AVENGERS #89-97: The Kree-Skrull War (1971-1972)

Okay, time for one of the best, most-discussed epics in Avengers history: The Kree-Skrull War. And there’s no better way to lead it off than what may be one of my top 5 splash pages in comic book history: Vision playing chess in a turtleneck.

The story spanned almost an entire year of Avengers comics. I’m pretty sure that this was the first time a comic had taken this long to tell a single story. Certainly, it was one of the first “epics” of its kind. Absolutely amazing comics–and timeless, too.

Lots of great splash pages in these comics, but let’s start the story with the splash page of the first issue (above).

I understand that it is part of the Marvel mythos that a trenchcoat can hide a lot. It can make Thing and Silver Surfer inconspicuous. But the boots and red spandex underneath? Dude.

Vision and Scarlet Witch meet Mar-Vell.

Roy Thomas’ writing can be kind of up and down, but this is an example of why he’s a legend.  It starts with a few issues drawn by Sal Buscema.  These are definitely the weaker ones of the story, and involve Captain Marvel finally escaping the Negative Zone, being followed by Ronan the Accuser, in a muddled, wonderful mess.  But look what happens!

Rick has his own body again!

In order to get out the Zone for good, and to no longer have to share bodies with Rick Jones, Mar-Vell absorbs a large amount of radiation–which will, a decade later in the seminal Marvel Graphic Novel #1, cause him to contract cancer.

In the immediate term, though, he’s gonna explode and blow up Earth. So the heroes strap him into an electric chair to stabilize him.

And also Annihilus arrives. Vision returns him to the Negative Zone in a few panels–the battle is really just an unnecessary cram-in to add some action befe the Kree Sentry arrives.

Ronan arrives too, and takes Mar-Vell prisoner.

But wasn’t this the Kree-Skrull war? Yeah. The Avengers are taken by them, too.

Also: Captain America’s simile game is not strong.

Limp as lasagna???

There’s lots to unpack in this story, and lots of amazing visuals. Like seeing Neal Adams draw Triton of the Inhumans.

Is there no stupid character he can’t make look great?  This leads to the involvement of the The Inhumans, and we hear Black Bolt speak…

But most importantly…

It’s the beginning of the most famous romance in Marvel history. Although…

Vision cock-blocks his own damn self.

Earlier in the issue, Clint also has a fascination with Scarlet Witch.

At one point, Vision shuts down, so Hank Pym switches from Yellow Jacket back to Ant-Man and goes in for an internal repair job, which is really cool and pretty similar to a bunch of future uses of Ant-Man going inside various things like Iron Man’s armor.  It’s probably the best use of Ant-Man, frankly.

Oh, and Jarvis gets run over.

At the very end…Rick Jones saves the day with the power of imagination. Ugh.

Rick Jones “creates” a bunch of Marvel Golden Age characters out of his head to save the day, but in the end he has to re-merge with Captain Marvel to save them both.

There’s actually not much of the Kree-Skrull war over Mar-Vell. It’s barely in it. But every issue is a cliffhanger and the action and drama never stops. I didn’t even mention that in the beginning, the Avengers get wrongly blamed for nearly blowing up the world and so they break up.

And they fight the Fantastic Four.

There’s just too much here to talk about.

Great story.

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