Hey True Believers, welcome to the first edition of what I hope will be a weekly column here at read/RANT! Since this is a community blog about comics for Versus players, it would be criminal of me not to include some Versus related content. So, once a week, I’m going to break down/review the stories that inspired some of your favorite Versus cards and as an added bonus, for the ones I helped design, I’ll toss in some behind the scenes flavor similar to the Design Diaries Yip and I did back in the day… won’t that be fun? I’ll be mostly concentrating on the following sets: Heralds of Galactus, Marvel Team-Up and Marvel Legends, and once Marvel Universe ships in a few months, we’ll take a dip into that pond as well. Although I have worked on DC sets from time to time, I’m the “Marvel Guy” and those are the sets I have the most to say about. BUT, if you want me to talk about DC stories in regards to Versus cards and flavor, let me know… I am more than willing to spin lies and half-truths for your reading pleasure.
For this inaugural edition of Origin Stories , I thought I’d go with something relevant and green: SKRULLS! In particular, I’ll be reviewing the storylines that inspired Captain America, Skrull Imposter and Wolverine, Skrunucklehead from the Heralds of Galactus expansion. Almost two years ago, when MHG released, the Skrulls were still nothing more than obscure fan favorites. They were delegated to “strictly background” roles. We included them in the set as a lark, and surprisingly, they actually became one of the top tier archetypes of the time… and today, didn’t they just win that 27-man City Championship in Torrance? Anyways, side players no longer, the Skrulls are back with a vengeance for this summer’s Secret Invasion! With the first issue shipping next week, what better time than now to get all Skrully with it?
We begin with a tale whose events appear eerily similar to the ones going on right now in the Marvel Universe. I’m sure most of you diehards have already picked up Secret Invasion Saga, in which Tony Stark explains the history of the Skrulls in the Marvel U. Part of the history, is that weird space in the 90’s right after the Heroes were “Reborn”. Captain America’s third volume launched in January 1998 with Mark Waid and Ron Garney at the helm. It was a great time to be a Cap fan, as Waid’s run is considered one of the all-time greats. While the entirety of that run is fun and interesting (WWII Shield, Red Skull-Cosmic Cube), today we are primarily interested in issues 4 through 7… the “Sensational Hydra Conspiracy” arc.
So let me break it down, Cap is experiencing an all time high in approval ratings across America. The people love Cap. Well, the people have always loved Cap, by never this much. What could be the reason? Who could be responsible? The Sensational Hydra of course. Who? Oh, nobody, just a SKRULL in DISGUISE! That takes care of the whom, but what about the why?
That’s pretty wacky right? I remember reading this back then thinking, “Um, what huh? This is lame.” But I realize now that I was the lame one! This shit rocks! So The Skrull mastermind guy (we never get him name) kidnaps Cap and takes his place. He holds a press conference and reveals to the world the insidious Skrull menace.
Dude full on betrays his own men to solidify the public’s support, playing on their fears and insecurities… hmm, sounds familiar… Cap eventually escapes his captors but it’s too late, the damage has been done. America is already falling apart.
With the final issue of the arc, we come to the knockdown drag-out showdown between Skrull Cap and Real Cap… well, it was more like a one-way stun while attacking down the curve. Events move quickly after the Skrull is finally revealed as an imposter, at which point Cap makes short work of him. Captain America then takes the stage and tells America to stop acting so crazy. The speech is nice, and positively progressive… set in the context of recent events in the Marvel Universe, specifically Civil War, Cap’s thoughts are somewhat surprising. He claims to be a “man of the people” in both stories, yet in this one, Waid makes the point that Cap is interested in figuring out together “what we are… and what we can be.” Obviously, Millar’s Cap was less interested in working with the American people on the issue of Superhero Registration than he is on the issue of Alien invasion.
So there you have it, a story from yesteryear that shares many story beats with the upcoming Secret Invasion… and also raises some questions. Was this Skrull acting alone? Will Bendis make reference to this incident? If Cap was still alive, would they have tried this again? Or, now that Tony Stark is the “man of the people”, will they pull this on Iron Man?
Nowthat we’ve all refreshed the old memory circuits, let’s take a look at Skrull Cap and his roll in Versus. First off, I thought I’d share the original art description for Captain America, Skrull Imposter.
Setting: Dark Alley, New York City
Action: Captain America stands in a dark alleyway. He leans around the corner of the alley. The left side of his body, including half of his face, is exposed to the light. His shield sits on his left arm, the sunlight gleaming off the shiny metal. The right side of his body, still in the alley, is covered in shadow. We can see that this isn’t Captain America at all, but a Skrull in disguise. We can tell because the right side of his body, in shadow, is that of a Skrull. He’s Captain America in the light, a Skrull in the dark.
Focus: A Skrull as Cap
Keywords: Menace from the Shadows
References: Captain America Vol. 3 #6
Those were the days, back when we wrote art descriptions, sigh… OH, I also managed to dig up some early Cap designs by Andrew Yip:
|Captain America||Rare||Cost: 3||ATK: 5||DEF: 5||Skrulls / Avengers||Unless all affiliated characters an opponent controls share a single team affiliation, characters you control get +2 ATK while in combat with characters that opponent controls.|
|Captain America||Rare||Cost: 3||ATK: 5||DEF: 4||Skrulls / Marvel Knights||Cosmic: Characters you control with 3 or more team affiliations get +2 ATK|
Wow, check out all the text in the first one! Glad Yip got that one under control. The text on the second one eventually moved to the 5-drop Paibok, since it was obviously too powerful for a 3 drop. I think most of you will agree though, that the “can’t be stunned” Cap we ended up with was much better in the long run.
So, we’ve talked about Cap, but what about Wolverine? You know, I re-read the storyline we pulled that Wolvie from, “The Twelve”, and I have to say… it sucks. I’m not going to bore you with the details or post scans for you to chuckle at, I’ve wasted enough time as it is… but I will show you this one, because it’s just too ridiculous. Look familiar?
Hey, remember how we had the Illuminati in the set, every member but Professor X? I present to you the original art description, again pulled from the aftermath of the terrible “The Twelve” storyline.
Setting: Bridge, Alien Starship
Action: Professor X is in the center, confined to his hover chair. He is surrounded by the 5 members Cadre K, the teenage Mutant Skrulls he’s taken under his wing. The youngest of the Skrulls, Zcann, sits by his side. She looks up at her mentor like a child looks up to its father. The rest of the Skrulls are trying to look tough, but failing.
Focus: Professor X
Keywords: “New” X-Men
References: Maximum Security #3
Cadre K! does anyone else remember that crap? And yes, this Prof X would have had the Illuminati version AND the Skrull affiliation. Sigh… the fun we would have had. For more on the Skrulls and Versus, check out this old article from way back in October of 2006. Well, that’s it for this week’s Origin Stories, come back next week for… something. I promise! I got a whole list of ideas, I swear! And again, if you have any specific cards you’d like me to write about, let me know and I’ll see what I can do. Thanks for reading and… BUY MORE BOOSTERS!!!