FANTASTIC FOUR #2 (1962): 1st Skrulls

This is the issue that introduced The Skrulls.  Kirby’s original design was almost funny–much bigger ears and much scrawnier build.

The second Marvel Universe comic, and we’re already seeing the heroes-as-villains trope (only of course it’s not a trope yet).  It’s completely believable that U.S. citizens would vilify people who protected them.  I mean, during the recent COVID pandemic, they wouldn’t even wear a simple mask! I’m sure, though, that writing here about having society turn against the stars of this comic led Stan to his ideas for Spider-Man being reviled by J. Jonah Jameson and, of course, to the outcast X-Men series. Nowadays, this is common, but at this time both Batman and Superman were viewed 100% as heroes–there were no shades of gray.

The skrulls in this issue use a combination of their inherent abilities and technology to mirror the FF’s powers–commit crimes while masquerading as the team. 

They also masquerade as a water tower. Nice! This is the first “important” use of these structures that used to be all over Brooklyn and Manhattan, but now are almost all gone.

Back to framing the FF for crimes…

This was also an early Marvel trope–villains posing as heroes to set the good guys up for a fall.

And speaking of shape-shifting…

I had completely forgotten how, in the beginning, Thing was not only much more gruesome but he used to randomly change back and forth from rocky to fleshy.

He still complains a lot though.

Note the typo, as Ben refers to “Torch” instead of Reed.

The Skrulls have basically been doing an “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” here on Earth, taking the place of Earth’s superheroes in order to conquer the planet.  There’s no way Stan and Jack could have known it, but this would lead to the Marvel event “Secret Invasion,” half a century later.  

The paranoid perspective was timely not just in light of the Civil Rights movement, but also the communist witch hunts of the previous decade.  This kind of “current events” perspective was another thing that separated Marvel from DC in these early years.

The skrulls’ motive?  World domination, of course. 

But, of course they fail.  In part, because Reed uses print media against them, just as they used it against him.

You have to love his use of Marvel’s creature comics to scare away the aliens.  This wasn’t an instance of Stan and Jack actually appearing in their own comic–but it’s close.  Hence, I’m using this post to introduce the “Comic Book Creators Appearing in Comics” tag.  It’s not completely accurate, but it looks to me like the inspiration for the future issues where they’d literally be a part of the story.

While committing their crimes, the skrulls imprison the FF.  Who, of course, escape.

In the end of the story, the skrulls stay on Earth as cows.

Also: Thing uses the trenchcoat disguise again in this issue.  It will be common for all Marvel heroes to do it. Thus, at least three tropes introduced in one comic.

Truly, there are no better comics in history than the first 100 issues of FF.

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