Skrull Kill Krew TPB – Grant Morrison, Mark Millar

2 out of 5

An inspired idea and fun sense of ’90s ‘tude is nonetheless cut short by a wavering sense of awareness of that ‘tude, and a general go-nowhere plot.

Grant Morrison and Mark Millar, fresh to Marvel Comics in the mid-90s, were given some outer edges of the Marvel Universe to play with, landing on an oddball plot detail from decades earlier – a very Morrison-y shtick – and revitalizing it into some wonderfully silly and kitsch, while also purposefully playing in to the whole edginess of comics of that time. The “Skrull Kill Krew” was comprised of several humans who’d been infected with a Skrull-power-granting disease after ingesting burgers tainted by Skrull meat; for, you see, that oddball plucked plot detail from eras passed involved the Fantastic Four hypnotizing some Skrulls to transform into cows, after which Grant and Mark figured on those cows being used for slaughter…

“Ryder,” “Moonstomp” and others now have all the shape-shifting powers, as well as the ability to spot Skrulls-in-disguise, but the disease is also killing them. So in the meantime, they’re on a mission to find others afflicted similarly – building up their Krew – and killing whatever undercover Skrulls they find.

The flagrant, anti-p.c. = commentary mentality of the 90s is combined with some potentially more interesting and subtler jabs at self-identity and individualism – the Kill Krew features a skinhead who’s disease is slowly turning him black; the series gleefully features violence against children and the police, under the auspice of them being Skrulls; Captain America pops in, just to have his politics put on the same level as any other blindly-followed belief system – and there’s the overriding sense that our writers are just sort of having a good time causing some havoc, but then you have plenty of doses of when it feels like they’re not in on the joke – doses I’m inclined to attribute more to Millar than Morrison – when writing with a smirk becomes writing with the belief that being edgy and crass is automatically clever. Steve Yeowell’s loose artwork can be a great boon for adding a sense of momentum and character to pages, but he’s also so lax on detail that heftier action sequences end up looking sloppy. As combined with the era’s not-to-pretty digital coloring and the aforementioned tonal gaffes, there are plenty of pages and sections that come off as an unideal mix of being rushed and ignorant.

In general, though, the tongue-in-cheekness of the thing works, and the goofy inventiveness of the core idea keeps it feeling – at a high level – fun. At a longer run, this might’ve kept the series afloat long enough to shape up beyond this okey-dokey quality, but it instead was cut off after four issues, allowing for one last wrap-up fifth issue. This means that some of those subtler jabs and occasional subplots – the aforementioned Cap appearance, for example – very truly go nowhere, with the final issue a sort of shoulder shrug of all-out-slaughter-just-because, leaving us on a note of feeling like the story is ultimately rather pointless.

Oh well.

The TPB collection features the covers.