Thursday, August 26, 2021

When Skrulls Take A Holiday


At the conclusion of the PPC's post on the Skrulls of Kral--a planet of Skrulls who became fascinated with Earth's gangster era from the 1920s-30s to the extent of shifting their shapes to mimic the people and culture of that period--it seemed those Skrulls were getting their just deserts from those they had captured from other worlds and enslaved to fight one another in their "Great Games," held to settle territorial disputes between Kralian gang bosses. Having broken free from their captors, thanks to the timely arrival of the Fantastic Four who had come in search of the Thing, the slaves turned on the Skrulls in revolt, making their intentions crystal clear.

But you wouldn't expect gangsters to take this sort of thing on the chin--and gangsters who are actually Skrulls, a race which doesn't particularly hold humans in high regard, might bear even more of a grudge toward those who have interfered in their affairs.

Which gives a nod to our 1928 Packard to pull up to another

Marvel Trivia Question

What became of the Kralians after the demise of the Great Games?

We don't have to be concerned with tracking the Thing, since the FF of course went on with their lives following that adventure, business as usual. As for Torgo, he returned to his home planet of Mekka, where the FF caught up with him when Galactus had issued an unusual condition for refraining from satisfying his world-devouring hunger on the planet known as Counter-Earth.

With Mekka being one of the worlds approached, you can imagine Torgo's reply--indeed, the only reply any planet's population would likely give to such an astonishing proposal. But at least he and the Thing are able to exchange pleasantries before the offer is made (and rejected).

Almost six years later (our time), Torgo would show up on Earth, conscripted as part of a task force instructed to retrieve the incredible Hulk. Good luck with that, fellas.

Before that, however, the Thing receives his own visitor in the form of Boss Barker, the Kralian who had him captured on Earth and conscripted as his fighter to compete in the Great Games. Bent on revenge, he ambushes the Thing and prepares to rub him out, as a gangster might put it.

Fortunately, Captain Marvel has tracked Ben down, and the two team up to put the kibosh on Barker--with the unexpected assistance of Torgo, who wasn't as deceased as Ben had initially assumed.

Much later, we learn what occurred on Kral immediately after the slave revolt, as told to Storm (currently with the Fantastic Four, along with the Black Panther)--where it seems the Kralians had exchanged one emulated society for another.

Unfortunately, the Kralians did not dispense with the Great Games, as a struggle developed between the two rival cultures of "Uptown" and "Downtown" (respectively, the oppressed and those who saw their existence as a threat). But thanks in part to the FF who joined forces with those Uptown, those Downtown experienced an ending similar to that of the first enslavers.

Continuity gets a little jumbled at this point, when, twelve years earlier in 1996, the Silver Surfer is ambushed by a Kralian biplane* as he soars in the vicinity of Kral. You have to hand it to "businessman" Floyd Donahue--operating a lucrative casino in orbit (in a zeppelin, no less) is bound to appeal to Kralians who are obsessed with the Earth's bygone gangster era.

*Since the encounter happens in the void of space, we can assume the plane's propeller has no function other than maintaining authenticity.

Donahue's operation of course conflicts with the flashback in Black Panther which indicates the Kralians abandoned their gangster motif following Torgo's revolt. All we can assume is that at some point, the Kralians turned away from the bright future of peace they had (a seed that appeared to be planted at the conclusion of that story arc), and readopted their former existence and forms. Whether they also returned to holding the Great Games and began enslaving other species again as fighters isn't established.

Finally, as we learn in a comprehensive set of "warbook" profiles published in 2008 (our time) and presented by Chancellor Kal'Du to Skrull Queen Veranke at her request, the Kralians appeared during a conflict in 1985 where the FF and the Avengers fought to avert the activation of a Skrull genetic device known as a hyper-wave bomb which was nevertheless successful in removing the shapeshifting powers of all Skrulls everywhere, essentially locking them into whatever forms they had assumed at the time. (Though you already knew that if you'd read the '85 Avengers and Fantastic Four annuals which published dual stories on the matter.)

Chancellor Kal'Du's report, told from his perspective, fills out the story of Kral with some interesting tidbits, even going on to mention that the Kral system comprises planets that serve as vacation getaways for the Skrulls--which happens to tie in nicely with an offhand comment made by Emperor Dorrek's wife, R'klll, in a 1979 story where she mentions heading off to vacation in order to escape the blunderings of her "weak fool" of a husband. Unfortunately for Dorrek, her ship was prevented from leaving due to Dorrek's war with Xandar, which didn't put her in a very forgiving frame of mind where the continued health of her husband was concerned.


Palmetto Penguin said...

Big Casino first appeared in Avengers Annual #14 in 1985, which predates Storm's meeting with the Skrulls on Kral. I regarded the Big Casino Skrulls as a separate community from the rest of the Empire, who may be an offshoot of the inhabitants of the gangster planet (the Avengers' Skrull pilot in that story said "They tend to be a bit eccentric"). So, perhaps it's not inconsistent with the Civil Rights Era Skrulls.

Comicsfan said...

You might be onto something, Palmetto, as Kal'Du's report makes a somewhat similar assessment of Donahue's establishment--Kralian Skrulls, yes, but not necessarily joined at the hip as far as following the same playbook as their planetary brethren.

Big Murr said...

Not original to me, but I view the "Kral System" like the "Sol System". A star with a collection of planets that essentially run as a vacation destination "Disneyland". And since we're talking Skrulls, we're talking the brutal, violent "Disneyland" Ben Grimm experienced.

For some of the Krallian Skrulls, mimicking human gangsters (or medieval knights or whatever) is just a summer job. For many others, it's a dream gig...a "calling". Very much obsessive method actors.

Anonymous said...

This is a lot to digest! I knew of Torgo's appearances in F.F., and his service in the, ah, "Hulk-Hunters" (not exactly an inspired name) but I had no idea Kral had been revisited.
I shouldn't be surprised, the idea of a gangster-Skrull planet seems a bit cornball and yet, kinda cool at the same time. It strikes me as fertile ground for stories. Some writer at Marvel stays up late watching Turner Classic Movies and bam, you get a gangsters in space story.
I enjoyed the post, and found it surprising, C.F, but by mentioning the (sigh) Hulk-Hunters you made me think of Amphibion (Qnax to his friends). He goes back all the way to Tales to Astonish in '65. Surly that red-skinned rascal bred for undersea combat on Xantares deserves a post of his own!
You've done it for weirder characters, C.F.


(unless you already have, in which case I sheepishly withdraw the suggestion)

Comicsfan said...

Well, M.P., I think Amphibion more than received his due in the prologue to the PPC's earlier post on the Hulk Hunters. (And you were there, pal! ;) )

Anonymous said...

My memory ain't what it used to be, clearly.


Comicsfan said...

M.P., join the club, my friend!