Though the Kree and the Skrulls started out as two alien races that didn’t have a lot to do with one another, their eventual conflict would make for decades of Marvel Comics storytelling, eventually forming part of the basis for the upcoming Captain Marvel film. But just who are these two alien races, and how and when did all this conflict begin spilling over onto poor old Earth?
The Skrulls first made themselves known in the second issue of Fantastic Four in 1962, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. When the green, shape-shifting aliens tried to impersonate the the Fantastic Four, they were found out. They were turned into cows and had their memories wiped, which is a pretty harsh way to deal with anyone if you ask us. But this was only the beginning of the Skrull Empire’s long simmering hatred of the human race.
The Kree, on the other hand, would not appear until five years later, in Fantastic Four #65. A militaristic race of blue-skinned humanoids, these conquerors produced the likes of the villainous Ronan the Accuser, and the heroic Mar-Vell, better known as the original Captain Marvel.
At some point, the writers at Marvel Comics realized that these two galactic super powers should at least be aware of each other, similarly to how Star Trek decided to make the Federations’s main adversaries, the Klingons and the Romulans, each other’s own mortal enemies.
The Original Kree-Skrull War
Now that both races had been introduced in the pages of various Marvel titles, writer Roy Thomas decided to create a conflict between both races that would put Earth squarely in the middle of it all. Running through Avengers #89-97, from 1971-72, the storyline focused on the Kree’s attempts to send Earth back to a prehistoric state, in an effort to make the planet hospitable as sort of beachhead in their conflict with the Skrulls.
Featuring Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell) in a prominent role, as well as his colleague Carol Danvers, who would become Captain Marvel herself eventually, this story established the notion that the Skrulls would impersonate humans in positions of power to influence outcomes in their favor, as they impersonate U.S. Senator Craddock to sway public opinion against the Avengers. He is later discovered and exposed, but the precedent had been set. Although the story technically ended in Avengers #97, this was actually just the beginning.
Johnny and Lyja, Sittin’ in a Tree…
The biggest instance of Skrull impersonating a human on Earth to manipulate their enemies was when the Skrull operative named Lyja impersonated longstanding Fantastic Four supporting character Alicia Masters, and had her marry Johnny Storm, the Human Torch. In the original Stan Lee/Jack Kirby comics, Alicia Masters was the blind sculptress who loved Ben Grimm/the Thing despite his deformity. After being together for years, the pair broke up when the Thing left Earth, presumably forever.
With the Thing gone, Johnny and Alicia fell in love, and were eventually married. But when Ben came back from his outer space adventure, he was furious that his best buddy had married his girlfriend. He eventually made amends with the pair, but not long after, they revealed that Alicia had in fact been replaced with a Skrull operative named Lyja years before, and the Skrull who married Johnny was never the real deal. This allowed Ben and Alicia to get back together, and created all kinds of drama for Johnny and his Fantastic Four family.
Lyja’s infiltration of the Fantastic Four was but the first step into a larger revenge plot against Earth’s heroes which resulted in the 2008 series Secret Invasion. In the early 2000s, the Skrulls replaced various super-humans, including Spider-Woman, Hank Pym, the Inhumans’ Black Bolt, Elektra, many members of S.H.I.E.L.D., and even Iron Man’s trusted butler, Edwin Jarvis.
Despite Marvel teasing that some heroes had in fact been Skrulls for decades, that didn’t seem to be the case in the end, as most had only recently been replaced. Ultimately, Reed Richards develops a device to expose and any Skrull posing as a human, and the invasion armada is repelled. After the infiltration, S.H.I.E.L.D. is dissolved, something akin to what happened in the MCU when HYDRA infiltrated the organization.
We don’t quite know what we’ll see of the Kree and the Skrulls in Captain Marvel, but we’re excited for some body-snatching action.
Images: Marvel Comics / Marvel Studios