The Kree/Skrull War is a 1971-1972 story arc of The Avengers, where 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 and played a role in other crises, as in World War Hulk or Civil War. The origins of certain characters in the Young Avengers series were also retconned into it.
The Kree/Skrull War provides examples of:
- 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...is 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 was actually a lawyer, and the attack was 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 that way, but no. The Avengers keep fighting together, and the whole thing was clarified.
- The Chessmaster: The Supreme Intelligence subtly influenced several things in the plot, to defeat Ronan and retake power
- 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 ultra-powers.
- Darkest Hour: The story winds up with a highly complex and hopeless scenario. Captain Marvel, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch are held prisoners 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 a Well-Intentioned Extremist Obstructive Bureaucrat. This type of character was not common back then in the superhero genre. So, in the end, he's revealed to be a villain, and defeated.
- 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 quadrant of the galaxy. 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.
- False Innocence Trick: The Super-Skrull impersonates Carol Danvers to kidnap Mar-vell..
- "Fantastic Voyage" Plot: Ant-Man had 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.
- 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.
- Inexplicable Cultural Ties: According to Ronan's gloat to Marvel (no humans present), the Sentry is the defender of "the Kree Way of Life"
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: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 coordinates...is certain death.Vision: Correction, commandant: not to do so is even more certain death.
- 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".
- Mechanical Monster: The Sentry.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 begining of his role in the story?
- 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.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Senator H. Warren Craddock.
- People Puppets: The Sentry capture Goliath and made him his puppet.
- Pinball Projectile: Captain Marvel: "I can do the trick with mirrors".
- Robosexual: This story marks the begining of the romance of the Vision and the Scarlet Witch. It would grow into a highly convoluted Tangled Family Tree, but back then things were more simple: they love each other, but the Vision acts as the Celibate Hero.
- Shout-Out: 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 Completely Different: Krees and Skrulls are fighting each other, and plotting to conquer Earth, and Craddock wages a political campaign against the Avengers...and yet, Henry Pym finds the time for a fantastic voyage into the body of the Vision.
- 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 4 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 4 Skrulls left behind on Earth that Mr. Fantastic hypnotized to believe they were cows.
- The Avengers fought 3 Skrulls disguised as the Fantastic Four. What about the fourth one? No, he was not forgotten: at the end of the story, he was accounted for as well.
- Space Is Noisy: Averted. When the Avengers fought in the space, it's specifically remarked that everything, even explosions, took place in absolute silence.
- Storming the Castle: Quicksilver and Rick Jones stormed 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.
- They Do: Teased. The early issues seem to set the stage for this: 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.
- 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 refused to fight the Scarlet Witch, flying away instead.