Issue(s): Avengers #89, Avengers #90, Avengers #91, Avengers #92, Avengers #93, Avengers #94, Avengers #95, Avengers #96, Avengers #97
Ah the muddled mess that is the Kree-Skrull War.
As Neal Adams indicates in his forward to the trade, the story "wanders off track" before Adams comes in. It seems that Adams was a lot more involved in the plotting than the credits indicate. Overall this is actually fun but it's very unstructured and has the terrible ending of Rick Jones shooting a bunch of Golden Age comic book characters out of his head to defeat the bad guys. There is no real war to speak of, or at least we don't see much of it. Here's the breakdown:
#89 - The Vision, the Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver respond to an alarm at the Baxter Building and find that Captain Marvel has broken into the Negative Zone portal to free Rick Jones.
This unfortunately alerts Annihilus to the location of the portal.
The Avengers fight Annihilus off but Captain Marvel turns out to be loaded with negative radiation energy.
A Dr. Donaldson helps remove the excess radiation contaminating Captain Marvel. He is referred to as a colleague of Henry Pym but does not seem to have any prior appearances. Ronan the Accuser returns, takes over the Kree Empire...
...and activates the Kree Sentry with the intent to kill Captain Marvel.
#90 - the Avengers fail to stop the Sentry, who now just wants to capture Mar-vell. Responding to a coincidental call from the Wasp and Yellowjacket, they wind up fighting the Sentry again along with Ronan in an area in the Arctic circle that Ronan has regressed to a primitive jungle.
Because he wants to investigate Savage Land II alone, Henry Pym punches Janet in the face, knocking her off his dragonfly.
To be fair, Pym may have already been affected by the de-evolutionary power that Ronan is using. Later he devolves into a caveman-ish form.
When Ronan discusses his reasons for wanting to destroy the human race, for once, and only briefly, humans are not considered helpless and barbaric primitives. Instead the Earth's super-heroes and its ability to go from steam power to atomic power in less than a century designates us as an advanced race that the Kree have designated as a threat. It's a nice change but it gets forgotten later on in the story.
Brief cameo by Carol Danvers (her only appearance in this arc), who shows up after Captain Marvel has been taken by the Sentry to file an incident report.
#91 - The Avengers still have difficulty fighting Ronan and the Sentry.
But Ronan is forced to withdraw from earth and give up on his de-evolutionary scheme because the Skrulls have launched an attack on the Kree empire.
Vision and the Scarlet Witch's romance continues to develop in these issues.
#92 - This issue starts with a nice shot of the Avengers hanging around the Mansion on a day off.
Then, some of the scientists at that Arctic circle talk to the press about the Kree invasion, and SHIELD is ordered to arrest Captain Mar-vell when a politician named H. Warren Craddock launches a McCarthy-esque campaign against aliens.
Nick Fury and the Avengers help Mar-vell escape with Carol Danvers, who will actually turn out to be the Super-Skrull in disguise.
Captain America, Iron Man and Thor show up and tell the Avengers that because they broke the law they are off the team.
There's an inquiry, and the Fantastic Four are invited to present their opinions. The Thing is surprisingly not sympathetic.
In what may actually be signs of some forward plotting, Rick Jones randomly starts thinking about Golden Age comic book characters, noting that in those comics, the storylines were much simpler and there was a clear distinction between good guys and bad guys. I guess he was forgetting about the Sub-Mariner.
#93 - Now we get into the Neal Adams art. The Vision returns to Avenger's Mansion and breaks down.
Henry Pym arrives as Ant-Man...
...and enters the Vision's body to repair him.
While he's in there, Ant-Man discovers something about the Vision...
...but we don't learn what it is yet. Several years later during the Celestial Madonna storyline, we'll learn that this was setting up the rather bizarre idea that the Vision was built from the remains of the original Human Torch.
Once repaired, the Vision tells Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor that they were attacked by cows that transformed into the Fantastic Four.
It turns out that the Cap, IM, and Thor from the previous issue and the FF were all Skrulls. The cows were the Skrulls that were hypnotized by Reed Richards back in Fantastic Four #2. They've recently been revived thanks to a Skrull hyper-beam from space.
The real A-list Avengers and Vision return to the farm where the Vision was attacked and fight the FF Skrulls...
...but not in time to stop the Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and Captain Marvel from being taken away into space by the Super-Skrull.
#94 - The Vision flees the Super-Skrull, but leaves the other captives behind.
The Super-Skrull tries to destroy the Inhuman's Great Refuge, but the Inhumans defend themselves by erecting a barrier similar to the one previously created by Maximus.
Roy Thomas, ladies and gentleman: "The finger on the button: In the end, will it matter if that hand was alien... or green... or Protestant...?" The Super-Skrull delivers his prisoners to Emperor Dorrek, and the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are forced to fight some space monsters.
Quicksilver has the crappiest method of attack for a super-speedster. All he ever does is roll himself up into a ball and bounce into people. It's rarely effective. They are then put in a prison with some cute and fuzzy animals that replicate when struck.
The mutant siblings are being threatened because the Emperor wants Mar-vell to create a device called the Omni-Wave, which the Kree use as a faster-than-lightspeed communication device, but can also be used as a weapon (but only against the Kree, for some reason?). Meanwhile, Craddock orders SHIELD to attack the Avengers, and they do so using new Mandroid armor.
Iron Man's secret weapon against the Mandroids is his roller skates. He says to Cap, "Wild! I see even you've forgotten" them!
Triton shows up during the fight.
#95 - This issue starts with a flashback of Triton making his way to the Avengers.
Triton actually came for the FF, but he'll take the Avengers' help instead. The Kree are taking advantage of the fact that Maximus is in charge of the Inhumans to assert their right to an alliance. To their point of view, the Inhumans are an investment and now it's time for them to pay off. The Vision thinks this is a bit of a distraction from the main plot (and it is)...
...but the Avengers pick up Black Bolt in San Francisco (note that the boy, Joey, is taken with Black Bolt back to the Great Refuge but there's no mention of the Trikon that was abducting him the last time we saw him).
Over the Vision's protests, since he wants to hurry up and head into space to rescue Wanda, the Avengers help restore Black Bolt to the throne. It is revealed that Black Bolt killed his parents and drove his brother mad when he used his screaming power to stop a plot between a young Maximus and the Kree. Black Bolt puts down the Maxiumus led rebellion by whispering to his people.
Rick is kidnapped by the Kree as they flee Attilan.
Somewhere behind the scenes in Avengers #95 or #96, Captain Marvel finds the time to make sweet love to Skrull Princess Anelle, resulting in the conception of Hulking. He's also pretending to build an Omni-Wave.
#96 - The Vision, Goliath, Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America head into space in a SHIELD-provided space ship.
They get into a battle with a Skrull armada...
...and Clint Barton (who has given up using the Goliath serum) leaves the group following a nuclear bomb bearing Skrull ship.
The Vision goes crazy beating on a Skrull because he wants to get the Scarlet Witch back. It becomes definitive in this arc that the two are in love.
Rick Jones is brought to Ronan, who, impressed with his courage, plans to keep Rick as his "body-slave". Gross.
He is thrown into the same prison as the Supreme Intelligence, who sends Rick into the Negative Zone where he finds himself facing Annihilus.
#97 - Rick finds that he can shoot an energy beam out of his head, which repels Annihilus.
He then returns to the Kree prison and, as Ronan's guards attack, Rick uses his "powers" to make Golden Age comic book characters come to life.
He then uses his powers to freeze all the Kree and Skrulls in the galaxy...
...and reverts H. Warren Craddock into his true form, revealing that he is also a Skrull.
Craddock-Skrull is quickly beaten down by the anti-alien mob he has whipped up. The Supreme Intelligence tells Rick that he is using a power that all humans will have in the distant future.
After Rick uses his power, he passes out, the Supreme Intelligence tells Captain Marvel that the only way Rick can be saved is "by becoming as one with him once more -- thus giving him your full life-force". Mar-vell says this will make him even more of a prisoner than before, but after some slight hesitation, he agrees.
It is implied that the Skrull Emperor Dorrek is killed at the end of issue #97 and that Anelle is now regent, but as we will see in New Avengers: Illuminati #1 and Fantastic Four #205-214, that seems to not be the case. I guess the idea is that he was frozen along with the rest of the Skrulls, and that wears off more quickly than expected.
There's no real good explanation about how Rick was able to do what he did or why that power subsequently goes away. There's also no real resolution to the Kree-Skrull War. Both races are frozen now but was that supposed to be permanent?
The art is great throughout. Both Buscemas are favorites of mine, and Neal Adam is always exceptional.
Thomas is... Thomas, which means he's overly melodramatic with bad attempts at being "literary". The plot is meandering and without any real sense of purpose. The whole "Rick Jones attacks the Kree-Skrull War with the Golden Age" resolution is especially disappointing. But it's a fun adventure story anyway and it lays the groundwork for a lot of better stories that came later, as well as raising the importance of "event" based story telling.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The flashback portion of issue #89, which features some of the Avengers dealing with Captain Marvel's break-in at the Baxter Building to get at the Negative Zone portal, takes place while the Fantastic Four are at Whisper Hill and the rest of the Avengers are facing Psyklop in Avengers #88.
For what it's worth, Hawkeye's appearance in Avengers Forever takes place after these issues.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Avengers: The Kree-Skrull War TPB
Inbound References (56): show
The issue titles reference a number of films and prose stories:"This Island Earth" "Journey to the Center of the Earth(or Mind, if you like Ted Nugent)" "War of the Worlds" "More Than Human" "2001:A Space Odyssey" "Behold The Man" "Something Wicked This Way Comes" "The Andromeda Strain" and "Childhood's End".
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 13, 2011 10:24 PM
The Tribble-things are called Druffs.
Neal Adams accidentally originally drew Rick Jones with 6 fingers on one hand on the last page of #96, causing Roy Thomas to spend way too much time yakking about who discovered that in "Alter Ego" years later.
David Michelinie has a letter in #92.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 25, 2013 6:17 PM
George Perez stated in AFTA #2 that the Neal Adams Avengers issues didn't sell that well, and that Stan Lee didn't care for his art here because Cap and Thor didn't facially resemble the respective Buscema versions.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 18, 2014 5:17 PM
I do feel Thomas overdoes everyone's reference to old comic-related stuff. I like it as a comic fan but it takes me out of things too much as I'm aware that ROY THOMAS is really into this stuff and enfusing the escapism with way too much of his personal interests. Metropolis, EC Fan Addict, Captain Midnight, etc.- as if every single character in the Marvel Universe was a comics nut during the 40s and 50s.
Posted by: George Gordon | June 13, 2014 7:15 AM
How did the "wang" in #96 get past the Comics Code?
Posted by: haydn | July 27, 2014 11:32 PM
I was reading Alter Ego #50 the other day, the Roy Thomas tribute issue, and it includes an article in which Roy himself is reviewing a bunch of letters he'd written (when he was a fan and 19-20 years old) to Gardner Fox about the Justice League. Roy's letters are full of storyline ideas.
In one of the letters (from 1961), Roy pitches the following:
In this AE article, Roy says he'd forgotten this letter, so upon seeing it again years later he was surprised that the scenario he proposed way back in 1961 was very similar to what he wrote for the Avengers 10 years later--team of heroes is fighting a losing battle with aliens, so teen-ager brings old heroes from a bygone era to life to save the day!
Posted by: Shar | July 28, 2014 11:57 AM
In Comics Interview #66, Roy states that Neal only turned in 3 or 4 pages of #97 by some deadline, thoroughly irritating Roy and causing him to give the issue to Buscema instead, who reportedly had only a few days to lay out the whole book. So some unpublished Adams pages for this may exist somewhere(and that may explain the "consultant" credit). At some other point in this, Tom Palmer reportedly declared he was sick of pulling all-nighters to finish Neal's late pages and vowed never to ink his stuff again.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 10, 2015 12:11 AM
Speaking of "setting up a rather bizarre idea", the single panel where Captain Marvel muses about Anelle and the caption says "though once, for an instant, he could have wished she would have become - something more" is used much, much later to suggest they had an affair and an illegitimate child, who became Hulkling of the Young Avengers. Not as bad as Norman Osborn boning Gwen Stacy, but pretty high up there on the list of unlikely bed-mates.
Posted by: Andrew | January 10, 2015 6:44 AM
I recently re-read this for the first time in well over a decade and was thoroughly disappointed. I think almost every criticism that fnord has of this series is spot-on, though the Adams art, especially in his first issue, is amazing.
A few notes though:
1 - I love that Carol Danvers wants the Avengers to fill out paperwork and that Vision tries to get out of it. Then she catches him on that and they begrudgingly go ahead and spend hours doing the paperwork.
2 - When Cap throws his shield and nails the guy in his head, how does that guy not die? Seriously, he got struck by an adamantium / vibranium shield flying through the air into his unprotected head.
3 - The first Adams issue is really a great issue and one of Hank Pym's shining moments - the art is great and he has some great moments in it.
4 - For such a major storyline this might have the most ridiculous resolution in comics history. Much as I don't like most of Marvel's big events of the last 20 years, "No more mutants" was one hell of a way to resolve things. This is just silly beyond belief.
Posted by: Erik Beck | February 8, 2015 8:29 AM
Per a letter in Alter Ego #130: John Romita supposedly redrew Captain America's head on the splash page in #93.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | February 25, 2015 11:34 AM
They say that only non-Kree brainwaves can turn the Omni-Wave into a weapon. Fair enough, but even if it has to be done of their own free will (not tortured into it), you'd think the Kree could find at least ONE member of another species that would be willing to work with them.
Posted by: Thanos6 | May 2, 2015 8:07 PM
Interesting selection of Golden Age characters in Rick Jones' scene in #92. Some are not even Timely's or Marvel's.
I recognize the Heap (lower left) and I believe it is the Green Lama flying at the lower right.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | June 28, 2016 12:02 AM
The appearance of Carol Danvers in this storyline establishes her as the fourth female character in this book after Wasp, Scarlet Witch, and Black Widow.
Posted by: Steven | July 4, 2016 8:28 AM
I would hardly equate her appearance here to establishing her as a fourth female character in the book. There's been loads of female characters with as big a role as she has in these issues here. She doesn't appear in the book again until she's Ms. Marvel about 80 issues later.
Posted by: AF | July 4, 2016 8:58 AM
Remember: the Carol Danvers here is "Carol Danvers, NASA security officer", not Ms. Marvel. We have a half-decade before Carol becomes a heroine and a bit longer before she's an Avenger, and this book has other heroines who show up and make their name on this team before her, such as Mantis, Moondragon and Hellcat.
Posted by: Ataru320 | July 5, 2016 9:44 AM
I consider the top four Avengers heroines to be Scarlet Witch, Captain Marvel, Black Widow, and Wasp. All four characters made their first appearances in the title within the first one hundred issues.
Posted by: Steven | July 5, 2016 11:20 PM
Hello all, first time poster, long time reader. I intentionally held off reading this classic until now, having started too late to appreciate the Avengers from the 70s.
I admit I had high expectations, what with the references and reverence this Skrull-Kree war has over the history of Marvel comics, and was shocked at the underwhelming nature of the story itself. The artwork is barely passable, hardly John Buscema before he perfected his style, and doesn't get off the ground until Neal Adams steps in. The series gets a shot in the arm when he takes over, but the story remains, as the recapper said, rather meandering and unfocused.
I guess I don't have the distorting goggles of nostalgia to befog my perception in reading this for the first time, like I would if I re-read some of the most memorable books from the 80s (when I started).
Maybe this should be redone, like a remake? :-D
Posted by: Oroboros | August 8, 2016 10:52 PM
@Oroborus - It's important to keep in mind that back in 1971, when Roy Thomas was writing these issues, he pretty much making it up as they went along, trying to create some cool Avengers stories while working on the treadmill of the monthly comic book deadline. That's why there are various digressions. For instance, the whole "Ant-Man's journey to the center of the Vision" thing is in there simply because Neal Adams decided it would be fun to draw, and Thomas told him to go for it. Thomas is the first to admit that he did not have any sort of meticulously-plotted story arc in mind, and he certainly did not set out to create an classic storyline that would later be endlessly reprinted over the next four decades.
I think that "The Kree-Skrull War" works for the same reason "The Dark Phoenix Saga" works; as with Claremont & Byrne a decade later, Thomas was basically just doing his thing, trying to tell some interesting, fun stories that would excite readers. It was all very organic, much more so than such pre-packaged "epics" as Civil War or Secret Invasion or any other big Marvel event from the past two decades.
Posted by: Ben Herman | August 9, 2016 9:10 PM
Also, a big part of the effectiveness was simply the scale of what was being done here, both in terms of welding together the Marvel Universe and in terms of how "big" the last few issues were; this is a pre-Star Wars world, where shots like that massive alien armada are real standouts and would reflect something "bigger" than a lot of readers had seen before.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | August 10, 2016 7:03 AM
Oroborous's complaint that the pre-Adams artwork is "hardly John Buscema before he perfected his style" is rather negated by the fact that this is Sal Buscema, not John. The "meandering" story is because of an editorial decision to wrap up the Inhumans' plotlines from their run in Amazing Adventures, and it does serve to get Rick to Hala, so that works.
I've never had a problem with the wrap-up; the Supreme Intelligence has determined that humans are capable of evolutionary advancement (a fact which even Ronan was stumbling around, with his devo-ray experiments) and that makes them different from the Kree and the Skrulls, which are all capped out. So he stimulates Rick, and the latent power in us all manifests itself, first as single burst at Annihilus, then as Rick working from the template he's familiar with (the 1940s heroes) and then the big intergalactic burst…which of course is only possible with the power of the SI behind Rick, can only be temporary, and nearly kills Rick.
Of course, come Operation Galactic Storm, the Intelligence will have found a way to solve that tricky "frozen evolution" issue, but first things first…
Posted by: Dan Spector | September 3, 2016 6:44 PM
As for Mar-Vell and Anell's Extremely Inappropriately Timed Retcon Sex, I figure ol' Marv was starting to catch feelings for "Carol" and when she turned out to be Super-Skrull in disguise, he had big moment of gay panic and was all "I like GIRL Skrulls, not dudes, okay?? #NoHomo!!!"
Hey, it makes more sense than the (grr…) Illuminati, I'm just saying.
Posted by: Dan Spector | September 3, 2016 6:45 PM
Great review, great comments, great Neal Adams pencils and Tom Palmer inks. Wow! Ahead of their time.
I would only add that any criticisms one might have about Sal Buscema's pencil art might be alleviated by considering the fact that, whereas Adams and John Buscema both had the benefit of Palmer's inks, Sal did not.
Sal had Sam Grainger's inks on #89, his own inks on #90-91, and George Roussos' inks on #92.
Tom Palmer rules!
I've already groused too much about Roussos' inks on Kirby's Fantastic Four, so I won't repeat that here.
Posted by: James Holt | November 7, 2016 9:45 PM
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