Characters Appearing: Baron Von Strucker, Captain America, Catwalk, Contessa Valentina Allegro De La Fontaine, Dice, Moonstomp, Nick Fury, Riot, Ryder
Skrull Kill Krew #1-5
Issue(s): Skrull Kill Krew #1, Skrull Kill Krew #2, Skrull Kill Krew #3, Skrull Kill Krew #4, Skrull Kill Krew #5
The premise for this story is "What if Mad Cow Disease But With Skrulls?". The Skrulls that were hypnotized into thinking they were cows (more on this history below) eventually made it into the food chain, and anyone that eats the Skrull meat contracts a fatal disease. But before they die, they get limited (but powerful) shapeshifting abilities, communal telepathy, and the ability to detect Skrulls...
...so the Krew, led by Ryder...
...seek out other people like them while hunting Skrulls. Similar to Morrison's Invisibles, the members of the Krew are reflective of various countercultures (a surfer dude, a lesbian riot grrrl) (and a supermodel, which i guess isn't counterculture), and that adds some interesting flavor.
But in this case it comes with a very problematic decision that really sticks out for me now in a way that it didn't during previous reads. And that is the inclusion of a skinhead white supremacist, complete with a hammer, as one of the "good guys".
I think when this was written, and even when i'd re-read it previously, white supremacy was (rightly or wrongly) seen as a fringe threat and it was kind of "cute" to have a character like that forced into a role where he's sort-of playing a hero against a a larger threat. I'm writing at a time where white supremacy is seemingly on the rise, or at least more visible, and it definitely kind of sours my take on the book to see him portrayed at all sympathetically.
To be clear, the character is definitely not presented as being "right". He's mocked (a bit) for his beliefs and comes into (minor, jocular) conflict with Ryder, and there's kind of a jokey irony-of-ironies idea where his skin is turning brown as part of the Skrull meat affliction. And there's even a plot where the group sort-of comes up against Baron Strucker, which might have been intended as some sort of commentary about Nazis. But nothing really comes of any of that and it's not like it causes the guy to have any change of heart. And he's definitely presented as one of the team and even one of the cooler members (he's kind of like the Wolverine of the group in terms of attitude). So that kind of puts a damper on all of this.
In terms of the cow history, the first Skrulls that appeared were turned into cows at the end of Fantastic Four #2. The Skrulls were removed from their cow-trance during the Kree-Skrull War, in Avengers #93. That should have been the end of it, but it's said in this story that after the War, the Alien Activities Commission and the military forced the Skrulls to turn back into cows, and then sent them to the slaughterhouse.
Note that it was "straight to" the slaughterhouse.
Left out of this history is the fact that the Skrull-cows, or, rather, regular cows that the Skrulls "mingled" with while in cow form, were used as dairy cows in Fantastic Four annual #17.
Tom Brevoort is the editor here, and he is a continuity minded guy (and certainly seemed to care about this stuff in the early days), so i assume it all makes sense, but i can't help feel like something's missing here. If the Skrulls were re-hypnotized and then slaughtered right after the Kree-Skrull War, then it sure took some time before their meat started affecting the food supply. I think it would have made more sense to say that the re-hypnotized Skrulls spent time on the dairy farm and were only recently sent to the slaughterhouse.
Anyway, it seems to me that the Krew really ought to have a problem with the military, not the Skrulls.
After the introductory issue, issues #2-3 deal with Strucker and have a Captain America guest appearance.
Strucker and Hydra want to kidnap a president Wassily Kurav, from a Baltic nation, apparently as part of a bid to take over the country - named both "Slovinia" and "Slovenia" in the same issue. Interestingly, Strucker claims that Democracy has failed and that political instability have given birth to "rabid nationalism". Then he complains that Dr. Doom is a Neoliberal.
That's all we see with regards to Moonstomp and Strucker, by the way.
Cap was at the airport to greet the president. The Krew were there to recruit the supermodel member of their group. When Ryder sees Strucker, he confronts him and smashes his cigarette holder.
Strucker gets away.
Kurav turns out to be a Skrull. When Ryder tries to kill him, he and Cap gets into a Misunderstanding Fight. This allows some interesting commentary from Ryder, including a suggestion that Cap, well, get woke, as it were.
Ryder then slips away. Cap contacts Nick Fury, who seems to know Ryder, but we don't get any more info.
The final two issues tease a fight with the Fantastic Four, but it's really just Skrulls duplicating their powers (possible dialogue rescript in that final bubble).
The story is situated in a town that is a lot like the one in the Fantastic Four annual, with pod-people Skrulls mechanically going through Ordinary Small Town motions, but it's called Pleasant Valley, not King's Crossing. It's said that there are similar cadres of Skrulls all across the world. So we get visuals were the Skrull Kill Krew are basically massacring a small town.
Most of the Skrulls are in a kind of remote-controlled stasis, but eventually the Skrulls in charge activate them all.
But the Krew kill them all before they can alert any other cells or the homeworld.
It's a fun, weird story if you can get past Moonstomp. I really like Steve Yeowell's art; it's a shame he wasn't doing more at Marvel at this time.
Despite the fact that the characters are all supposed to be fatally sick because of the Skrull meet, they'll appear years later during the Secret Invasion era.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: The appearances by Captain America and Nick Fury push this back in publication time a bit, before Cap starts wearing armor and before Fury's death.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
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