Welcome back! I hope Comic-Con treated you well. With that, we return from San Diego in the early 1970s and back to New York in the early 1960s! For this week’s Retro Review we will break down and explore Fantastic Four no. 18.
Oh, snap! Super Skrull! Okay, we’ll get to him, but first, let’s talk a bit about the returning Skrulls. The Skrulls showed up a year ago in comic book time, the characters refer to it as having been a year ago, but it’s an eternity ago in issues. 16 issues ago! In issue 2 we had the sniveling gross lizard-like Skrulls. The Skrulls are still not totally on the path to the awesome creatures they’d become, but the Super Skrull is a massive leap in that direction. This is truly the greatness of both Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
The story begins as the FF is watching the news. I love these moments. This is what made Marvel Marvel. Take an everyday activity, throw in some temperamental superheroes and you have Marvel. Thing gets mad at the TV when a dog food commercial interrupts a report on him. It’s a wonderful weird moment.
On the Skrull planet, King Skrull is still angry. Although I assume with a face like that, you’d be born angry. This applies to ALL Skrulls. Poor ugly space monsters.
His bitterness over the defeat at the hands of the Fantastic Four resulted in the creation of the Super Skull. He literally broke the bank developing a being so mighty it could handle all 4 members of the Fantastic Four. Hopefully all at once.
We then get a few pages of the Super Skrull villainous demo reel. It sells us on his powers and the fact that he is more powerful than each individual member. It also includes a tease of a mysterious fifth power, however, spoiler alert – the fifth power will be a major letdown.
The team shops, Johnny is a bit sexist, at the very least he’s a creeper saying how great it would be to work with so many girls. Hey, it was the 60s. Mad Men and such. The team gets swarmed by fans and head outside. There is a nice gag with Sue bumping into two women, each woman blames the other, failing to see the invisible culprit.
Super Skrull claims the planet for the Imperial Skrull Empire, going so far as to plant a flag in the middle of Manhattan. Hot-head Johnny is the first to attack. It doesn’t work. Turns out Super Skrull is more powerful than EACH member. One by one the team attacks, including a nice moment where Reed makes his hand a large freaky sledgehammer, but again, it doesn’t work.
As the Super Skrull rambles on, Thing has a wonderful retort. You’d almost swear that Jack wrote that line about Stan.
The team is pretty much defeated, but for some reason the Super Skrull agrees to do final battle on a deserted island. Reed works hard on a super secret plan to defeat the Super Skrull. A key component, working together. During the battle, we also finally learn the secret fifth power, hypnotism!
Which does nothing. Super Skrull uses it on the Thing, but it really only kind of dazes him. Working together they eventually trap the Super Skrull in a hole, which Johnny promptly seals. I’m sure he’ll never ever return again.