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Comic Book / Avengers: The Kree/Skrull War
aka: The Kree Skrull War

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Even the stoic Captain America can have a Rage Against the Heavens from time to time...

The Kree/Skrull War is a 1971-1972 story arc of the Marvel Comics superhero series The Avengers, in which the heroes become involved in an increasingly hot Space Cold War between two powerful alien empires, the Kree (Human Aliens) and the Skrulls (shape-shifting Rubber-Forehead Aliens).

The story begins with an Easily Thwarted Alien Invasion, with Ronan the Accuser, the leader of the Kree Empire, launching a limited attack on the solar system to apprehend the renegade Captain Marvel (a Kree officer who has rejected the Empire and now fights for the humans of Earth) — And, while he's at it, destroy the potential future threat of the human race. However, the combined forces of a renewed strategic Skrull offensive and a forceful tactical riposte by the Avengers drive him off.

Such events (and the fact that Captain Marvel is himself a Kree alien, albeit a renegade) do not go unnoticed, and the powerful Senator H. Warren Craddock begins an investigation into alien activities on Earth that temporarily cripples the Avengers. Marvel becomes a hunted man, and attempts to evade government forces together with an old flame, DoD security consultant Carol Danvers. In the end, he, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch are captured by the Skrulls and taken to their homeworld, where the aliens attempt to force Marvel to build a doomsday device, to be used against his own people.

Having exposed the Skrull conspiracy on Earth, the Vision and Goliath, reinforced by Captain America, Thor and Iron Man, pursue the aliens into space, while Rick Jones is abducted by the Kree, who are preparing their own countermove. With the alien armadas of both the intergalactic superpowers converging on the solar system, doom appears imminent not only for humanity, but countless billions throughout local space...

At the time of publication, years before the original Star Wars, the series was unique for its epic scope and use of what would now be called Space Opera tropes, and met a glowing reception from the fans. Although parts of it may now appear dated, it exercised a tremendous influence on its genre. In more recent times, The Kree-Skrull War became notable as the origin of The Illuminati, a secret cabal of superheroes that caused the Secret Invasion (2008) and played a role in other crises, as in World War Hulk or Civil War (2006). The origins of certain characters in the Young Avengers series were also retconned into it.

The arc runs from Avengers #89-97.

The film Captain Marvel, which is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, borrows some elements from the Kree–Skrull War, though it takes the story in a quite different direction.

The Kree/Skrull War provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Dorrek spends a lot of page time ranting at Anelle how much he hates the fact she's a girl, and the sooner she's married off to some guy who can run the Skrull Empire for her the better. He even says if she wasn't his daughter, he'd have killed her already.
  • Almost Kiss: Having been captured by Ronan, Vision and the Scarlet Witch almost lean in for a kiss, but Vis pulls away at the last moment. Ronan has a hearty guffaw at this.
  • Art Evolution: Inbetween the space opera and the seeds of the Vision-Scarlet Witch romance starting to bloom, there's another small detail; Vision starts getting his own distinctive speech balloons. First, they start off as yellow, rather than everyone else's white, then become squared off with little black borders.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Pointed out by the Skrulls: Thor and the Vision can somehow survive in the void. Justified with the Vision, he's not a living being. And Thor.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: During the riots outside the Avengers mansion, there's a hulking man about to attack a smaller man who said that Avengers were innocent. Goliath goes outside, to see how that man deals with a larger man...and it's all a trick. The smaller man is actually a lawyer, and the attack a charade to lure an Avenger out of the Mansion and gave him the legal notification of the hearing prepared by Craddock.
  • Black-and-White Morality: Invoked. Rick Jones has memories of the simpler superheroes of the golden age, when everything was really simple.
  • Breaking the Fellowship: Averted. Issue 92 seems to end this way, but the Avengers keep going.
  • Brought Down to Badass: As the story begins, Mar loses his nega-bands, which means he loses all the powers they gave him, but this still leaves him as a fully trained Kree soldier.
  • Call-Back: The end of the events of Fantastic Four issue #2 come back in a big way; namely, the fate of those four Skrulls Reed turned into cows.
  • Characterization Click Moment: This is the first story to solidify the idea of the Kree and the Skrulls being opposing forces, an idea Thomas had worked on in his run on Captain Marvel.
  • The Chessmaster: The Supreme Intelligence subtly influenced several things in the plot to defeat Ronan and retake power
  • Compelling Voice: How Craddock (or his Skrull imposter) riles the people of Earth against the Avengers.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Mentioned by Dorrek, the Skrull king. The kingdom has defenses ready against the Super-Skrull...not since he was outlawed, but from the very moment he received his powers.
  • Darkest Hour: The story winds up with a highly complex and hopeless scenario. Captain Marvel, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch are held prisoner on the Skrull homeworld. Thor, Iron Man, Vision and Captain America fight a hopeless fight against a whole Skrull armada that fills the sky, right outside the solar system. Rick Jones is held prisoner on the Kree homeworld, and Ronan has sent his own Kree armada towards the solar system as well. Goliath, having lost his size-changing powers, has to stop 4 Skrulls in a ship that's sending a giant atomic bomb to Earth. And, as if that was not enough, there's a politician raising anti-aliens sentiment in the people, turning it into hatred towards the Avengers, accused of helping the Kree. How can we make a Happy Ending out of this? Easy: give Rick Jones Reality Warper powers, so that he freezes all the evil aliens all across the universe and summons the Avengers to a single place, to be sent home afterwards. Even the politician was actually a Skrull in disguise.
  • Debate and Switch: Mr. Craddock is (apparently) an Obstructive Bureaucrat. This type of character wasn't as common back then in the superhero genre. So, in the end, he's revealed to be a villain, and defeated.
  • Deus ex Machina: As a demonstration of just how powerful the Supreme Intelligence is, at the end of the story it effortlessly zaps the Avengers and Rick back to Earth like it was turning on a light.
  • Devolution Device: The "Plan Atavus" arranged by Ronan.
  • Doomsday Device: The Omniwave of the Kree. For them, it's just for communication, for the Skrulls it can be turned into a weapon to destroy the Kree. Even the Kree who want to use it as a weapon can't; it only gains destructive properties when interfacing with a non-Kree mind.
  • Enemy Mine: Invoked by the Skrull princess Anelle, when her father's soldiers have captured Captain Marvel. She feels that if this Kree war hero gave up everything he valued to oppose Ronan's cruel regime, he must be a good man, who need not be an enemy of the Skrulls. The emperor shoots this down, however.
  • Evil Is Petty: Ronan notices before any of the other Avengers do that Vis and Wanda have feelings for one another. He thinks it's totally hilarious.
  • False Innocence Trick: The Super-Skrull impersonates Carol Danvers to kidnap Mar-vell..
  • "Fantastic Voyage" Plot: Ant-Man has a weird adventure inside the body of the Vision.
  • Fictional Geneva Conventions: The Fornax Convention, to which the Kree and Skrull (and in later comics, also others) are signatories. It regulates the conduct of their on-and-off Forever War, for example by outlawing mistreatment of prisoners, much like the real Geneva Conventions. Even the Skrull Emperor pays attention to it—though he then comes up with some legalistic reasoning to let him torture Mar-Vell anyway. - namely, that it doesn't apply to humans.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: Krees and Skrulls are fighting each other, and plotting to conquer Earth, and Craddock wages a political campaign against the Avengers... and in the middle of this, Henry Pym finds the time for a fantastic voyage into the body of the Vision.
  • Fully Absorbed Finale: In the middle of what's going on, the story takes a moment to wrap up a few plot threads from the recently ended Inhumans series.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Hank Pym is one of the few people on Earth who knows what the scream of a dying ant sounds like, and he'd really rather not hear it again if he can help it.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Craddock turns out to be a Skrull stirring up trouble on Earth by rousing anti-alien sentiment, and when Rick's influence causes Craddock to turn back to his natural state in front of a crowd, he is attacked by the people he had been provoking into violence.
  • Homage: According to Roy Thomas, the whole storyline was heavily influenced by Raymond F. Jones' novel This Island Earth.
  • Humanity Is Superior: Acknowledged by Ronan. Despite his "Puny Earthlings" stance, he realizes that the Avengers stood their ground against the powerful Sentry, and the Fantastic Four did so as well against both the Sentry and himself, that we moved from steam power to atomic power in less than a century...That's why humanity must be destroyed: left to grow and prosper, humans would become a galactic empire to rival the Kree in no time.
  • Humans Are Special: This is what the Supreme Intelligence thinks. The Destiny Force is that "specialness" turned into a super power.
  • Idiot Ball: For reasons known only to himself, Tony Stark helped the government make the Mandroids to fight the Avengers, even teaching them how to fight the Avengers. Surprise, the government uses the Mandroids to attack the Avengers.
  • Inexplicable Cultural Ties: According to Ronan's gloat to Marvel (no humans present), the Sentry is the defender of "the Kree Way of Life"
  • Insignificant Little Blue Planet: Neither side of the Kree-Skrull war care about Earth itself, even if its heroes have already beaten them back (in fact, they can't get to Earth thanks to an energy barrier). As Ronan tells Rick, the planet's mainly significant from a tactical point of view.
  • I Work Alone: Goliath, momentarily, who refuses to work with any woman after a nasty break-up with Black Widow. It gets him caught and brainwashed by the Kree Sentry.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Vision is not feeling himself, what with Wanda being in severe peril, and takes it out on a Skrull flunky.
    Vision: Speak! Your lackeys will not rescue you, held as bay as they are by my comrades. Tell me of this contingency plan, and the location of the Throneworld as well.
    Skrull: I...I dare not. To reveal its certain death.
    Vision: Correction, commandant: not to do so is even more certain death.
  • Jerkass Ball:
    • Quicksilver, whenever anyone goes near Wanda. Vis more than most, because Vision is a machine.
    • Ben Grimm is called as a witness to the trial of the Avengers. He rags on them, and nearly starts a fight in the courthouse.
  • Just a Machine: The Sentry speaks about himself/itself/whatever as such. He can't rage or be proud of victory, just act as programmed. But then, he also gets annoyed when the Avengers call him a "mere robot".
  • Karmic Death: Craddock, who turns out to be a Skrull agent, is beaten to death by a mob he was preaching anti-alien propaganda to when his disguise fails.
  • Kangaroo Court: Craddock summons the Avengers to court, but it's pretty obvious he's got no plan to let them speak their case. When Vision is called to the stand, he's immediately told that as a robot, his testimony is unreliable, right after they've had him declare he is incapable of lying.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Skrull Emperor Dorrek and his daughter, the princess Anelle, who tries in vain to be the Morality Pet. The violence is always just verbal, but...death threats? For not being evil? TO HIS OWN DAUGHTER?
    • Ronan the Accuser is far more villainous here than in any of his previous appearances (and many/most of his subsequent ones), seemingly taking a downright sadistic glee in watching the torments of Wasp from afar. While he is indeed usually written as a Kree superpatriot, most of the time he is more of a cool and correct one.
  • Loophole Abuse: When it is suggested, the Skrull emperor objects to torturing Captain Marvel, a Kree officer POW protected under the Fornax Convention. However, Earth never ratified the Convention, so it does not apply to his friends the Avengers—leaving him open to enhanced interrogation by proxy.
  • Make Way for the New Villains: Ronan is established as the main villain by staging a coup against the Supreme Inteligence.
  • Mechanical Monster: The Sentry.
  • Military Coup: In space! Is there a better way to prove that Ronan the Accuser is the villain, than him leading a coup against the Supreme Intelligence at the beginning of his role in the story?
  • Mirror Character: Three way mirror, even, between Mar, Super-Skrull and Nick Fury. All three are patriots to their homeland, whose actions bring them into conflict with the people giving them their orders.
  • Morality Pet: Averted. Princess Anelle, the daughter of the cruel Skrull king, is a nice and kind Skrull, pleading with her father to have mercy on the prisoners, to stop the bloodshed...pleas that always fall on deaf ears.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Captain Marvel builds an omni-wave and attempts to use it to talk to Rick Jones...but instead, he hurls him into the Negative Zone. If the Supreme Intelligence was not there to save him...
  • Nonhuman Humanoid Hybrid: Notably for Young Avengers fans, this is when Hulkling's parents — Captain Mar-Vell and the Skrull princess Annelle — meet and, it is implied, conceive him. Yes, this means that the fact that he is a high school student when his own team forms serves as proof that Comicbook Time is very much in effect, as he would be dating the Reincarnation of a son that the Scarlet Which had not yet even conceived. (Later retcons would establish there's a bit of temporal shennanigans going on).
  • No-Sell: Rick tries escaping Ronan by grabbing a nearby weapon and smacking it across Ronan's face. His smile vanishes when he sees Ronan still standing there, very unamused.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Senator H. Warren Craddock. Or not. The real Craddock is not so.
  • People Puppets: The Sentry capture Goliath and made him his puppet.
  • Perception Filter: As the Supreme Intelligence reveals, it could influence Mar's mind, making sure he wouldn't notice anything particularly off about "Carol Danvers" until it was too late.
  • Pinball Projectile: Captain Marvel: "I can do the trick with mirrors".
  • Psychic Block Defense: The Supreme Intelligence's mind-control powers work across galaxies, but it's incapable of manipulating the minds of its own people or the Skrulls because the shielding on their battle-fleets is blocking it.
  • Robosexual: This story marks the beginning of the romance of the Vision and the Scarlet Witch. It would grow into a highly convoluted Tangled Family Tree, but right now things are more simple: they love each other, but the Vision acts as the Celibate Hero.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Nick Fury who spends most of the story under government orders to hassle the Avengers, eventually decides nuts to it, and assists the Avengers by giving them a spaceship, figuring if the government want to fire him, they can. (They don't.)
  • Ship Tease: In the early issues, Captain Marvel's Badass Normal love interest Carol Danvers (who hadn't been seen in the comics for a while) dramatically shows up to offer him a hide-out when he is being hunted by the government, and plenty of hints are dropped that the two of them will get both a pivotal role in the story and, finally, a resolution to their romance arc. This is not quite what happens, however. Since "Carol" is really the Super-Skrull in disguise.
  • Shout-Out:
    • As he's exploring Vision, Hank quips that it looks like "Metropolis", and clarifies he means the Fritz Lang movie, not the "Clark Kent" one.
    • The final issue of the storyline is titled "Godhood's End," a nod to the classic science fiction novel Childhood's End.
  • Single-Stroke Battle: Yellowjacket against the invasion of the Arctic. He didn't even get anywhere near the bad guy.
  • Something We Forgot:
    • Pointed out at the end. When we last saw Goliath, he had lost his size-changing powers, and was alone in a ship with four Skrulls, with a bomb heading to Earth. We would only discover his fate several issues afterwards.
    • The story fixes a small continuity snarl of Fantastic Four #2 (yes, even by then they were leaving loose ties): the fate of the four Skrulls left behind on Earth that Mr. Fantastic hypnotized to believe they were cows, especially since the original comic only showed three Skrulls being hypnotized.
    • The Avengers fought 3 Skrulls disguised as the Fantastic Four. What about the fourth one? No, he's not forgotten: at the end of the story, he's accounted for as well.
  • Space Cold War: As Ronan reveals, the Kree-Skrull war, which had been going on since they first met one another, had actually wound down until both sides had learned about Earth. Now it's gone hot again.
  • Space Is Noisy: Averted. When the Avengers fight in space, it's specifically remarked that everything, even explosions, took place in absolute silence.
  • Spock Speak: Pointed out by Wanda at the beginning of one issue towards Vision (who is based on the Spock) and Quicksilver both talking with five dollar words. Quicksilver just sees it as a point of pride he hasn't caught American colloquialisms.
  • Spotting the Thread: Marvel is talked into making an omni-wave projector, and is just about to set it up when he suddenly smashes it, much to Carol Danver's shock. As he reveals, it's because Carol called him "Mar-Vell". He never told her his name. She's a Skrull!
  • Storming the Castle: Quicksilver and Rick Jones storm into Ronan's headquarters on their own.
  • Taking You with Me: When Rick Jones escapes from the Negative Zone, Annihilus follows him. The heroes open the gate again, so it sucks Annihilus back in. He grabs the Vision, gloating that if he's going back, he'd take Vision with him. Except the Vision becomes intangible, and Annihilus is sucked back into the Negative Zone, with no hostages.
  • Talking To Themselves: Hank Pym while he's wandering through Vision's innards, partly because of nerves and being alone, but also as a scientific process.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: A mob destroys the Avengers mansion during the trial, as the heroes were suspected of helping enemies of the human race.
  • Villain Has a Point: The right-wing Chairman of the Special Committee on Alien Activities, Senator Craddock, who campaigns against the alien infiltration of Earth and brings public and media attention to the alien conspiracies the Avengers and the government appear to be covering up. As the story abundantly shows, the alien threat is all too real, and the people do deserve to know. The fact that "Craddock" is himself an alien agent deliberately bungling the investigations doesn't really counter his point so much as reinforce it.
  • Walking Spoiler: The presence and identity of the Super-Skrull is pivotal for one important subplot.
  • White Sheep: From her father's point of view, Princess Anelle is a complete failure as a dynast of the Skrull imperial house, lacking even elementary ruthlessness: Not only does she object to his new campaign of conquest for purely sentimental reasons (because of the completely acceptable projected casualties), she even argues that the worthless Earthlings are people, too. It is fortunate indeed that it is her husband, not her, who will be his heir.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: When he's escaping from them, Captain Marvel defeats Quicksilver and the Vision...and refuses to fight the Scarlet Witch, flying away instead.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: After finally managing to separate himself and Rick Jones before the beginning of the story, the storyline ends with Mar and Rick having to re-merge themselves again.
  • You Will Be Spared: While Ronan overthrows the Supreme Intelligence, he spares it because he figures sooner or later he can use it for his own advantage. This just allows the Intelligence to work its plot against him.

Alternative Title(s): The Kree Skrull War