Monday, 18 November 2013

Skrull Kill Krew

Grant Morrison, Mark Millar & Steve Yeowell
Skrull Kill Krew (1996)

The roots of Skrull Kill Krew can be traced back to an ancient issue of Marvel's Fantastic Four wherein green-skinned shape-shifting alien spies are defeated when hypnotised and ordered to transform themselves into cows, cows which end up in hamburgers, hamburgers which have passed viral Skrull DNA and abilities to those who consume them in a fairly arbitrary nod to the 1980s outbreak of mad cow disease. I was unaware of this title when it first appeared, having turned my back on comic books thanks largely to Grant Morrison's Unreadables amongst other Vertigo titles that really weren't anything like so clever as their authors believed them to be. Nearly two decades later, I come close to pooing myself with excitement at the prospect of a book such as this, given the above synopsis and the names involved.

With a few Keith Giffen flavoured exceptions, neither Marvel nor DC ever quite managed humour - at least nothing that worked so well as 2000AD - as evidenced by an assortment of laboured miniseries roughly on par with a you don't have to be mad to work here, but it helps poster. The Uncanny Ecchs-Men...

Oh my aching sides.

Skrull Kill Krew being spiritually closer to something you might have seen in 2000AD, it might be argued, it really should have worked, but somehow nothing quite adds up. Mark Millar's trademark crass chuckles seem unusually lacking in inspiration - blunted like the one about America smelling of burgers presumably because of fat Americans eating at McDonalds blah blah blah - no doubt hilarious if you've never been to America, but slightly bewildering if you've spent any time longer than a couple of weeks here, or seen anything of the country besides some fucking comic book convention; and then there's Moonstomp, the shape-shifting neo-Nazi skinhead with a magic ball-peen hammer called Nobbler in partial homage to the mighty Thor's Mjolnir - great, except did he really have to be a white supremacist just because he's a skinhead, and this being the case would he really name himself after the Symarip song? Then there's a failure to understand Captain America who, as comic book characters go, really isn't that complicated.

I know it's all intentionally over the top and stupid and gratuitously horrible, but those involved have all done this sort of thing much, much better elsewhere. Skrull Kill Krew reads like all five issues were written in the pub about an hour before last orders, and feels just a little too lacking in sincerity or author investment to work, leaving the reader wondering why he or she, but probably he, bothered in the first place. It's still better than The Unreadables but that's hardly a boast. What a missed opportunity.


  1. It's odd how difficult it is to be amusing about superheroes without going all Marshall Law about it. Even the usually wonderful Peter Bagge was a bit underwhelming when he took on Spiderman and the Hulk.The only US creators who've ever done stuff that really made me laugh are Evan Dorkin (who did World's Funnest and a few other obscure bits and pieces which are all worth tracking down) and Kyle Baker's Plastic Man run. It's probably no coincidence that both of them have done most of their work outside the superhero field and thus don't take them very seriously... Also have a soft spot for Harvey Kurtzman's Superduperman though it's impact has been diluted by time..

  2. I liked Evan Dorkin's Milk & Cheese but fairly strongly disliked most other strips I saw by him, and I have trouble imagining what he would have done with caped types. Even moreso with Peter Bagge who was one of my favourite cartoonists for a long time (well, Neat Stuff and Hate, though I never made it to Sweatshop or whatever it was called).