Avengers annual #14
Issue(s): Avengers annual #14
...want to track down Nebula, and General Zedrao suggests that they use technology that's available on an power satellite that used to orbit the Skrull Homeworld before the planet was eaten by Galactus.
The satellite's secondary function is charging "high-energy capacitor crystals that the Skrulls call Power Stones". Not the same thing as Cavourite Crystals, by chance?
The Black Knight incorrectly guesses that it's primary purpose was to supply power for the Skrull Throneworld, but it's confirmed in Fantastic Four annual #19 that this is the device that broadcast power to the Super-Skrull.
The satellite is currently under control of the Skrulls from Kral, the branch of Skrulls that have based their culture on 1930s Earth gangster movies.
I've always thought those guys were incredibly goofy, and they still are!, but Stern uses them to good effect here to illustrate the breakdown of the Skrull Empire after Galactus. Zedrao's forces escort the Avengers into a rival Skrull territory, and instead of the other group of Skrulls just being... more Skrulls, they are the very distinct Kralians. And it's better to use these guys instead of inventing some new distinguishing factor.
OK, i guess i just like it because the regular Skrulls find the Kralians as annoying as i do. A cool bit is when the Avengers use the fact that the Kralians normally take a human form in order to infiltrate the satellite.
Nothing's easy, though, because it turns out the satellite has been taken over by some rogue Skrulls. The rogues are two thirds of a trio that once considered rebellion against the Skrull empire. The third member, Dezan, younger brother of the former Emperor Dorrek, was locked in an iron mask and imprisoned...
...but he was recently freed by the elite Skrull Raksor (see the References section for info on him) to deal with the other two.
Dezan's former companions are Zabyk (a soldier and leader of a radical band of Skrulls) and Myrn (a scientist who's been away from the rebellion since the days when Dezan was imprisoned). Bear with me on all these Skrull names. Their scheme involves setting off a hyperwave that will "stablize the deviant genetic code of all Skrulls" (as usual, i'm unsure whether or not to capitalize the word "deviant"). Zabyk intended for himself to be unaffected, but it didn't work that way, and of course he betrays and kills Myrn, the only person who could reverse the effects.
The net effect of this is that all Skrulls everywhere are permanently stuck in the form that they currently inhabited (even if it's a chair!).
Zabyk had mixed himself into a complicated Mecha device (and i had no idea that Skrulls were so... fluid. Ew!).
We see Dezan's true face and learn that he's a good guy because his face is almost human.
It turns out that Dezan was originally imprisoned because he wanted to stop the Skrull's warlike ways.
While it's a cool story in its own right, what makes it extra fun is that it takes place concurrently with the Fantastic Four annual. Each book has a portion that shows what the respective team is up to and how they get involved, and then there are several pages that are duplicated between the books. You might consider the duplication a rip-off, but it actually becomes an interesting exercise in seeing the effects of an inker (Tom Brevoort made an exercise of this a while back on his now defunct blog). In this book, Kyle Baker's inks are very heavy (indeed, the credits are actually broken out as Breakdowns/Finishes, and this book almost doesn't look like Byrne drew it, even though i'm sure the same pencils were used in both books), so it's a very distinct difference from Joe Sinnott's more classic style in the FF annual.
Colorist choices (Christie Scheele here; Glynis Oliver on the FF book) are a factor as well.
Since we're dealing with Skrulls, and since the Avengers and FF weren't expecting each other, there's initially some suspicion.
For the Avengers, especially, they're primed to be skeptical since before encountering the FF, some Skrulls pretended to be Thor and some Rigelians.
When "Thor" accepts Captain America's story that "Goliath" was left behind on monitor duty, Hercules lets him have it.
A sequence in this book raises some questions for me regarding Captain Marvel's ability to handle moving at lightspeed. There's a sequence where CM heads off to stop the hyperwave and then reappears back in the same room before Mr. Fantastic can finish his sentence telling her to stop (she independently reached the same conclusion and didn't stop it; if she had it would have torn the universe apart). But even though a little earlier she thinks to herself that flying at lightspeed causes everything to "turn into a soft blur in these close quarters", it seems her mental processing power does speed up when she turns to light: she manages to think approximately 100 words to herself while flying through the device, all in between words of Reed's sentence. The page with Captain Marvel is left out of the FF book, letting Mr. Fantastic finish his sentence in two uninterrupted panels.
Between Prince Dezan and the pragmatic and honorable General Zedrao you had the makings for a major political status quo shake-up in addition to the loss of their shape-shifting powers, but unfortunately nothing ever comes of it. Dezan is never heard from again. Still, this was a fun story. My one complaint is there's a lot of set-up before the action starts. The FF annual manages to fit an entirely separate story into the space where the background dump occurs in this issue. But this is still good stuff, and made better by the connection with the FF annual.
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place between Avengers #260-261, and concurrently with Fantastic Four annual #19.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): show
Power Stones also served as money when the Kralians bid on the Thing in that slave auction.
Kyle Baker went on to much bigger things at DC and other places with "The Shadow", "The Cowboy Wally Show", and "Plastic Man".
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 30, 2012 8:30 PM
Firstly, this is an excellent website!
Posted by: Buffy | November 21, 2012 9:23 AM
Thanks Buffy. It's hard to confirm, but as far as i can tell you're right that Baker never inked Byrne again.
Posted by: fnord12 | November 21, 2012 10:10 AM
Finally the Skrulls start using their shapeshifting power sensibly, and then they immediately lose it :P
Posted by: Berend | March 7, 2014 2:53 AM
Just to clarify, there's no indication that the Imperial Power Asteroid was ever under the control of the Skrulls from Kral. Sure, that one Kralian pilot claims that the Avengers' starship is intruding on their patch of space but that seems to only be because they had to pass through Kralian territory to reach the Imperial Power Asteroid. According to Prince Dezan's story, the power asteroid was under imperial control when Throneworld was devoured, then Zabyk's small force seized the facility. The Kralians never controlled the power station, they were just regular customers who used it to charge their Power Stones.
Posted by: Don Campbell | July 5, 2016 4:38 AM
So it's not just an exercise in seeing how inking affects the scenes differently: In an interesting choice, in this issue the scene where Zabyk twirls his moust-- er, details his hyperwave plot via monitor, he is in yellow-ish off-white while the heroes and their surroundings are in normal colors, and in the FF version of the same panel, Zabyk is in full color while the rest of the panel is in off tones. Kind of an interesting detail.
Posted by: J-Rod | May 2, 2017 2:10 PM
The Cavourite Crystals are indeed what the Skrulls call the Power Stones. It was mentioned during Brian Reed's early issues of his MS. MARVEL run that the Cavourite Crystals powered their space ships. Thought it was cool that Reed used them in his first storyline.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | November 6, 2017 9:14 AM
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