Today, we have a tasty Incredible Hercules #120, a low-calorie X-Factor #34, a savory Guardians of the Galaxy #4, and a TV-Dinner in Avengers #209.
Remember to use the utensil on the outside and work your way in while eating.
This week we've got three new book to get through including what seems like a VERY important plot development in Hercules so we'll get to that one first.
Looking for even MORE Secret Invasion goodness? This is our 17th article so if you want the low down on anything you've missed, click that link on the left marked "Super Reads SI." It'll give you all you ever wanted to know about Skrulls and Skrull-like products.
OK, that bit's out of the way and we can get straight to business:
The Incredible Hercules #120
Writer: Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente
Penciler: Rafa Sandoval
So we left Herc and the God Squad confronting Kly'bn and Sl'gur't last issue. We'd get right into that, but first we need to learn our Skrull history.
And what a history. If you know your Marvel Earth history, you'll have the basics ready to go. If not, you'll learn a bit about Marvel Earth, too. Like Earth and all other planets messed with by the Celestials, Skrullos was populated by three races of Skrulls. You had your baseline Skrulls with no real powers to speak of and then you have to other two. Deviants and Eternals. Deviant Skrulls are more homogenized than Deviant Humans as they all look pretty much the same and all have the same ability to change form while Deviant Humans tend to have a wider variety of abilities and appearances. Eternal Skrulls... well, we don't know much about them. They were probably a lot like Eternal Humans: incredibly powerful beings with a god-like manner to them. The biggest difference between Earth and Skrullos is that on Earth the baseline humans have become dominant while the other two have receded while on Skrullos the Deviants killed the other two races.
With one exception: Kly'bn.
The battle was fought just like it is currently being fought on earth. The Deviant Skrulls hid among the population as family and friends until the moment was given to strike. Then strike they did, killing every baseline and Eternal Skrull in their path.
Then they came upon the last of the Eternal Skrulls. Sl'gur't taunted him in her victory but, as we will soon learn, Kly'bn is a pompous ass and not really affected by taunting. He's also a hell of a speaker. He convinced them that they should go on killing on countless world just like they did here. He also made them know that HIS form was their true form and that he would exist in order to remind them of that form.
He also loves them and will totally call them in a few days.
Anyway, Sl'gur't and her people went for it and accepted him. She then married him and became the opposite end of the spectrum: while he would not (and probably COULD not) change shape, that would be all she would do. And from this and the belief of the Skrulls, they were raised up to become the gods of the Skrull people. As we've all seen, the Skrulls go from world to world killing the inhabitants and stripping them of their gods. It's been a pretty good deal for the two Skrull gods up to this point.
And so, the God Squad gets a heads up on the history of Skrull religion from Kly'bn who just CAN'T STOP TALKING. I mean, the dude just thinks he's the best ever and since he went from almost being piked to the god of 978 worlds he may have good reason to be. But before he can add Earth to that list of worlds, he'll have to contend with the God Squad.
Which is why Ajak decides this is the best time ever to usurp command. It seems no matter what world you're from, Eternals are all pompous asses. Ajak has a few points. Herc isn't the best leader in the world and he's made some mistakes getting them here. At the same time, he DID get them here and has been surprisingly good at getting them out of jams. Also: if there's one guy that you'd want on your side when facing down the god of 978 worlds, it'd be... well, probably Thor. Still, Herc's a close second and since his whole deal is beating the snot out of monsters this is the worst time ever to sideline him with your own arrogant bravado.
In short, Ajak is a stupid replacement leader. We'll see how that goes for him since the title of the book isn't The Incredible Ajak.
So Ajak takes on Kly'bn as they both your their laser eyes on each other. Demogorge, the God-Eater, eats Sl'gur't. Herc tries to rally himself to join the fray with a plan from Amadeus but it seems even Mr. Cho isn't backing him.
But how's that God Squad doing without Herc or Amadeus? Eh. Ajak gets his head blown off by Kly'bn. Sl'gur't explodes out of the belly of Demogorge (and Demo bits are everywhere... they're so hard to get out of the carpet). One of the God-Eater's bones strikes Amadeus Cho dead on (which you'll see his little thinking patterns around him in panel: clue!) and he heads right over the side of the platform their all on. Herc doesn't take this well at all.
So, as Kly'bn walks towards Hercules mocking him and pontificating the entire time, Mikaboshi takes on Sl'gur't. Oh, the mocking of Kly'bn... just that alone is enough to wish some... I don't know... drunk god... might kick his tail in. And Herc is just mad enough to be that drunk god. Probably not drunk enough but he's been that drunk before. His blood alcohol content is probably consistently high.
But I'm losing the story here. The point is, Herc has a mission now: vengeance. Kly'bn most likely killed his friend and even though he also killed Ajak (pompous Eternal), it's doesn't balance the scales. He's ready to rumble and no one rumbles better than Hercules.
Meanwhile, Amadeus Cho is only MOSTLY dead. You see, mostly dead is slightly ALIVE. OK, he's actually all the way live, but if he ever hit something at the rate he's falling it would be a moot point. And as I tried clueing you in on: he got hit on purpose. All this time Athena said he'd have to make a sacrifice. Turns out this was it and through it he's motivated Hercules into action. His reward is death... or eternal falling. Either way it kind of sucks to be Amadeus Cho.
Luckily, Snowbird decided to live and she comes to the rescue. She snatches him up, tells him that she turned into a bunch of mosquitos (gross), and made her way to them. They land in order to help out.
Which is good because Kly'bn is STILL TALKING. Someone break his jaw or something. Amadeus plans, Snowbird acts, Herc finally shuts Kly'bn up. Ah, it's good times. Hercules throws Kly'bn onto Demogorge's spine which is being wielded by Snowbird. This kills him and so doing alters the Book of Worlds that he has written. It goes from being all pompous and arrogant to telling the Skrulls that they aren't special. They're just immoral killers.
Then the book explodes in the Skrull Flagship orbitting Earth. It is around the same time that Reed Richards escapes. Back in Dreamtime, Mikaboshi is seemingly killed by Sl'gur't. Amadeus and Herc have their reunion which, since Hercules is a VERY emotional god, could be fatal.
Without Kly'bn around, the Skrull temple begins to crumble around them but a quick save from Snowbird and they are off and in good humor. The talk about the death of Demogorge (who was destined to eventually kill all the gods) and Mikaboshi (who Herc isn't really too stressed out about croaking). Herc doesn't really believe Ajak is all dead and since we could read the Eternals book and find him running around, neither do we. Hercules is pretty happy with how this all went down and sheds a few tears of joy as they ride off back to Earth... or wherever they end up next.
But... Mikaboshi isn't really dead. Turns out it was Sl'gur't who died. Mikaboshi usurps their position as ruler of the slave gods surrounding them. And all this... is going according to Athena's plan... ooooooooooooooooooh....
Writer: Peter David
Penciler: Larry Stroman
Ah, X-Factor. Fighting the good fight in Detroit. Who would have thought it would be a hot bed for mutant activity as well as the current staging ground for one of the keys to the Skrull Invasion: the Talisman. Don't know how effective he'll be now that his god is dead, but something tells me that moment of awesome isn't even NEAR the end of the story.
Something like the next three issues of Secret Invasion and the fact that Herc is a sidestory to the main event.
This issue picks up from the events of She-Hulk. In that issue, She-Hulk and Jazinda were trying to capture the Talisman and were avoiding trying to clue everyone in on why this was. Basically, they took the hard way when the easy way would have made a boring story. Problem is She-Hulk looks to be as much of a jerk as Kly'bn was but on the opposite end of the chart. Kly'bn couldn't shut up. She-Hulk wouldn't tell anyone what was going on.
So that lead to her being swarmed by Multiple Man. This looked pretty effective but it turns out that it really, really wasn't. She knocks them aside and then contacts Jazinda to see how she's been doing. She's still up and about, but was knocked out. She-Hulk makes her way to her and finally tells Madrox that they dude they think is Longshot is a Skrull.
Could've saved us a whole chapter by getting that out of the way a bit sooner...
So she's off with Madrox and Guido following behind.
Which may be nice because Darwin outed the Longshot Skrull in that last issue of She-Hulk. He's not just any Skrull, either! He's the Talisman. Sort of a focal point for the Skrulls' faith in Kly'bn and Sl'gur't. If he's on a world, victory is apparently guaranteed. He's on Earth. That should tell you something.
Darwin's freaking out because his "friend" turned out to be WAY different than expected. They go through the whole "I'm still the same person on the inside" bit but for you paying attention: on the inside he was a Skrull. He goes on and on about how Darwin is Earth's connection to becoming like the Skrulls (proving he may not have gotten the same history lesson I gave you above).
Fortunately, Jazinda's around to point guns at Talisman. Talisman tells her that he's the only one that can kill her and that she should just submit and get it over with. We don't need this to drag on another few issues. It looks like Jaz is going for it, too.
But we all know how this plays out: Monet attacks when Jaz gives her an opening. She's been unconcious for a while now but she's better now. It's at this point that all our heroes converge. We're now officially at "Team-Up" stage. Thanks for attending "Super-Hero Crossovers 101." Talisman attacks them with his pure conviction in the rightness of his actions. That pretty much translates into energy blasts.
Luckily, someone brought Darwin along. Oh yeah, it was Talisman. Good thing too, because Darwin's ability to adapt to any situation is very handy in a case like this. Talisman fires and Darwin just keeps on coming... long enough so that Talisman is sucker punched by She-Hulk. Jaz locks a power inhibitor on Tal's head and the team-up is nearly complete!
If we're paying attention, and we are, Darwin's pasty complexion is gone, replaced with his former darker tones. He looks a lot less creepy now. That pink color was messed up. Our heroes load Talisman up in the Winnebago of Doom and prepare to set off, originally to hand the Skrull over to Tony Stark but then the though occurs to them that Tony may NOT be who he says he is... they'll need a new plan but that'll come later.
Madrox gives She-Hulk the sage advice that next time she attempts a team-up it might be cool just to try skipping the obligatory fight over a misunderstanding and roll right into the team-up. She-Hulk basically tells him to STFU and make her a sandwich before riding off... not only do I really miss Layla Miller (she knew stuff), I now really miss a likeable She-Hulk. Ah well.
Writer: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Penciler: Paul Pelletier
This issue opens with the fight between Major Victory and Starhawk from the last issue. Star-Lord and friends are trying to figure out why he attacked Major Victory in the first place but our Major isn't really any help. He doesn't remember much from his past... our future... timewarp... brain... hurts...
Ah, chronal anomalies... you gotta love 'em.
Anyway, with that bit of continuity out of the way, we can get down to the meat and potatoes of the issue. Star-Lord and Cosmo (a Soviet Space Dog with telekenesis) are also trying to figure out the whole Starhawk business (like how he was able to get into Knowhere in the first place) when Mantis runs towards them, trying to stop them from going any further. Which is when the corridor blows up in front of them. 38 souls killed with 15 injured. Adam Warlock (who may or may not be a Skrull... see last issue) is deeply concerned about the entire matter. It doesn't take long to find that three of those killed in the explosion were actually Skrulls in disguise! Shocking!
One of the Skrulls in question was a New Super Skrull. Were they responsible for the explosion? Well, it seems a waste of three warriors when only one would do. My money is that they were as surprised to end up dead as the Guardians were on finding them. This quickly dissolves into a "who do YOU trust?" sort of situation where accusations are flying high.
After we get rid of some of that, we get a nice visit by Knowhere's Administrative Council. They're here to not be so nice, actually. They question the Guardian's presense on Knowhere and especially question the fact that they seem to think they run the place. Cosmo tries vouching for them (since he's chief of security) but he himself is then put under the microscope on why he's running around with the Guardians when he's supposed to be keeping Knowhere safe from just the kinds of attacks that have happened.
Star-Lord agrees to have his team answer any and all questions the Administrative Council wish to ask to the frustation of Adam Warlock. This whole conversation is interupted by a disturbance in Knowhere's Marketplace. Seems like some alien is picking fights with Major Victory. He's upset by the fights Victory has been involved in. Yep. That's right. Wrap your brain around that one. OK, they're actually a lot more upset about the Skrull presence on Knowhere. This leads to a heck of a fight where Major Victory fights pretty well against overwhelming odds.
Cynosure breaks up the fight by wacking the Major over the head with her rod of justice. She breaks up the group and then threatens Major Victory again. Star-Lord steps in then Cosmo steps in. We're seeing some conflict here. Hmmm...
Anyway, the Guardians are now confined to their quarters. Speaking of conflicts, Rocket Raccoon and Cosmo DO NOT get along. This could either go the way of an emerging friendly rivalry or one of them is gonna turn out to be a Skrull. Damn, dirty Skrulls...
Remember that Starhawk guy? He's watching all of this. That may be important to the Secret Invasion or it might just be a plotpoint that'll keep playing out over time.
Adam's not taking the whole "confined to quarters" thing very well. There is serious work that the Guardians do and all this rigamarole is getting in the way of it. He leaves quite upset. Mantis comes in with even more awesome info. The teleporters are down and leaking. That leakage is poisoning the entire station and unless it's stopped everyone's gonna die. Also: this investigation might reveal the secret hidden origin behind the Guardians. Mantis tampered with their minds to get them all to join together. Since they aren't actually talking behind closed doors, this is all overheard... by Drax.
We get to the investigation about this point. Quasar and Star-Lord are called in first but the conversation quickly veers into Drax territory. It seems he's been going places without authorization. Mainly, the Continuum Cortex Chamber. It certainly sounds important. Well, there's an easy solution to figuring out what's going on. Get Drax in the room.
Unfortunately, Drax has gone missing. Where'd he go? To get a bigger gun.
And now for the most throw-away, Skrull tale we've looked at yet:
The Avengers #209
Writer: J. M. DeMatteis
Penciler: Alan Kupperberg
Ah, Skrulls... you never know when you may need them to fill a generic alien bad guy role. This issue opens up with a crashed shim and a looming Skrull. Then sort of a teleportation beam that subs as a destructo beam.
And we're off.
At Avenger's Mansion, the Beast is showing off his girl, Vera, to his best friend, Wonder Man, and the happily married freaks, Vision and Scarlet Witch. If you're a continuity freak, you'll know that the Beast went out with Vera back in his X-Men days. They lost touch but, apparently, got back in touch. The Beast couldn't be happier.
He's so happy he knocks over Jarvis and nearly spills his refreshments. Luckily, Beast has damn good reflexes and catches the tray and tea. Jarvis isn't even supposed to be there, though, so Beast isn't about to apologize. Damn butler's not even supposed to be here. Jarvis, to his credit serves his poisoned tea to Vera before his disguise can be revealed.
Oh yeah, Jarvis is a Skrull. Vera is killed by quick acting poison. Things go nuts. So nuts that the Skrull's nonsensical story and plan probably makes some sense to those in panel.
The short story is that there's this thing called the Resurrection Stone that was created in a magic land or something. It was such a powerful thing that it drove the golden age civilization it was created in to petty jealousy and covetness. They destroyed themselves over the stone. The Resurrection Stone was then lost to time so our Skrull villain ended up tracking down an archeologist alien that was most likely to rediscover it.
And that archeologist alien totally did. Unfortunately, after finding it he realized that it had a good potential of taking down a million worlds again so he broke it in half and somehow transferred both chunks to different eras in Earth's history for some reason. The Skrull, not wanting to travel through time himself, decided that recruiting Earth's mightiest heroes and telling them this entire history would be the best idea ever.
But first he needed a reason for them to get that stone. He furthers his best idea ever by poisoning and killing the Beast's girlfriend, promising to revive her with the power of the stone when they get it for him.
Now, the Avengers have the Skrull on the ropes. He's down and defeated and really no use to them anymore. Still, the Beast decides to go through with the Skrull's wacky plan and retrieve the stone for him. Now, instead of capturing the Skrull, retrieving the Stone from history and using it THEMSELVES, they allow the Skrull to return to his ship with Vera's body, thus giving him all the cards back after he so foolishly dropped them.
Not the Avengers' finest hour.
So, they then contact the FF and get the use of Dr. Doom's Time Platform in order to travel to the Middle Ages. They quickly learn that some kid named Devlunn has possession of half of the Resurrection Stone and quickly make their way to his location. Devlunn has used the stone to revive the dead but his half can only bring the bodies back to life... not the souls. He uses them on the Avengers but, well, c'mon here. Even though this isn't the greatest lineup it's still the Avengers. They aren't going to lose to a kid and his zombie army. Beast grabs the Stone half and they all teleport away as Devlunn sobs.
And where are they off to next? You can't very well do a generic time travelling yarn without fighting Nazis. That would just be silly. So, yeah, fighting Nazis. Good times. They almost missed the end of the war, though, because this is wrap up time. The American troops are actually trying to liverate a concentration camp but they ended up pretty freaked out about something.
The lieutenant decides that these heroes might be able to help him out with it because, frankly, it gives him the jibblies. What it is is one of the concentration camp survivors in possession of the other half of the Resurrection Stone. This half doesn't reanimate corpses. In returns souls to dead bodies. So he's dancing with his dead wife while her and his kids beg him to let them go. It actually is that creepy.
Beast finally reaches him and gets him to see that what he's doing is wrong and icky. The prisoner surrenders the other half of the Stone and releases his family.
So the Avengers now have a Stone that gives them power over life and death. They've already released their Skrull captive and given him the body of the Beast's girlfriend. Now, they just need to complete the circle and be stupid enough to give the Skrull the Resurrection Stone. Can they be that stupid?
Thankfully, even the current roster has limits on how many times they can mess up. Beast, realizing that this Stone really does have the power to destroy more than it does to heal, crushes it. The Skrull goes insane in anger and a small fight breaks out between him and the Avengers. I mean, he's just one Skrull and they've already taken him down once. This is just one more time. The Avengers let Beast beat on him for a while knowing full well that there will be no more killing today.
And that leads us to the final stroke of the best plan ever: Vera isn't dead. If I hadn't already used the Princess Bride line above, it would totally fit here. Eh, let's do it anyway. She's only MOSTLY dead. You see, mostly dead is slightly ALIVE. OK, that's probably out of my system now. The point is that the Skrull wasn't very familiar with the poison he had used. This poison brought on a state very close to death but didn't actually seal the deal. Reed Richards hooks her up to life support and says that with time and luck Vera may just be able to break this coma-like state. That hope is enough for the Beast.
And y'know what? Vera does get better. In the pages of X-Factor she makes an appearance or two but her brush with death has changed her from a librarian to a punk rock chick. That doesn't really work for Beast and they never hook up like they had in this issue but at least they're both alive and well.
And what have we learned about Skrulls in this issue? We've learned that some Skrulls are very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, VERY stupid. We've also learned that the Avengers can easily fall for stupid plots. This is no one's finest hour including J. M. DeMatteis who has gone on to become an incredible writer. Ah well.
Until next time: Who Do YOU Trust?
Posted originally: 2008-09-15 07:05:53