Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Avengers: Kree/Skrull War by Roy Thomas

I spent quite a bit of time trying to get a real grasp of the cosmic milieu of the Marvel Universe, and hit on the major texts of the ‘90s (minus Operation: Galactic Storm, which is a two-volume tale to keep your eyes out for a review of on here). However, a lot of important events that set the foundation of the cosmic universe happened in the ‘70s, and I wanted to take a look at them as well. The two classic stories I wanted to make sure and not miss were the Kree/Skrull War storyline that ran through Avengers, and the Dark Phoenix Saga storyline that ran through X-Men. Combined, the two stories address all three of the major space empires in the universe, and looked like solid foundational reads, beyond being classics of the genre. The first one I took a look at was the Kree/Skrull storyline, collected in Avengers: Kree/Skrull War.

Beginning with a exiled Kree warrior on the run on Earth, snowballing into Kree attempt at annihilating humanity and a Skrull attempt at kidnapping Kree, “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes,” the Avengers, team together to fight political maneuvers to trap them in a conspiracy theory plot, save the Kree-spawned race of Inhumans, keep the exiled Kree Captain Marvel safe from the government and the Skrulls, and stop a war between the Kree and Skrull Empires, the two greatest space faring peoples in the Universe.

While this book does occasionally show its age, mainly with its art style and the exclamations (e.g. “Faaaaan-tastic!”), the story itself doesn’t feel out of place with today’s comics at all. While it has far more “reading” than action-oriented art that is seen today, it helped give the story a much broader sense of appeal. It did occasionally slow things down, but when things hit their head, the pace is breathtaking. Definitely a book that starts slow as it builds up to its real plot, but explodes when things start to get rolling.

Characterization of some of the characters isn’t fully-fleshed, due to this being a small segment of a very long and storied comic narrative, but it is very easy to quickly pick up who’s who, and where any tensions lie. The newer characters get a more exacting characterization, and when you don’t find out much, you can tell that it is on purpose, to retain the mystery.

Avengers: Kree/Skrull War is a classic. For today’s comic reader, you might find it a tad dated in parts, and a little slow going occasionally. The denouement is more than worth working through the slow beginning, though, and I encourage you to keep at it. A great starting point for those interested in the history of the cosmic realm explored in Annihilation, Annihilation: Conquest, War of Kings, and the ongoing Realm of Kings.


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