Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

Heroic age looks awesome! I am so stoked. It’s about frickin’ time- when was the last time you picked up a Marvel comic and didn’t feel utterly helpless? Avengers: Disassembled, Civil War, Secret Invasion… It’s time to ‘get back there’, to when the Avengers could own anybody that needed a whuppin’, and every hero wasn’t split on some deep political issue… I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’ve said it before- I think Brian Michael Bendis is one of the best things that ever happened to Marvel Comics (not that he isn’t going to be involved in Heroic Age- he is). But we’ve told the cautionary stories that we needed to, about power- culminating with Dark Reign. For me, I think Secret Invasion will be the most terribly under-rated of the set of stories from this era. It finally gave a classic, often misused set of Marvel villains their due. For years, the Skrulls were chumps. But they finally wised up and you saw the whole shape-shifting thing for what it was: really frickin’ scary! How cool (and weird) was it when Cage opened up that ship and all of those ‘heroes’ wearing older costumes came pouring out? You had no idea what was what, who was who- and of course everybody just started wailing on each other. Because hey, that’s what Marvel heroes do when they get confused. But still. You didn’t see that coming. Actually, the history of the Skrull race is really well thought out and developed, although only rarely alluded to by most writers. The Skrulls (like most sentient life in the universe, for better or worse) are the product of genetic manipulation by the Celestials. Originally, the Skrulls had three ‘races’ just like humanity did- a Deviant, aggressive line, a peaceful, immortal, Eternal line, and the main Skrull genetic stock. Unlike humanity, however, the Deviant race of Skrulls conquered and exterminated the other two lineage’s without any Celestial interference. That’s part of why the Skrulls are so brutal and war-like (and, frankly, ugly)- the race that are called ‘Skrull’ today really isn’t the original race: it’s the Deviant branch of that race. Actually, the Dire Wraiths from Rom (who only very, VERY rarely make appearances anymore- mostly do to the fact that Marvel has to pretend the entire Rom canon never existed) are an offshoot of the Skrull race themselves. They just happen to prefer a far more monstrous form than their cousins and have a knack for mystical dealings. But that’s a whole other story. Regardless of their deviant nature, the Skrulls retain a thrifty, industrious side. In time, their temperaments cooled- and while they governed an expanding empire, the Skrulls were more interested in technological achievement and trade than warfare. Until they met the Kree. In some ways, the Kree are even more…elitist than the Skrulls. Opportunistic, cut-throat, and xenophobic, the Kree have never been ‘privileged’ by the Celestials the way the Skrulls have. They didn’t have the wealth of inborn genetic potential and technology the Skrulls possessed. By the time the Skrulls met the Kree, they barely resembled the advance race that Earth has met up with from time to time- they were barbaric, resembling something from Earth’s middle ages. When the Skrulls decided that the Kree’s cousins, the Cotati, were more worthy of receiving valuable trade than the aggressive Kree- well, lets just say even a thousand years of technological progress doesn’t mean much when an angry Kree decides to kill you dead and take your stuff. This was a big turning point for the Srulls, and they embraced their war-like impulses like never before. The Kree-Skrull War has lasted for thousands of years, with the Kree almost forcibly moving their society forward technologically (and genetically) to compete with the Skrull, in sometimes unnatural, controlled and Nazi-esque ways. Actually, Hulkling of the Young Avengers is hoped by many to be a unifying force for the Kree and Skrull. The child of the Kree Mar-Vell and the Skrull princess Anelle, Hulkling could potentially bring the two burnt-out, war-torn empires together if he ever sat on a throne (either one, really). Still, bad-blood and prejudice between the Skrull and Kree run deep and isn’t likely to subside easily. Between Galactus devouring the Skrull homeworld, the Annihilation Wave ravaging dozens of worlds, and the failure of the invasion- the Skrull don’t exactly stand on solid ground anymore. They don’t have much of an empire left. Still, they're a force to be reckoned with- and still, potentially, a force that could be directed for good under the right circumstances.