REVIEW: MARVEL UNIVERSE SKRULL SOLDIER
There is no shortage of alien races native to the Marvel Universe, that have been involved with the various super-beings of Earth from time to time -- The Kree, the Shi'ar, and of course, the Skrulls. A Skrull Soldier was added to the line-up of 4" scale Marvel Universe action figures. He hasn't been especially easy to find, even moreso because technically, he's an army-builder. You can have as many Skrulls as you want, provided you can find and afford them.
The Skrulls were, I believe, the earliest alien race introduced into the modern Marvel Universe, going up against the Fantastic Four in the second issue of their magazine. In that storyline, they showed off their primary ability -- shape-shifting -- to imitate the Fantastic Four. The FF soon realized what was happening, corralled the aliens, and then imitated them to report to their superiors. They successfully held off a Skrull invasion by convincing the Skrull commanders that Earth was populated by horrific monsters, which were actually illustrations taken from comic magazines. An oddball end to the tale, to be sure.
As one would expect, the history and origin of the Skrulls has been expanded upon over the years, and thanks to some online research, I would like to present a general overview of the Skrulls' origin and history.
The Skrulls were created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
Millions of years ago, the Celestials performed genetic experiments on the reptilian ancestors of the Skrulls, resulting in three branches of Skrulls that eventually warred with one another. The Deviant branch — possessing the innate ability to shapeshift — were triumphant.
From that point, the Skrulls began to expand their territory. The Deviant branch later split into two more groups, the modern Skrulls and an anomaly called the Dire Wraiths, a parasitic race that could still shapeshift and had use of magic, but were not as technologically advanced as the Skrulls.
The modern Skrulls originate from the planet of Skrullos, in the Drox System in the Andromeda galaxy, and were originally a mercantile civilization, primarily interested in free trade and willing to share their technology with all races they deemed worthy. A Skrull delegation to the planet Hala, home to the then-barbaric Kree and the peaceful Cotati, held a contest between the two races to determine with whom the Skrulls would trade. The Cotati won, but the vengeful Kree massacred the Skrull delegation, took over the Skrull landing spaceship by force, and developed their own technology from it with which they began waging war against the Skrulls. Kree aggression forced the Skrulls to become a militaristic civilization, and the Kree-Skrull War continued for thousands of years with only brief interruptions.
The Skrull Throneworld is later moved from Skrullos to the more central Tarnax IV, with their empire encompassing over fifty worlds. The Skrulls also created the first Cosmic Cube, which later became the Shaper of Worlds.
The Skrull Empire eventually decided to conquer Earth, but failed to take into account the presence of the modern superhero. In 1958, Skrulls attempted to sabotage Earth's space program. An early scouting party impersonated the Fantastic Four and attempted to have them incarcerated, but was beaten through trickery. In retaliation the Skrull Emperor Dorrek VII dispatched Kl'rt, a Skrull known as the Super-Skrull, to Earth to defeat the Fantastic Four. Kl'rt possesses the powers of the entire Fantastic Four (in addition to shapeshifting and hypnotism), and he held the team at bay until Mr. Fantastic discovered the source of his power. The Super-Skrull posed as Dr. Franklin Storm and battled the Fantastic Four as the Invincible Man; he ultimately caused the death of Dr. Storm. The Fantastic Four later travel to Tarnax IV and find the Skrull responsible for the murder of Susan and Johnny Storm's father (which turned out to be Warlord Morrat).
The largest Skrull-related conflict involving Earth has been the Kree-Skrull War. The Kree Accuser Ronan had wrested control of the Kree Empire from the Supreme Intelligence and attacked the Skrulls, reigniting hostilities. The Avengers became involved once the Super Skrull kidnapped Captain Marvel, and in turn they battled a Kree Sentry robot, three of the original Skrulls that had fought the Fantastic Four, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, rogue Inhumans and legions of Skrulls. The Supreme Intelligence ends the immediate conflict by revealing to Avengers' ally Rick Jones that he has vast mental potential, which is then used to freeze all combatants in place. The Supreme Intelligence announces that, while the Kree and Skrulls have reached genetic dead ends, the human race displays incredible untapped potential.
Years later the cosmic being known as the Watcher adjudicates a duel between champions from both races: Colonel Bel-Dann of the Kree and Warlord Raksor of the Skrulls. After one year of conflict the duel remains deadlocked and is ultimately abandoned with no resolution.
Years still later, during a conflict with Xandar that included the Fantastic Four and the Champions of Xandar, Emperor Dorrek VII's wife, Empress R'klll, stages a coup and kills him to become ruling Empress. Empress R'klll's reign is short-lived, however, due to the arrival of the World Devourer Galactus. After his Herald Nova annihilates the Skrull fleet, Galactus devours Tarnax IV, killing billions of Skrulls, including R'klll and the Princess Anelle.
Skrulls are meanwhile involved in numerous other activities. They were revealed to have conquered a medieval planet and abandoned it after its inhabitants perished. Skrull Prime Ten battled the Fantastic Four and Captain Mar-Vell. The Skrulls sent their own representative to witness the fate of the Phoenix, at her trial by the Shi'ar. The Skrulls sent their General Zedrao to give the dying Captain Mar-Vell the Royal Skrull Medal of Honor.
Galactus's consumption of Tarnax IV throws the entire Skrull Empire into disarray and civil war. Five warlords vie for leadership of the Empire, and the ensuing conflict sparks the second Kree-Skrull War.
Years later, the Skrull Empire is the first of the major interstellar empires to be invaded by the forces of Annihilus. The Annihilation Wave's superweapon, the Harvester of Sorrow, physically destroys dozens of Skrull planets.
In the Secret Invasion series by Brian Michael Bendis, the Skrull empire, under the leadership of newcomer Queen Veranke, makes an all-out effort to infiltrate and conquer Earth. A series of Skrulls first capture and replace many of Earth's heroes, which is followed by a main assault spearheaded by a generation of new versions of the Super-Skrull, with each possessing the abilities of several different heroes. Their invasion ultimately fails, costing them the life of Veranke, and decimating their numbers even further.
As to their appearance, powers, and abilities, Skrulls are green-skinned reptilian humanoids with large pointed ears, red or green eyes, and corrugated chins. Skrulls are known for genetic and molecular instability, and genetic diversity, due to Celestial experimentation creating the Skrull "Deviants" (now the only surviving Skrulls). The Skrulls are known for their physical malleability and ability to shapeshift to any size, shape, or color at will, taking on the appearance but not the characteristics of other beings and objects within a volume range of .75 to 1.5 times the Skrull's original volume. Skrulls are able to assume virtually any form, be it organic or inorganic. As a result, the Skrulls excel at spying and infiltration. Skrulls are also able to use their shapeshifting abilities to form weapons (e.g. blades and clubs) with parts of their bodies, making them dangerous hand-to-hand combatants.
The Skrulls later developed the ability to render themselves undetectable when using their shapeshifting abilities, even from telepaths and those with superior senses.
Courtesy of their advanced technology, the Skrulls have also been able to augment their abilities in certain warriors, such as the Super Skrull and War Skrulls - an elite group who with special encoding are able to emulate the powers as well as appearance of their templates.
It is believed that Skrulls' eyes are incapable of subtle visual perceptions as those of Earth humans, e.g. Skrulls once mistook samples of drawn artwork for photographs.
You know, I've always had just a little trouble with that last one. Okay, the original solution to the Skrull assault on the Fantastic Four, with the FF showing the Skrull commanders drawings of assorted fantasy monsters which the Skrulls somehow mistook for real images, was pretty hokey even in the 1960's. But it was John Byrne who came up with the explanation, decades later, of the limited eyesight. Now, with all due respect, does this even make sense? They're a race of shape-shifters! In order to effectively transform into the likeness of another person, creature, or object, you're going to need to be able to get a good look at it.
I've always been of the admittedly unofficial opinion that the reason the Fantastic Four's initial gambit worked was that the Skrulls were largely unfamiliar with how Earthmen recorded visual images. They saw the drawings perfectly well, but for all they knew, they were illustrations of real creatures. Given the range of beings Skrulls themselves can shape-shift into, it was not an unreasonable assumption.
And don't get me started on the events of Secret Invasion. As far as I'm concerned, that storyline did as much of a disservice to the Skrulls as most of the storylines leading up to it and immediately following it did to most of the characters in the Marvel Universe. While I am not a major collector of Marvel Universe action figures, I have no problem with them. As to the storylines in the comics, that's been another matter, but not one for this review.
The Skrulls have certainly made their presence felt elsewhere, as well. They have turned up in numerous Marvel-based animated series, there have been other Skrull action figures, and the Super Skrull K'lrt appears as a playable character in the videogame "Marvel vs Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds." There's even a rumor that the Skrulls may be the main villains of the forthcoming Avengers live-action movie. If handled properly, this could work. Certainly the CGI technology exists to create them, and an alien attack would be just the thing to draw all of those heroes together.
So, how's the figure? Well, he's a little different than I might have expected for a basic "Skrull Soldier", but he's still an impressive figure.
There was a Skrull Soldier marketed in the Marvel Legends line a while back, whose uniform was a good bit closer to the traditional look of the Skrulls. That was an immensely cool figure, and I wish I could have army-built him somewhat. He was sold in a two-pack with a Kree Soldier. What's interesting is that between him and this Marvel Universe Skrull Soldier, there are now Skrulls for both major sizes of action figures. Want a Skrull that can menace other Marvel Legends, or perhaps DC Universe Classics or Masters of the Universe Classics? There's the big one. Want a Skrull Soldier that can take on other Marvel Universe, or G.I. Joe, or Star Wars? Here's this one.
I've always liked the Skrulls, for some reason. Yes, they're generally pretty nasty bad guys, but they have an interesting visual. It's a good alien design. They're pretty much humanoid, when they're not transforming into something else, but the face is undeniably alien. Along with the green skin, you have that prominent brow, the huge pointed ears, and the weird multi-ridged chin.
The figure does an excellent job of replicating this likeness. One has to wonder if it isn't a little trickier to sculpt an alien than a human face. I don't really know. But the color is good, and the proper features -- the brow, the ears, and that washboard jawline, are certainly all present and accounted for. The Skrull Soldier is wearing a black helmet on his head, with a gold triangular shape on the front.
Skrull's seem to have an affinity for the color purple. It's the most often-seen color of their uniforms, and certainly, this Skrull is no exception. The body molds used for the Skrull have seen use before. I am not an extensive collector of the Marvel Universe line, but this information was widely presented in the online community, and it definitely checks out. This is not a complaint. I appreciate a certain amount of consistency.
The body used for the Skrull Soldier is a good, basic, muscular male body design. It might be a little on the slender side in my opinion, but it works well. It has been molded in a good shade of purple. The figure's body, and for that matter his face, was given a black "wash" of watered-down paint in order to enhance the appearance of the musculature. I'm not at all sure this was necessary, but then I'm never inclined to think something like that it. It's not too bad in this instance. There have been times when this technique has been used to make a figure look dirty or battle-worn, even if there's no need for it, and that's when it really bothers me. Here -- it may not have been necessary, but it's not too excessive, either.
The uniform details are interesting. Since the figure uses a common body mold, any enhancements must be added as separate pieces, and somebody has come up with a Skrull uniform that, while it certainly looks like something that would be worn by a Skrull, is also distinctly more ornate than what I've generally come to expect from the rank-and-file. Maybe it's based on something that turned up during "Secret Invasion", I don't know.
The Skrull is wearing an ornate piece that gives him flared shoulders, and also tapers down his chest and partway down his back. The piece is not removable, as it is very securely glued in the back. The piece looks multi-faceted, and is mostly black, although it has a fair amount of gold trim, mostly in the form of outlines around the edges of the piece, that really make it look quite ornate.
Similarly, the Skrull Soldier's gloves are black, but have quite a bit of gold trim on them, as do some pieces tapering down the front and back of his belt, which is also black. The gloves are not separate pieces, but rather are the figure's actual hands.
Interestingly, the legs and boots of the Skrull Soldier are rather unremarkable relative to the otherwise ornate nature of the rest of the uniform. Here, the figure simply sticks to the existing body mold, with purple legs and black boots that are simply painted onto the figure, with the boot tops not quite reaching the calf muscle.
The gold detail that does appear on the figure is superbly and very neatly painted. The Skrull Soldier stands a little over 4-1/4" in height, making him fairly tall in the Marvel Universe line. He's certainly taller than Black Widow, a recent acquisition of mine, and is about the same height as the AIM Soldier. Comparing him to a couple of earlier figures I have, he's distinctly taller than Spider-Man, and slightly taller than Deadpool.
Regardless of what I said about putting a bunch of Skrulls up against G.I. Joe or Star Wars, he'd be a somewhat tough fit in either of those lines, unless one were to assume that Skrulls were naturally very tall. This is possible, though. If one looks at the Skrulls as they have appeared in the comics over the years -- and of course this is based on nothing more than artistic interpretation -- then it would appear that the "default/humanoid" form of Skrulls can range from anything to skinny and pretty scrawny to quite large and muscular. The average would seem to approximate typical human proportions, the face notwithstanding. So -- a bunch of tall Skrulls? Not implausible. Never mind battling super-heroes, let's see if we can organize them into a basketball team.
Articulation of the Skrull Soldier is extensive. The figure is poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists (glove tops), mid-torso, legs, double-jointed knees, and ankles. I've never been entirely fond of the mid-torso point, relative to the waist, but it's not too bad here as it blends in reasonably well with the musculature. However, a molded slot in the torso can be seen depending on the positioning of the figure. I've come to feel that double-jointed elbows and knees (the elbows are not double-jointed on the Skrull) are generally not necessary on any action figure, and more often than not adversely affect the look of the figure. The Skrull Soldier is not too bad, as darker colors of plastic can get away with it a little better, and his purple uniform is fairly dark.
The one really unusual point about this figure in my opinion is that there is no upper leg swivel. I guess I've sort of come to expect it on most of my action figures. Something like this is generally either incorporated into the upper leg, or as part of the knee joint. The Skrull Soldier simply doesn't have it. While it's not a grievous loss, it was something of a surprise and -- well -- also lacking an ankle swivel, he's just very slightly pigeon-toed. However, in fairness, he stands up on his own well enough.
The Skrull Soldier comes with several accessories. One is a small, futuristic blaster pistol. Another is a larger weapon, an alien rifle of some sort, that is a seriously mean-looking piece of equipment that looks like it got lost on its way to the HALO collection. It's easily one of the most impressive gun-blaster-type accessories I've seen in any action figure line in a while.
The Skrull Soldier also has a battle stand, and a small "Top Secret" envelope from Norman Osborn, who up until recently was pretty much running things in the Marvel Universe. In this folder is a small file card for the Skrull Soldier, a secret code for the Web Site FuryFiles.Com (the code is RT5-5D66-F22), and a letter from some scientist or somebody, working for Norman Osborn, that outlines the fact that captured Skrull Soldiers are not holding up as well to medical and experimental testing as well as hoped, and could Osborn please send them some more Skrulls.
What's my final word? This is a cool figure. It's a different sort of look for Skrull Soldiers than what I've been familiar with, but it's still an impressive design. Certainly it looks like a Skrull Soldier. Just somebody finally decided to dress them a little fancier. The design still works. The figure is well made and nicely articulated, and certainly neatly detailed. The weaponry he comes with is also very impressive.
Anyone collecting the Marvel Universe line, or who just has an affinity for interesting alien action figures, will be pleased with this one. The MARVEL UNIVERSE figure of the SKRULL SOLDIER definitely has my very enthusiastic recommendation!