #150 from where that What If story had originated. I had a quick look online and the Iron Man story was coupled with 'What If Dazzler had Become The Herald Of Galactus' which I don't remember at all but I must have read it. I'm sure there was another story sometime called What If Aunt May Had Become The Herald Of Galactus which I've never read but it sounds hilarious.

Dave S said...

Colin, that Aunt May/Herald of Galactus story was in a late issue of Marvel Team-Up, and it's well-worth searching out!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, this is cool! I always liked the Super-Skrull, but it never occurred I hadn't seen his diabolical debut before. I can just picture Stan Lee cackling with delight when he came up with the name.
The Super-Skrull's weight-lifting device makes no sense to me either, but it is a great visual. Ditto Reed's huge hammer-hand, which still would have had the mass and weight of a regular hand, only dispersed over a much larger area. It would have landed with the force of a water balloon, and wouldn't have hurt Howard the Duck, much less the Skrull. And how his rubbery arm could pick up a boulder from miles away...ah, don't pay attention to me. It's still fun.
I really like the ram's head. That was a nice touch.
Sincerely, Professor M.P., leading authority on the effects of "power rays."

Comicsfan said...

Dapper Dave has it right, Colin--specifically, MTU #137, and the dramatic debut of... wait for it... Golden Oldie! It'll be part of an "Assistant Editors' Month" series of posts, coming up soon.

M.P., I must admit to being curious as to the sight of the light bulb going off over Stan's head when he gave the Super-Skrull his super-name. He didn't exactly plunge into his imagination on that one, did he?

Anonymous said...

C.F., I figured 'ol Stan must have thought the name might be a cool way to mess with D.C., a little. I could be wrong.
"The kids have all seen Superman...wait'll they get a load of this guy!
...uh, we can't be sued for this, can we? Somebody get Legal on the phone."

Anonymous said...

Thanks DD and CF - I was looking in the wrong cover gallery :)