Devious and untrustworthy, the green-skinned Skrulls use their shape-shifting abilities to infiltrate unsuspecting societies and overthrow them from the inside. Theirs is the oldest empire known to exist, but the Skrulls were not always conquerors. Only after coming into contact with the Kree, which leads to the massively devastating Kree-Skrull War, did they become so militarized.
From Ancient Mammals to a Celestial Experiment
The Skrulls are an ancient people who share common traits with both reptiles and mammals. Millions of years ago, when the Skrulls were still evolving, a race of genetic manipulators called the Celestials landed on their planet, Skrullos. They experimented on the Skrulls, and gifted them with the ability to mutate rapidly, or shape-change. This ability was useful when the Skrulls were locked in a longstanding war with another ancient alien race, the Kree.
A reptilian extraterrestrial race ruling one of the oldest interstellar empires, Skrulls arose a billion years ago or more in the Andromeda/M-31 Galaxy, on the Drox System’s planet Skrullos, one of uncounted planets allegedly seeded with DNA by the Dark Nebula’s Xorrians. In its earliest evolutionary stages, the Skrull race somewhat resembled Earth primates, but the vastly powerful Celestials experimented upon early Skrulls and, per their custom in such experiments, divided the race into immortal Eternals, genetically diverse Deviants, and Latents with potential for benign mutation.
Over uncounted millennia, Deviant Skrulls’ genetic makeup stabilized to permeate their bodies with unstable molecules, granting them sophisticated shape-changing powers. An alien Deviant, Lord Tantalus, rallied the Deviant Skrulls, then calling themselves “the Changing Ones,” to claim Skrullos for themselves. They infiltrated and sabotaged the Eternals and Latents, whom they dubbed “Unworthies” or “Fossil Ones,” driving Latents into supposed extinction and slaying all Eternals except Kly’bn, perhaps the oldest of his kind. Convincing the Deviants to spare him, Kly’bn fell in love with Deviant leader Sl’gur’t, and the two ascended to godly status, Kly’bn unchanging and Sl’gur’t ever-changing. Eventually, a Skrull dubbed Nogor the Talisman became the living manifestation of the Skrull Gods’ favor. By the time of the final battle, the Deviant Skrulls divided into two subspecies, one dominating the other; the subservient subspecies turned to sorcery for power, leading dominant Skrulls to drive them from Skrullos and, indeed, from the Andromeda Galaxy itself. However, something resembling magic was later practiced on the Vovco Islands of a Skrull-held planet. The exiled Skrulls fled to the Dark Nebula, eventually developing into Dire Wraiths. The remaining Deviant Skrulls became the Skrull race as it is known today.
The Shape-Changing Skrulls
Skrulls are reptilian humanoids who retain vestigial mammalian traits. Their bodies are permeated with unstable molecules, granting them shape-changing abilities—they can take any succession of forms and resume their true shapes via mental concentration. Most Skrulls are unable to take shapes more than 1.5 times their original volume or less than 75% of it. However, a handful have mastered their potential sufficiently to change to near-microscopic or gigantic sizes. Through the apparent alteration of their respiratory systems, they can exist unaided in virtually any atmosphere except the vacuum of space. On rare occasions, Skrulls are born without shape-changing power, but some nevertheless manage to achieve reasonably high positions in Skrull society. In their natural state, Skrulls have green skin, large pointed ears, and furrowed chins. They have a general height range from 4'6" to 6'4"—although they can, as noted, alter their height at whim—and an average life span of over two centuries.
Some years ago, all Skrulls throughout the universe were stripped of their shape-changing powers by Zabyk’s hyper-wave bomb. Initially, Empress S’Byll acquired the power to personally restore the powers of those Skrulls she believed most valuable to the Empire. It now appears that the entire Skrull race regained its birthright ability; S’Byll’s ability’s effects may have been transmitted throughout the universe in the same manner as the hyper-wave bomb’s effects.
The Empire’s Enemies and Allies
About 10 million years ago, the Skrulls were at first a peaceful race led by Emperor Dorrek I and sought to share their technologies with other races, such as the Kree and the Cotati. During this time, they leave them on Earth’s moon to see who can build the most advanced city within one year. Upon returning to the moon, the Skrulls choose the Cotati, angering the Kree, who kill Dorrek and attack the Skrull homeworld. This aggressive act causes the centuries-long Kree-Skrull War and leads to the Skrulls becoming conquerors. Other Emperors come along, and one uses the Cosmic Cube to make himself into a god. Though the cube negatively affects the emperor and their resulting megalomania leads to the destruction of the empire. The empire rebuilds with Emperor Dorrek VII at the helm. Dorrek VII rules until his death after many encounters with the Kree, the Xandarians, and Earth’s Fantastic Four.
The Skrulls’ greatest warrior is Kl’rt, the Super-Skrull, who was artificially augmented to have the same powers as Earth’s Fantastic Four. Super-Skrull eventually becomes crowned emperor of the Skrulls.
The Skrulls’ first journey to Earth brought them into conflict with the Fantastic Four. On that occasion, the Skrulls sought to impersonate and incriminate the Fantastic Four to have Earthlings hunt down and destroy the team, clearing the way for a Skrull invasion. But thanks to Reed Richards, AKA Mister Fantastic, that plot was quickly foiled.
The Avengers first encountered the Skrulls during the Kree-Skrull War , but that conflict would only be the first of many times the Avengers were forced to battle these deceptive aliens. In their most serious takeover attempt, the Skrulls waged a full-scale “Secret Invasion” that saw genetically manipulated Skrulls utilize superpowers. While they infiltrated nearly every facet of superhuman culture, the Skrulls were nevertheless defeated, and their queen, Veranke, was shot and killed by Norman Osborn.
Over several millennia, Skrulls established a growing interstellar empire and created a reality-altering device, a Cosmic Cube. The Skrull Emperor spent years using the Cube for the E7mpire and himself until his megalomania infected the Cube‘s fledgling consciousness, driving it mad. Acting independently, the Cube rained destruction upon the Skrulls, wiping out two-thirds of the entire Andromeda Galaxy before departing to become the benign Shaper of Worlds. The surviving Skrull worlds reverted to barbarism, but after several more millennia, they rebuilt their empire, greater than before. Although a strictly regimented society, the Skrulls were at this time, not an especially warlike race, building their empire upon interstellar trade. Eventually, the Skrull Empire dominated the entire Andromeda Galaxy, encompassing thousands of light-years. At some point in early Skrull history, a Skrull ventured to the mysterious Citadel of Light and Shadow seeking cosmic power. Still, he failed like countless others before and after him. The Citadel’s power halted the Skrulls’ racial evolution, explaining why today’s Skrulls so closely resemble those of millions of years before. The Skrulls themselves have done their species few favors regarding their genetic development. Despite the Latents’ absence from the Skrull gene pool, Skrulls nevertheless proved capable of producing mutants with unusual powers. Still, the Skrulls, reflecting the single-mindedness that had led them to massacre their cousin races, killed most such mutants at birth. Still, specially-bred Skrull telepaths sometimes act to defend the Empire.
Approximately ten million years ago, the Skrulls, hoping to expand their influence into other galaxies as Rigellians and other powerful races had, ventured into the Greater Magellanic Cloud Galaxy. There, they contacted two primitive species who shared planet Hala, the blue-skinned Kree, and the plant-like Cotati. The Skrulls wished to deal with only one race, and both Kree and Cotati representatives were brought to yet another galaxy, the Milky Way Galaxy, via a space warp near Earth, at this time in the Miocene Era. The Skrulls arranged a contest to take place on Earth’s Moon, giving supplies to both races and challenging them to prove their skill and resourcefulness. The Kree constructed a magnificent city, while the Cotati created an equally elaborate garden, and the Skrulls ruled in favor of the latter. The furious Kree slew Skrull representatives, including then-current ruler Emperor Dorrek I, and claimed the expedition’s spaceship and technology. The Kree mastered this technology over decades and then used it to launch a direct attack on the Skrull Empire itself, which, due to multi-galactic distances and the still-recovering infrastructure, did not learn of the Kree’s killings until many years after the fact. Despite vastly superior resources, the Skrulls responded sluggishly, allowing the Kree time to quickly colonize and dominate several other worlds in their galaxy during the ongoing war, creating an interstellar empire. As the Kree-Skrull War endured, Skrull culture became far more aggressive, ruthless, and deceptive, traits it retains to this day. Skrulls spread throughout neighboring galaxies, seeking new resources and conquests; as a result, it is a rare corner of space where Skrulls cannot be found, and a rarer one still where they are welcomed.
Roughly 100,000 years ago, the Skrull Empire’s seat was moved from Skrullos to more centrally-located Tarnax IV, designated the Imperial Throneworld, guaranteeing that invaders stood little chance of reaching the emperor or empress before being destroyed by imperial forces. During the height of the period extending from this era to the present, the Skrull Empire contained at least 978 member-planets, some inhabited by subjugated or autonomous native races and others by Skrull colonies, each world ruled by a separate government answerable to the reigning monarch alone. While the Skrulls overpowered subject races, their gods, Kly’bn and Sl’gur’t, overpowered native deities, adding each one’s powers to their own. Among the dozens if not hundreds of races ruled by Skrulls are the childlike Druffs, whom the Skrulls slaughter like vermin; the belligerent Guna, whose dwindling sun, Janoth, left their homeworld facing extinction; the Idoidea, comprising a swarm collective; the ever-persistent Kallusians, who spent centuries fighting the Skrulls and their lackeys; the gigantic Morani; the super-strong Pheragots, although some established autonomy to join the intergalactic Charter; the cold-projecting Queega, who once invaded Earth, are evidently allowed some self-rule; the feline Tektons, renowned as warriors; and the reptilian Yirbek, whom the Skrulls once employed against a Kallusian uprising. Skrulls maintain peaceful trade relations with Ciegrimites and Krylorians, renowned throughout their galaxy and others for their excellence in intoxicating beverages and entertainment, respectively. Skrulls have clashed with the Wilameanis and Z’nox during unidentified time frames, although both cultures seem to have outlasted Skrull interest in their conquest. At some point, the Skrulls developed intense hatred of the shape-changing Xartans from the Fornax Galaxy’s Zugano System.
Over eons, the Kree-Skrull War occasionally lulled enough for the two Empires to pursue joint interests. At one point, well over 10,000 years ago, the Skrulls even cooperated with the Kree, the Milky Way Galaxy’s Badoon, the Shi’ar Empire – then a comparatively fledgling power only a few millennia old – and other alien races to empower the Chosen Eight of Fate, AKA Guardians of the Galaxy. These heroes, mutated by the vastly powerful Lifestone Tree, each received powers representing a fundamental force, and the Eight spent two centuries guarding their respective galaxies. Their rank included a Skrull, but their fate is unknown, and the gems that made up the Lifestone Tree were lost on Earth. Kree-Skrull hostilities inevitably returned, however, making the war an omnipresent issue. Moreover, circa the late 19th century, the Skrulls’ preeminence in the Andromeda Galaxy was challenged by the humanoid Xandarians, against whom the Skrulls warred until they reached a truce through the Treaty of Furnax.
During the Skrulls’ constant watch for potential conquests, their attention eventually returned to the Milky Way Galaxy, whose planets, some invaded and conquered by Dire Wraiths for their own empire, remained under regular surveillance, including one that would loom large in both empires’ destinies: Earth, upon whose moon the Kree city still stood. Sometime before the 15th century, a Skrull ship crashed to Earth, its crew perishing to the benefit of the Inhumans who consumed their remains. The Inhumans are members of a Kree-created offshoot of humanity, fleeing persecution by the Spanish Inquisition; the Inhumans were transformed into shape-shifting monsters and spent centuries preying upon Subterraneans and others. It may have been at this point that Skrull agents, using human forms, began spying more closely upon humanity, which Skrulls are known to have done for centuries. The first verified deliberate Skrull Earth incursion occurred in the 1870s, when Kl’rot and several other Skrulls took over Wilcox, Oklahoma, apparently as a prelude to larger invasion. Perhaps intending to capitalize on the hero-worship enjoyed by some US outlaws, they impersonated Jesse James, Wild Bill Hickok, and others. By chance, Blaine Colt, AKA Kid Colt, and Arizona Annie arrived in Wilcox, where Kl’rot’s impersonation of Colt’s ally Johnny Bart, AKA Rawhide Kid, inadvertently provoked a confrontation that left him dead. Impulsively revealing their true natures, the Skrulls attacked Colt and Arizona but were ill-prepared for battle, perishing beneath the gunslingers’ bullets.
Some six decades later, in 1935, Skrulls returned to the USA when slavers from Skrull colony Kral IV captured human criminal John “Machine Gun” Martin, whom they brought to their world. Initially a slave, Martin became a favorite of Kral’s rulers, fascinated by the gangster culture he represented, a culture that eventually spread planetwide on Kral IV, its advanced technology made over into biplanes, zeppelins, and other Earthly devices. In 1939, the slavers returned again and kidnapped a man by the name of Douglas Errol, from Morristown, New Jersey. Over succeeding decades, Kral IV became ruled by opposing mobster gangs, who settled disputes over territories, profits, etc. by forcing alien champions to battle in gladiatorial arenas, under threat of destruction to combatants’ homeworlds by sonic disruptor. Eventually, all ten Kral System worlds, including one terraformed to resemble medieval Earth, became amusement and resort centers for the empire’s idle rich.
In late 1945, Dire Wraiths infiltrated human society in a long-term conquest plan, subtly advancing Earth technology for their own purposes. In a potentially related turn, at least three Skrull vessels ventured to Earth in 1947, all three crashing in New Mexico in the wake of unrelated temporal distortion and other factors. Two survivors, the sole known surviving Skrull Latent and his pursuer, were taken into government custody. A third, Commander Zuhn, was also captured but soon escaped to become the villainous Chimera, while the final known survivor, Velmax, became a government agent and later helped form the First Line as Effigy.
Five years later, another crashed ship was discovered by the covert V-Battalion, who reverse-engineered alien technology to supplement their own. Although many extraterrestrial incursions occurred on Earth during the 1950s and early 1960s, almost none have been confirmed to have involved either Skrulls or Wraiths. An exception occurred in 1958, when a Skrull ship en route to investigate Earth’s advancing space technology chanced to encounter and take aboard an ancient energy shard, or “triangle of light,” once wielded by an alien champion. Arriving on Earth, the Skrulls abducted test pilot Chuck Chandler, who, through mishap, was empowered by the shard as 3-D Man. By this time, a few Skrulls had infiltrated Earth’s government and entertainment industry, clashing with 3-D Man and other heroes; one operative, Zirksu, AKA Diabolik, outfitted unwitting human operatives with advanced technology. In 1963, Effigy accidentally slew Chimera, only then learning his foe was his lost shipmate. In the United Kingdom, in presumably unrelated developments, Skrulls arrived intent on infiltrating popular culture; four took new identities modeled after fabled musicians the Beatles. However, the quartet came to love Earth culture and abandoned their plans, with one, John the Skrull, eventually joining MI13, a British government agency dedicated to opposing superhuman threats. By 1969 Skrulls had established a base on Earth’s Moon, just in time to witness the USA’s Apollo 11 Moon landing, which they intended to sabotage with help from human Super Villains. Still, the base was destroyed by Effigy, who by now regarded himself as an American.
Under Emperor Dorrek VII, the Skrull Empire‘s interest in Earth was sharpened by humanity‘s paranormal potential, and it continued to monitor Earth. It was perhaps during this period that Skrulls developed a program to induce mutations in already unstable Skrull physiology, granting the program’s subjects super-powers beyond their metamorphic ones. An early subject was a Skrull criminal who, apparently driven mad by the procedures, escaped in a stolen spacecraft, eventually becoming conqueror Titannus. Years after the Apollo 11 landing, Skrulls, having infiltrated Earth with such agents as Korya, lover of First Line’s Yeti, launched an all-out assault on Earth. The assault was concealed and repelled by First Line and other superhumans, most, apparently including Effigy, with Skrulls losing their lives in the effort. Later, a more modest invasion was attempted by Prince De’zean of Tarnax VII, but Frank and Leslie Dean, exiles from planet Majesdane and members of the criminal Pride, convinced De’zean to instead target Majesdane, sealing the bargain by pledging their infant daughter Karolina’s hand in marriage to De’zean’s own child, Xavin. As the Deans had anticipated, Tarnax VII entered a prolonged war against Majesdane, and they presumed the marriage pact would be forgotten.
In recent years, Skrull observers witnessed the Fantastic Four’s debut, the first known super-team to succeed the First Line. Hoping to forestall a new heroic wave, four Skrulls arrived to impersonate the heroes and frame them for various crimes in prelude to invasion. However, the FF exposed the plot and defeated the four aliens, although one escaped. In an eccentric move, FF leader Mister Fantastic, convinced the invasion force commander that Earth was protected by monsters that appeared in comic books, then, following the invaders’ departure, hypnotized the three captives into the forms and intellects of cows in King’s Crossing, New York , where they supposedly mated with true cows and where their “milk” induced mutations several years later. Eventually learning the truth, the Skrulls never forgave these humiliations, developing an intense hatred for the FF. The empire’s mutation program transformed Skrull soldier Kl’rt into the Super-Skrull, with powers matching all four FF members, and although he failed to defeat the FF, he fought them and many other Earth heroes over the coming years; limited versions of his mutations were induced in several Skrull youths, including Xavin on Tarnax VII. An early Super-Skrull battle prompted the FF’s journey to the empire itself, where their intervention in an attempted coup by Warlord Morrat, who had engineered the death of Susan Richards, AKA Invisible Girl (now Invisible Woman) and Johnny Storm, AKA Human Torch’s father Franklin Storm, earned the FF Dorrek VII’s gratitude, for however long it lasted.
Skrull interest in Earth intensified when a renegade white Kree, Mar-Vell, AKA Captain Marvel, joined the growing ranks of Earth’s superhuman protectors; in a stranger turn, a crystal containing the consciousness of condemned Skrull Krimonn, possibly the Skrull member of Chosen Eight of Fate, was acquired by a human criminal, Kinji Obatu, AKA Dr. Spectrum. While Krimonn’s power menaced the Avengers in the Squadron Sinister, the FF’s Ben Grimm, AKA The Thing, was abducted by slavers from Kral IV and forced to serve Skrull gangster Boss Barker, who set him against Lippy Louie‘s gladiator, robotic Torgo of Mekka. Despite the threat to their homeworlds, both led an uprising, which spread to full revolt when the FF arrived and destroyed the sonic disruptor. When the FF departed, the gladiators returned to their native worlds after killing Kral IV’s leaders. Some surviving Kralians, led by Biggie Smalls, immediately revived the arena system, while others, seeking a new cultural model, mimicked the USA of over 30 years after Machine Gun Martin‘s time, an era of civil rights activism whose central figures, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, were imitated by two especially socially-minded Skrulls.
On Earth, the Skrull who had escaped the first FF encounter, now impersonating politician H. Warren Craddock, helped his three fellows regain their Skrull identities and impersonate Avengers in an effort to disband the team, while “Craddock,” head of the USA’s Alien Activities Commission, stirred anti-alien hatred to turn opinion against Mar-Vell and, by extension, other super heroes. These Skrull activities attracted Kree attention, ultimately bringing the Kree-Skrull War to Earth itself; during the crisis, Mar-Vell escaped enemy custody with aid from his Skrull lover, Princess Anelle, who conceived by him a hybrid son, Dorrek VIII. Eventually, Avenger ally Rick Jones tapped the mysterious Destiny Force to vanquish both fleets; “Craddock” was exposed as a Skrull and beaten to death by a mob. After both Skrulls and Kree had departed, Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man, organized the FF’s Mr. Fantastic, Inhuman leader Blackagar Boltagon, AKA Black Bolt, and others as the Illuminati to warn Anelle’s father, Dorrek VII, to avoid further interference with Earth or face all-out war, only for all to be captured. If Dorrek retained any gratitude for Morrat’s defeat, he overcame it easily, and the Skrulls, unimpressed with the ultimatum, subjected the Illuminati to torturous analysis until they escaped, not realizing the Skrulls’ had obtained valuable genetic data. Capitalizing on post-conflict confusion, Dorrek’s kinswoman, Princess Veranke, devoted adherent of religious text “The Book of Worlds,” prophesied the throneworld’s destruction, and Dorrek banished her. Meanwhile, infant Dorrek VIII was entrusted to a Skrull operative, who raised him as a human child named Teddy Altman until he could claim the Skrull throne; Altman’s guardian apparently induced periodic false memories to prevent him from realizing that, as a Skrull-Kree hybrid, he was aging more than twice as rapidly as a human youth.
Elsewhere, the Skrull associates of “Craddock,” taken into government custody when both Skrulls and Kree withdrew, were again mesmerized into cow form , and a clandestine government project arranged for them to be slaughtered with true cattle and for their “meat” to be distributed across the USA with ordinary beef in a bizarre plan whose details remain classified. Unaware of this appalling development, the Skrulls forgot Earth for a time, instead focusing on renewed hostilities with Xandar, but the FF became involved when they rescued Xandarian Princess Adora from robot Skrull X. Captured on Tarnax IV and subjected to an aging ray, they escaped and allied with Xandar’s largely Earth-born Champions against both Skrulls and former Xandarian ally Anath-Na Mut, AKA Sphinx, whose magnified powers threatened Earth before the FF arranged his defeat, recovering from the aging ray in the process. Meanwhile, Skrull specialists, led by scientist Dro’ge Fenu Edu, used Illuminati data to create clonepod duplicates of the departed heroes, and eventually manipulated a Mr. Fantastic duplicate into revealing how Skrulls could evade detection by even telepathy or super-senses, although the process’ practical application was still years away.
While the Skrulls were occupied with these plans, Earth remained under threat as Dire Wraiths, decades of manipulation culminating at last, hurried their efforts when threatened with exposure and destruction by Galadorian Spaceknight Rom. Unaware of his enemies’ Skrull connection, Rom nevertheless diverged from his Earth mission to help Xandar defeat the Skrulls, but Xandar was later destroyed in attacks by both Skrulls and the mercenary army of would-be conqueror Nebula (allegedly Thanos’ granddaughter). The Kree-Skrull War remained at a stalemate, and Skrull Empress R’klll, having taken advantage of the Xandar crisis to slay and succeed her husband Dorrek VII, met with the Kree’s Supreme Intelligence—hybrid computerized-organic entity created over nine million years after the war began. They agreed to finally resolve the conflict via personal combat between two warriors, Skrull Raksor and Kree Bel-Dann, who began a months-long battle set on Earth’s Moon, where the war had begun so long ago. Eventually the FF and the Inhumans, now residing on the Moon, manipulated the pair into joining forces against a common foe, namely themselves, a finale that seemed to imply that the Skrulls and Kree should lay aside their differences and work together; but such a conclusion seemed a bit late in coming.
In other Skrull endeavors, a variation of Fenu Edu’s work created a program wherein Skrull operatives, retaining their true personas, were trapped in the forms of Earth heroes for eventual infiltration. Although hindered by intervention from the X-Men, hurled into Skrull space by cosmic chance from some three years in the future, the project died with Empress R’klll, Princess Anelle, and Tarnax IV itself, consumed by world eater Galactus at the cost of billions of Skrull lives. Among the few survivors was an infant Skrull whose father, developer of the Super-Skrull mutation program, empowered his son and sent him, via spacecraft, to safety on, of all planets, Earth. Landing near Hicksville, Iowa, the Skrull child was raised as Ethan Edwards, who, presumably due to his father’s procedures, aged even more rapidly than Teddy Altman. Edwards’ arrival roughly coincided with the Dire Wraiths’ ultimate banishment from Earth via seeming destruction of their artificial planet Wraithworld, but few if any Skrulls were in a position to appreciate the irony of their ancient rival race losing its homeworld so soon after the Skrulls themselves lost theirs.
The Skrull Empire, thrown into utter chaos for the second time in its history, descended into civil war as hundreds of Skrull governors from various imperial worlds vied for rulership. Refugees scattered throughout the universe, forging alliances with any who would have them, including immortal Earth mutant En Sabah Nur, AKA Apocalypse. In the galaxy-wide confusion, few Skrulls were aware that a Skrull spy, Lyja, disguised as FF family friend Alicia Masters, had infiltrated the FF, where her fractious behavior almost splintered the team. Nebula attempted to top Xandar’s destruction by taking over the Skrull Empire. Still, she laid the groundwork for her own defeat by imprisoning human hero Monica Rambeau, AKA Captain Marvel (now Spectrum), drawing Avengers to work with General Zedrao’s Skrull loyalists to defeat her. The internecine wars worsened when Zabyk, one of the pretenders to the throne, set off a hyper-wave bomb that neutralized Skrullian shape-changing power, trapping all Skrulls within its range in whatever forms they wore at the time, an effect that allegedly spread throughout the universe. Known to few, Veranke returned from exile, her prophecy’s truth winning thousands to her side. However, a handful revered Anelle as a martyr and foretold that her son Dorrek VIII, still on Earth, would eventually reunite the fractured empire. Four major contenders for rulership—Karza, Kylor, Yorlak, and Gorth—failed when spacefarer Norrin Radd, AKA Silver Surfer, sponsored a fifth, S’Byll, who, with aid from Kl’rt, achieved the power to restore the Skrulls’ metamorphic ability, although Skrulls with no opportunity for such restoration may still exist. S’Byll thus became empress, defeating a Kree Empire co-opted by Skrull infiltrator Nenora, while Veranke gathered her own forces in secret. Months later, a mutated operative, Paibok the Power-Skrull, attacked the FF but was betrayed by supposed ally Lyja, who, like many Skrulls before and after her, had taken a liking to Earth culture, eventually becoming a full-fledged FF member.
Meanwhile, more mutated Skrull warriors, the Warskrulls, used their ability to duplicate super-powers as well as forms to infiltrate the Shi’ar Empire. Still, the X-Men, longtime Shi’ar allies, defeated their efforts. At least one Skrull remained undetected among the Shi’ar but somehow allied instead with the Supreme Intelligence. Impersonating Lord Chamberlain Araki, the Skrull helped manipulate the Shi’ar into using a Nega-Bomb to annihilate most Kree in the Intelligence’s mad effort to jump-start his people’s evolution, leaving the Shi’ar to rule the survivors before the latter reverted to self-rule.
Back on Earth, although Fenu Edu’s work remained incomplete, Veranke’s followers abducted and replaced humans, including West Coast Avenger Barbara Morse Barton, AKA Mockingbird, whose impersonator died soon afterward. The captive Skrull Latent and his pursuer were revived by Lucian, AKA Blackwulf, an adventurer from Earth’s own Deviant race; the Latent “Prime Skrull” joined Blackwulf’s Underground Legion, while his unidentified opponent, granted energy powers, served Blackwulf’s father and enemy, the Skrulls’ long-ago benefactor Lord Tantalus. Elsewhere, the renegade Kree Starstealth were pursued to Earth by Skrull Hokk Algol, who, with assistance from Avengers offshoot Force Works, captured their quarry in a rare case of Skrull-human cooperation. Volx, vengeance-seeking queen of the Dire Wraiths, arrived with a bloodier mission in mind but was defeated by the New Warriors, including Richard Rider, AKA Nova, once and future member of Xandar’s Nova Corps. Yet another Skrull legacy arose when several humans were affected by eating “beef” from the three Skrull cows. However, some survived unharmed, others died horrible deaths, while a few were stricken with shape-changing power and terminal illness. A few—Catwalk, Dice, Moonstomp, and Heidi Sladkin, AKA Riot—were organized by mysterious Ryder into the Skrull Kill Krew, traveling the USA to uncover and destroy any Skrull presence on Earth. Among the campaigns they exposed was the nation of Slovinia’s rulership by Skrull Wassily Kurov, a revelation complicating its attempted takeover by Wolfgang von Strucker, AKA Baron Strucker, and his Hydra terrorists. The Krew also massacred over 3600 citizens of Pleasant Valley, Wisconsin, all Skrull spies intending to infiltrate every city on Earth. While the Krew scoured Earth for more homefront infiltration, a stranded ambitious Skrull used the flamboyant “Sensational Hydra” identity to seize Hydra. Like “Craddock” before them, Hydra incited the public into a xenophobic fury, but Sensational Hydra, too, was exposed by Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America, and the FF. Months later, the Skrull alliance with Apocalypse culminated when a Skrull infiltrated the X-Men—remarkably, just as they returned from their time-travel trip to Tarnax IV—by impersonating longtime member Logan/James Howlett, AKA Wolverine, whom Apocalypse enslaved as Horseman Death, but the imposter was slain in battle by Wolverine/Death, who soon overcame Apocalypse’s brainwashing. X-Men leader Charles Xavier, AKA Professor X, left Earth to instruct young Skrull mutants—size-altering Fiz, ultra-malleable Goroth, nerve-manipulating Nuro, spike-projecting R’Tee, energy-absorbing Spunge, and telepathic Zcann—as the heroic Cadre K. Other Skrulls who took positions as peacekeepers outside the Empire included Muraitak of Xandar’s Star-Corps; Morfex, who served the Charter in first the Cosmic Commandos and then the Star Masters; Flaw of the Shi’ar Death Commandos; and Samuel J. Skrull, adopted member of Impossible Man’s adventure-loving family.
In the Skrull Empire itself, Intelligencia, a composite entity similar to the Supreme Intelligence, took control of a Skrull faction and challenged S’Byll’s rule, both, it seems, unaware of Veranke’s gradual rise. Intelligencia’s activities were opposed by Mar-Vell’s half-Titan son Genis-Vell, who later declared a one-man war on Skrulls, Kree, Shi’ar, and others, citing a vision of the future where they united to conquer the universe. The disparate races proved no match for Genis-Vell’s cosmic power, but he was dissuaded from destruction by his family from Titan, having inadvertently allied the various empires against him in self-defense. In the wake of their endeavors, however, undefined hostilities broke out between Skrulls and Shi’ar, into whose territory Skrulls attempted to smuggle weapons. Meanwhile, on Earth, the FF discovered Skrulls and Kree living peacefully alongside humans and others in small town Raven’s Perch, New Jersey, home of the B-Sides and several other super-powered humans. Even the FF had little idea of how strong Earth’s Skrull presence was becoming. Veranke, now openly recognized as Skrull empress and urging Earth’s conquest as a holy mission, became the first beneficiary of Fenu Edu’s success, a scientific/mystic procedure, developed from intensive study of human brain patterns and DNA, to render Skrulls utterly undetectable by replacing their memories with human ones. Positioned as sleepers, many agents were unaware of their true identities; the process proved so thorough that mental problems afflicting the hero Hank Pym rendered a string of Skrulls impersonating him insane.
Furthermore, advances in Super-Skrull technology allowed multiple power duplication in a single subject. In the identity of Jessica Drew, AKA Spider-Woman, Veranke infiltrated both S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra, while additional agents replaced humans and superhumans alike. One agent, Z’Reg, retaining his Skrull identity, was assigned to spy on the Avengers; when the team disbanded, he deemed his assignment moot and, with no contact with fellow spies, retained the human identity of Aubrey Thompson. Veranke then employed Max Dillon, AKA Electro, to conduct a breakout at the Raft superhuman prison, allowing the escape of, among others, Sauron and Silver Samurai, whom Skrulls intended as pawns in the Savage Land and Japan, respectively. The breakout inadvertently catalyzed a reorganization of the Avengers, which Veranke, as Spider-Woman, joined. Soon afterward, the team accompanied other U.S. heroes to Japan to battle Titannus, who was wreaking havoc in hope of capturing superhumans. Following Titannus’ defeat, a new NY-based super-team, the Young Avengers, debuted, with half-Skrull Dorrek VIII, AKA Hulkling, as a founding member. Within weeks, New York coincidentally received attention from yet another Skrull when Ethan Edwards sought to become a Super Hero. Still, after a few days’ effort, he pursued missionary work instead. Elsewhere, Xavin, teenaged offspring of De’zean, arrived in California and formally proposed to the Deans’ daughter Karolina, aka Lucy in the Sky, of the informal Runaways super-team. Karolina accompanied Xavin to Tarnax VII, where their marriage was intended to end the Tarnax/Majesdane war, but hostilities on both sides forced the couple to flee as warring worlds apparently destroyed each other. Returning to Earth, Karolina rejoined the Runaways, who accepted Xavin into their family circle, where he proved more dedicated to super-heroics than had Edwards. Back in New York, fleets of Skrulls and Kree arrived to claim Hulkling for their respective empires, but assisted by his teammates, Kl’rt, and the Avengers, Hulkling evaded custody to remain with his lover Billy Kaplan, AKA Wiccan. Whether aware of his fellow Skrulls’ heroic activities or not, Thompson took a costumed identity, Crusader (Z'Reg); soon afterward, Titannus, revived by Japanese scientists, wrought havoc in Baltimore, Maryland until the Avengers, aided by Crusader, defeated him.
While Earth gained both Skrull heroes and Skrulls impersonating heroes, both Skrull and Kree Empires lost entire star systems to the Annihilation Wave, a Negative Zone invasion force that destroyed several planets, including a rebuilt Xandar, leaving Richard Rider sole survivor of the Nova Corps. Aks’lo, Gar-Gul, Tala Prime, Tercera Prime, and cultural capital Zaragz’na were among the Skrull worlds destroyed by the invaders’ Harvester of Sorrow weapon, while additional planets, including Caul 7, were occupied by Annihilus’ forces. Organizing a United Front of warriors from across several galaxies to oppose the invaders, Rider was joined not only by such Skrull champions as Kl’rt and Talos the Tamed but also by Kree defenders like Ronan the Accuser and Korath the Pursuer. Following the seeming death of invasion leader Annihilus and many of his lieutenants, who retained certain Kree worlds, the Skrull Empire regained some territories, but up to 90% of the Empire was in ruins or ashes , making Veranke’s planned conquest of Earth all the more vital. Ironically, while Skrulls and Kree set millions of years’ worth of enmities aside for a greater good, the FF, the Avengers, and others were divided from within by the so-called “Civil War” resulting from the Superhuman Registration Act, at least partially influenced by the Skrull impersonating Pym. During these events, Young Avengers and Runaways met for the first time, incidentally helping an alternate universe Kree, Noh-Varr, escape imprisonment; although Xavin was disappointed that Hulkling had forsaken the possibility of reuniting the Skrull Empire, the teams parted on good terms. In the war’s wake, Crusader joined dozens of other superhumans for hero training under the Skrull Pym’s co-creation, the Fifty State Initiative, based at Camp Hammond. Concurrently, Jennifer Walters, AKA She-Hulk, became a bounty hunter alongside yet another Skrull, Kl’rt’s outcast daughter Jazinda. Meanwhile, the criminal Corporation, perhaps through Skrull contacts, acquired a Skrull organ generator and transformed various criminals into shapeshifters before the project was disrupted by Misty Knight’s Heroes for Hire. Elsewhere, the FF, at that time led by T’Challa, AKA Black Panther, inadvertently embarked on a journey that eventually brought them to the Kral System, untouched by the Annihilation Wave, where they were caught between 1930s-era downtown and 1960s-era uptown.
Finally, Veranke allowed the Avengers to discover that Elektra Natchios, AKA Elektra, had been replaced by a Skrull imposter , and when Iron Man reported this development to his fellow Illuminati, “Black Bolt” also revealed himself as an imposter, sowing seeds of distrust precisely per Veranke’s plans. Weeks later, the Skrulls banished the FF to the Negative Zone, then lured the Avengers to the Savage Land to be attacked by Skrulls who believed themselves to be Earth superhumans and their opponents the imposters, but these Skrulls were soon defeated. Multipowered Super-Skrulls attacked throughout the USA and the world: John the Skrull sacrificed his life defying invaders seeking to obtain Britain’s magic, and the Skrulls were banished, perhaps forever, from the British Islands by the demon Satannish. While the Winter Guard protected Russia, Black Panther and Ororo Munroe, AKA Storm, led Wakandan forces , and gods from Earth pantheons fought Kly’bn and Sl’gur’t themselves. In space, refugee Skrull pacifists were protected by Peter Quill, AKA Star-Lord’s Guardians of the Galaxy, while across the USA, the invading Skrulls battled the X-Men, X-Factor, the Warriors Three, Agents of Atlas and many others. The Young Avengers and Runaways protected Hulkling from assassination by Skrulls seeking to forestall his prophesied role, and the Initiative heroes fought alongside the remnants of the Skrull Kill Krew, ironically apparently slaying Crusader, who was fighting against his own people, when his true species was revealed. In Manhattan, Nick Fury and his newly formed Howling Commandos (later aka Secret Warriors), unexpectedly supplemented by several super-villains, helped turn the tide in humanity’s favor. Returning from the Savage Land, the Avengers joined the fray, but latest Pym impersonator Criti Noll, AKA Yellowjacket, transformed Pym’s ex-wife Janet Van Dyne, AKA Wasp, into a biological weapon, killing several on both sides before Thor Odinson, AKA Thor, contained her toxins, tragically killing Wasp in the process. The Thunderbolts’ Norman Osborn slew Veranke, prompting Skrull surrender, and Iron Man recovered the imprisoned humans and superhumans whom Veranke’s forces had impersonated over the years.